The 2017 Major League Baseball season is underway, and players are playing out their contracts for their respective teams. Some players are in their first year of a new contract with their respective teams, such as Ian Desmond of the Colorado Rockies or Matt Holliday of the New York Yankees, who is on a one-year deal. Any player who is under contract for only the rest of this season remaining is looking to show the rest of the league and even their own team that they have plenty to offer for when they become a free agent in the upcoming offseason.
This upcoming offseason features some seasoned veterans to go along with some big names, creating a class that will welcome plenty of interest across the league. There are postseason heroes, some young players that could make some bigger noise in a bigger role for a new team, and more. Like every offseason, teams will be lining up this to try to find the players that best fit their respective organizations. Let's take an early look at the top free agents of the 2018 offseason and where they will sign in the coming year.
15 Eric Hosmer - Boston Red Sox
Eric Hosmer was once a postseason hero for the Kansas City Royals, hitting a number of big hits for the Royals throughout their run to eventually becoming World Series champions in the 2015 season. Hosmer solidified his place in Royals history, but the Royals simply do not have the motivation currently to bring him back on a mega contract. Kansas City had their runs, but are now forced to consider a rebuild, and re-signing a player for maximum dollar does not go hand in hand with a rebuild. With that in mind Hosmer will be a free agent, and the Red Sox will sign him to put him at first base, moving Hanley Ramirez over to the designated hitter slot vacated by David Ortiz.
14 Jake Arrieta - Los Angeles Dodgers
While it may surprise you to see that we do not have Jake Arrieta returning to the Chicago Cubs, we believe there are plenty of factors working against a reunion here. First of all, the Cubs have some solid pitching depth that can make it possible for them to lose Arrieta without stinging the team too badly. Next, the Cubs have already spent boatloads of money elsewhere, and also have Kris Bryant to eventually hand out a ginormous contract to. The Cubs will see the offer the Los Angeles Dodgers make to Arrieta and determine it's too large for them to match, allowing their staff ace to leave for the Dodgers, a team that can seemingly spend any mount on any player they want to.
13 Jay Bruce - Toronto Blue Jays
Jay Bruce was nearly traded by the New York Mets to the Toronto Blue Jays various different times this past offseason, with the deal looking likely at different points of the offseason. However the two teams could never come to an agreement, and now Bruce is raking for the Mets rather than for the Blue Jays, who are struggling badly this season. Toronto will identify Bruce as a previous missed opportunity and determine it's time to finally bring him above the border, signing him to replace Jose Bautista next offseason. Bruce will slot in well in the Blue Jays lineup as the new right fielder and power bat for Toronto. It will be a move that's a long time coming for both sides.
12 Jose Bautista - San Francisco Giants
With Jay Bruce joining the Toronto Blue Jays, those same Blue Jays will not have an outfield spot for longtime Blue Jay Jose Bautista. Without having a spot in their outfield, the Blue Jays will be forced to choose between signing him to be the designated hitter, or letting him leave in free agency for another organization. Toronto will let Bautista go this time, looking to get younger throughout their lineup. Enter the San Francisco Giants, a team with a serious need for a corner outfielder and some power in their lineup. The Giants have been desperately trying to acquire a corner outfielder this season, so bringing in a new one for next offseason would make plenty of sense for the winning organization.
11 Lorenzo Cain - Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals are currently looking for a center-fielder, but that is not why we believe Lorenzo Cain will sign with them. See, the Nationals saw their regular center fielder Adam Eaton go down with a torn ACL, so he will be back by the time the offseason rolls around. Bryce Harper is entrenched as the right fielder of the present and future, leaving only a spot in left field after the impending departure of their current left fielder, Jayson Werth. The Nationals love themselves players that can field and get on base, two areas that Lorenzo Cain is known for excelling in. Cain will leave the Royals to join the Nationals and attempt to help them find their way to the World Series.
10 Jayson Werth - Atlanta Braves
Jayson Werth will leave the Washington Nationals' organization this offseason, but the longtime National League East resident will not leave his favorite division. After countless years playing for the Philadelphia Phillies and then the Washington Nationals, Werth will next join NL East party Atlanta Braves, continuing his tour of the division. Werth fits in well with the Braves' new-found philosophy of picking up veterans to hold important roster spots until the prospects are ready. The Braves want to win in their new ballpark and want to win sooner rather than later, so they are not being age-discriminatory at all, signing players such as Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey for important spots on the roster. Just add Werth to the list.
