Welcome To The MLB Winter Meetings

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Welcome To The MLB Winter Meetings

Shane Palma, Editor in Chief

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On the fourth day of Christmas my team gave to me: four long relievers, three starting pitchers, two stud outfielders, and an eventual 300 million dollar man! (or two…)

It’s the holiday season which also means baseball fans can get excited about the prospects for changes to their rosters during the offseason. This chaotic period will see 30 baseball general managers come together during the next week in Las Vegas for the annual winter meetings. While the long list of available free agents will be the focal point of the gathering, some GMs will also consider whether or not they should trade any of their high price veterans while others will have to weigh the pros and cons of relinquishing their highly-touted prospects. 

The hot stove is already blazing after Patrick Corbin, formally of the Arizona Diamondbacks, signed a six-year, $140 million contract with the Washington Nationals, possibly convincing the team to go into full rebuilding mode as they shipped All-Star Paul Goldschmidt to the St. Louis Cardinals. With the NHL’s Golden Knights out of town for a trip to New York, Brodie Van Wagenen (Mets) and Brian Cashman (Yankees) will swap places and look to make some magic happen in Vegas.

Late last night, news broke of a rumored three-team trade between the Mets, Yankees and Miami Marlins that would involve Noah Syndegaard and J.T. Realmuto. (Check back later for my thoughts on this possible blockbuster.)

But for now, the primary focus for both local teams involves pitchers and catchers. Can either of them land Corey Kluber from the Cleveland Indians? Will the Mets mortgage the future for Realmuto or sign one of the significantly cheaper free agent options to play behind the plate? And is it inevitable that either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado will wear pinstripes next year for the Yankees?

Below is a list of the most prominent free agents and where I think each of them will land. To hear in-depth analysis on potential moves and the 2019 MLB season, be sure to check out my latest podcast on Shane’s Sports of New York Youtube page. Now, let’s get to my predictions.

Bryce Harper: Neck and neck with Machado in terms of value, but a lefty outfield bat might be more appealing to clubs. He hasn’t hit for much of an average the past few seasons, but Harper is still an elite level talent who deserves to get paid. With the Nationals out of the picture, I foresee a sleeper team paying up and landing the Vegas native.

Prediction- San Diego Padres

Manny Machado: He wants to play shortstop, but the teams looking to pay the price might want to move Machado to third base. He’s a dynamic hitter who will vastly improve any club he joins. The Dodgers don’t have the money to retain the star, but another franchise has been committed to landing Machado for months.

Prediction- Philadelphia Phillies

Michael Brantley: One of the most underrated players in all of baseball, Michael Brantley is my favorite free agent this year. A career .295 average, it wasn’t too long ago when the 31-year-old’s name was being brought up in the MVP conversation. He won’t be too cheap, but a history riddled with injuries might bring down his cost.

Prediction- Houston Astros

Daniel Murphy: In an interview with the former Mets GM, Sandy Alderson stated that the only thing he regrets in his time with the club is letting Murphy walk in free agency. Since his breakout performance in the 2015 postseason, Daniel Murphy has been the most consistent hitter on the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs. The veteran might be getting older, but his production has yet to falter.

Prediction: New York Yankees

Dallas Keuchel: A former CY Young award winner, Keuchel hasn’t seen the same success of his better days in recent seasons. Still a great bet to induce a ground ball and play stellar defense, Keuchel should see his market open up once other big name free agents are off the board. Known as a Yankees’ killer, the southpaw will have to chance to face his “favorite’ team quite a bit if my prediction stands.

Prediction- Tampa Bay Rays

Craig Kimbrel: Shaky in the 2018 playoffs, but there’s no doubt that Kimbrel is still one of the best closers in the game. As per his agent, the former Red Sox reliever is seeking a six-year deal with money similar to that of Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. A team in need of bullpen help in order to make a deep postseason run, Kimbrel will finally return to his old stomping grounds.

Prediction- Atlanta Braves

AJ Pollock: If the 2018 season ended after the first two months, AJ Pollock would’ve been the MVP of the National League. But injuries have held him back significantly and caused him to increase his strikeout rate. Without elite defense to help his case, it’s unlikely Pollock will reach a deal worth a considerable amount. His play has decreased and so has his market.

Prediction- New York Mets

Adam Ottavino: Slider, changeup, sinker, fastball. Every single pitch that Ottavino throws leaves the crowd mesmerized. He has elite stuff and could easily step up to be a team’s closer after setting up for Wade Davis in Colorado last year. He most recently came out and said that if given the chance, he could “strike out Babe Ruth” not once, but every time at the plate. I’m not sure how true that is, but I’m positive the Babe would win every battle against Ottavino if he was on the mound.

Prediction- New York Mets

Corey Kluber: The Indians have been very vocal as of late in regards to moving any of their starting pitchers in return for a sizeable haul. The name that comes up the most from the three is none other than the 2-time Cy Young award winner in Corey Kluber. With team control until 2022 for a reasonable price in terms of an ace, Cleveland will surely look to maximize its return, and one team can offer the most to win now.

Prediction- Los Angeles Dodger trade Walker Buehler, Yasiel Puig, and other prospects for Corey Kluber