Players like Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Mike Moustakas, Wade Davis and Eric Hosmer are among the big names set to become free agents this winter, and they justifiably will dominate the MLB rumor mill in the weeks to come.
But what about the less buzzworthy free agents? Where do we stand on some of the players who could be potential steals for the teams who sign them?
Let's break it down.
CC Sabathia and Todd Frazier
Let's start with CC Sabathia. On Oct. 12, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported that "the Yankees would like to bring him back on a one-year deal, if possible—though the way he's pitched, there will be outside interest."
Joel Sherman of the New York Post believes the interest will be mutual:
"Still, I think Sabathia wants to stay and would do it on a one-year deal that would not be overly burdensome and, if so, bring him back. It allows the stashing of depth that is always needed. Sabathia has transformed himself to a valuable five-, six-inning starter. Plus, he is revered in the clubhouse and with so much youth around, veterans such as [Brett] Gardner and Sabathia remain valuable."
The Yankees perspective on a reunion is clear: Sabathia is a veteran leader who can provide a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm.
"He's as good as I've ever been around when it comes to a clubhouse guy, a guy that will take the ball when you're on a losing streak or that you can count on," manager Joe Girardi after Game 7, per Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com. "Our players can learn a lot from CC. The kind of fighter that he is. The things that he has to overcome to be successful."
He wasn't just good in the clubhouse, however; he was also good on the mound. Last year, Sabathia finished 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 120 strikeouts in 148.2 innings pitched. The 37-year-old went 1-1 in four postseason appearances with a 2.37 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 19 strikeouts in 19 innings.
That kind of production in the middle of your rotation is valuable.
But the Yankees probably offer Sabathia as much as he offers them. They have a talented young team and, of course, offer all the amenities a successful and lucrative organization brings to its players. It's little secret the Yankees are a desired destination.
Perhaps more importantly, however, the Yankees are beginning their ascent, loaded with potential superstars and a stocked farm system. They'll be one of the American League favorites heading into 2018 and may offer Sabathia as good a chance to win another World Series title as any other organization.
Fellow Yankee and pending free agent Todd Frazier perhaps said it best.
"You look at the youth of this team, my god," he noted, per Steve Politi of NJ.com. "From our first baseman [Greg Bird] to our right fielder [Aaron Judge] to Didi [Gregorius], I could just name four or five guys that didn't even make the roster that are still going to be biting at the bit. It's going to be a good Yankee team for a while."
He added, "This is the best group I've been around in baseball, to be honest with you. You see these guys giving hugs to everybody and obviously tears...it's a great group, it's a fun group to be around. The way the Yankee organization brought me in like one of their own straight from the get-go, I couldn't be happier."
Sabathia's interest in returning to the Yankees is suspected but unknown. Frazier was more forthright.
"I would love to be back here," he said. "I've said that numerous times."
Sabathia seems like a lock to return to the Yankees. But given some of the young talent the Yankees are looking to find a place for—Gleyber Torres, most notably—keeping Frazier is likely a much lower priority for the team.
Prediction: Sabathia returns; Frazier signs elsewhere.
The St. Louis Cardinals need a closer. Seung Hwan Oh posted 20 saves last year but blew four opportunities and had a 4.10 ERA. Trevor Rosenthal missed the final month-and-a-half of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Suffice to say, the team is keen to address the position.
"The top priority this offseason is closer, and that pitcher will most likely come from outside the organization," the team's president of baseball operations, John Mozeliak, told the Tim McKernan Show.
Veteran free agent Greg Holland would appear to fit the bill. On Oct. 12, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the Cardinals "plan to pounce" on Holland in free agency. Yes, the team could splash the cash for a player like Wade Davis, but they stayed out of last offseason bidding war for players like Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen.
So Holland is probably more in their price bracket. While he had his ups and downs in 2017, he finished the year with 41 saves in 45 opportunities, a 3.61 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 70 strikeouts in 57.1 innings.
If the Cardinals are truly intent on pouncing on Holland—and the marriage would certainly be a logical one—it's easy to see Holland coming off the market quickly.
Prediction: Cardinals sign Holland.
Will Jonathan Lucroy return to the Colorado Rockies? According to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, both parties want a reunion.
"It's always great to be involved in a team that's hunting the same goal, hunting the same thing—a championship ring," Lucroy said before the Rockies' 11-8 National League Wild Card Game loss to the D-backs. "The positive side for this club is, it's just going to make them better for next year, and for years after that."
Harding wrote: "Lucroy is headed for free agency, but the Rockies are expected to attempt to turn his 'them' into 'us.'"
Lucroy certainly thrived once he joined the Rockies in August, hitting .310 with six homers and 40 RBI in 46 games. That, in turn, helped lead the Rockies to the postseason.
Keeping a veteran slugger in the middle of the lineup like Lucroy would certainly keep the Rockies in the hunt for another trip to the playoffs.
Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post believes Lucroy will probably need to prepare himself for a bit of pay cut, however, noting that "his payday is likely to come down considerably. It’s reasonable to think Lucroy could get a three-year deal, a bit more lucrative than the $24.5 million contract Minnesota awarded Jason Castro."
If the Rockies are willing to offer the 31-year-old that type of contract—and if Lucroy is willing to sign for that price point, likely below his market value before he stumbled to a slow start in 2017 with the Texas Rangers—a reunion seems more than feasible.
Lucroy will have his share of suitors. The Rockies may find themselves in a bit of a bidding war. But Lucroy thrived in Colorado, and the Rockies have a talented core. Returning to Colorado if the price is right makes sense.
Prediction: Lucroy re-signs.
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