MLB Free Agency Predictions - I’m back to make my always 100% correct predictions like the time I predicted the Mets would sign Shin-Soo Choo and laughed about it or the time I predicted the Cardinals would sign David Robertson like I do again in this very article or the time I predicted the Rangers would sign Doug Fister only it was two years before the Rangers actually signed Doug Fister or the time last year when I predicted the Mariners would sign Yu Darvish.
Last year I only predicted where the top 30 free agents would sign but this year I’m cranking things up to 34 in an effort to appease the very obvious curse of Nolan Ryan that hangs over this franchise. Please let us be, Mr. Express.
I used Fangraphs’ rankings to number the top 34 players available this winter but where they will be signing has been entirely determined by my big smart brain.
Let’s get to it:
1. Manny Machado, SS, Age 26 — Yankees
If I had my druthers, the Rangers would back up the truck and sign Manny Machado for whatever amount he wants. Machado kind of made an ass of himself throughout the playoffs so he’s going to be an A-Rod level enemy wherever he signs but he’s probably one of the ten or so best players in the sport without breaking sweat from running out ground balls and is only 26.
Just sign him, stink out loud for another season while Hans Crouse and gang marinate for another year, and then in 2020, you open up the new park with a legit chance. This is how you accelerate a rebuild that you already don’t even want to call a rebuild.
Then again, this is just my personal dirty sexy pipe dream because it comes a year or three too early for all parties involved. Elvis Andrus is coming back. Jurickson Profar just broke out. Rougned Odor was your second half MVP, and the Rangers have a million corners types to dish out playing time to and that’s even before Adrian Beltre makes a decision on retiring or not.
Jon Daniels could go hard in the paint on a pitch to open the purse strings to sign a generational free agent but that might not be a battle he wants to pick with an ownership group that has to expect revenue will slide again next season, even with Manny Being Manny t-shirts to sell.
All of this comes before even considering how to convince Manny to bring his weird, talented ass to Texas on the promise that the Rangers can contend as soon as 2020 by molding their low minors pitchers into major league starters which is something they have never, ever been able to do for like 50 years.
Anyway, Manny Machado isn’t coming to Texas no matter how much I want it to happen. Instead, he’s going to sign with the Yankees because he wants to do that and Brian Cashman just said the Yankees don’t want to spend money even after seeing the Red Sox spend a billion dollars to have the best team since the 1998 Yankees while also cakewalking to another World Series win. So, lol, yeah, I’m sure they’ll be pinching their pennies in New York.
2. Bryce Harper, RF, Age 26 — Braves
Speaking of A-Rod... I’m calling the Braves landing Bryce Harper as the “A-Rod signs with Texas” level shocker of the offseason. Imagine paring Harper with Ronald Acuna for 10 years... (those ellipses were me imagining it and becoming really jealous) It really sounds almost unfair. Of course, that’s also going to take like $400 million dollars to make happen.
The Braves are young, have a whole mess of pitching prospects, and are already pretty good. If they added Harper, maybe Ron Washington can finally get his ring.
3. Patrick Corbin, SP, Age 29 — Yankees
Remember how the Yankees said they don’t want to spend money even though their luxury tax just reset? I’m going to type lol again. Here goes. lol The Yankees won 100 games in 2018 but had a rotation that was like Luis Severino, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, and please god let Mike Stanton and Aaron Judge hit several home runs today.
The Yankees need help in the rotation and Patrick Corbin is young and healthy and finally really good at just the right time.
4. Dallas Keuchel, SP, Age 31 — Angels
Eventually the Angels are going to do enough things right to get the 80-or-so wins they need from their other 39 players to get Mike Trout back to the playoffs again. Maybe signing a former Cy Young winner is one of those right things?
Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch for a good long while after Tommy John surgery so the Angels have to do something about a rotation that included Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney and no one else that I can even remember off the top of my head.
5. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Age 33 — Cardinals
I only ever read about Josh Donaldson signing with the Cardinals because it only ever makes sense. I hate Josh Donaldson and I hate the Cardinals. It’s a match made in hell but at least this unholy marriage will be locked away in the National League.
