With the postseason over and winter approaching, MLB is set to turn on the burners this year with the hot stove.
No, not an actual furnace that commissioner Rob Manfred uses to count his money beside, but rather the period of several months where front offices are hard at work and free agents are picked up either by the same team or a team that no one thought they would go to.
Let’s examine the names out on the market and the teams that need additions before Spring Training.
Clearing the elephant out of the room, we’ll start in the NL Central with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Let’s face it, owner Bob Nutting does not like to spend money on talent at all.
But with the team needing assets like middle infielders and starting pitchers, he’s going to have to cough up the dough sometime soon. Since declining Josh Harrison’s club option and bringing in Jung Ho Kang and Lonnie Chisenhall, they really haven’t made any moves.
What would suit them best is a middle infielder that can fill the gap at either 2B or SS. Adam Frazier can get the job done, but they need another big name. My option would be Marwin Gonzalez.
Gonzalez was a terrific infielder with the Astros, and if the Bucs can sign him, not only will they be signing a great fielder but a good bat as well. The 30-year-old was never used as a regular with Houston, and Pittsburgh would push him as a starter.
Next is what will happen between OF Bryce Harper and INF Manny Machado.
This has been speculated since the All-Star break as to where these two would end up in the offseason.
Machado was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers near the trade deadline in July as a hope to be the x-factor for the Dodgers to comeback and take the title this season. Sadly for L.A. fans, this wasn’t the case.
Quite honestly, the Dodgers should look to re-sign him to at least a three-year contract since he took the place of Josh Donaldson when he went to Cleveland. The former Baltimore Oriole is a solid power hitter than can deliver in the clutch and has both tools needed for a strong defensive catalyst: arm and a glove.
With the Dodgers, Machado posted a .975 fielding percentage, one of the best in the majors. Losing him to another club would place the Dodgers as an underdog rather than a juggernaut.
Now to Bryce Harper, the teenage sensation turned 26-year-old first-time free agent.
The high-tempered outfielder obviously wants out of Washington, or at least wants to test the market, as he turned down a contract worth $300 million which would have kept him in the nation’s capital.
To put that in perspective, it’s like being left a mansion/estate in your grandfather’s will and all taxes/bills/etc. paid, and turning it down to live in the suburbs making $60k a year.
Almost every dedicated analyst has predicted where Harper would end up and have good reason for it.
Many analysts see him going to Philadelphia, but for my input, I see the 2015 NL MVP comfortable with the Chicago Cubs.
They have a lineup stacked with talent that can put up major numbers but they need that one push to make another successful playoff run.
With Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward already in the outfield, Harper would complete the trifecta of All-Stars in the grass. Not to mention, he tears up each team’s pitching in the NL Central.
With a lackluster postseason, the Cubs need to start making moves to ensure another quality playoff run.
Harper would bring the glove, talent, and charisma needed to seal divisional dominance.
The Winter Meetings should be the apex of offseason deals but that is still a few weeks away.
For now, try to focus on who your team should sign rather than who will gamble a signing.