It’s time for a free-agency update! There are still a lot of free agents out there beside Bryce Harper and Manny Machado — including some quality second basemen, one of the best closers of all time, some past-their-prime outfielders, some lefty starters who don’t throw hard and a bunch of replacement-level relievers.
Let’s look at the best available at each position, some potential fits for each player and — not for betting purposes! — predict where each player will sign. Each player’s 2019 seasonal age is included along with his projection from FanGraphs.
1. Dallas Keuchel (31, 3.69 ERA, 3.2 WAR) — Keuchel doesn’t have the ceiling of Patrick Corbin, which is why he won’t approach the $140 million Corbin received, but he is reportedly seeking a five-year deal, a big ask for a pitcher who missed time in 2016 with a sore shoulder and more time in 2017 with a pinched nerve in his neck.
Best fits: Padres, Rangers, Nationals
Prediction: Padres. The Angels once seemed a possibility, but they instead went for quantity with Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill. The Rangers are desperate for starting pitching. The Phillies and Nationals aren’t desperate, but have been involved in prominent rumors for Keuchel (although balking at the five years). The Padres have been itching to make a big splash this offseason; maybe this will be it.
2. Gio Gonzalez (33, 4.39 ERA, 0.8 WAR) — He has averaged 31 starts over the past nine seasons, but he had his lowest strikeout rate in that span in 2018 and his highest walk rate since 2010. Steamer forecasts some sort of injury and only 92 innings.
Best fits: Rangers, Angels, A’s
Prediction: A’s. How about a return to Oakland, where he debuted with in 2008? The A’s could use a starter who can take the mound 30 times.
3. Wade Miley (32, 4.36 ERA, 1.0 WAR) — He had a fluky 2.57 ERA with the Brewers in 16 starts but was bad in 2016 and 2017 (5.48 ERA). He has generally been healthy (missed time in 2018 with a strained groin and oblique).
Best fits: A’s, Giants, Mets
Prediction: Mets. New York could use a better fifth starter than Jason Vargas and is still $40 million under the luxury-tax threshold.
4. Drew Pomeranz (30, 4.73 ERA, 0.8 WAR) — He was in line for a big payday after posting a 3.32 ERA in 2016-17 with 9.4 K’s per nine innings. In fact, he outpitched Corbin those two years. In free agency, however, what you did most recently matters the most, and Pomeranz struggled through an injury-plagued 2018 and might have to take a one-year deal to rebuild some value and show he’s healthy. Could be a good buy-low candidate.
Best fits: Padres, Nationals, Twins
Prediction: Nationals. Feels like a good gamble for Washington to fill the No. 5 spot in the rotation.
5. Clay Buchholz (34, 4.73 ERA, 1.0 WAR) — He signed with the Royals in late March, was released May 1, signed with the Diamondbacks and posted a 2.01 ERA and 3.47 FIP over 16 starts and 98⅓ innings. His injury history is long, but he’s sometimes good and sometimes very good. The Diamondbacks traded for Luke Weaver and signed Merrill Kelly out of South Korea (and could get Taijuan Walker back at some point), so a return engagement there is unlikely.
Best fits: A’s, Brewers, Astros
Prediction: Astros. I could see Houston trying to milk 120 innings out of him, allowing the Astros to give Forrest Whitley a little extra time at Triple-A and keeping Brad Peacock in the bullpen.
Already signed: Patrick Corbin (Nationals), Nathan Eovaldi (Red Sox), Yusei Kikuchi (Mariners), J.A. Happ (Yankees), Charlie Morton (Rays), Lance Lynn (Rangers), Anibal Sanchez (Nationals), Garrett Richards (Padres), Mike Fiers (A’s), Matt Harvey (Angels), Trevor Cahill (Angels), CC Sabathia (Yankees), Tyson Ross (Tigers)
1. Craig Kimbrel (31, 2.79 ERA, 1.4 WAR) — Everybody is down on him after his shaky postseason, but he held batters to a .146 average and fanned 96 in 62⅓ innings. No, he’s not as dominant as he once was — he allowed a career-high 18 extra-base hits after seasons of four and six with the Braves earlier in his career — but he still projects as a dominant closer, at least for the immediate future. He’s not, however, going to get that nine-figure deal he was reportedly seeking at the outset of the winter.
Best fits: Red Sox, Braves, Angels
Prediction: Red Sox. It’s just money. Back-to-back flags fly forever.
