Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Looking Ahead to 2018: Potential Free Agent Offensive Additions

So we saw who the Yankees could be potentially losing via free agency this coming offseason so let’s once again look ahead to 2018 and see who the team could potentially fill those holes with. Let us first take a look at the potential offensive upgrades that the Yankees could add this coming offseason and at a later time we will look at the pitching. Keep in mind that this is all hypothetical and as it stands today, everything is subject to change in a moment’s notice.

Remember when I, and many Yankees fans, clamored so hard for Justin Upton in Yankees pinstripes? Well that didn’t happen but the beating of the drum could happen again in 2018 if the Tigers outfielder opts out of his six-year deal with Detroit with four-years and $88.5 million remaining. The Tigers are looking to rebuild and Upton has continued to produce which means even if he doesn’t get a pay raise the right-hander would get on a better team and that alone is worth its weight in gold. I don’t think the Yankees need an outfielder though so cross Upton off the list for New York.

Greg Bird is the first baseman of the future but let’s just assume that Bird isn’t healthy heading into the offseason and let’s assume the Yankees want a bit of insurance at the position for the 2018 season. It isn’t really all that far-fetched since the team signed Chris Carter this past offseason to platoon with Bird so who is to say the team won’t again in 2018? There’s many free agent first baseman expected to be available including Yonder Alonso, Lucas Duda, Logan Morrison, Mitch Moreland, Mike Napoli and Mark Reynolds to name a few. Presumably the Yankees would prefer a right-handed option to compliment Bird meaning that Reynolds, a former Yankee, and Napoli move to the front of the line. Neither are ideal, Reynolds strikes out a lot and his defense is mediocre while Napoli is aging and is more of a DH-or-bust at this point in his career, but the Yankees have been dealing with a less than ideal situation at the position all season long anyway. Could it get much worse? You could also throw Todd Frazier into the mix here although I believe the third baseman will prefer to stay on the other side of the diamond as he hits free agency this offseason.

Sticking with the first base position but looking in areas that will likely exceed what the Yankees are willing to pay you find the bats of Carlos Santana of the Cleveland Indians and Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals. Santana has taken a step back in 2017 after posting 34 home runs and a 3.7 WAR in 2016 but his walk rate has been steady and his stats this season have been in line with his career norms. The problem is Santana is going to want to cash in after that strong 2016 season, even if 2017 hasn’t gone exactly according to plan, and even in a stacked free agent pool there should be plenty of money to go around for Santana. Meanwhile Hosmer is not someone who has ever really impressed me much. Sure his bat is nice and he is just 28-years old but advanced metrics show Hosmer as a very limited fielder and his -0.2 WAR in 2016, a season in which he made the All-Star team for the first time in his career, doesn’t exactly make me want to run home screaming to mom about him. Hosmer is durable and Hosmer can hit but his career wRC+ (109) is lower than Lucas Duda’s (124) who can also be had on the free agent market and if I were a betting man I’d say Duda gets significantly less than Hosmer in 2018 in terms of both years and dollars respectively.

The final player I want to showcase here is a bit of a “Get Greedy” kind of player. This player isn’t a player that the New York Yankees necessarily need but is a player that could rotate in and out of the outfield as well as the soon-to-be vacant DH position. J.D. Martinez has somehow flown under the radar for years now and that was never more evident than when the Arizona Diamondbacks acquired the outfielder from the Detroit Tigers without giving up a single blue-chip prospect. Since the start of the 2014 season only Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado and Giancarlo Stanton have put up higher slugging percentage numbers than Martinez, and keep in mind that Martinez was doing this inside Comerica Park in Detroit which is historically a pitcher’s park, yet somehow still Martinez is not what I would consider a household name. Now the teammate of another player, Paul Goldschmidt, who isn’t really a household name but should be, Martinez is gearing up to cash in on the free agent market in 2018. If anyone notices that is. If no one does notice it would behoove the Yankees to not make a run at him on a shorter term deal in my opinion to see if they could snag a great free agent option for less. Dare I say, Ninja Cashman. Martinez is not going to win you a Gold Glove out there in the outfield, hence why I said he could split time as the DH as well, and has been a bit injury prone throughout his career but he is just 30-years old and would likely only command a three-or-four year deal while having the same wRC+ (145) as Miguel Cabrera has had over the past three seasons.

Get Greedy and get Martinez if you can. If not and if the team wants a platoon and an insurance option at first base then sign a Mike Napoli and call it a day. Either way it looks like there won’t be much offensive help coming or much heavy lifting to be found in the Bronx before the 2018 season on the free agent market. Or I could be completely wrong, that’s happened more than once. 

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