B/R Experts' Full 2017-18 MLB Offseason Preview, Predictions
With the MLB offseason now officially underway, let's start things off right with a full preview of this year's free agents and notable trade candidates, as well as some predictions from our resident MLB experts.
Ahead is a position-by-position look at this year's free-agent class, a quick rundown of some teams that could be active sellers and predictions on where the market's top 15 players will land.
These five writers made up our panel of prognosticators:
- Andrew Gould, Breaking News Team
- Danny Knobler, MLB Lead Writer
- Joel Reuter, National MLB Columnist
- Zachary Rymer, MLB Lead Writer
- Jacob Shafer, National MLB Columnist
Having five writers weigh in gave us plenty of different opinions, and in the end, we only had three consensus predictions among the 15 players.
It will be fun to look back in a few months to see who got the most picks right, but for now, here's our best guess at how this year's free-agent and trade markets will unfold this winter.
Free-Agent Hitter Preview
This time last year, Jonathan Lucroy seemed likely to surpass the five-year, $82 million deal that Russell Martin inked with the Toronto Blue Jays. A down season offensively (84 OPS+) will keep that from happening, but his receiving skills and track record still make him the top backstop on the market and a safe bet for a multiyear deal.
Alex Avila (119 OPS+, 14 HR) and Chris Iannetta (114 OPS+, 17 HR) both quietly had terrific seasons at the plate and could be given starting jobs, while Nick Hundley has averaged 18 doubles and 10 home runs over 330 plate appearances the past five seasons.
Welington Castillo (115 OPS+, 20 HR) is the X-factor on the catching market. He has a $7 million player option that will likely be declined.
Veterans Rene Rivera, Miguel Montero, Carlos Ruiz, A.J. Ellis, Ryan Hanigan and Jose Lobaton are all available as backup options.
Eric Hosmer picked a good time to post a career-best .882 OPS while slugging 25 home runs and driving in 94 runs. Those numbers, coupled with the fact that he just turned 28 years old, should mean a hefty payday that could eclipse $100 million if some of the big-market clubs get involved.
On-base machine Carlos Santana has 30-homer power to go along with his .365 career on-base percentage, and he's become an average defensive first baseman to boot.
Logan Morrison (135 OPS+, 38 HR) and Yonder Alonso (133 OPS+, 28 HR) could both receive multiyear interest after breakout offensive seasons, while Mitch Moreland (99 OPS+, 22 HR, 10 DRS) once again provided 20-homer pop and plus defense on a one-year, $5.5 million deal.
Mark Reynolds, Lucas Duda, Mike Napoli, John Jaso and Danny Valencia make up the best of the rest.
It's a thin second base market behind Neil Walker, who will likely have to take a pay cut after earning $17.2 million last year on a qualifying offer
The 32-year-old posted an .843 OPS with 12 extra-base hits and 13 RBI in 38 games after clearing waivers and being traded to the Brewers in August to help give his stock a shot in the arm. Don't rule out a reunion in Milwaukee.
Aging stars Brandon Phillips and Chase Utley will also be available, as well as Howie Kendrick, who has actually seen more time in left field than at second base in recent years.
Will the Reds give Zack Cozart a qualifying offer?
A career year offensively (141 OPS+, 24 HR) and his usual solid defense added up to a 4.9 WAR, but the list of teams looking for a starting shortstop is short.
Unless someone like the San Diego Padres or Kansas City Royals is willing to pony up, a return to Cincinnati still makes the most sense.
Light-hitting Alcides Escobar, veteran Erick Aybar and utility man Adam Rosales are the alternatives.
Mike Moustakas turned 29 in September, and he set a franchise record with 38 home runs, but he doesn't have the elite earning power that some might expect.
That gaudy home run total was accompanied by a subpar .314 on-base percentage, and he graded out as a below-average defender (-8 DRS, -3.6 UZR/150) at the hot corner. He'll easily get multiple years and $15 million-plus annually, but he's not headed for a $100 million megadeal.