6. Michael Brantley, LF, Age 32 — Cubs
The Cubs are supposed to sign Bryce Harper. Or, well, that’s what I’ve heard for like the last three or so years during this run up to the 2018 free agency period. Instead, after they lose out on Harper — perhaps a tad gun shy after the Jason Heyward deal — they will opt to sign Brantley as a decent doubles-hitting consolation prize.
7. A.J. Pollock, CF, Age 31 — Indians
With Brantley on the move, and with only Leonys Martin on the depth chart at center field, Cleveland will look for help in the outfield by signing one of the more underrated center fielders in the game in Pollock.
Pollock was nearly a 7 win player in 2015 before a few injury-plagued years sapped him of at-bats but he remains a solid defender, base runner, and offensive threat.
8. Yasmani Grandal, C, Age 30 — Rockies
Grandal had a rough postseason and has been kind of an enigma receiving the ball lately, but he has become one of the better hitting catchers in the game and he has previously been good at framing pitches. Honestly, he sounds like Jonathan Lucroy before he came to Texas which is super frightening.
Nevertheless, he’s still fairly young and you can’t really argue with a catcher with an OPS over .800. Coors seems like a good place to land for a catcher who can hit and is already expected to be kind of iffy with the glove. Plus, the Rockies need to start cashing in on this little window they have at the moment.
9. Jed Lowrie, 2B, Age 35 — Angels
Again, the mission is get Mike Trout to October. I don’t want to see it happen, but they’re eventually going to get this done. The Angels don’t currently have a second baseman unless they move Zack Cozart over there but then they wouldn’t have a third baseman.
Enter Lowrie who became an All-Star in Oakland last season in what felt like his 12th separate stint with the A’s. Lowrie was also up for a Gold Glove at second base and could pair with Gold Glove wizard Andrelton Simmons up the middle.
10. Nathan Eovaldi, SP, Age 29 — Red Sox
I used to think that Eovaldi was primed to continue his renaissance for cheap with the Rangers but then he turned into Bob Gibson or something in the playoff and World Series for the Red Sox and now he’s going to get supremely paid. Seems like he’s too beloved in Boston to leave now and they’ll need him in the rotation again anyway.
11. Charlie Morton, SP, Age 35 — Phillies
Morton didn’t get his qualifying offer from the Astros which means he’s going to have to take his spin rate somewhere else. The Phillies seem like a good choice since they will want to build on a 2018 season which saw their years of rebuilding almost land them in the playoffs and will likely be looking for people to take their money after losing out on targets like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.
12. Craig Kimbrel, RP, Age 31 — Mets
It’s just seems so Mets to blow their wad on a guy who will pitch like 65 innings tops even if he’s one of the best at doing so.
13. Adam Ottavino, RP, Age 33 — Dodgers
The Dodgers didn’t win the World Series for a second consecutive season in part because they didn’t have enough late-innings juice. Ottavino comes with the juice and a wiffle ball slider too. Unlike the Mets, the Dodgers are close enough that spending on relief with October in mind kind of makes sense.
14. Yusei Kikuchi, SP, Age 27 — Padres
Here’s a guy the Rangers should be interested in out of Japan. For that reason, I know that A.J. Preller will be interested in him.
15. Marwin Gonzalez, 3B, Age 30 — The KBO (But, I don’t know, the Dodgers? They seem to love their can-play-everywhere types.)
Ugh. Just go away forever.
16. Andrew McCutchen, RF, Age 32 — Phillies
Another consolation prize for Philadelphia who will look to pair a veteran at an unsettled position with a young team on the cusp of contending.
17. Wilson Ramos, C, Age 31 — Astros
The Astros are losing like seven different catchers this offseason so I anticipate that they will spend some money to bring in a not-yet-old catcher who had an OPS of .845 and made the All-Star team with Tampa Bay last season.
18. Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, Age 32 — Dodgers
This is just the kind of player that the Dodgers bring back every time because they have unlimited money.
19. David Robertson, RP, Age 34 — Cardinals
Every year I do this article there is always like 15 closers or late-inning relievers on the list and then only like five teams that it would actually make sense to sign a closer or seek expensive bullpen help but all of these pitchers have to play somewhere so you just throw a dart. The Cardinal dart landed on David Robertson.
