Ok. So last week was the Winter Meetings, and now we look forward to the terrible baseball-less void that will be the Holiday season, January and February. It's a vast expanse that will be only occasionally interrupted by brief news explosions, like the last kernels of popcorn before you inevitably burn the whole bag in the microwave. Our baseball universe is slowly dying until the point where it explodes anew in the Big Bang of Spring Training.
Enough metaphors. My point is that, essentially, a ton of offseason activity is behind us. And with the Winter Meetings in our wake we should take a moment to reset. Where are we now, and what's going to happen next? In this piece, we're going to look exclusively at the free agents who are still out there, what their markets look like, and where they might (and definitely won't) be heading.
With Jason Heyward finally signing last week, we may start to see the outfield market coalesce around guys like Alex Gordon and Justin Upton. Yoenis Cespedes is also out there too, but is a step below those other guys and is possibly a huge disappointment waiting to happen. Gordon's market has shrunk significantly, with the Cubs snagging Heyward and the Cardinals (publicly, at least) committing to move forward with Matt Holiday, Randall Grichuk, and Stephen Piscotty. A reunion with the Royals is still a realistic possibility, as are the Giants and the Orioles, the latter of which has pulled its most recent offer for Chris Davis.
That opens the Orioles to a number of other options that include Gordon or Upton for left field. One would assume that they would still prefer to get a big bat to play first base, but perhaps they can do that for far cheaper than Chris Davis is looking to get. Davis's market, too, is undefined if the O's don't jump back in. Teams that could afford Davis already have their own first basemen. I mean, the Rays aren't going to pony up for him. Neither are the Brewers or the Marlins. The Cardinals kind of need a first baseman. Houston might make sense, depending on whether the Astros think that (their) Matt Duffy, Jonathan Singleton, or Tyler White will be ready to take over the position in 2016.
One ace left
Johnny Cueto is the last man standing from the group of aces and number two starters released into the wild at the start of the offseason. He turned down a 6 year, $120 million deal from the Diamondbacks, and has yet to latch on to another suitor. Chances are good that he signs a deal for $22-23 million a year with an opt out clause after three years, so that he can get back out on the market and try this free agency thing again. It's just not clear who that deal is going to come from. Maybe Arte Moreno of the Angels or Mike Ilitch of the Tigers mandates their club go out and get him. Or maybe he lands in either St. Louis or Washington (who is having trouble getting people to take their money.
Second tier free agents who are also available include Yovani Gallardo, Ian Kenedy, Scott Kazmir, Mike Leake, Daniel Murphy, Howie Kendrick, Ian Desmond, David Freese, Gerardo Parra, Dexter Fowler, Denard Span, and Tyler Clippard. There are still a few more good free agent bets beyond that, but it drops off pretty quickly. Basically, anybody looking for quality relievers in this market are pretty quickly running out of options. If you want a second baseman, however, or a moderately-priced outfielder, you're in luck.
Ok. Back later with a look at players who are on the trading block and who are likely to get moved before everything is said and done.