Craig Kimbrel is out of his mind. According to Buster Olney, Kimbrel is seeking a six-year deal worth more than $100 million. With Aroldis Chapman ($86 mil) and Kenley Jansen ($80 mil) setting the market last year, Kimbrel is simply expecting way too much.
The flame-throwing right-hander remains one of the top relievers in baseball, and is still relatively young (30). During his stint with Boston, Kimbrel achieved three-straight All-Star appearances whilst compiling 108 saves. Despite a shaky end to the season (which was attributed to tipping pitches), Kimbrel should receive a deal similar to Chapman and Jansen. Teams like Atlanta and Philadelphia may get involved, but I like a surprise team to acquire the star reliever.
Prediction — St. Louis Cardinals
It is not often that a former Cy Young winning pitcher hits the market. Keuchel, who will be 31 at the start of next season, is coming off a sub-par season by his standards. The soft-tossing lefty finished the 2018 season with a 3.74 ERA, and allowed a career-high 211 hits.
However, Keuchel has shown over the course of his career that he is a valuable player. His pitching style and repertoire should help him age gracefully — thus prolonging his career. According to Jon Heyman, the Braves, Reds and Phillies are serious suitors for Keuchel.
While we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Yankees make a push, we believe the Braves make the most sense. The addition of a proven, veteran pitcher could go a long way in enhancing their ability to contend.
Prediction — Atlanta Braves
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Manny Machado is hoping to sign the biggest contract of the offseason. Over the past few months, the word has been that Machado’s preference is to join the Yankees. This week, Machado reportedly will be meeting with the White Sox, Yankees, and Phillies. Of the three, the Phillies and White Sox are determined to make a splash.
Philadelphia hasn’t been shy about its interest in the controversial star. The White Sox, who many believe are a year-or-two away from contending, could possibly expedite their plans by bringing in someone of Machado’s caliber.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees are trying to trade Miguel Andujar. If Andujar was moved, Machado could takeover as the long-term third basemen. In the end, Machado’s affection for New York and the Yankees’ desire to win will be too much for the Phillies and White Sox to overcome.
Prediction — New York Yankees
Alongside Machado, Bryce Harper is the marquee player available this offseason. Still only 26, Harper’s potential is far too enticing for teams to overlook. Coming off a ‘down year’ in which he batted .249 with 34 homers and 100 RBI, Harper will be looking for a mega-deal. The question is, will a big-name team like the Dodgers, Cubs, or Yankees, be willing to go all-in for the superstar?
The Yankees have downplayed their interest in the outfielder and appear to favor Machado. Harper and the Cubs have long been linked, but there hasn’t been much buzz thus far. The Dodgers appear to like Harper, but it is unlikely that the team would want to commit a long-term deal. The Phillies are a main player and should be in the race until the end. Ultimately, we see Harper choosing the Dodgers.
The Dodgers represent the closest thing to a hometown team for Harper (who grew up in Las Vegas). While Harper surely wants a large contract, it may be ideal for both parties if Harper signs a short yet pricey contract. Something like $160 million over four years, with an opt-out after the second season. That would allow Harper to re-enter the free agent pool as a 28-year-old — resulting in another opportunity to secure an even larger contract.
By signing with the Dodgers, Harper would further enhance his brand and likely become the unquestioned face of baseball. Playing for a perennial World Series contender — and in America’s second largest market — seems like too much to pass up.
Prediction — Los Angeles Dodgers
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