Meanwhile, Todd Frazier and Eduardo Nunez both represent intriguing alternatives.
Frazier still has 30-homer power, a good glove and a great clubhouse presence, and he could be a candidate for a one-year deal to try to rebuild his stock.
Nunez brings 30-steal speed, some sneaky pop and the defensive versatility to play all over the infield and some outfield. He's a fit on any team, and not necessarily with third base as his primary destination.
Yunel Escobar, Trevor Plouffe, Jhonny Peralta and Jose Reyes are also available.
Martinez and Bruce are both strong candidates to re-sign with the teams they joined late in the 2017 season via trade, as the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Indians both make sense as long-term destinations.
Beyond those two, it's the likes of Curtis Granderson, Melky Cabrera, Seth Smith, Nori Aoki and one-year, prove-it deal candidate Carlos Gonzalez who headline the remaining crop of corner bats.
The Justin Upton opt-out decision also has to be taken into consideration with this group.
Even entering his age-32 season and with skills that might not age particularly well, he could wind up landing a five-year deal from a team that views him as the missing piece to win now.
Carlos Gomez was limited to 105 games, but he posted an .802 OPS with 23 doubles and 17 home runs in 426 plate appearances, and that could be enough for him to find a multiyear deal after settling for a one-year pact last winter.
Defense and speed continue to drive Jarrod Dyson's value, and he was quietly a 2.6 WAR player with the Mariners. He fits best as a fourth outfielder but could find a starting center field gig in a thin market.
Austin Jackson, Jon Jay and Cameron Maybin all enjoyed productive seasons and should have no problem finding at least platoon playing time.
Free-Agent Starting Pitcher Preview
The right-handed starting pitching market is headlined by two huge questions: Will Shohei Ohtani be posted and will Masahiro Tanaka opt out of his contract?
Those two would join Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta as the front-line options available to this year's free-agent shoppers. Regardless, expect Darvish and Arrieta to land deals north of $100 million.
It's the second-tier arms that carry the intrigue.
Alex Cobb proved healthy on the heels of Tommy John surgery, and he joins Lance Lynn as a safe bet for at least four years and an annual salary north of $15 million.
Riskier options with middle-of-the-rotation upside include Andrew Cashner, Tyler Chatwood and Jeremy Hellickson.
The low-cost market includes Jhoulys Chacin, Trevor Cahill, Doug Fister, Miguel Gonzalez, Scott Feldman and Chris Tillman, while the retirement decisions of John Lackey, Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey will also be a factor.
It's slim pickings for teams looking to add a lefty starter.
Jaime Garcia pitched well enough to be traded twice in July, and he topped 150 innings for a second straight season, which should get him multiple years as a middle-of-the-rotation option.
Veteran CC Sabathia proved he had something left in the tank by going 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA during the season and 1-1 with a 2.37 ERA and .216 opponents' batting average in four postseason starts, but he's 37 years old and will likely have to settle for a one-year deal.
All-Star Jason Vargas was terrific in the early going, but he crashed back to earth with a 6.66 ERA and 1.61 WHIP over his final 16 starts.
Hector Santiago, Brett Anderson, Francisco Liriano, Derek Holland and Tommy Milone will also be looking for new homes, and they'll likely be joined by Wade Miley, who has a $12 million option that carries a $500,000 buyout.
Free-Agent Relief Pitcher Preview
Unlike last offseason when Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon all cashed in with huge free-agent deals, the market for proven closers is decidedly thin this winter.
Wade Davis is the best of the bunch by a wide margin, and he should have no trouble topping the four-year, $62 million deal that Melancon got as a result, even with some injury concerns.
Greg Holland (41/45 SV, 3.61 ERA) and Fernando Rodney (39/45 SV, 4.23 ERA) both spent the season closing for playoff teams, while Brandon Kintzler (29/35 SV, 3.03 ERA) and Matt Belisle (9/14 SV, 4.03 ERA) split duties for the surprise Twins.
