MLB 2016 Free Agency Roundtable: Part 2

By the Last Word On Baseball Staff

With MLB‘s 2016 free agency period kicking off, many hot names will be hitting the market. There is very little pitching, which means position players and relievers may get massive contracts. Our writers continue to weigh in on where they think the top ten free agents will land this winter. If you haven’t read part one, you can find it here.

MLB 2016 Free Agency Roundtable: Part 2

5. Justin Turner

Brandon Murphy: Turner produced the best season of his career right ahead of free agency and a bare infield free agent market. Their isn’t a better option for the Los Angeles Dodgers at third than Turner.

Prediction: four years, $48 million w/Dodgers

Paul Harvey: He is coming off a season in which he hit 27 home runs and 34 doubles, to go with 90 RBI. He is far and away the best third baseman on the market, and Turner may be the most impactful infielder available. Turner will turn 32 before next season, and a three-year deal is likely his best option. The Dodgers will bring Turner back to play alongside youngster Corey Seager for a potent left side of the infield.

Prediction: re-signs w/Dodgers 

Taylor WeberAfter a below average 2015, Turner came back in 2016 and proved himself a valuable third baseman. He hit .275 as the Dodgers every day guy. There were talks of trying to move Corey Seager to third due to his large frame, but with both players handling their spots there was no need. The Dodgers should keep Turner in their organization. He is reliable and should be for at least a couple more years. The Dodgers have no shortage of money to spend, so paying Turner shouldn’t be a problem.

Prediction: re-signs with Dodgers

Will Cheney: From utility man to superstar, Turner became a household name at the hot corner. After posting career-highs in homers (27) and RBIs (90) in 2016, his value has never been higher. Like Jansen, he received a qualifying offer. Also like Jansen, expect the Dodgers to retain him to keep the core intact.

Prediction: re-signs with Dodgers

Robbie Stratakos: Turner broke out to become one of the better infielders in baseball. He’s a consistent hitter with some pop, and a great fielder. He has been a key part of his Dodger squad, and Los Angeles will prioritize keeping him.

Prediction: five years, $60 million w/Dodgers

4. Mark Trumbo 

Brandon Murphy: Trumbo was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for a backup catcher, then led baseball with 47 home runs. The New York Mets need a reliable first baseman to replace Lucas Duda. Combining Trumbo with Cespedes in the heart of the order would mean trouble for National League East pitchers.

Prediction: six years, $120 million w/Mets

Paul Harvey: Trumbo had a resurgent year with the Orioles and led MLB with a career-high 47 homers. Trumbo’s powerful bat fit perfectly into Baltimore’s game plan and provided a punch to go with Manny Machado and Chris Davis. Trumbo will be just 31 years old for the 2017 season, so a four-year deal is not out of the question. Expect Trumbo to remain in Baltimore while the Orioles allow Matt Wieters to leave via free agency.

Prediction: re-signs with Orioles

Taylor Weber: Trumbo played a giant role in Baltimore’s season. They likely wouldn’t have made the playoffs without him. He drove in 108 runs and hit 47 home runs. Trumbo is an elite power hitter who may find himself a solid payday. Could he find that payday with the Boston Red Sox? The retirement of long-time Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz has finally come to pass. With Ortiz out, the Sox will need a new DH. Early indications show they have a couple other names in mind. Yet Trumbo may still be heading to Boston when all is said and done.

Prediction: Red Sox

Will CheneyTrumbo resurrected his career in 2016 after leading baseball with 47 homers. He was extended a qualifying offer by the club, but will probably reject it. That said, he will re-sign with the Orioles. Trumbo wasn’t able to hit on all cylinders with the Arizona Diamondbacks or Seattle Mariners, but found a home in Camden Yards. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Prediction: re-signs with Orioles

Robbie StratakosTrumbo had a career year in Baltimore last season. He was one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball, and really made a name for himself. Every offseason, there is one massive contract given out that puts the baseball world in disbelief. Last year, it went to Zack Greinke. This year, it will go to Trumbo. A desperate Los Angeles Angels organization will give Trumbo an offer he cannot refuse.

Prediction: six years, $150 million w/Angels  

3. Aroldis Chapman 

Brandon Murphy: Chapman will require the most lucrative contract for a relief pitcher in baseball history. With the Chicago Cubs coming off a World Championship and nothing else to spend money on in the offseason, expect them to go all in on Chapman.

Prediction: four years, $60 million w/Cubs

Paul Harvey: Chapman was dealt from the New York Yankees to the Cubs midseason, but it is doubtful the Cubs will re-sign the fireballing closer. The Yankees were able to acquire prospects for Chapman and remain competitive down the stretch last season. However, Chapman will certainly improve whatever bullpen he is added to, but few teams will want to dish heavy money on a closer. Chapman will be wearing pinstripes yet again come Spring Training. Look for the Yankees do give a three-year deal to the Cuban lefty and bring him back to the Big Apple.

Prediction: three-year deal w/Yankees 

Taylor Weber: Chapman is possibly going to be the most popular free agent this offseason. He’s coming off a World Series Championship, and is a top pitcher. He accumulated 36 saves with the Yankees and Cubs. Chapman has already made it clear that he is going to be expensive this offseason. The San Francisco Giants were close to making a run, but their bullpen was terrible for most of the year. Chapman would be a solidifying piece if they cough up the money to get him.