2. Adam Ottavino (33, 3.63 ERA, 0.6 WAR) — After a dominant season with the Rockies — 2.43 ERA, 112 K’s in 77⅔ innings — I like him to beat that projection.
Best fits: Braves, Angels, Cubs
Prediction: Angels. The best projection among their current relievers is Ty Buttrey‘s 3.70 ERA. They need late-inning help.
3. Cody Allen (30, 3.91 ERA, 0.3 WAR) — I’m not a fan of homer-prone closers, and Allen has allowed 28 the past three seasons, including 11 in 2018, while also coming off a career-worst 4.70 ERA. The fastball was down to 94.0, 2 mph below where it sat in 2015. Looks like a risky bet.
Best fits: Angels, Diamondbacks, Mariners
Prediction: Diamondbacks. He can’t be any worse than Brad Boxberger was in 2018.
4. Ryan Madson (38, 3.68 ERA, 0.1 WAR) — He’s old and coming off a 5.47 ERA, but he was very good the three prior seasons, and his peripherals and stuff remained better than the ERA indicates. Steamer predicts an injury and just 10 innings, thus the low WAR.
Best fits: Diamondbacks, Indians, Nationals
Prediction: Indians. Cleveland doesn’t have a lot of certainty behind closer Brad Hand, and Madson should be inexpensive enough for the Tribe’s checkbook.
5. Brad Brach (33, 4.04 ERA, 0.1 WAR) — He gave up a lot of hits with the Orioles — 50 in 39 innings — then pitched better with the Braves. I think Baltimore’s defense might have had something to do with the high hit rate, although given his age and heavy workloads over the years, it’s also possible the decline has started.
Best fits: Angels, Mariners, Twins
Already signed: Zach Britton (Yankees), Jeurys Familia (Mets), David Robertson (Phillies), Andrew Miller (Cardinals), Joe Kelly (Dodgers), Kelvin Herrera (White Sox), Joakim Soria (A’s), Jesse Chavez (Rangers), Trevor Rosenthal (Nationals)
1. Yasmani Grandal (30, .237/.343/.444, 3.5 WAR) — He’s one of the better hitting catchers thanks to his power and walks. He’s regarded as a good pitch-framer and he’s not old. He should be in demand given the shortage of quality catching, but his poor performance in the postseason, when he had issues with wild pitches and passed balls, might have hurt his ability to secure a long-term deal. His market might also have been affected by the J.T. Realmuto trade rumors.
Best fits: Rockies, Brewers, Dodgers
Prediction: Rockies. He could end up back with the Dodgers on a one-year deal, but he already turned down their qualifying offer. Let’s go with Colorado, which made one nice addition in Daniel Murphy, and signing Grandal would add even more depth to a lineup that needs it.
2. Martin Maldonado (32, .225/.286/.362, 1.0 WAR) — A defense-first catcher — he won a Gold Glove with the Angels in 2017 — who also struggled behind the plate in the postseason for the Astros. Not much value at the plate, but he’s not in Jeff Mathis offensive-sinkhole territory either.
Best fits: A’s, Tigers, Dodgers
Prediction: A’s. Oakland has Josh Phegley, who has a .594 OPS the past two seasons and has never batted more than 243 times in a season, listed as its starting catcher.
3. Matt Wieters (33, .239/.311/.388, 1.2 WAR) — He hasn’t been a league-average offensive performer since 2015, although he did bounce back some from an awful 2017. Strictly a backup at this point.
Best fits: Brewers, A’s, Rockies
Prediction: Brewers. Milwaukee rode Quad-A veteran Erik Kratz in the postseason, which tells you about its catching situation.
4. Nick Hundley (35,.232/.285/.387, 0.1 WAR) — Still has a little pop, although his defensive metrics aren’t good.
Best fits: Giants, A’s, Tigers
Prediction: Giants. A return to San Francisco as Buster Posey insurance.
5. Devin Mesoraco (31, .232/.313/.414, 0.3 WAR) — Injuries ruined what was once a promising career. Hit 10 home runs in 203 at-bats with the Mets. Could be a guy a lower-tier team signs and then flips if he plays well.
Best fits: Tigers, Marlins, Rockies
Prediction: Tigers. The Marlins will need a catcher if they end up trading Realmuto, but let’s put Mesoraco in Detroit.
