With pitchers and catchers reporting in just five weeks, there are still plenty of major leaguers looking work for 2017. Most of the huge names have come off the board, but a lengthy list of guys who could help contenders, contribute to rebuilds, or offer stopgaps until prospects are ready remain. Almost all offer a fair degree of risk, but in a market that seems depressed, the reward could be high.
Joey Bats is coming off his worst season since 2012, hitting just .234 with just 22 homers in 2016. However, he did have some injury issues, and had back-to-back 100-RBI seasons prior to that. Offers have been scarce, mostly because he will cost his new team a first round draft pick, and it seems based on his age, a one-year deal may be in the cards. Odds are he will be back in Toronto, but the Rangers have moves to make, and he may be a second choice to Mike Napoli. The Orioles, or A’s could be wildcards.
He had a career year in Baltimore with 47 homers and 108 RBI, but he also struck out 170 times. The A’s called, but that seems unlikely and short-term and he’s reported to be looking a multi-year deal. Colorado or Tampa Bay would be good fits, but he may end up returning to Charm City as the Orioles as have done little to bolster their roster.
It seems strange that Napoli is still available, but the Encarnacion deal assures he won’t be back in Cleveland. He is being courted heavily by the Rangers, where he hit .295 in 2015 after coming over from the Red Sox. Napoli brings leadership and other intangibles, and while last year might have been a peak, he’s usually a solid RBI guy. If Texas falls through, the Orioles may be possible.
Rumors keep persisting about the 31-year-old being courted by Atlanta. The Braves have a young staff aside from additions Colon, Dickey and Garcia, so it makes sense. A return to Baltimore is not out of the question.
Carter had 41 home runs and 94 runs batted in for the Brewers last season, but 206 strikeouts is not good unless you’re a pitcher. It seems unlikely he’ll get a deal until Bautista and Trumbo settle down, but landing spots could be the A’s or the Orioles; regardless, it is likely he will stay in the AL, he’s just a second-choice for shoppers.
The Cubs right-hander had a rough ending to 2016, running a 8.35 ERA over his last seven starts, causing the team to leave him off their postseason roster, which ended with a World Series Championship. Prior to that, he offered three straight seasons of sub-4.00. The Marlins or Royals might come calling.
Saunders bounced back from a lost 2015 to make the All Star team before tailing off sharply last year. Baltimore seemed interested, but after the Seth Smith trade, they may be out. His former team, Toronto, is still in, and the Phillies are said to be interested as well.
Holland’s surgery has certainly put suitors on hold, but his workout late last year was impressive. Prior to last season, he was one of the best shutdown guys in the league, posting 47, 46, and 32 save seasons and a 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings career average. The Red Sox were interested early, but seem to have their setup man in Tyler Thornburg. Kansas City isn’t out of the question, but Washington missed out on the major free agent closers. He could let them still make a large ripple, if not a splash.
He’s only four seasons removed from a 20-5 campaign, but at 34 and coming off two rough 12-loss seasons (and yielding 37 home runs last year), Weaver represents a gamble. The Padres are said to be interested in him, and also in the market for their former Cy Young winner, Jake Peavy, and Colby Lewis. Weaver and Peavy make the most sense.
It seems that all 30 teams want in on 29-year-old who has had perennial arm issues and major surgery last season. The Cubs and Rangers are the frontrunners at this point, but the Nationals shouldn’t be ruled out. They are still in search of pitching and have Tyson’s brother Joe in their rotation.null