Prediction: Giants 

Will Cheney: If the 2016 postseason revealed anything, it’s the value of dominant relief pitching. Chapman comes with the baggage of the past suspension for the domestic violence case, but also brings 103mph heat. Expect the 28-year-old closer to ink a four-year deal in the neighborhood of $60 million. The Cubs could attempt to retain him, but it’s more likely that 2016 will end up as a rental. Look for San Francisco to be a player, but a reunion with Dusty Baker in Washington, D.C. is most likely.

Prediction: four years, $60 million w/Nationals 

Robbie Stratakos: After a great run with the Cubs, it appears Chapman will be leaving the Windy City. With a bevy of teams in search of a lockdown closer, the Cubs probably won’t be willing to give that mega deal to him, but the Dodgers may. While they do have a stud closer of their own in Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers haven’t been able to gain talks on a potential deal, and they have inquired on Chapman in the past.

Prediction: five years, $85 million w/Dodgers

2. Yoenis Cespedes 

Brandon Murphy: As the number one overall bat on the free agent market this offseason, it was no surprise that Cespedes opted out of his three-year deal with the New York Mets. Expect him to re-sign for north of $100 million.

Prediction: five years, $105 million w/Mets

Paul Harvey: Cespedes opted out of the last two years of his contract and will hit the open market. The Mets would love to have him back, but already have left field and right field covered. Cespedes will leave for a team that will allow him to move back to a corner outfield position. Seattle would love to add more pop to a lineup that already includes Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz. Cespedes would be an immediate upgrade for the Mariners, and they have the money to make a heavy offer. Look for Cespedes in the Pacific Northwest in 2017 on a four-year deal.

Prediction: four-year deal w/Mariners

Taylor Weber: Cespedes decided to opt out of his contract with the Mets. He is coming off a year of hitting .280 with 31 home runs. The Mets were close to making the playoffs again, but came up short, in part due to rotation injuries. However, that may not be enough to keep him from the Giants. The Giants are losing Angel Pagan to free agency and got beat out in the NLDS this year. Cespedes could be a fitting piece to help them get back to playoffs and make a push in 2017.

Prediction: Giants

Will Cheney: Cespedes opted out of the remaining two years of his deal with the Mets, leaving nearly $50 million on the table. He’ll most likely be seeking the five-year, $150 million deal he looked for last offseason. If it didn’t happen after one of the best offensive months in history, it won’t happen now. Cespedes is best suited for the American League. Despite having a Gold Glove to his name, his fielding metrics are atrocious. The Texas Rangers, Seattle, and Baltimore are the most likely landing spots for the 31-year-old.

Prediction: Mariners

Robbie Stratakos: After opting out of his deal with the Mets, Cespedes has likely played his final game in the Big AApple; however, his power bat will make him an attractive player on the open market. The San Fransciso Giants are rumored to be interested, and they make too much sense. The Giants need a dangerous, right-handed bat in the middle of their order. Cespedes will be that guy.

Prediction: five years, $125 million w/Giants

1. Edwin Encarnacion 

Brandon MurphyEncarnacion is the top power bat on the market. With David Ortiz’s retirement and the team rising as contenders in the AL, except Boston to make Edwin their next DH.

Prediction: five years, $115 million w/Red Sox

Paul Harvey: Encarnacion is one of the premier power hitters in all of baseball. Encarnacion has averaged 30 home runs and 85 RBI a season during his time in Toronto. The Toronto Blue Jays are in a position where they will have to choose between their two biggest sluggers: Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. Encarnacion has outperformed Bautista over the past few seasons and is two years younger. The Blue Jays will re-sign him on a three-year deal.

Prediction: three-year deal w/Blue Jays 

Taylor Weber: Encarnacion was a pivotal piece for the Jays this year. With both Michael Saunders and Bautista hitting free agency as well, it’s likely all three won’t be re-signed. Encarnacion belted 41 home runs and drove in 127 runs in 2016. With not enough money to sign their three big free agents and fill in the holes, the Blue Jays have to choose which of their stars they want to bring back. Encarnacion will be that star.

Prediction: re-signs w/Blue Jays

Will CheneyThe 33-year-old Encarnacion has been arguably the most valuable a bat in Toronto over the past five seasons. He’s three years younger than Bautista and has shown more consistency as of late. It looks like Boston will make a run at him to fill the vacant DH role left by David Ortiz. Encarnacion will most likely pass on the qualifying offer and the possible landing spots could include Boston, Baltimore, or the Cleveland Indians. Never count Seattle out, but he’ll ultimately head to Beantown.

Prediction: Red Sox 

Robbie StratakosAfter yet another monster year at the plate, Encarnacion will be looking to cash in big this winter. While multiple teams will try to pry him away from Toronto, chances are he’s not going anywhere. He’s arguably the most dangerous hitter in baseball, and the Blue Jays know that; they aren’t going to let both Bautista and Encarnacion walk out the door.

Prediction: five years, $150 million w/Blue Jays

With MLB free agency now in full swing, keep an eye on these five and every other free agent this offseason.

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