1. Manny Machado (26, .288/.356/.529, 5.2 WAR) — We don’t know if he’ll be playing third base, shortstop or a combination of both, but we know he’s good and we know he’s going to get paid.
Best fits: Phillies, Yankees, White Sox
Prediction: Phillies. Multiple reports indicate the Yankees just haven’t been that aggressive in their pursuit of Machado and have yet to make a formal offer. Plus, with Giancarlo Stanton on his megadeal, coupled with the need to sign Aaron Judge, Luis Severino and Gleyber Torres down the road, it seems more likely the Phillies will outbid the Yankees (and the White Sox, who have attempted to persuade Machado by trading for brother-in-law Yonder Alonso and signing pal Jon Jay).
2. Marwin Gonzalez (30, .260/.327/.428, 1.6 WAR) — He fell off from his big 2017 season but still produced a 2.5-WAR season, and I feel like that projection is a little light. He’s a super utility guy, of course, who played primarily left field for the Astros in 2018 but also filled in at shortstop when Carlos Correa was injured.
Best fits: White Sox, Rangers, Angels
Prediction: Angels. With his flexibility, he fits in with pretty much any team. The White Sox need a third baseman and outfielders, while the Rangers need a third baseman. The Brewers could make him their regular second baseman as well. The Angels are still well under the luxury tax, however, and they have Zack Cozart (injured in 2018) for third base and David Fletcher (good glove, no power) at second. Gonzalez gives them depth there and also in the outfield if Kole Calhoun stinks again.
3. Mike Moustakas (30, .257/.317/.474, 2.8 WAR) — He didn’t get a big deal last offseason, and it doesn’t look like he’ll get one this winter, either.
Best fits: White Sox, Royals, Rangers
Prediction: White Sox. Once they lose out on Machado, they might be the one team willing to give Moustakas a multiyear deal.
4. Tim Beckham (29, .241/.293/.397) — He can play short or third and had a nice 50-game run with the Orioles in 2017 (.871 OPS) before sliding back into mediocrity in 2018.
Best fits: Tigers, Diamondbacks, Mariners
5. Wilmer Flores (27, .274/.325/.467, 1.0 WAR) — He can mash lefties, but his lack of range mostly limits him to first and third base, hurting his value as a utility guy.
Best fits: Marlins, Rangers, Indians
Prediction: Rangers. Could platoon at first base with Ronald Guzman or fill in at third.
1. Jed Lowrie (35, .254/.335/.407, 2.3 WAR) — He’s up there in age but also coming off a career-high 4.8-WAR season (and 8.8 over the past two). The A’s acquired Jurickson Profar from the Rangers, ruling out a return to Oakland.
Best fits: Brewers, Dodgers, Nationals
Prediction: Brewers. If the Dodgers don’t land Bryce Harper, the Dodgers are a strong possibility (with Chris Taylor moving to the outfield). The Brewers feel like the perfect fit, however, as FanGraphs currently projects their second basemen next-to-worst in the majors.
2. DJ LeMahieu (30, .273/.336/.390, 2.5 WAR) — A solid defender coming off a career-high 15-homer season, though concerns about how he’ll hit away from Coors Field have minimized interest in him.
Best fits: Brewers, Dodgers, Nationals
Prediction: One problem this crop of second basemen is running into is that several of the teams that need one aren’t in contending mode (Orioles, Tigers, Blue Jays) or are too cheap to upgrade (Pirates, Indians). LeMahieu doesn’t have the positional flexibility the Dodgers love, but he fits the bill if Harper doesn’t sign with L.A., and there’s always the chance a team like the Tigers or Blue Jays decides to spend a little money.
3. Brian Dozier (32, .235/.322/.427, 2.6 WAR) — He had a terrible free-agent season, hitting .215 and plummeting from 4.5 WAR to 1.0. The projection splits the difference and expects a better 2019.
Best fits: Brewers, Dodgers, Nationals
Prediction: Nationals. Dozier would be fun at Coors, but the Rockies seem committed to Ryan McMahon and Garrett Hampson until Brendan Rodgers arrives. The Nationals have Howie Kendrick (who can still hit some but can’t stay healthy and hasn’t played much second in recent years) and Wilmer Difo (who didn’t hit in 2018). So the Nationals make sense here.
4. Asdrubal Cabrera (33, .264/.323/.436, 2.0 WAR) — He’s coming off a 23-homer season and has produced an above-average OPS+ four consecutive seasons. The defensive metrics continue to slide from “below average” to “terrible,” even at second base.
