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[author image=”https://www.the3pointconversion.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/8D8CA17E-6A91-4B89-9C1C-353F7FB01415-e1437708682272.jpg” ] Lee Vowell @LeeVowell [/author]
Now that the Kansas City Royals have defeated the New York Mets in the World Series, the real fun can begin. Teams that did not reach the level of the Mets or Royals can attempt to improve themselves via free agency in hopes of being the Royals of 2016. Let’s take a look at who The 3 Point Conversion views as the top five free agents of this offseason and, just because we want to be silly, where they might end up signing (or re-signing, as may be the case).
- David Price, LHP – Age: 30
2015: 18-5, 2.45 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 225 K, 6.0 WAR
Price is the top-ranked player on this list because he is still young enough to pitch at a high-level for five years. He is left-handed, has a fastball and change that makes batters miss, but has secondary pitches (cutter and knuckle-curve) that will still allow him to be efficient when he inevitably loses some velocity. In his six years as a full-time starter he has pitched at least 186 innings, so he is durable. Most likely, he will receive a seven-year deal where years six and seven he is simply an overpaid pitcher. There are many teams, obviously, that would love to have Price, but few who can truly afford him, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs, to name three.
Prediction: Blue Jays
- Zack Greinke, RHP – Age: 32
2015: 19-3, 1.66 ERA, .84 WHIP, 200 K, 9.3 WAR
Greinke is second to Price only because of Greinke being two years older and right-handed. He decided to opt out of his deal with the Dodgers and pursue free agency. Many expect him to stay in L.A., but with an even richer contract for more years. Anything goes in baseball free agency, though, so Greinke signing elsewhere would not be a surprise. Greinke’s season in 2015 was shockingly good. While the expectation should not be for him to be at that level possibly ever again, he still has very good career numbers and is extremely durable. He approaches pitching in the same manner as Greg Maddux, but throws harder. He will probably be offered a six-year deal or more, but whoever signs him might be overpaying the last three seasons.
- Jason Heyward, RF/CF – Age: 26
2015: .293 AVG, .359 OBP, 13 HR, 6.5 WAR
Heyward is only 26, but it seems as if he has been playing for two decades. Heyward is certainly one of the best defensive outfielders in the majors today, and while he does not hit home runs he does everything else well. He will probably never be the best hitter on his team, but he simply wins you games. His WAR of 6.5 in 2015 was just a blip better than in 2014, 6.2. In 2012 his WAR was 5.8. People complain he has yet to hit 30 home runs in a year. Why? Does he need to? Also, if he signs an eight-year contract, he is so young he should be a plus-player in each of those seasons. Plus, whoever signs him will be a better team in 2016.
Prediction: Seattle Mariners (Don’t forget the Mariners have made splashes the last two offseasons with the signings of Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz; it would not be surprising to see new general manager Jerry DiPoto make his own mark with the signing of Heyward.)
- Chris Davis, 1B – Age: 29
2015: .262 AVG, .361 OBP, 47 HR, 5.2 WAR
Davis has led the American League in home runs two of the last three seasons. The reason he ranks fourth is because he is not a homer-only guy. He is actually a very good defensive first baseman, so he could move to the National League and play every day. His power will translate as well. He was suspended in 2014 because of his use of Adderall, but unlike many players who seem to use possible performance-enhancing drugs to get their power numbers up, Davis appears to take medication for the proper reason. In his case, medication helps with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Also, he received a therapeutic exemption for Adderall in both 2013 and 2015, so his claim that he thought he had one for 2014 seems warranted.
Prediction: San Francisco Giants
- Yoenis Cespedes, OF – Age: 30
2015: .291 AVG, .328 OBP, 35 HR, 6.3 WAR
Cespedes’ physical skill might normally put him number-one on this list, but he appears to have limitations. One, he has moments where he appears to be mentally vacant, like being so far off first base late in a World Series game that he gets thrown out and kills any potential rally. Two, he has the physical tools to play centerfield but one would be right to wonder if Cespedes disregards the need to read the ball. Cespedes can throw and run in the field better than most. He has huge pop in his bat. He should be an annual superstar, but he has not been for whatever reason. The next place he plays will be his fifth team. One wonders if his potential is so great that teams want him, or if he wears out his welcome at every stop. Either way he will sign a long-term contract with someone who will pay him a lot of money.
Prediction: Los Angeles Angels
Other players to watch this offseason include the following: outfielders Alex Gordon, Justin Upton, Dexter Fowler and Austin Jackson; pitchers Johnny Cueto, Scott Kazmir, Mike Leake and Jordan Zimmerman; and a catcher, Matt Wieters.