The present MLB offseason has been historic in the fact that several “big time” free agents remain unsigned with mere days remaining before the start of spring camp.
Several factors have produced the present dilemma we see before us. The awareness of baseball analytics has surely slowed down signing free agents to huge, multi-year deals. Another possible reason is the coming free agent class of 2019, which includes Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, and Bryce Harper. The class could also have Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw looking for new deals, so you can see how some subscribe to this theory of why the market is so slow presently.
No matter what the reason is, the market has certainly shifted. And with the shift, it could be time for the Padres to make a move in the free agent market. Perhaps it is time to bring in some of these big names looking for work, and brainstorm if the Padres are a fit for their services.
The idea behind signing some of these larger-named players is that you can possibly flip them at the deadline to a contender for prospects. Not exactly a way to endear yourself to a player or the players union itself, but under the circumstances, it might work. If you are honest with the free agent, it could be the best way for the player to build value and at the same time play at the end of the year with a contending team. Hired guns like these are often rewarded at the end of a season, and in particular, after a solid playoff performance. It is a gamble, but something that could produce at the end of the day for the Padres.
We all know A.J. Preller thinks outside the box. This could be a way to further build the farm system, while developing talent with solid veteran major leaguers competing around them. The Padres probably will not be a factor in 2018, but that does not mean that they will be horrible. The team is looking like a near .500 team at this point, with signs pointing upwards. They overachieved last year. They could very easily do the same this year. Anything can happen in Major League Baseball.
The team is prepared to pay Eric Hosmer upwards of $20-25 million a year for his services. If you took that money and invested it in the current market, you could attain some very attractive trade chips for minimal years of service time. Here is a look at some names who could possibly be signed on a one or two-year deal in the current market.
The 32-year-old pitcher had a somewhat down year in 2017, after bursting into relevancy. Reports are that he wants a multi-year deal, but teams have been hesitant to go past three years with him. Could a one-year deal at $25-30 million (top-dollar) be enticing enough to ink the right-handed pitcher. He could step in as the Padres’ ace and would surely have the opportunity to build value pitching at Petco. Arrieta would probably prefer the comfort of a multi-year deal somewhere, but who knows, perhaps the slow market has put a bigger chip on his shoulder as he seeks an ultimate pay day.
A left-handed power threat would be huge for the Padres at the moment. Moustakas hit 38 homers last year and could still have plenty left in the tank. He hasn’t had much luck on the open market thus far. Moustakas would probably take a two-year deal slightly above what the Mets signed Todd Frazier for earlier this week. Is two years and $20-25 million too much to pay for Moose? And will he retain his value enough to possibly be shipped when a suitor comes along? Something to ponder if you are the Padres’ front office.
Another interesting option is this right-handed pitcher, though I believe someone will eventually pay the price and give him a three or four-year deal. Lynn is not overly exciting, but he could be a workhorse and innings eater for the Friars if he remains unsigned. Lynn on a one-year deal would be fantastic as every year, teams need starting pitching down the stretch. More than likely it would take at least two years and top dollar value to secure him. Worth considering, but dumpster diving for starting pitchers might be more beneficial in the long run.
The Padres don’t particularly need a closer, but Holland could be a tough deal to pass up. The idea here is to maximize value, and we all know that closers have top value on the trade market, especially come July and August. Holland declined his $15 million option for the 2018 season in November, and the Rockies quickly changed gears in attaining relief options. The right-handed pitcher was dominant in early 2017, but faded midway into the season. He picked it up late in the season and looked back to normal, but some teams may be wary of his arm after coming off Tommy John surgery in 2015-16. Giving him somewhere near $15 million for 2018 is a risk, but he could fetch a pretty penny at the trade deadline.
The Padres have a stacked outfield presently, but the opportunity to bring in CarGo could be interesting. He could solidify the middle of the order, as his left-handed swing is a thing of beauty. Gonzalez’s name has not been mentioned very much this winter, so the Padres probably could ink him to a one-year deal at near rock-bottom price. Getting him consistent at bats might be an issue for a team looking to play their youth, but if he comes back in 2018 with a vengeance, he could be a very hot commodity come trade deadline time. Again, it is time to think outside the box when you are attempting to compete with the big boys.