Best fits: Diamondbacks, Pirates, Yankees
Prediction: Diamondbacks. If you don’t completely buy the idea of Troy Tulowitzki coming back — I don’t — to play shortstop for the Yankees, how about signing Cabrera to play second, with Torres sliding over to shortstop until Didi Gregorius returns? Consider that a possibility, but let’s put him on the D-backs to back up Nick Ahmed and Ketel Marte up the middle.
5. Freddy Galvis (29, .244/.295/.370, 0.3 WAR) — Aside from Machado, it’s a weak group of shortstops, with Jose Iglesias and Adeiny Hechavarria providing OK defensive options and inept hitting.
Best fits: Pirates, Orioles, Mariners
Prediction: Mariners. Jerry Dipoto just said Seattle is looking to sign another infielder, probably a shortstop to potentially give J.P. Crawford some time at Triple-A.
1. Bryce Harper (26, .267/.399/.528, 4.9 WAR) — Have bat, will sign for big money.
Best fits: Dodgers, Nationals, Phillies
Prediction: Dodgers. Los Angeles traded Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig, seemingly to make room for Harper in the outfield. On the other hand, there was also a Los Angeles Times report earlier this offseason that a “sale book” provided to potential investors — the Dodgers have been looking to sell a minority stake in the franchise for several years — showed that the franchise plans to remain under the luxury tax through 2022. Hmm. According to Cot’s Contracts, the Dodgers are currently an estimated $24 million under. Of course, they could go slightly over without earning a big tax hit. Meanwhile, the Nationals have reportedly upped their offer. I’ll still go with the Dodgers, but it feels more like a 50-50 bet right now.
2. A.J. Pollock (31, .259/.326/.446, 3.1 WAR) — He was maybe the best player in the National League in April before getting injured again. He’s good when healthy, but does have a big home/road split in his career, and now he’s 31. He’s also the only good center fielder on the market.
Best fits: Giants, White Sox, Reds
Prediction: Giants. The Mets might be out of the running after trading for Keon Broxton (to go with Juan Lagares). The White Sox have Adam Engel, kind of a poor man’s Billy Hamilton. Pollock is probably too expensive to return to the Diamondbacks, but they need a center fielder. We don’t know what direction the Giants are going, but the current outfield is a disaster.
3. Nick Markakis (35, .271/.349/.399, 1.1 WAR) — In his 13th season, he made his first All-Star team, although he faded in the second half of 2018 (playing every game probably didn’t help).
Best fits: Braves, Giants, Indians
Prediction: Braves. This would feel like a classic Giants signing under the old regime, but Farhan Zaidi is too smart to sign a 35-year-old outfielder. Going back to Atlanta makes sense, as Markakis can platoon with Adam Duvall and the club won’t have to shoehorn Johan Camargo into the outfield.
4. Adam Jones (33, .266/.307/.429, 1.2 WAR) — He shouldn’t be viewed as a center fielder anymore, and his power numbers dropped off last year. He might have to accept a role as a part-time player.
Best fits: Indians, Rockies, Orioles
4. Denard Span (35, .258/.328/.405, 0.6 WAR) — He had a pretty good year in 2018 (1.9 WAR) although, like Jones, he should be viewed strictly as a corner guy these days. He would make for a solid fourth outfielder on a good team.
Best fits: Rockies, Giants, White Sox
5. Carlos Gonzalez (33, .250/.314/.434, 1.2 WAR) — He can still hit righties, although teams will be wary of the .663 road OPS he put up in 2018.
Best fits: Giants, Indians, White Sox
Prediction: White Sox.
Chicago Cubs ownership says giving second chance to Addison Russell ‘was the right thing to do’
CHICAGO — Chicago Cubs ownership on Thursday reasserted its stance that having suspended shortstop Addison Russell under contract for 2019 is not an endorsement of his having violated the league’s domestic abuse policy, but rather is the right thing to do for all parties.
“The fact that we have decided — after talking to lots of experts, after talking to Addison multiple times, talking to the league — that we’d rather support him through the process than just cut him and let him go, that doesn’t mean it’s in conflict with support for victims of domestic violence,” owner Tom Ricketts said on ESPN 1000. “I think that it’s not an easy decision and not a decision that anyone takes lightly.”