Pat Neshek was an All-Star; Addison Reed is one of the game's elite setup relievers, and he also has 125 career saves to his credit; and Bryan Shaw leads the majors with 378 appearances over the past five seasons while posting a 3.11 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.
Brandon Morrow and Anthony Swarzak came out of nowhere to emerge as reliable late-inning arms and strong candidates for a multiyear deal.
Juan Nicasio, Luke Gregerson, Tyler Clippard, Matt Albers, Steve Cishek, Sergio Romo, Joaquin Benoit and David Hernandez should all be able to secure MLB deals.
Jake McGee (62 G, 20 HLD, 3.61 ERA, 9.1 K/9) and Tony Watson (71 G, 14 HLD, 3.38 ERA, 7.2 K/9) represent the top tier of the southpaw reliever market.
Both could surpass the four-year, $30.5 million deal that Brett Cecil signed with the Cardinals last offseason, especially considering the lack of other options.
Mike Minor (65 G, 17 HLD, 2.55 ERA, 10.2 K/9) and Brian Duensing (68 G, 13 HLD, 2.74 ERA, 8.8 K/9) should also be able to secure multiyear pacts after last winter saw Marc Rzepczynski sign a two-year, $11 million deal with the Mariners.
Oliver Perez, Jorge De La Rosa, Fernando Abad and Francisco Liriano—provided he doesn't find a starting gig—will also be candidates for MLB deals.
Potential Sellers to Watch
The Reds are already a few years along in the rebuilding process, and they could be looking to deal once again this winter.
Relievers Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen and Wandy Peralta would all generate significant interest if shopped, and center fielder Billy Hamilton still brings elite speed and defense to the table, despite his offensive shortcomings.
With a rebuild now officially underway, the Tigers will be looking to unload any remaining veteran talent this offseason.
That could include the middle infield tandem of Ian Kinsler and Jose Iglesias, who are both headed for free agency after the 2018 season.
If they decide to take it one step further, young starter Michael Fulmer and standout reliever Shane Greene with his team control through the 2020 season would both fetch a sizeable return.
The new ownership group is looking to trim the payroll to $90 million and will be actively shopping Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Martin Prado as a result, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
Relievers Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa will also be dangled again, and starter Edinson Volquez could carry some value in a thin market.
Whether they'll go all-in on rebuilding and also shop the likes of Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto and Dan Straily is unclear.
Executive vice president Billy Beane didn't mince words when it came to committing the Athletics to a full rebuild in the years to come, and the decision to trade Sonny Gray only furthered that sentiment.
While there are no obvious big-money veterans to unload, it's worth testing the market on slugger Khris Davis and young starters Sean Manaea and Kendall Graveman.
Veteran utility man Jed Lowrie will likely have his reasonable $6 million team option exercised in favor of a $1 million buyout, but that doesn't mean he won't be moved shortly thereafter.
Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
It was an up-and-down season for Masahiro Tanaka, but he finished it on a high note.
After tossing seven shutout innings and striking out a career-high 15 in his final start of the regular season, he went 2-1 with a 0.90 ERA and 0.65 WHIP in three playoff starts.
Opting out now would mean leaving three years and $67 million on the table.
Even amid ongoing concerns about the stability of his partially torn UCL and after some inconsistent results during his 2017 campaign, he should be able to land a five-year deal and more guaranteed money—even if he doesn't quite match that annual salary.
Will He Opt Out: Yes: 4, No: 1
Justin Upton, Los Angeles Angels
Justin Upton posted a career-low .775 OPS in the first season of a six-year, $132.5 million deal with the Tigers, but he bounced back with one of the best seasons of his career in 2017.
He was traded to the Angels in August, and he made a strong impression in his brief time with the team, posting an .887 OPS with seven home runs and 15 RBI in 27 games.
