Posted on February 2, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
It seems hard to believe, but the start of spring training is less than two weeks ago. It’s hard to believe in large part because so many of the top free agents remain unsigned. There are a lot of theories as to why the market has been so slow to develop. There are even intimations that a serious labor issue is brewing between the players and owners. Nevertheless, it seems pertinent to take a closer look at the players who remained unsigned heading into February.
Martinez is said to be seeking as much as an 8-year deal worth $200 million. But it doesn’t seem like he’s anywhere near that kind of offer. He’s also indicated that he’d be willing to hold out into spring training if he doesn’t receive a fair offer. Based on his numbers last season, Martinez warrants a big payday. However, outside of the Red Sox and Diamondbacks, few teams seem to have serious interest in signing him to a 9-figure contract.
There have been reports that Darvish is close to signing with a team, which could set in motion the rest of the pitching market. He has at least five or six suitors, with the Brewers reportedly being the most aggressive. However, Darvish may be waiting to see if the Dodgers can free up enough money to afford him so he can return to Los Angeles. Until Darvish signs, the rest of the pitching market figures to remain at a standstill.
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Hosmer reportedly has multiple offers for six or seven years, yet he seems to be holding out for an 8-year deal. That doesn’t seem likely the way the market has developed. There also doesn’t appear to be many teams interested in Hosmer outside of the Padres and Royals. Unless a team comes out of nowhere, Hosmer will eventually have to choose between those two teams.
Arrieta is waiting for Darvish to set the market on starting pitchers. As soon as Darvish signs, the teams that miss out on him are likely to turn their attention to Arrieta, who should end up making nearly as much as Darvish. The Brewers and Twins are both teams to watch with Arrieta, as both are desperate to add an ace and have no doubt been in contact with him all winter.
It’s been surprising to see so little interest in Moustakas this winter. A return to Kansas City seemed unlikely when the offseason began but now looks like a viable option. Of all the free agents still available, he may be the most likely to take a one-year deal and test the free agent market again next winter. That would point to Moustakas returning to the Royals.
Like the other starting pitchers on the market, Lynn is unlikely to land anywhere until Darvish comes off the board. He’s also not going to get the contract he thought he would at the start of the offseason. However, whatever team ends up signing Lynn figures to get a great deal. He’s not an ace, but he’s a quality starter who appears to be available at a reasonable price.
It’s been surprising to see Holland stay on the market this long, considering how many teams need bullpen help. Wade Davis already set the market for closers when he signed with the Rockies back in December, so figuring out a fair price for Holland shouldn’t be that difficult. It appears that teams aren’t as high on him as they were on Davis. But the cost to trade for a closer appears to be quite steep. That should help Holland land a great deal before the start of spring training.
There’s a lot of teams that view Cobb as a fall-back option if they don’t get Darvish or Arrieta. That should give him plenty of suitors once those two come off the board. But until then, Cobb has to play the waiting game, much like Lynn and the other second- and third-tier starting pitchers.
Frazier doesn’t appear to be short on suitors, but he remains unsigned nonetheless. Part of the hold up with him may be waiting to see where Moustakas lands, which should make teams step up their offers for him. Also, Frazier is probably looking to land at least a three-year contract, so he figures to hold out until he gets one.
Morrison has been up and down throughout his career, but he did hit 38 home runs last season. He’s not going to land a blockbuster deal, but he’s definitely worth something substantial on the open market. With his power, American League teams looking for a DH or first baseman should have interest in Morrison as a far more affordable power hitter than Martinez, Hosmer, or Moustakas.