Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

MLB 2016 Free Agency Roundtable: Part 1

With MLB‘s 2016 free agency period kicking off, many players will hit the market. Despite the bevy of hitters and relievers available, there is very little pitching available. Our writers weigh in on where they think the top ten free agents will land this winter.

MLB 2016 Free Agency Roundtable: Part 1

10. Wilson Ramos

Brandon Murphy: Ramos wanted a $100 million deal before he tore his ACL in September. Still, with the catcher market barren, he will demand a hefty contract. The Washington Nationals will keep him now that he will be somewhat cheaper.

Prediction: five-year, $70 million w/Nationals

Paul Harvey: Ramos is a particularly difficult case due to his late-season ACL injury. Reports indicate that he turned down a three-year, $30 million deal from the Nats. Ramos is the best catcher available, but whichever team signs him will not have him for at least the first half of 2017. The Houston Astros have both the money and personnel to make Ramos a reality. Evan Gattis can play catcher in the interim. Houston can pull off a four-year deal and work around Ramos’ recovery.

Prediction: four-year deal w/Astros

Taylor Weber: Ramos, unfortunately, got injured when the Nationals needed him most. Heading into the playoffs, Ramos was hitting .307 and with 88 RBI. When Bryce Harper underperformed, Ramos picked up the slack. He has had two major injuries in the past five seasons, and recently turned 29. He could join the Baltimore Orioles, where incumbent Matt Wieters is also a free agent. Their biggest issue this season was their not-so-stellar rotation, but given the thin starting pitcher pool, they may try to build from within or through trades. That could leave room for Ramos’ salary.

Prediction: Orioles

Will Cheney: Ramos was the best offensive catcher in MLB in 2016. His unfortunate injury could have major ramifications on his free agency. The Altanta Braves are looking for catching, but will likely look at cheaper options. The Cleveland Indians would be an interesting fit after missing out on Jonathan Lucroy, but Yan Gomes contract runs through 2019, followed by two team options. With experienced catching in high demand, and not hindered by a qualifying offer, Ramos should receive several two-to-three-year offers, but remain a National.

Prediction: two-year deal w/Nationals

Robbie Stratakos: If it wasn’t for his injury, Wilson Ramos would probably be higher up on this list. However, despite the fact that he’ll miss time to begin the year, there are teams who will try to sign Ramos. He’s a power bat and an asset around the plate. If you look around the majors, many contenders already have their catchers set. This means lower-level teams will likely pursue him, and the Braves are reportedly interested. They’re a rebuilding team in need of core pieces, and could throw a big deal at Ramos that he can’t refuse.

Prediction: four-year, $72 million w/Braves

9. Dexter Fowler

Brandon: Fowler opted out of his $9 million deal with the Chicago Cubs after the World Series, but expectations are that he’ll man center field for the Cubs for seasons to come. His market value is outstanding when considering other outfield options.

Prediction: four-year, $52 million w/Cubs

Paul: Fowler is coming off his first All-Star selection and a World Series title with the Cubs, and may be the most consistent player on the market. He carries a career triple-slash line of .268/.366/.422 and has the ability to cover lots of ground in center field. Acquiring Fowler would be a slam dunk for the Texas Rangers. Positioning Fowler ahead of Rougned Odor, Adrian Beltre, and Elvis Andrus would create a nightmare for opposing defenses. Expect the Rangers to offer a contract of four or five years.

Prediction: four-year deal w/Rangers

Taylor: Fowler will begin his offseason negotiations with a world championship in his back pocket. In slim free agent pool, but one with good outfielders, he can dangle that out to potential suitors. Fowler put up MVP-caliber numbers in the first half, and ended with a .276 batting average. The Cubs should bring Fowler back as their center fielder and leadoff hitter. Fowler could make a point that he was at the center of the championship season. The “you go, we go” mentality of the Cubs was no joke. When Fowler reached base or scored, the Cubs were almost unbeatable. Chicago has younger options, but none have proven their worth like Fowler has.

Prediction: re-signs w/Cubs

Will: After a strange turn of events in which Fowler was going to be a member of the Orioles until he wasn’t, he ended up winning a World Series. GMs were watching as he made the last-minute u-turn for the North Side last offseason and it could weigh heavily on potential suitors now. Fowler was a serviceable leadoff hitter and a tick above average in center field in 2016. Though he rejected the qualifying offer, he will stay in the Windy City.

Prediction: re-signs with Cubs

Robbie: After a productive season, Fowler will be looking to cash in big; however, it may not be with the championship Cubs. The Cubs have decisions to make on stellar closer Aroldis Chapman and some of their young studs. The Nationals may be able to pry Fowler away from Chicago. They need of a lefty bat who can get on base and they’ll be willing to show him the money, which the Cubs may be reluctant to do.

Prediction: three-years, $51 million w/Nationals

8. Jose Bautista

Brandon: Bautista is 36 and has become a liability in the field. He is, however, an impact bat and fan favorite north of the border. Expect him to stay with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Prediction: three-years, $70 million w/Blue Jays

Paul: Bautista worked his way to becoming one of the best power hitters in baseball after arriving in Toronto. He posted seven straight 20+ home run seasons, including three of 40+. Unfortunately, he is coming off maybe his worst season as a Blue Jay. Toronto made a qualifying offer to Bautista, but if he chooses to hit the open market, look for him to land with the Boston Red Sox.

Prediction: two-or-three-year deal w/Red Sox

Taylor: The Jays have some holes that need to be filled as Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders, along with Bautista, are free agents. Toronto likely can’t afford to pay all three, so someone is getting the boot. Bautista will be the victim. His landing spot could be the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards fell off slightly this year, as they missed the playoffs after winning the division in 2015. St Louis also decided not to extend a qualifying offer to outfielder Matt Holliday. This could mean they hit the market for a replacement. Bautista could fit in nicely as a slugging corner outfielder and a veteran presence among some young talent.

