To mark my first anniversary since becoming a part of this fantastic operation, I’m bringing you the 2017-18 version of my very first contribution to the site: free-agent grades. It has been a slow offseason and this piece will be updated as necessary.
Carlos Santana; PHI; 3 yrs, $60 mil: A
The Phillies were a surprise suitor for the former Indians first baseman. With an encouraging look to their rebuild, this gives them the impact veteran bat that can do wonders for young players. They still won’t be very good, but Santana accelerates their timeline.
Jay Bruce; NYM; 3 yrs, $39 mil: C+
This move doesn’t make much sense for the Mets, who just last July sent Bruce to Cleveland to relieve a clogged outfield in Flushing. Perhaps Michael Conforto’s shoulder injury is worse than initially thought, or more moves are on the horizon. But Bruce really does not make sense even at his $13 million per year price tag.
Yonder Alonso; CLE; 2 yrs, $16 mil: B+
You would think that Alonso would be a downgrade from Carlos Santana; a look at last year’s numbers suggest he might even be an upgrade. I don’t hold Alonso better than Santana quite yet, but this move is a pretty savvy one by Cleveland.
Pat Neshek; PHI; 2 yrs, $16.25 mil: B
Pat Neshek is the pitching equivalent of Carlos Santana. A reliable veteran who can help expedite the young talent’s development by providing veteran guidance is something I think is vital to a rebuild.
Wade Davis; COL; 3 yrs, $52 mil: A-
The Greg Holland signing last year showed that good pitchers could perform in Coors Field. Unlike Alex Uy, I don’t think the Rockies need to invest all their resources in offense. A deep bullpen could help the rotation and Davis is a good piece to grab.
Brandon Morrow; CHC; 2 yrs, $22 mil: B+
Brandon Morrow became one of the premier relievers last season being Kenley Jansen’s right hand man on the Dodgers’ World Series run. $11 million a year is solid for a closer, which he will be for the Cubs with Wade Davis lost to Colorado. Will his success carry from LA to Chicago? Or was being in Los Angeles key to his consistency? Time will tell.
Jhoulys Chacin; MIL; 2 yrs, $15 mil: D+
Chacin was the Padres’ best pitcher last season. Not to say he was all that sharp last year. A cheap starting pitcher won’t hurt the Brewers, but they need a more top end solution to really push them over the top.
Mitch Moreland; BOS; 2 yrs, $13 mil: B-
The Red Sox took their name out of the Eric Hosmer sweepstakes with this move. While it’s not the Blue Jays signing Kendrys Morales for 3 years before Edwin Encarnacion was off the market, it’s certainly not the ideal situation for Boston.
Zack Cozart; ANA; 3 yrs; $38 mil: A
The Angels are building quite the team for 2018. Zack Cozart, donkey owner and All-Star, will shift to third base as he looks to carry his offense form Cincinnati to Anaheim. His defense will certainly travel despite the position change.
Hector Rondon; HOU; 2 yrs, $8.5 mil: B
Rondon adds to the depth of a solid Astros bullpen. He enjoyed success with the Cubs and as just another cog in Houston, he should be more consistent.
Fernando Rodney; MIN; 1 yr, $4.5 mil: C+
Can Rodney return to his elite form? He certainly has the stuff to, but he struggled at times last year in Arizona, especially against the Dodgers. Maybe a return to the American League can conjure some magic out of that bow.
Steve Cishek; CHC; 2 yrs, $13 mil: A-
Cishek enjoyed a solid year between the Mariners and Rays last year. Particularly in Tampa Bay, where he fashioned a 1.09 ERA in 26 appearances. The Cubs are doing well to restock their bullpen and Cishek should slot into a setup role ahead of Brandon Morrow.
Brandon Kintzler; WAS; 2 yrs, $10 mil: B
Kintzler was a solid closer in Minnesota, but his numbers in the capital were a bit more pedestrian. That’s not to say he was bad for the Nationals. With the history that Washington has with its bullpen, solidifying a piece like Kintzler is a good move
Joe Smith; HOU; 2 yrs, $15 mil: B
Another reliever dealt at the deadline last season, Smith is another depth signing alongside Hector Rondon in Houston. His numbers won’t blow you away, but they don’t raise much cause for concern either.
Juan Nicasio; SEA; 2 yrs, $17 mil: A-
Nicasio, one of the most solid relievers in the game, spent time between three teams last season (he only pitched 1.1 innings for the Phillies). He owned an ERA of 2.61. For the Mariners, Nicasio will be a key cog in the bullpen as they try to climb the ladder in the improving AL West.
Addison Reed; MIN; 2 yrs, $16.75 mil: A
A lot of relievers were traded at the deadline last season. Reed went from the Mets to the Red Sox and between them had a solid year both as a closer and as a setup man. The Twins get a very good bullpen piece. If they can land a starter, they’ll have a solid pitching staff.
Lorenzo Cain; MIL; 5 yrs, $80 mil: A
The Brewers are making moves. The same day they signed Cain, they acquired Christian Yelich from the Marlins. Cain give the Brewers a great defensive center fielder who could thrive offensively at Miller Park. His $16 million per year price tag is also very cost effective keeping them in play for starting pitching.
Todd Frazier; NYM; 2 yrs, $17 mil: C
This isn’t a good sign if you’re hoping David Wright makes a comeback. The Mets again make a curious move bringing in the power hitting third baseman. This combined with the Jay Bruce signing (see above) lends me to believe that the Mets are banking on their starting pitchers being fully healthy and successful this year. Maybe not the best bet.
Yu Darvish; CHC; 6 yrs, $126 mil: B+
The Cubs got the starter they needed. Darvish was brilliant for stretches in both the regular and postseason. He was also dreadful in a number of starts, most notably his two in the World Series for the Dodgers. The upside is there, but his wild inconsistency is cause for concern.
Eric Hosmer; SD; 8 yrs, $147 mil: A-
The Padres get the big ticket free agent they wanted. He has expressed an interest in playing left to leave Wil Myers at first. He has a decorated history at that ballpark between All Star games and World Baseball Classics. He will be a key piece in the return of the Padres to playoff contention, but I’m not sold he can make them a World Series-caliber team on his own.
JD Martinez; BOS; 5 yrs. $110 mil: A
The Red Sox got their man. They get a power bat they’ve been missing and don’t completely break the bank (they are still giving him $25 mil per in his first two years). They also limit concerns over his defense with their stable outfield core of Betts, Bennitendi, and Bradley.
Logan Morrison; MIN; 1 yr, $6.5 mil: B
The Twins add a very potent bat for a very good price. Morrison hit a career high 38 home runs in Tampa Bay last season and also has a good glove at first base. The Twins still need another starting pitcher, but adding Morrison doesn’t take away from that.