20. Nelson Cruz, DH, Age 38 — Twins
Nelson Cruz escapes Seattle into the warm embrace of Thad Levine.
21. J.A. Happ, SP, Age 36 — Nationals
The Nationals have to reinvest their Harper money somewhere. Washington was one of two teams over the luxury tax last season so I suppose it’s possible they’ll take a step back but that still sounds like a team that’s too big to fail to me so they’ll probably just keep throwing money at it for as long as they can.
22. Mike Moustakas, 3B, Age 30 — Brewers
The Brewers are kind of a National League version of the ‘14-’15 Royals right down to Lorenzo Cain manning center field and a dominant bullpen that is designed to thrive in October. It makes sense then that NL KC would be loyal to Mike Moustakas.
23. DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Age 30 — Nationals
24. Lance Lynn, SP, Age 32 — A’s
The A’s won more games in 2018 than any other Rangers team in franchise history and they did it with a rotation that included Trevor Cahill, Edwin Jackson, and Brett Anderson making nearly a third of their starts. Lance Lynn will win the dang Cy Young award in Oakland.
25. Jeurys Familia, RP, Age 29 — Cubs
The Cubs dart landed on Jeurys Familia.
26. Andrew Miller, RP, Age 34 — Red Sox
The Red Sox dart landed on Andrew Miller but also it seems like if Craig Kimbrel doesn’t come back then Boston will want someone who at least has a chance to be as dominant over the 60 or so innings that closers throw. Miller hasn’t ever even really been a ninth inning only guy except for in his one full year in New York.
Miller wasn’t exactly Andrew Miller in 2018 but when he is Andrew Miller, he’s unhittable.
27. Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B, Age 33 — A’s
As mentioned before, Jed Lowrie made the All-Star team in 2018 with the A’s. Asdrubal Cabrera will lead the league in doubles in Oakland for sure.
28. Zach Britton, RP, Age 31 — Astros
The Astros dart landed on Zach Britton and also it seems like the Astros have been trying to acquire Zach Britton for as long as Jon Daniels tried to get Torii Hunter to come play in Arlington.
29. Joe Kelly, RP, Age 31 — Braves
Dart. Braves. Joe Kelly. Also, the Braves will be #goingforit and that means stocking up on October-friendly bullpen arms.
30. Garrett Richards, SP, Age 31 — Rangers
Hey, look, it’s the Rangers. Signing forever-injured Garrett Richards isn’t even my idea. Evan Grant has been championing this for a little while now. But signing someone like Garrett Richards has always been the idea.
Richards probably won’t even pitch in 2019 after having TJS in mid-2018, but Texas can give him a nice two or three year deal like the Cubs gave Drew Smyly and hope he’s got a few starts in him in September and then is back to being a really good No. 2 or No. 3 type starter like he was for Anaheim in 2014 and 2015 when Texas is closer to being ready to compete again. *fingers crossed*
31. Joakim Soria, RP, Age 35 — Yankees
The Yankees dart landed on Joakim Soria. Remember when Joakim Soria was the closer for the Rangers? Feels like forever ago. Since then he’s just been moving from city to city putting up a 3.00 ERA in 55 innings every year like some kind of Johnny Appleseed for setup men.
32. Daniel Murphy, 2B, Age 34 — Red Sox
Ian Kinsler won the Red Sox a ring in 2018 so he’ll probably move on to wherever is easiest on Jack White. The Red Sox will probably want some Dustin Pedroia insurance which means Murphy can take his bigoted bottom to Boston.
33. Gio Gonzalez, SP, Age 33 — White Sox
Did you know that Gio Gonzalez was drafted by the White Sox? Or that he was traded from the White Sox to the Phillies for Jim Thome? Or that he was traded back to the White Sox from Philly in a deal for Freddy Garcia less than a year later?
Gonzalez has never played for the White Sox. This should change.
34. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Age 40 — Rangers (but probably retirement ;_;)
I didn’t even know Beltre was going to end this list when I made it Nolan Ryan’s jersey number in length as a joke. Oh cruel fates. Please come back, Adrian Beltre. You can mentor the awfulness out of Manny Machado for a year when the Rangers sign him.
The Rangers sign Martin Maldonado, Denard Span, and Drew Pomeranz.