He's still only 30 years old and should be able to top the four years and $88.5 million left on his current deal. Even if he does opt out, expect the Angels to make a strong push to bring him back.
Will He Opt Out: Yes: 5, No: 0
SP Jake Arrieta
Gould (Dodgers): A disastrous World Series start from Yu Darvish could prompt the Dodgers to pivot to Arrieta, who was wild but effective in his postseason turns.
Knobler (Dodgers): A pitcher with great stuff who spent time on the disabled list? The Dodgers always seem to see that as a perfect fit.
Reuter (Phillies): After a disappointing season that didn't result in the step forward many were anticipating, expect the Phillies to be more aggressive this winter. Adding a proven front-line starter to slot alongside Aaron Nola in the rotation would go a long way, and Arrieta has already been a key part of one successful rebuild.
Rymer (Phillies): This might be a long shot, but they should be thinking about using their deep pockets to kick-start their rebuild. Their rotation, which could use a steady veteran, is a good spot for a sizable investment.
Shafer (Angels): With a depleted farm system, the Angels' only hope of getting Mike Trout back to the postseason and challenging the Dodgers for attention and eyeballs in Southern California is via free agency. Arrieta joining Garrett Richards atop the rotation would be as flashy as it would be expensive.
RF Jay Bruce
Gould (Red Sox): The Red Sox need a power bat, and Bruce has hit at least 25 homers in seven of the last eight seasons. He would have to move to first base—where he logged some reps for the Mets in 2017—or designated hitter, but he would remain in the heart of the playoff picture.
Knobler (Phillies): They reportedly chased him last winter when it would have taken a trade with the Mets. Seems like a fit as a respected veteran to go with their rebuilding team.
Reuter (Indians): Whether he's signed as a replacement for Carlos Santana in the first base platoon or as an insurance policy for Michael Brantley in the outfield, bringing back Bruce makes plenty of sense for the Indians.
Rymer (Blue Jays): They're a candidate to bounce back in 2018 even if they do nothing, and signing Bruce to fill Jose Bautista's shoes in right field would be a nice boost.
Shafer (Indians): It's easy to forget after their disappointing division-series exit, but Bruce injected life and veteran leadership into the Indians lineup after coming over from the Mets. He won't get the Tribe over the long-delayed championship hump by himself, but the residual good vibes could lead to a reunion.
CF Lorenzo Cain
Gould (Mariners): Seattle needs another starting outfielder, and the franchise showed a penchant for strong defenders last offseason. After finishing No. 23 in OPS against lefties, the squad can also use the Gold Glove finalist's platoon split to balance out a lineup with plenty of pop.
Knobler (Rangers): The Royals seem to have other priorities. The Rangers have reportedly wanted him in the past and tend to like adding good athletes.
Reuter (Rangers): Make no mistake: The Rangers' biggest need is pitching. However, signing a couple of midlevel starters and adding Cain as a defensive upgrade in center field and strong on-base presence could be the preferred offseason approach.
Rymer (Giants): No team needs a defensive upgrade in center field as badly as the Giants.
Shafer (Rangers): The Rangers will try to return to relevance in the AL West and the Lone Star State after watching the Astros' inspiring run. They'll need to spend on the rotation, but they could also use outfield reinforcements. Cain is on the wrong side of 30, yet he still grades as a plus center fielder on both sides of the ball.
SP Alex Cobb
Gould (Cubs): This pick is contingent on Arrieta signing elsewhere. Although Cobb is not a perfect replacement, moving from the AL East to the NL Central behind a flexible defense will help the ground-ball hurler.
Knobler (Cubs): If we assume Arrieta leaves, you have to figure the Cubs will be chasing starting pitching. And with ex-Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey already joining ex-Rays manager Joe Maddon on the North Side, Cobb would seem like a logical choice to follow them.
