2018 MLB Free Agents: Rumors and Predictions for Top Available Players

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2018

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 23:  Pitcher J.A. Happ #34 of the New York Yankees pitches in an MLB baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on September 23, 2018 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Orioles won 6-3. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

While the MLB world holds its collective breath in anticipation of a decision from superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the secondary free-agent market continues to be busy.

Andrew McCutchen became the latest domino to fall on Tuesday when he agreed to a three-year, $50 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, according to Matt Gelb of The Athletic.

Who will be the next notable player to sign?

Ahead is a look at some of the latest from the rumor mill.

     

Several Teams Targeting J.A. Happ, Lance Lynn

Lance Lynn
Lance LynnOmar Rawlings/Getty Images

The early signings of Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi have set the secondary starting pitching market into motion, and veterans J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn are two starters generating significant interest.

The Astros and Yankees both make sense as contenders with holes to fill in the rotation, while the Reds have made no secret of their interest in bolstering the starting rotation.

However, the Rangers and Blue Jays being in on both guys is somewhat surprising, as is the White Sox interest in Lynn.

All three of those teams are in serious need of rotation help, but it will be hard for them to justify outbidding the aforementioned contenders with contention likely out of reach in 2019. Then again, if the price is right, they have every reason to pounce.

Happ, 36, went 17-6 with a 3.65 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 193 strikeouts in 177.2 innings last season, including a 7-0 record and 2.69 ERA in 11 starts with the Yankees following a deadline trade with the Blue Jays.

Lynn, 31, also joined the Yankees at the deadline after signing a one-year deal with the Twins last winter. While he went a combined 10-10 with a 4.77 ERA in 156.2 innings in 2018, he's just a year removed from a 3.43 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over 186.1 innings in his final year in St. Louis.

     

White Sox, Mets Interested in Yasmani Grandal

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26:  Yasmani Grandal #9 of the Los Angeles Dodgers singles during the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox in Game Three of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Ezr
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The market for top free-agent catchers Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos will likely have to wait to fully develop until the Miami Marlins pull the trigger on trading J.T. Realmuto.

That said, a couple of teams are already putting in work on Grandal.

The Athletics, Brewers and Rockies are among the contending teams with a hole to fill at the catcher position, so they could speculatively get involved at some point as well.

Beyond the two top-tier free-agent options, Martin Maldonado, Jonathan Lucroy, Devin Mesoraco, Nick Hundley, Matt Wieters and James McCann are also looking for new homes. High-priced veterans Francisco Cervelli and Russell Martin could also be had via trade.

          

Reds Eyeing Wade Miley

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 17:  Pitcher Wade Miley #20 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches during the first inning of Game Five of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, Ca
Pool/Getty Images

Wade Miley made good on a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers last offseason, battling injuries early before going 5-2 with a 2.57 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 80.2 innings.

Based on that performance, he understandably has higher hopes for his earning potential this time around.

One team showing early interest is the Reds, as they continue to cast a wide net in their search for rotation help.

The 32-year-old was shielded a bit this past season by Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell's quick trigger to call on the bullpen, so he'll need to find the right situation to thrive.

     

Ian Kinsler Drawing Widespread Interest

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 29: Ian Kinsler #5 of the Boston Red Sox holds the World Series trophy as the team travels to Boston after winning the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 29, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bi
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

There's a robust market for second base help this offseason, and that could leave someone like Ian Kinsler waiting for other chips to fall before he signs a new contract.

That said, a number of teams are showing at least preliminary interest.

The 36-year-old posted an 87 OPS+ with 26 doubles, 14 home runs and 16 steals last season while also taking home his second Gold Glove Award thanks to some sterling defensive metrics (10 DRS, 9.4 UZR/150) at the keystone.

Once the aforementioned Jed Lowrie and DJ LeMahieu sign, he could quickly find a new home.

     

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

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