Prediction: Cardinals

Will: Bautista was vocal in Spring Training about not offering a hometown discount during negotiations. That rhetoric may come back to bite him. If 34 is the new 40, a big contract doesn’t look probable for the 36-year-old outfielder. It would behoove him to accept the qualifying offer, but pride may get in the way. He’ll test the market and end up accepting a one-year deal to a team that loses out on Encarnacion. That’s the best case scenario. The compensatory draft pick could, however, do him in, and he may find himself sitting at home come March. In what will become a depleted market as the offseason goes on, look for Bautista to land with the Indians.

Prediction: Indians 

Robbie: Toronto must prioritize keeping first baseman Edwin Encarnacion this offseason, meaning they will likely Bautista walk. The New York Mets are a likely new home. With outfielder Yoenis Cespedes opting out, the Mets need someone to fill his shoes. Bautista’s versatility and power would benefit a Mets team trying to remain relevant in the National league.

Prediction: two-years, $40 million w/Mets 

7. Kenley Jansen

Brandon: Jansen will receive a deal similar to Chapman’s, and is arguably just as good a reliever. Jansen will sign with the team that pays him the most money, and the Los Angeles Dodgers have plenty of it.

Prediction: four-years, $56 million w/Dodgers

Paul: Jansen finished tied for second with Zach Britton in all of MLB with 47 saves. He is one of the best relievers available this offseason and will demand a large deal over four years. The Dodgers could still make a push, but Justin Turner remains their top priority. Dodgers fans will not be happy to see it happen, but the San Francisco Giants could grab the coveted closer away from Los Angeles. The Giants bullpen is the main reason they were overwhelmed by the Cubs. Look for SF to pay up for Jansen’s services.

Prediction: Giants

Taylor: Jansen was a pivotal key to the Dodgers playoff run this year. He was among the top relief pitchers in every category. Jansen accumulated 47 saves and finished with a 1.83 ERA. Other than one bad outing, Jansen didn’t surrender a run in the postseason. It’s no secret that the Dodgers spend huge amounts of money each year. They led the league in salary the previous three years. With several key players on the team facing free agency, they can afford to put some of that salary towards one of the best relievers in the game.

Prediction: re-signs with Dodgers

Will: Jansen will command a premium contract this offseason. The Dodgers extended a qualifying offer, but he’ll surely reject. San Francisco will make a run at the 29-year-old closer (following the bullpen implosion in the playoffs), but the Dodgers should ultimately re-sign one of the keys to their success.

Prediction: re-signs with Dodgers

Robbie: After a great 2016 campaign, Jansen established himself as a top-five reliever. In a reliever-heavy market and a baseball world which has realized the importance of a lockdown bullpen, Jansen will surely get paid. The New York Yankees make too much sense. Their bullpen was decimated at last year’s trade deadline, and they’re still in search of a long term closer. The bright lights of New York, and the hefty contract that they can offer, may be too good for Jansen to say no to.

Prediction: four-years, $78 million w/Yankees 

6. Ian Desmond 

BrandonAfter settling for an $8 million deal with the Rangers last offseason, Desmond revitalized his career and will demand the contract he desired. The Astros have a declining Colby Rasmus and slick-fielding, but horrible-hitting, Jake Marisnick manning center field. Desmond is the perfect fit for this young team.

Prediction: four-years, $68 million w/Astros

Paul: Desmond is coming off a fantastic 20-20 season. Desmond took a one-year deal with the Rangers last season and switched from shortstop to the outfield. Both the deal and position change are about to pay off in a big way. The San Diego Padres would be a good fit for Desmond. Pairing the consistent, veteran presence of Desmond with prospect Hunter Renfroe and Alex Dickerson would give the Padres are solid outfield.

Prediction: Padres 

Taylor: The Rangers extended Desmond a one-year $17.2 million qualifying offer, which he will likely decline. Desmond, a shortstop turned outfielder, had a solid turnaround campaign, hitting .285 with 22 home runs. Desmond has some positional flexibility, though he isn’t the most dependable defensive infielder. Could this lead to a reunion with his former team, the Nationals? Washington may try to deal shortstop Danny Espinosa this offseason. Espinosa struggled in his time with the Nats and it may be time for them to move on. Teams will take a chance on him, as he has a powerful swing from the middle infield spot. This would require them to find a replacement shortstop. Desmond has a history with the Nationals and may be just what they need.

Prediction: Nationals 

Will: Desmond’s value is as high as it’s ever been in his career. He proved his bat is still the real deal while adding the ability to play the outfield. This feels like what Adrian Beltre did as a member of the Red Sox in 2010, before he landed that six-year, $96 million deal from the Rangers. Desmond is the same age Beltre was at that point in his career. With the added value of being able to play infield and outfield, expect Desmond to demand about the same amount of cash over four years. Look for Desmond to land with the Giants.

Prediction: four-year deal w/Giants

Robbie: After a rejuvenating year with the Rangers, Ian Desmond is bound to get a monster deal this offseason. The move from shortstop to outfield has made Desmond an attractive player. The Cardinals are likely to pursue Desmond hard. With Matt Holliday officially off their roster, the Cardinals need an outfielder. They also have to get back in the playoff conversation and compete with the division-rival Cubs. Desmond’s consistent bat would be a great fit in the Cardinals lineup. Since they haven’t recently dished out big deals in free agency, they’ll definitely show Desmond the money.

Prediction: six-years, $95 million w/Cardinals

Check back tomorrow for part two of the free agency roundtable for our team’s take on where some of baseball’s best will take their talents this winter.

Main Photo:


More Posts

Send Us A Message