Reuter (Cubs): The fit makes too much sense. The Cubs need to plug holes in the rotation, and Cobb has a history with manager Joe Maddon and new pitching coach Jim Hickey. He won't come cheaply, but he'll be a bargain compared to what it would cost to re-sign Arrieta.
Rymer (Dodgers): He's a relatively affordable and unheralded starter with ties to Dodgers boss Andrew Friedman, who used to run the Tampa Bay Rays.
Shafer (Cubs): The Cubbies will need to buttress the rotation if Arrieta bolts, but they're probably unwilling to spend on a top-shelf starter. Cobb rates a tick below that level but is an intriguing option after successfully returning from Tommy John surgery.
SS Zack Cozart
Gould (Reds): Cincinnati could not find a taker during the summer, as most spenders and contenders are set at shortstop. As a result, Cozart stays put for a relatively team-friendly deal.
Knobler (Reds): Hard to imagine the market will be that strong after the Reds weren't able to trade him at midseason (at least not for what they could get back). They've said they're willing to explore a new deal, so maybe that happens.
Reuter (Reds): I just don't see an obvious fit anywhere else. The Padres and Royals won't want to spend the money, and Ketel Marte showed enough down the stretch that he's earned his shot with the Diamondbacks. Who else has a clear need at shortstop?
Rymer (Diamondbacks): They established themselves as contenders in 2017. Now they should push the envelope by patching their shortstop weakness with one of the more underrated shortstops in the game.
Shafer (Royals): The Royals might lose numerous stars to free agency. If Cain, Hosmer and/or Moustakas depart, Cozart and his 5.0 fWAR would be a fine consolation prize. Plus, in a less-than-robust market for shortstops, he may come at a (relative) bargain.
SP Yu Darvish
Gould (Rangers): Aroldis Chapman didn't hold a midseason trade against the Yankees last year. The Rangers desperately need pitching, so Darvish returns to his former team for a huge raise.
Knobler (Mariners): He's never won at Safeco and has a 5.79 ERA in four starts there, but Seattle always figures as a desired landing spot for a Japanese pitcher.
Reuter (Mariners): I'm stuck on the idea of the Mariners making an early push to sign Darvish and then using him to help recruit Shohei Otani. I'm not convinced it will work, but the Mariners need pitching regardless, and general manager Jerry Dipoto is willing to spend to snap that postseason drought.
Rymer (Rangers): There didn't seem to be any hard feelings when the two sides parted ways in July. Besides which, Texas' rotation sorely needs strikeouts.
Shafer (Astros): The 'Stros have officially moved into the realm of MLB's elite. Sure, they took on Justin Verlander's contract at the trade deadline and also have Dallas Keuchel. Shelling out for Darvish seems like a stretch. With a homegrown core and a strong headwind, though, look for management to open the purse strings.
RP Wade Davis
Gould (Cardinals): Juan Nicasio, Zach Duke and Seung-Hwan Oh are all free agents, and Trevor Rosenthal will miss most—if not all—of 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery. In need of a major bullpen boost, the Cardinals poach a free agent from their NL Central rival for the second straight offseason.
Knobler (Cardinals): They took a leadoff man from the Cubs last winter. So why not take a closer from their rivals this time around?
Reuter (Cubs): Ideally, deadline-pickup Justin Wilson would have continued his strong season and convinced the Cubs' front office that he was capable of replacing Davis in the closer's role. That didn't happen—he posted a 5.09 ERA and walked 19 batters in 17.2 innings after joining the team in July—so expect the Cubs to make every effort to bring Davis back.
Rymer (Cubs): The Cubs can't afford to lose him from their bullpen. And now they have new pitching coach Jim Hickey, who worked with Davis in Tampa Bay, to help lure him back.
Shafer (Cubs): The Cubs' bullpen wobbled in the postseason, but Davis was solid overall and the Cubs don't have any can't-miss alternatives to replace him in the ninth inning.
