When I began writing this article, there were 39 days, 15 hours, 43 minutes and 33 seconds until pitchers and catchers report to kick off the 2018 major league baseball season. So why are we talking about baseball when the first players slowly begin to make their way to Florida and Arizona? Well, because we love baseball. That’s why.
Hot Stove? Not So Much
While the US is in the middle of one of it’s coldest winters in history, the MLB Hot Stove season came and went with very little heat. Are MLB owners wallets frozen shut too? Or are they (finally) getting scared of the seemingly nonsensical deals that arguably mediocre players are demanding?
It’s hard to say exactly. But what we know for sure is that, out of MLBTradeRumors.com’s top 50 available free agents, only two of the top ten have signed a new deal and one of them was Masahiro Tanaka who elected to stay with the Yankees rather than test the open market. Former Cubs closer Wade Davis inked what seems like a really excessive deal with the Rockies too. Good for him with all that cash and whatnot, but closing in Colorado isn’t gonna be a walk in the park.
Current free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer, who MLBTR ranks as the #3 free agent currently still available, reportedly has multiple seven year (!) offers on the table. Not too shab for a guy who won the American League first base Gold Glove in 2017 despite posting a terrible -1.6 dWAR. He’s a solid baseball player, but I’m glad my team isn’t the one giving him that contract.
Elsewhere, the market is still littered with guys who can help just about any MLB club in a big way, but for a big price. JD Martinez and his 45 home runs, Yu Darvish and his career 3.42 ERA and Jake Arrieta with his 2015 NL Cy Young are all still up for grabs. Who’s gonna give one of these poor fellas a home? Someone will eventually, and for a boatload of Benjamins.
Story Lines Looking Ahead to 2018
Due to the aforementioned lack of free agent movement, it’s still a little too early to make official predictions. Doesn’t mean we can’t BS about it anyway though, right?
It will be hard for any team to beat the hype that will surround the Yankees when they take the field when their 2018 quest begins. They added Giancarlo Stanton and his 59 home runs to their already stacked roster, and return a pitching staff that should be more than serviceable with room to still grow from Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery. The Bombs may not be done either, as they’re still engaged in talks with the Pirates to acquire Garret Cole. Other AL East may be in for some long, sad nights for the foreseeable.
Can the Astros repeat? They return practically everyone from their 2017 World Series champion team, and will certainly enter 2018 as one of the favorites to win the American League again. The Angels have made some improvements, and the Rangers look to field a quality team again, but it would be a monumentus upset at this point for them to not at the very least repeat as AL West champions and make a series run at the World Series again. This is like Dallas Keuchel’s last season in Houston, but the Astros may be looking to add an established started such as Darvish to their portfolio as well.
How will the Dodgers rebound from falling just short of the ultimate prize? That may be the most intriguing story to follow in the National League. With the highest payroll in baseball, the Dodgers have been fairly quiet on the free agent market outside of their deal with Atlanta where both clubs creatively shuffled their money around in order to avoid luxury tax penalties (LA) and have more money to spend in the 2018 free agent market (Atlanta). In the end though the Dodgers roster remained largely the same and they’ll enter this season with the same expectations: World Series, or bust.
That’s all for now, folks. But expect more MLB offseason content to come your way in the days and weeks leading up to pitchers and catchers reporting.
Oh, and now there are 39 days, 14 hours, 46 minutes and 12 seconds until pitchers & catchers report, in case you were curious.
Wanna discuss baseball? What about acceptable hot dog condiments? Do it all on our FREE MESSAGE BOARD
Follow FAM on Twitter @Firstandmonday