By Ryan Decker
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Over the last two days I’ve given you the predictions of some of the top free agents available during Major League Baseball’s offseason this winter.
In today’s article, I’m going to give predictions for some of the other available free agents that could find interesting landing spots.
Carlos Gomez, OF
Prediction: Toronto Blue Jays
Gomez’s production has dipped over the past two years while he hasn’t been able to find a permanent home.
After back-to-back All-Star seasons, the outfielder’s bat has somewhat disappeared, although it did appear to return during the 33 games he played with the Rangers after being traded there at the deadline last season.
One thing that didn’t disappear was his glove, as he had one of the best seasons of his career in the outfield (.991 fielding percentage).
Going to Toronto would place Gomez in a lineup with a number of heavy hitters, which should give him better pitches to hit, while also putting him beside arguably the best-fielding center fielder in the American League, Kevin Pillar.
The Rangers will certainly be in mix of teams to get Gomez.
Joe Blanton, RP
Prediction: Boston Red Sox
Boston’s weakness throughout the 2016 season came from the bullpen.
Craig Kimbrel wasn’t as good as advertised. The addition late in the year of Fernando Abad was a bad move (see what I did there?), and on those rare nights where the Boston offense didn’t score a ton of runs the bullpen wasn’t always up to the task of keeping it close.
Joe Blanton could help fix some of those problems.
After missing all of the 2014 season, Blanton has converted into a reliever, appearing in 75 games out of the pen for the Dodgers last season (7-2/2.48 ERA/80 K).
Blanton’s importance was seen at a national level during the postseason, and even though his numbers weren’t nearly as impressive during the NLCS against the Cubs, he wasn’t given much help from the rest of his bullpen compadres.
Blanton fits in as an experienced pitcher, who can act as the 7th or 8th inning guy out the Sox pen.
Brandon Moss, OF
Prediction: Los Angeles Angels
The Angles were really bad in 2016. They were so bad people are beginning to wonder if/when LA front office personnel will consider trading Mike Trout, as to not ‘waste his talents on such a bad team.’
Anaheim won’t be many FA’s first choice of a new ball club, but it could be a nice spot for Moss.
Adding Moss to an outfield that consists of Trout and Kole Calhoun would create an outfield with a lot of power and a lot of potential. Moss would also likely fit in at the No. 5 or No. 6 spot in the batting lineup.
The addition of Moss could at least get LA out of the basement of the up and down AL West. Or, if the Angels are once again at the bottom of the division
Carlos Beltran, OF/DH
Prediction: Houston Astros
Houston has already been active this offseason, recently acquiring catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Josh Reddick. Staying with the theme of veteran leaders that can help this young team, I say they sign Carlos Beltran.
Beltran gives Houston a lot of things.
He gives them a corner outfielder on days George Springer or Reddick need a day off, at this stage in his career he gives them a true DH, and he obviously can give guidance to young stars like Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa.
Beltran may even be able to play a game or two at first base if needed.
He’s also already somewhat familiar with the Astros organization after playing half a season there in 2004.
Sean Rodriguez, Util
Prediction: Los Angeles Angels
Sticking with the narrative of the Angels trying to get better to keep Trout, adding Sean Rodriguez at second base wouldn’t be a bad idea.
And, according to a colleague at U-92 who’s an avid Pirates fan, if second base doesn’t seem to work for him, he can play just about anywhere. “He can play short, second and first, probably third, and left and right field. Super versatile.”
Rodriguez played at least one inning at every position other then catcher last year, which can add to his value where an up and down bat could take away value in a potential contract.
Rodriguez did see a spike up in his both his average and his power this past season after a very lackluster year at the plate in 2015.
Jon Jay, OF
Prediction: Cleveland Indians
Jon Jay sort of got shoved out of the way in St. Louis with the young talent the Cardinals possess in the outfield. Jay appeared to take his new opportunity with the Padres in stride, hitting at .296 pace before breaking his forearm in June.
Jay, who’s always shown the ability to be an everyday starter in the outfield for just about any team, could find a home in Cleveland.
Yesterday I predicted that Ian Desmond could help solve the Indians’ merry-go-round-like rotation in the outfield, and adding Jay on the cheap could continue to fix the problem.
Matt Holliday, OF
Prediction: Baltimore Orioles
As a precursor, this signing would only take place if Baltimore fails to re-sign Mark Trumbo. But since that’s a perfectly reasonable possibility considering how much of a hot commodity Trumbo is, it’s nice to have a backup plan.
There’s no denying that Holliday has begin to show his age over the last two seasons, missing part of 2015 due to injury and then having the average dip way down in 2016 despite hitting 20 home runs.
The power that Holliday has always shown makes him a perfect fit for Camden Yards, and moving to the American League would give him the opportunity to take more days off from the field and be a DH.
Texas and the White Sox are other potential signing spots for Holliday, who turns 37 in January. Either way, I expect him to windup in the AL on a one-, maybe two-year deal.
Steve Pearce, Util
Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays
Pearce has been a bit of a journeyman over the last few years, playing for four different franchises since the start of the 2012 season.
He’s a fan favorite in Baltimore, and appears to be well received everywhere he’s been, and that includes Tampa Bay.
Pearce had a decent 2016, considering his sporadic playing time, but after being traded to Baltimore his production took a major dip. His average fell by nearly 100 points, and he drove in just six runs in 25 games.
He could have a similar year in ’17 as he did a year ago – play for the Rays and do his best to be a wanted man by the trade deadline and then get traded to a contender.
If all else fails, though, he could return to Baltimore on a cheap one-year deal.