3B Josh Donaldson
Gould (Blue Jays): The Blue Jays should commence a rebuild by trading Donaldson this winter, and the Cardinals pair perfectly with young pitching and lineup depth to offer. Yet a move will probably have to wait until July as Toronto tries to extend its contention window for one more season.
Knobler (Blue Jays): It probably makes the most sense to trade him in the final winter before free agency. But he has said he'd like to stay, and after drawing 3.2 million while nearly finishing in last place, ownership isn't going to want to alienate fans.
Reuter (Blue Jays): Tempting as it was to play contrarian, the Blue Jays will likely make one last attempt at contending with this group, and that means holding onto Donaldson. If they're out of it come July, he'll be the prize of the trade deadline.
Rymer (Blue Jays): They'll keep him around for a last hurrah in 2018.
Shafer (Blue Jays): If the Jays are basement-dwellers again next season, they could move Donaldson at the trade deadline, but no one will blow them away with a big enough offer to swap him this winter.
1B Eric Hosmer
Gould (Royals): The Royals won't want to lose all of their top free agents, and retaining Hosmer appears to be their top priority. Although the Yankees and Red Sox could drive up his price, they shouldn't spark a bidding war for a first baseman with a career .781 OPS.
Knobler (Royals): They probably never thought they'd have a chance to keep him, and maybe it's still a long shot. But most of the biggest-money teams are already set at first base.
Reuter (Royals): With a weak farm system and little in the way of young, controllable assets to build around, giving Hosmer a $100 million-plus deal might not be in the Royals' best interest. It sounds like they're set on keeping him around, though.
Rymer (Royals): Kansas City is where he fits best, and it's not even close. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising if they brought him back for less than his initial asking price.
Shafer (Royals): Of all the Royals' free agents, the popular Hosmer is most likely to stick around, considering the market for first basemen won't be massive.
SP Lance Lynn
Gould (Phillies): The Phillies have a lot of money to spend and many innings to eat. Rather than swinging for the fences with Arrieta or Darvish, they bolster their rotation with Lynn and wait another year before making any major signings.
Knobler (Phillies): It's a good winter to be a free-agent starter, so Lynn should do well. The Phillies, with almost no certainty in their 2018 rotation, may be as desperate as anyone to upgrade.
Reuter (Rangers): One potential Rangers offseason script: They kick the tires on bringing back Yu Darvish but instead settle on signing Lorenzo Cain and Lance Lynn while also bringing back Andrew Cashner. Would that be enough to return to wild-card contention?
Rymer (Cubs): He'd be a cheaper, logical and potentially just as affective replacement for Arrieta.
Shafer (Rangers): Again, this is predicated on the assumption that the Rangers will be buying to get back to the playoffs. Lynn isn't Darvish, whom many Rangers fans would surely like to have back, but he's a solid mid-rotation option who won't break the bank.
OF J.D. Martinez
Gould (Diamondbacks): Losing Martinez could hurt the Diamondbacks twofold if he flees to the Dodgers or Giants. He enjoyed his short time in Chase Field with 16 homers in 30 games, and durability and defensive concerns could keep the slugger in their price range.
Knobler (Diamondbacks): They saw the impact he made on their team after trading for him. Despite limits, they seem to be able to spend when they really want someone, and they should want to keep J.D.
Reuter (Diamondbacks): Don't underestimate the power of a budding bromance.
Rymer (Red Sox): The Red Sox need power. Martinez has lots of it. The fit isn't ideal beyond that, but the Red Sox could give him at-bats at DH, in either corner outfield spot and perhaps first base.
Shafer (Diamondbacks): The NL West-rival Giants could make a play, as could many other teams, but after what he did in a D-backs uni, it's tough to imagine Arizona not keeping Martinez in the desert.
3B Mike Moustakas
Gould (Angels): Whether or not Justin Upton opts out, the Angels need another significant offensive upgrade. Moustakas is their best bet to bolster a subpar infield beyond Andrelton Simmons, and the Angels are typically not shy spenders.
