The 2018 World Series begins Tuesday night, as the Boston Red Sox welcome the Los Angeles Dodgers to Fenway Park for what promises to be another thrilling Fall Classic.
While the baseball world's collective focus is on that best-of-seven series, we're not too far removed from the start of the MLB offseason and the whirlwind of rumors and activity that another round of free agency brings.
Ahead is a quick look at some of the latest notable rumors surrounding some key names from the upcoming free-agent class.
Philadelphia Phillies the front-runner for Manny Machado?
Manny Machado has gone full heel this MLB postseason.
From his comments on how hustling is "not my cup of tea" to his kicking of Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar's foot at first base that led NL MVP front-runner Christian Yelich to call him a "dirty player," it's been an eventful couple of weeks for the free-agent-to-be.
In fact, it was enough for Jon Heyman of FanCred to raise the question in a recent headline: "Has Machado cost himself with his actions and words?"
Many expect Machado to take home a payday in excess of $300 million, including Heyman, though at least one rival executive seems to think only one team will be willing to approach that figure.
"The guess here is that he still gets the monster deal in the $300 million range because talent talks," wrote Heyman, "though one rival exec says his guess is that maybe 'no one but Philly' may be willing to go there now."
The Phillies have long been viewed as a potential landing spot for one or both of Machado and Bryce Harper. As they look to keep pace with the Atlanta Braves and take the next step in their rebuilding process, it makes sense that they'd still be willing to break the bank to add a superstar-caliber player.
To his credit, Machado has still been plenty productive this October amid the controversy, posting an .813 OPS with two doubles, three home runs and nine RBI in 11 games.
Prediction: Machado finds multiple teams willing to pay $300-plus million and eventually signs with the Los Angeles Angels.
Patrick Corbin market taking shape?
Patrick Corbin picked the perfect time for a career year.
In a thin market for impact starting pitching, the left-hander has positioned himself for a major payday after going 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 246 strikeouts—good for third in the National League—in 200 innings.
The 29-year-old has already been a popular speculative target of the New York Yankees, but Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe recently offered up a more comprehensive list of potential suitors:
"Considered the most sought-after pitcher on the market this winter. Corbin will have his pick, but it likely won’t be in Arizona, which is looking to strip payroll and start rebuilding. Corbin is expected to draw a lot of interest from the Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, and Braves. The deal likely could be at least five years in the $20 million-$25 million range."
We've already mentioned the Yankees, and the Braves also look like an excellent fit as they look for another experienced arm to slot alongside Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Gausman. The Dodgers also make sense, regardless of what happens with Clayton Kershaw and his opt-out clause.
On the other hand, the Giants are a bit of a head-scratcher. The last thing that team needs is another pricey long-term contract on the books, and there's a good chance San Francisco will be rebuilding rather than making a splash in free agency.
As the top arm available, it might take Corbin making a free-agency decision to kick the rest of the starting pitching market into gear this winter. As such, expect to hear his name early and often on the rumor mill.
Nathan Eovaldi to exceed four years and $43 million?
A strong argument can be made that no player has done more to increase his free-agent stock this season than Nathan Eovaldi.
The 28-year-old missed the entire 2017 campaign recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he has returned strong this season with the Tampa Bay Rays to emerge as one of the most coveted arms at the trade deadline.
The Boston Red Sox acquired him July 25, and he went on to post a 3.33 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 48 strikeouts in 54 innings in 11 starts and one relief appearance during the regular season. He's been even better this October:
- ALDS Game 3: W, 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
- ALCS Game 3: W, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
- ALCS Game 5: HLD, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
He'll have at least one World Series start to further boost his stock, but there's already a strong belief in the industry that he's going to cash in this winter, as Cafardo wrote: "Most executives think a comparable is Alex Cobb, who also came back from Tommy John and landed a four-year, $57 million deal with Baltimore last offseason. Eovaldi's pedigree exceeds Cobb's at this point, so his contract should be more lucrative."
The fact that he's still just 28 is also a chip in his favor, considering a starting pitcher market that includes Corbin (29), Dallas Keuchel (30), Wade Miley (31), Gio Gonzalez (33), Charlie Morton (34) and J.A. Happ (36).
The bigger question now might be how aggressively the Red Sox push to retain him.