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#pounditSunday, January 23, 2022

Ideal landing spot for MLB’s top remaining free agents

Yu Darvish Dodgers

The MLB free agent market has been slow to develop for various reasons, but with pitchers and catchers reporting in a little over a month, odds are that things will pick up sooner rather than later. That means we’ll see a rush of signings once the first dominoes fall, leading teams to really consider their options.

Here’s a look at an ideal landing spot for the top free agents still on the market.

1) Yu Darvish, P — Cubs

As it stands, the Cubs do not have much of a rotation. Sure, Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks are there, but John Lackey and Jake Arrieta are both out for the moment, and they’ll at least want to replace the latter. If so, why not target the best starter on the market? Reports indicate that the Cubs have spoken to Darvish and registered their interest. They’re a big enough franchise to stand out in the big queue of suitors the Japanese ace currently has. They might as well pony up and go for it, even in spite of the bad World Series.

2) J.D. Martinez, OF — Red Sox

This is probably the most obvious marriage of the offseason. The Red Sox are in dire need of a power hitter, and Martinez is easily the best available. Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski was in charge of the Detroit Tigers when they picked Martinez up and revived his career. At this point, the major sticking point simply appears to be whether the Red Sox will be willing to give him the contract he wants. The bet here is that something ultimately gets done. It makes too much sense for it not to happen.

3) Eric Hosmer, 1B — Royals

Hosmer should be one of the most exciting free agents on the market. He’s a quality first baseman, only 28 years old, and he hit .318 with some power in 2018. Despite this, not a lot of teams are looking for a first baseman, which could end up driving Hosmer right back to Kansas City. The Red Sox made sense, but they reportedly are out. Hosmer loves Kansas City. The Royals also believe that they could rebuild quickly enough so that Hosmer would still be a factor the next time they contend. That’s a big if, but at this point, it’s the only situation that seems to be developing for the first baseman.

4) Jake Arrieta, P — Twins

The Twins’ top priority is clearly Yu Darvish, but a lot of teams are interested in him and it may be a longshot there. If that falls through, the Twins may prefer to look Arrieta’s way. A modest regular season gave way to an excellent postseason for the ace right-hander, and that should be enough to convince teams that he can still be a high-level performer. The Twins have long sought a top-flight starter, and they badly missed one even as they made the playoffs. Arrieta would fill that void.

5) Mike Moustakas, 3B — Cardinals

Moustakas’ market really hasn’t taken hold, which is a bit of a surprise. He’s a 29-year-old who plays good defense at third and hit 38 home runs for the Royals in 2017. The Cardinals were repeatedly linked to a trade for Josh Donaldson, but the Blue Jays are stonewalling those efforts, meaning St. Louis will have to look elsewhere. That means Moustakas, the top third baseman on the market, could be the answer if they’re willing to spend the money. They clearly want an infield bat, and he fits the bill perfectly.

6) Jay Bruce, OF — Giants

The Giants are badly in need of help in the outfield, and there’s a reason they were so aggressive in pursuing Giancarlo Stanton before he blocked their efforts and ultimately went to the Yankees. The aging Hunter Pence is really their only experienced option. Unless the Giants are keen on ponying up the cash for J.D. Martinez, Bruce represents their best option. He’s a steady, experienced outfielder who hit 36 home runs last season and would be a big addition to San Francisco. Better yet, the Giants know Bruce wants to play for them.

See more on Page 2

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