Ricketts spoke publicly on the matter for the first time since signing Russell — who was suspended for 40 games last September when his actions came to light via his ex-wife — to a $3.4 million contract for 2019. He won’t be eligible to play until May, and the terms of his contract are well below what he would have received if he was in good standing with the league and the club.
Nevertheless, some fans have been vocal in their opposition to Russell ever wearing a Cubs uniform again.
“We knew that it would be unpopular in some ways,” general manager Jed Hoyer told ESPN 1000. “People have a visceral reaction to reading about what happened. So did we. The more that we worked and talked to experts and worked through it … we felt like having a conditional second chance was the right thing to do. It was recommended by experts.”
Independent domestic abuse experts interviewed by ESPN also agreed a second chance was warranted if Russell was following through with counseling and therapy. The Cubs also expressed concern for his ex-wife and have stayed in contact with her throughout the process.
“It’s something that every team has to decide for themselves, but I do give a lot of credit to Major League Baseball for having good protocols and policies on this,” Ricketts stated. “There was a process for him. He’s already begun doing some of the things that the league requests, and he’s doing things beyond what the league requests. So, we’ll see where it goes.
“I think he knows the gravity of the situation. I think he knows what he has to do. Let’s just hope that he follows through on promises he made to himself and the promises he made to the team.”
The Cubs can cut Russell for one-sixth of his salary or he could be traded, even while under suspension. He won’t attend the annual fan convention this weekend, but he is slated to be with the team for spring training next month.
Manager Joe Maddon recently spoke with Russell and indicated he’s on the right path.
“He seems to be in a good place,” Maddon said. “He’s really working to get things behind him and make sure he does and says the right things moving forward. It’s a maturation process on his part.”
Free-agent relief pitcher Adam Ottavino to sign with New York Yankees
The New York Yankees have agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal with free-agent relief pitcher Adam Ottavino, league sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Thursday.
The 33-year-old Ottavino was a big piece of Colorado’s bullpen last season, going 6-4 with a 2.43 ERA as the Rockies reached the NL Division Series as the wild card before losing to Milwaukee. His 112 strikeouts ranked fourth among all major league relievers, and he held opposing hitters to a .158 batting average.
Ottavino, who earned $7 million while serving as the setup man for closer Wade Davis, has always been a great matchup option facing right-handed hitters but has continued to flash the right pitches to get lefty hitters out, too. He’s prized for great control of his two-seamer and slider, which lends to his durability.
“He turned himself into one of the best relievers in the game,” Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon told The Athletic last season.
Ottavino underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in May 2015 soon after he was promoted to be the closer. He returned to action in July 2016.
A first-round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2006 amateur draft, the right-handed Ottavino made his major league debut four years later before being acquired off waivers by Colorado in 2012. He just finished his eighth season in the big leagues and seventh with the Rockies.
For his career, Ottavino is 17-20 with 17 saves, a 3.68 ERA and 464 strikeouts.
Will Bryce Harper and Manny Machado sign before Super Bowl Sunday and other burning questions
When the offseason began two-and-a-half months ago, the baseball world waited breathlessly to see where marquee free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado would sign.
We’re still waiting.
As the saga drags on, we ask three of our baseball writers the burning (smoldering?) questions about where — and when — Harper and Machado will finally sign, and for how much.
Are you surprised that neither Harper nor Machado has signed yet?
Eddie Matz: Nope. The Machado bone is connected to the Harper bone, and the Harper bone is connected to the Boras bone, and the Boras bone is connected to waiting as long as humanly possible.
David Schoenfield: After what happened last offseason, with J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer signing after spring training had already started, not surprised at all. If anything, the only surprise is how few teams have been mentioned as possible suitors. It’s not often 26-year-old star players hit free agency, yet most teams apparently aren’t interested.
Sam Miller: I think back to last year, when many of us were speculating that the slow offseason was due to teams hoarding their money for this offseason. GMs must have laughed when they read that.
Who do you think will sign Harper?
Matz: In less than a month, the Dodgers have quietly slid from front-runner to borderline “mystery team” status, thanks largely to their deafening radio silence. I’m not buying it. I still think Harper lands in La La Land.
Schoenfield: I thought he was headed to the Dodgers after they traded away Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to open up right field — and maybe that will still happen — but it’s looking like Phillies versus Nationals and I’m going to bet on a return to D.C. at this point.
Miller: The Dodgers, but it doesn’t really feel like we’ve yet read any Bryce Harper rumor — with any team — that feels like a true prelude to the final signing.
Who do you think will sign Machado?
