MLB Free Agent Breakdown, Part III


Japanese superstar two-way player Shohei Otani is one of the hottest free agents on the market this season. (Courtesy of Twitter)

By Evan Biancardi

Japanese superstar two-way player Shohei Otani is one of the hottest free agents on the market this season. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The free agent market continues to drag on, but on the bright side, it gives us more time to predict where players will land. Even though only a few players have signed, it is likely that once one big name falls, the rest will follow suit rather quickly. Here are some notable pitchers that could shake things up.

Starting Pitchers
There are too many starters to even discuss, but there are only a few top-of-the-rotation arms that could see sizable contracts. Ironically, though, the biggest name on the market will be among the cheapest. Japanese phenome Shohei Otani was posted last week, and it’ll take a $20 million bidding fee in order for teams to be able to negotiate with the two-way star. From there, teams are eligible to offer only what they have in their international signing pool budget, which isn’t much. Once Otani signs within the next few weeks, the market will most definitely open up for Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish and Alex Cobb. Teams that are heavily pursuing these big names include the Yankees, Rangers, Cubs and Dodgers. It would be surprising if any of these players signed for David Price or Zack Greinke money, but at least $25 million annually is expected. Other viable starting pitchers include Lance Lynn, C.C. Sabathia and Andrew Cashner. While Cashner and Sabathia will likely garner short-term deals, Lance Lynn may require a long-term investment.

Relief Pitchers
If this year’s postseason was any indication for what to expect in the coming months, don’t be surprised to see record-breaking contracts for relief pitchers. It’s hard to imagine that any reliever could surpass Aroldis Chapman’s deal from a year ago, but the demand is certainly there. Addison Reed, Brandon Morrow and Anthony Swarzak highlight this year’s class of setup men, but there is a plethora of options available for teams that are not willing to pay for the top arms. It goes without saying that practically every team will be in the market for an upgrade to their bullpen.

The same can be said for the closers’ market. Last year, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen signed five-year deals for over $80 million. While both players are highly regarded as the best in the game, Greg Holland and Wade Davis aren’t too far behind. Both players made their mark playing for the Royals but were let go due to injury. Now fully recovered, both have rebounded rather smoothly, reclaiming their status as two of the most dominant closers in baseball. The only other proven option on the free agent market is Brandon Kintzler. Kintzler was perhaps the best closer in baseball at the all-star break, but after being dealt to Washington, he was reverted to a setup role. He fared well, but it’s questionable as to whether teams trust him enough to pitch the ninth inning. In looking at some of the other closers in the game, though, I’d say Brandon won’t have any trouble finding a suitor.

Shohei Otani has until Dec. 22 to sign with a major league club. Once he signs, the rest of the pieces will fall into place. There is so much to be expected this offseason, and much of it we have yet to even discuss. Giancarlo Stanton is being shopped, teams are gearing up for next year’s loaded free agent class, and oh yeah, Aaron Boone is back in pinstripes. Needless to say, it’s going to be a fun holiday season.