MLB.com has a list of the top free agents in the market for this year, based on some new system of WAR that they thought up. Apparently, this new WAR system doesn’t take pitchers into consideration, so let’s preface this by saying that for a team in some kind of position for 2017 contention, the most coveted thing is a strong bullpen, or at least one or two “ride or die” arms that will make a difference in the late innings.
But, as always, offense matters, and games are not won on brilliant pitching alone. There must be a bat or two mixed in, and defense is just as important. A great bat really doesn’t mean that much if you’re allowing just as many runs as your hit because of poor fielding and questionable errors.
So, let’s take a look at MLB’s list of the top available FAs, starting from 1-5. I might chime in with a thought or two regarding the player. I’d like to know what you think about this list and which of these players you might be willing to give up a bunch of leverage for (because you will).
Justin Turner – 3B. — JT the Red Panda is apparently the highest ranked player on this updated MLB/WARcel system. Turner was able to retool himself into a utility guy in Los Angeles, but I think he would be a risky sign for a long term option. If you’re willing to do a short term deal for Turner, because his bat has slightly cooled off this last season and he is going to be 32 going into next season. Not that 32 is old (says the woman who is only two years younger than “Grandpa” David Ross), but in baseball we all know that once you get past 30 and you’re not a pitcher, it’s a slow descent towards the end.
Yoenis Cespedes – OF. — This is who I would have pegged as our number one FA prize. Everyone wants a piece of this high volume slugging machine. He would be especially great on a team that has a couple of home run threats, since Cespedes has pushed his walk rate in the last couple of years as well. If he can’t mash it out of the park, he will get on base with a walk and then Home Run Threat #2 is coming up next. Cespedes is also in his early thirties, but for some reason seems a bit fresher than The Red Panda.
Edwin Encarnacion – DH/1B. — The man that Blue Jays fans called “Edwing” will more than likely stay in the American League so that he can continue to be a highly effective designated hitter. He has played a lot of first base over his last few seasons, but going into the season at age 34, it would probably work better for Encarnacion to focus on DHing. Another sure fire home run threat, he will be a highly sought addition to a lot of AL teams who want to beef up their lineup. That being said – do you think that Boston might take a run at him to replace David Ortiz?
Dexter Fowler – CF. — Fowler did not accept his mutual option with the Cubs for 2017 so he is putting his trust in the open market. But I’m sure everyone remembers last year, when Fowler signed with but didn’t sign with Baltimore, only to make a surprise appearance at Cubs camp with a one year deal. Fowler had a breakout season in 2016 (averaged 4 WAR), and played magnificently in the World Series, which ups his chances towards making a big splash in the FA pool. Because, as we all know, it’s a “What Have You Done For Me Lately” world out there in baseball. Fowler, like Cespedes, is in his early thirties but plays younger, and has been getting stronger in his last few years.
Josh Reddick – OF. — The 30 year old lefty is an interesting choice for fifth highest on this list. Reddick is injury prone, streaky, and can’t do it alone, so he would have to be part of a heavy lumber platoon in order for you to get max value from him. However, he does average about 2.5 WAR in the last five seasons if you think that’s the end all and be all of stats. He’ll get signed, but I don’t think he’s more valuable than some of the other players that we’ll discuss in another post.
So, what do you think? Do any of these guys have what it takes to keep their hot streak alive in 2017? Would you want any of these players?