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Dec. 29, 2019 - Michael Stewart

Early MLB Free Agent Signings/National League: Part 2

Introduction: We continue with our MLB free agents signings and move on over to the National League; where we saw plenty of movement. Again, Part 1 and 2 will be current evaluation of each team’s moves with grades inputted. Parts 3 and 4 will be final grades before spring training begins as the majority of moves will have already been made; aside from a few minor roster moves. So let’s get right to it and look at the National League moves starting with the Eastern Division.

National League

East:

  • Atlanta Braves: The Braves got the ball rolling early in free agency by aggressively signing relievers Will Smith (3 years/$40M), Darren O’Day (1 year/$2.75M), starting pitcher Cole Hamels (1 year/$18M) and catcher Travis d’Arnaud (2 years/$16M) within the few weeks of free agency. Over the last couple of weeks the Braves have been quiet, but keep an eye on them and 3B Josh Donaldson as something could happen over the next few weeks. EARLY GRADE: B+
  • Washington Nationals: The reigning champs made the decision to re-sign Stephen Strasburg (7 years/$245M) and move on from 3B Anthony Rendon, who was signed by the Los Angeles Angels. Was this the right move or not remains to be seen as Strasburg must justify his $35M per year contract and produce like an Ace. The Nationals also signed catcher Yan Gomes (2 years/$10M) and Howie Kendrick (1 year/$6.25M). Rumors are connecting a possible signing of 3B Josh Donaldson to replace Anthony Rendon, but the Nationals will not alone, so Donaldson could receive that 4th year that’s been keeping team’s from moving forward. EARLY GRADE: B
  • New York Mets: The Mets focused on their pitching depth and signed starting pitchers Rick Porcello (1 year/$10M) and Michael Wacha (1 year/$3M), relievers Dellin Betances (1 year/$10.5M-with two player options based on performance) and Brad Brach (2 yeara/$2.1M) and a few minor league signings to announce. However; they did lose pitcher Zach Wheeler to the Phillies and will receive a compensation pick (projected in round 2). The Mets did make a trade by acquiring centerfield Jake Marisnick from the Houston Astros for two low level minor league players. EARLY GRADE: C+
  • Philadelphia Phillies: With new manager Joe Girardi now at the helm, the Phillies improved their starting pitching by signing Zach Wheeler (5 years/$118M); will Wheeler live up to this contract in terms of performance seems highly unlikely. Girardi signed a familiar face in SS Didi Gregorius (1 year/$14M) to play shortstop. Moving current shortstop Jean Sequra over at 2B with former 2B Cesar Hernandez signing with the Indians. EARLY GRADE: B
  • Miami Marlins: The Marlins have been in a rebuilding phase for the last decade or so it seems and currently have been quiet in the free agent market with only signing of catcher Francisco Cervelli (1 year/$2M). . Don’t expect any big names heading to Miami anytime soon. In all likelihood; look for Derek Jeter to continue the rebuilding process in 2020. EARLY GRADE: D

Central:

  • St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals have re-signed pitcher Adam Wainwright (1 year/$5M) and look to be moving on from outfielder Marcell Ozuna, who’s a free agent. The Cardinals are expected to be in a three team race in the NL central along with the Brewers and Cubs, so despite their inactivity thus far, expect them to continue to improve the team before spring training. EARLY GRADE: C
  • Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers decided to let catcher Yasmani Granal, pitchers Drew Pomeranz, Jordan Lyles and 3rd baseman Mike Moustakas leave for free agency to the White Sox, Padres, Texas and Reds respectfully. Milwaukee brought in OFer Avisail Garcia (2 years/$20M), starting pitchers Josh Lindblom (3 years/$9.125M), Brett Anderson (1 year/$5M) and 1B Justin Smoak (1 year/$5M). There’s been rumors of reliever Josh Hader finding a new home is still brewing, but as of right now; nothing is eminent. EARLY GRADE: C
  • Chicago Cubs: With new manager David Ross now in place, the Cubs find themselves at a cross road on which direction they plan to take. Should they be aggressive this off season (trades/FA signings) or should they look to have a rebuild in place. Rumors of 3rd baseman Kris Bryant being on the block has not stopped and it would take a major haul for the Cubs to make that move. Also, the Cubs need to decide on what to do with outfielder Nick Castellianos, who was acquired after the deadline last season and produced offensively. EARLY GRADE: D
  • Cincinnati Reds: The Reds signed 3rd baseman Mike Moustakas (4 years/$64M) and pitcher Wade Miley (2 years/$15M). Both signings are an improvement from last season. However; if the Reds want to be serious contenders with the Cubs, Cardinals and Brewers; more moves need to be made. EARLY GRADE: C+
  • Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates are in a complete rebuild and rumors are getting hot and heavy that centerfield Starling Marte is available. Marte has two more years on his contract ($11.5M & $12.5M-which is a team option, $1M buyout). Marte’s fielding has been in a slow decline in CF, so it will be interesting to see how team’s view him as a full-time centerfielder or a corner outfielder. Need to keep an eye on this rumor as it should heat up again after the new year. EARLY GRADE: D

West:

  • Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers are loaded as they decided to let free agent pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu sign with Toronto. Rumor has the Dodgers looking to make a major trade; which could include outfielder Joc Pederson in the right deal. Dodgers are in no position to make any major changes to their roster, but if they do it will most likely be via the trade route as the name of Francisco Lindor keeps popping up lately. EARLY GRADE: D
  • Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks big free signing thus far has been pitcher Madison Bumgarner (5 years/$85M), followed by pitcher Kole Calhoun (2 years/$16M) and catcher Stephen Vogt (1 year/$3M). Not sure these moves will be enough despite their success in 2019 as they would be battling for a wild card spot with the Dodgers in their divison. EARLY GRADE: B
  • San Francisco Giants: The Giants have moved on from pitcher Madison Bumgarner , catcher Stephen Vogt and reliever Will Smith as they have signed with the Arizona, Atlanta respectfully. The Giants also released centerfielder Kevin Pillar, so all indications is that the Giants are looking to rebuild and load up their farm system and current ML roster with younger players. EARLY GRADE: D
  • Colorado Rockies: The Rockies have been very quiet thus far in the off season and there’s no indication that they will be active in free agency. Experts have indicated that we could see a major player on the Rockies roster be packaged in a major trade before spring training begins. Thus far, no names have been mentioned, so we’ll have to wait for any updated information. EARLY GRADE: D-
  • San Diego Padres: The Padres have a very deep farm system and their current ML roster has a few solid young talented players like Fernando Tatis Jr. The Padres only signing thus far is reliever Drew Pomeranz who had great success transitioning from a starting to a reliever at the trading deadline last season. His 2nd half performance netted him a 4 year deal worth $34M; which many experts believe the Padres overpaid. GM A. J Preller is on the hot seat with choking contracts of LFer Will Myers (6 years/$83M-signed in 2017) and 1B Eric Hosmer (8 years/$144M-signed in 2018). If neither or both can’t be moved, reports have the Padres looking for a new GM. EARLY GRADE: F

 

Final Thoughts: So teams have already bolstered their roster in free agency early on and reports indicate that we should see more free agents finding homes before spring training begins. The top 10 free agents still available are 3B Josh Donaldson, LF Marcell Ozuna, OF Yasiel Puig, OF Nicholas Castellanos, pitcher Rich Hill, reliever Will Harris, OF Corey Dickerson, infielder Ben Zobrist and lastly 1B Edwin Encarnacion. Sprinkle in a handful of other serviceable free agents and it’s clear that we should see some activity right after the new- year.