Knobler (Angels): After watching the Dodgers play in the World Series against one of their AL West rivals, the Angels should be motivated to make a move this winter. Having grown up in Southern California, Moustakas would likely be happy to listen.
Reuter (Angels): Regardless of what happens with Justin Upton and his opt-out clause, the offense-needy Angels look like a perfect match for Moustakas. The club's third basemen ranked 25th in the majors in OPS (.713), and its left-handed batters were even worse (.689 OPS, 30th in MLB).
Rymer (Cardinals): They need a power bat to help them catch up in the NL Central, and third base is a good place to put one.
Shafer (Giants): Pablo Sandoval's reunion with the Orange and Black did not go well, and San Francisco traded speedy Eduardo Nunez to the Red Sox at the deadline. That leaves a gaping hole at third, which the retooling, punchless Giants may fill with Moustakas and his 38 dingers.
SP/DH Shohei Otani
Gould (Yankees): International spending limit caps any spending advantage, but the Yankees can still recruit Otani with a big market and a young, loaded roster that will allow the two-way star to contend on a grand platform before exploring a truly unfettered market.
Knobler (Yankees): The rules won't allow them to use all their money to separate them, but they have New York and a strong team on the rise to offer. They also have a history with Japanese players (Matsui, Tanaka and more).
Reuter (Yankees): The Yankees knew how to market Hideki Matsui when he made the jump from Japan, and they'll be able to do the same with Otani. The Big Apple would provide the two-way star with ample endorsement opportunities to help offset the money he's leaving on the table by not waiting to come stateside.
Rymer (Yankees): Because it's frankly impossible to imagine a more perfect fit.
Shafer (Yankees): It won't be about the money for Otani, which means it will be about the prestige and opportunity to win. The up-and-coming Yankees and their pedigree/history/profile offer both. The only question is if they'll let him pitch and DH.
1B Carlos Santana
Gould (Indians): Santana is a huge piece to Cleveland's championship puzzle, and there's less risk of someone else overpaying with a deep first base market. While Boston also makes sense, Cleveland continues its title pursuit by retaining the consistent on-base fiend.
Knobler (Indians): They let Mike Napoli leave last winter and spent the money (and more) on Edwin Encarnacion. They might be more inclined to keep Santana.
Reuter (Red Sox): Mitch Moreland earned every penny of his one-year, $5.5 million deal, but the Red Sox will likely go in a different direction at first base. The switch-hitting Santana would provide some needed punch to a team that slipped from ninth to 27th in home runs.
Rymer (Indians): If they can't bring back Bruce, it would make a lot of sense to bring back Santana to continue serving in a DH/1B rotation with Edwin Encarnacion.
Shafer (Red Sox): If the Indians bring back Bruce, that may push Santana out. Enter the Red Sox, who could insert the slugger into the first base/DH mix.
RF Giancarlo Stanton
Gould (Dodgers): Despite their deep pockets, the Dodgers tend to diversify their financial risks. They also have a higher budget than anyone and the prospects necessary to entice the Marlins if they want the California native.
Knobler (Giants): He has the power to say no to any deal, but as a California kid, how could he say no to San Francisco? The Giants could use the boost, and they have a little history with guys hitting home runs, don't they?
Reuter (Dodgers): Money is going to be the sticking point here, but the Dodgers won't bat an eye at the $285 million left on his contract, especially if taking the bulk of that money on limits the prospect talent they have to send the other way.
Rymer (Giants): Coming off a 59-homer season, Stanton would be a huge boost to an offense that just finished dead-last in MLB in homers. Making a trade work will be the tricky part, but it helps that the Giants aren't short on cash.
Shafer (Marlins): The consensus seems to be that Stanton will be traded by the Marlins' new ownership group. Maybe he will be, but because of the whopping size of his contract and the Fish's rich history of confounding, I'll bet it doesn't get done before Opening Day.