MLB Free Agents 2018: Rumors, Predictions for Bryce Harper, Nathan Eovaldi, More

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2018

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 18:  Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox pitches in the eighth inning against the Houston Astros during Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 18, 2018 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The first major trade of the MLB offseason went down on Monday, as the New York Yankees acquired left-hander James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners.

It's a move that could have a ripple effect on the starting pitching market, though it doesn't necessarily preclude the Yankees from adding another top-tier starter.

Rumors continue to swirl around Patrick Corbin, Nathan Eovaldi and J.A. Happ, while the market also holds its collective breath in anticipation of the potential record-breaking deals that could be handed to Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

Ahead is a look at the latest notable rumors from around the free-agent market.


Yankees Still Interested in Patrick Corbin, J.A. Happ

Patrick Corbin
Patrick CorbinDenis Poroy/Getty Images

Despite trading for James Paxton in a deal that sent top prospect Justus Sheffield to the Mariners, the Yankees are still showing interest in some of the top free-agent arms on the market.

Jon Morosi @jonmorosi

Source: #Yankees remain interested in free agents Patrick Corbin and J.A. Happ, following the James Paxton deal. Yankees are placing a higher priority on adding one more starting pitcher than signing Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. @MLB @MLBNetwork

Here's a look at the Yankees' current rotation and their 2018 stats:

  • Luis Severino: 19-8, 3.39 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 220 K, 191.1 IP
  • James Paxton: 11-6, 3.76 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 208 K, 160.1 IP
  • Masahiro Tanaka: 12-6, 3.75 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 159 K, 156.0 IP
  • CC Sabathia: 9-7, 3.65 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 140 K, 153.0 IP
  • Jonathan Loaisiga: 2-0, 5.11 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 33 K, 24.2 IP

Technically, Sonny Gray would be the No. 5 starter if the season opened today. However, the team has received multiple offers for the beleaguered right-hander, according to Andy Martino of SNY.tv, and he's expected to be traded this offseason.

With inexperience in the No. 5 starter spot and both Sabathia and Paxton risky to count on for anything beyond 150 innings, it's not surprising to see the Yankees still scouring the pitching market.

The question now is whether they'll be willing to meet what is expected to be a steep asking price for the left-handed Corbin, or if they'd now prefer more of a short-term commitment that would come with re-signing Happ.

Regardless, expect at least one more starter to be added to the mix before Opening Day.

Prediction: Yankees re-sign Happ on a two-year, $30 million deal.


Braves Not Interested in Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
Bryce HarperDustin Bradford/Getty Images

With money to spend and a hole to fill in right field, the Atlanta Braves have often been named among the speculative landing spots for Bryce Harper.

However, such a move doesn't seem to be in the team's plans, at least according to the sources of one beat writer.

David O'Brien @DOBrienATL

And having said that, I was almost immediately assured (again) by someone I trust in these matters that the #Braves are not -- repeat *not* -- in on Harper and this person doesn't think they will be, said no way they'd give 10-year deal, etc. So, there ya go. Quashing my rumor. https://t.co/2hgL9vUkPY

The departure of veteran Nick Markakis in free agency has left the Braves with a clear hole to fill in the outfield, and while adding Harper would be a splashy move, it might not be in the team's best interest long term.

Instead, they could opt to sign Andrew McCutchen at a fraction of the price or even re-up with Markakis after he posted a 117 OPS+ with 43 doubles, 14 home runs and 93 RBI en route to his first All-Star Game appearance.

Moving top prospect Austin Riley to the outfield is also worth considering, as he's currently blocked by 2018 breakout star Johan Camargo at third base.

Prediction: Harper signs elsewhere; Braves sign McCutchen to a three-year deal.


"Everyone and Their Mother" Interested in Nathan Eovaldi

Nathan Eovaldi
Nathan EovaldiBob Levey/Getty Images

Calling the market for Nathan Eovaldi robust might be an understatement, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com explained the current landscape:

"According to one major league source "everybody and their mother" are expressing some sort of interest in the free agent pitcher. In other words, there is little to glean from the current market when it comes to Eovaldi.

According to multiple sources, the belief is that the truly serious suitors will distinguish themselves after the Thanksgiving holiday, with the Major League Baseball winter meetings scheduled three weeks from Monday."

That comes on the heels of a report from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that listed the Angels, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, Giants, Padres, Phillies, Red Sox and White Sox among the teams that are believed to have shown some level of interest.

After missing the entire 2017 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, Eovaldi turned himself into a hot commodity with a strong regular season and a brilliant run in October.

The 28-year-old went 6-7 with a 3.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 101 strikeouts in 111 innings during the regular season and then rattled off a 1.61 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in 22.1 innings during the playoffs.

An improved cutter to pair with his triple-digit fastball has helped take his game to another level, and despite his injury history and limited track record of success, the widespread interest could result in a five-year deal that approaches $100 million.

Prediction: Red Sox re-sign Eovaldi to a five-year, $90 million deal.


All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.