Matz: All the talk about the Phillies flirting heavily with Harper in Vegas this past weekend could be legit. Or it could be a ploy to make Machado flinch and take whatever Philly is offering. Feels like the latter to me. I still see Manny donning red pinstripes.
Schoenfield: The funny thing, it’s to the advantage of both players to wait for the other to sign first — especially if the first one to sign doesn’t go with the Phillies. We know the Phillies want one of these guys, and if they miss out on the first one to sign, they may feel forced to increase their offer to the other to make sure they don’t get shut out. But who signs first? If Harper ends up choosing the Nationals and that happens first, maybe it will push Machado to the Phillies.
Miller: The Phillies. Again, though, given the tone of what’s been publicly reported, this feels like trying to forecast the weather nine days out. Feels like the significant steps in the process are still undeveloped.
Who do you think will get more total money, Machado or Harper?
Matz: Harper’s contract will have the higher average annual value, but Machado gets more total dollars. Neither one of them tops Giancarlo Stanton‘s $325 million deal.
Miller: Harper, though with some of the more complicated contracts superstars get these days — with opt-outs especially — the total money might not perfectly reflect each player’s total earning potential.
How surprised would you be if the Phillies ended up signing NEITHER Machado nor Harper?
Matz: About as surprised as I’d be if Machado or Harper ended up hosting this year’s Academy Awards.
Schoenfield: Not that surprised. Harper to the Nationals seems like a real possibility. Something deep inside could still see the Yankees swooping in at the last second for Harper or Machado, or maybe Machado goes to the White Sox or the “mystery” team that is supposedly out there (the Padres need a third baseman …).
Miller: A little bit, but if they were really committed to signing one of them, it would have happened by now.
How surprised would you be if the Yankees ended up signing EITHER Machado or Harper?
Matz: About as surprised as I’d be if the Phillies ended up signing neither Machado nor Harper.
Schoenfield: The rumors from the Bronx are pretty quiet, but the Yankees are standing on mountains of revenue and while they traded for Stanton last season, they haven’t signed a $100 million free agent since Masahiro Tanaka and Jacoby Ellsbury before the 2014 season. That’s five offseasons ago. Old man Steinbrenner is yelling from his grave, telling the kids to spend some money and win a World Series. Maybe the Yankees are shying away from Machado for another reason: They want Nolan Arenado next offseason. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence they’ve signed former Rockies teammates DJ LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki.
Miller: A little bit, but the Yankees obviously can spend a lot of money on either player, and would be better with either player, so it’s a logical outcome.
Which team are you most surprised hasn’t been linked to either Machado or Harper this winter?
Matz: The Golden State Warriors.
Schoenfield: The Stanton acquisition and his huge contract definitely muddied the picture, but certainly a year ago we would have expected the Yankees to land Harper or Machado (heck, maybe both). The Rangers are bad right now, but that’s a big-market franchise and they’re moving into a new park in 2020. They need a franchise player and Harper in particular would give them a marquee name to get the attention of even football-crazed fans in the Metroplex.
Miller: The Angels. If we take some of these rumored offers seriously — $175 million for Machado, for instance — it’s surprising that there aren’t 27 teams bidding for him. Every team in baseball — or, if you want to be really conservative, at least two-thirds of them — can afford $200 million for Manny Machado and have intentions of being competitive for many of the next eight seasons.
If Machado surprises by signing with a team not considered one of the primary suitors, who do you think it could be?
Matz: The Mets. There isn’t a whole lot of data on New York’s new regime under GM Brodie Van Wagenen, but what data there is suggests this: The Amazins are in the running for anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Schoenfield: The Padres. Or maybe the Angels surprise, like they did with Albert Pujols.
Miller: The Padres.
If Harper surprises by signing with a team not considered one of the primary suitors, who do you think it could be?
Matz: The Braves are ready to contend, need outfield help (Adam Duvall? Really?), and have oodles of payroll flexibility. The only thing that differentiates them from the Phillies is an owner who talks about spending “stupid money.” But that doesn’t mean Atlanta won’t do it.
Miller: The Angels.
In what order will these events take place? Bryce Harper signs, Manny Machado signs, Super Bowl Sunday.
Matz: Machado, Harper, Super Bowl.
Schoenfield: Harper, Super Bowl, Machado.
Miller: Machado, then Super Bowl Sunday, then Harper. Or else they all happen at exactly the same time.
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