MLB Free Agent
When is the splash from the 2018 MLB free agent class coming? It’s been a slow offseason (Jim Duquette/MLB.com)

The MLB free agent class leading up the winter meetings in December was an exciting one, and baseball fans were looking forward to seeing where some of the game’s best talent would end up. This theory held up early on in the offseason, with the Angels locking up highly regarded Japanese prospect Shohei Ohtani and the Yankees shaking up the landscape of the American league by trading for National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton.

Since then, activity around the league has been somewhat MIA. Other than the Astros acquiring Gerrit Cole and the Brewers making a splash by trading for Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, GMs around the league seem to be overlooking some very formidable talent still remaining in this year’s free agent class. Let’s take a look at the top names still looking for employment this summer, and where they might end up hopefully in time for the start spring training.

Yu Darvish

Since the winter meetings, Darvish has been linked to the Yankees, Astros, Twins, and his former team the Rangers. The front-runners to land the talented right-hander, though, appear to be the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers.

This move would make sense for the Cubs, considering ace Jake Arrieta is also a free agent, who we’ll discuss later on. If the Cubs want another shot at the NL Pennant, acquiring Darvish could make that a real possibility, with him being regarded as a number two starter at worst. If Arrieta does indeed leave Chicago, Darvish would probably slide right into that vacancy or at worst fall into the number two slot behind Kyle Hendricks or Jon Lester.

With the Brewers recently bulking up their lineup with the additions of Cain and Yelich, Milwaukee is also a desirable destination for Darvish, who is reportedly looking for something around seven years and $175 million. This late in the free agency game he is most certainly not going to get that level of commitment from anyone, but the fact that he’s held out this long is showing clubs that the ace isn’t going to let the lack of time rush him into signing for less than he is worth.

J.D. Martinez

The team most linked to the Diamondbacks slugger throughout the course of the offseason has been the Boston Red Sox. With Martinez himself saying that he would be willing to hold out until spring training, it’s surprising that other teams haven’t taken this extra time to try and challenge Boston’s alleged 5-year, $125 million offer to the right fielder. Apparently, Martinez was hoping for something more along the lines of 7 years and $200 million. That could explain why this deal is taking so long to become official because, with the lack of offers coming from other teams, the Red Sox are seemingly bidding with themselves at the moment.

Eric Hosmer

There hadn’t been much news surrounding the Royals’ first basemen up until about a week ago when the San Diego Padres social media accounts posted a picture of the gold glover as if to imply that they were close to locking up a deal. This turned out to be a hoax as the Padres’ quickly blamed the posts on a hacking incident.

Early on in the offseason, Hosmer was linked to some Red Sox rumors, but after Boston re-signed Mitch Moreland to a two-year deal, the Kansas City all-star was seemingly left in the dust. Other than the Royals obviously wanting to bring back their coveted first basemen, San Diego may be the only option Hosmer has left with spring training only a few short weeks away. Despite the whole social media fiasco, the rumors regarding Hosmer and the Padres do apparently have some substance, as he met with them face-to-face in December. Since then San Diego has reportedly offered the first baseman $140 Million over seven years.

Hosmer put together a career year last season at the plate, with a slash line of .318/.385/.498. He also hit 25 home runs and knocked in 94 runs. Despite these numbers, Hosmer recorded only 4 WAR, which in the eyes of MLB GMs is below all-star standards. This could be the reason he’s not getting the $200 million over eight years that he apparently believes he deserves and could be why he has yet to find a landing spot.

Jake Arrieta

Teams linked to the big right-hander include the Twins, Nationals, and obviously the Cubs, who would love to bring back their bearded ace but, previously mentioned, also have interest in bringing in Yu Darvish.

Another team that comes to mind is the Brewers, who have made themselves a hot commodity this offseason. The Brewers have quickly put themselves back in the conversation for contention with the improvements they’ve made to their lineup, which could potentially play a role in luring a pitcher of Arrieta’s caliber to Milwaukee, just like it could Darvish. Milwaukee has yet to come forward with an offer for the 2015 Cy Young award winner, but given the lack of urgency around the league, that’s not to say they don’t have as good a shot as anybody else to lock him up in time for spring training.

The Cubs, on the other hand, have offered Arrieta a qualifying offer, but he obviously rejected it, knowing that he is worth much more than $17.4 million a year. The ace is reportedly looking for around $200 million from the Cubs, but with time now on the side of the front office, he may have to settle for something less if he wants to stick around in Chicago.

Mike Moustakas

Other than the Royals trying to bring back their powerful third baseman, the Mets have recently been tied to Moustakas and potentially acquiring his services. Moustakas won the American League Comeback Player of the Year award in 2017, with a slash line of .272/.314/.521 with 38 home runs and 85 runs batted in. It was an impressive year for Moustakas, who was coming off of an ACL injury in 2016, and he’s been revered as the best third baseman on the market.

The Mets haven’t necessarily been aggressive when it comes to acquiring Moustakas, so his next best option might be their crosstown rivals in the Bronx. Moose would essentially be playing pepper with Yankee Stadium’s right field porch all season. Additionally, given the Yankees plans to eventually work third base prospect Miguel Andujar into the starting lineup, Moustakas could sign a one-year deal with the Yanks, put up stellar power numbers and find himself in a free agency class next offseason headlined by Bryce Harper and Manny Machado that is sure to set off a league-wide spending frenzy.