9 C.C. Sabathia - Miami Marlins
Speaking of the elder statesmen of the upcoming free agency, C.C. Sabathia is one of the oldest pitchers set to be a free agent in the coming class. Sabathia has had a strange tenure with his current organization, the New York Yankees. Sabathia helped the Yankees to win the World Series in his first year with the club, then continued to pitch like an ace for a few years after. However, following that, he struggled with various injuries and even alcoholism, clouding the usually rosy picture of him and his organization. Sabathia will likely leave the Yankees this offseason, and doing so for the Marlins makes a lot of sense. They need pitching and offer a nice location for Sabathia to continue playing.
8 Carlos Gonzalez - New York Mets
Despite having Michael Conforto on board, the New York Mets will need an extra outfielder this coming offseason when Jay Bruce leaves for the Toronto Blue Jays. See, Curtis Granderson is also set to leave in free agency, leaving the Mets with yet another vacant outfield position. One player that makes a lot of sense for the Mets is Carlos Gonzalez, who has always hit the ball well, and can actually stay healthy unlike a lot of the players on the current Mets. Gonzalez can slip right into the Mets' vacant right field position, joining a team that has World Series aspirations. The only question is whether or not he can hit outside of Coors Field, but the Mets will certainly bank on that.
7 Carlos Santana - New York Yankees
Carlos Santana will be one of the most appealing free agents when he hits the open market this upcoming offseason. Teams love to have flexibility, and if there's one thing Santana offers it's flexibility. Santana can realistically play first base, third base, or the outfield, giving his organization plenty of options of where to play him. He can move around in the lineup, and is known for being an on base machine for the Cleveland Indians. With that in mind he will have plenty of suitors, and one team that can especially use him will be the New York Yankees. The Yankees love to have players roaming around the field, especially with their abundance of young players that will need breaks here and there.
6 Melky Cabrera - Seattle Mariners
When Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano both played for the New York Yankees, the two both played their best baseball and happened to be best friends as well. Melky Cabrera was eventually traded to the Atlanta Braves, however, then bounced around a series of different organizations. Meanwhile, his former partner in crime Robinson Cano eventually signed with the Seattle Mariners, where he still plays today. It happens to work out that the Mariners have a vacancy in their outfield, and Cano could use a friend in Seattle. The best thing for all of the parties involved including the Mariners and Cabrera would be for Seattle to sign Cano's friend to be one of their outfielders for the upcoming future. Cabrera will sign with the Mariners.
5 Wade Davis - Washington Nationals
Remember before when we said Lorenzo Cain will sign with the Washington Nationals? Well, the Nationals are not done there when it comes to signing former Kansas City Royals to fill out their roster. Washington remains all-in on trying to win a World Series before Bryce Harper can leave as a free agent after the 2019 season, so they will look to fill one of the biggest holes in their organization, the closer position. Wade Davis will be the best free agent available to close this upcoming offseason, and the Nationals can see first hand how he is helping their league-rival Chicago Cubs continue to close out important games. The Nationals will come to terms with Davis to be their next closer.
4 Mike Moustakas - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Mike Moustakas will be an interesting free agent, as he is hitting the ball better than ever, but that also could be because he knows he is playing in a contract year. Contract year players tend to perform better than their previous norms because they know that every ball they hit is more money going into their pockets. Some organizations fail to fall for the players that are on their contract years, knowing it does not indicate their true performance. Other organizations like to throw money at players regardless of when their success came into play. One of those organizations is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who also happen to have a need at third base. It makes for a perfect fit between the two.
3 Todd Frazier - Cleveland Indians
Here at TheSportster we believe that Carlos Santana will leave as a free agent for the New York Yankees. One upcoming free agent in Major League Baseball that rooted for the New York Yankees as a child is Todd Frazier. Unfortunately for Frazier, his low on-base percentage and lack of flexibility does not appear to fit into the Yankees' plans like Santana does. However, Santana's former organization may find themselves having interest in Frazier. As shown by their recent signing of Edwin Encarnacion, the Cleveland Indians like the long ball. Todd Frazier is best known for his ability to hit the long ball, and also happens to have already played for an Ohio-based baseball team before. He fits in well with the Indians.
2 Marco Estrada - Boston Red Sox
Marco Estrada will be one of the top starting pitchers available this offseason in a largely weak pitching class. Estrada is best known for having a lethal change-up, though signing teams may look to add pitches to his arsenal. That being said, we do not see the Toronto Blue Jays bringing back Estrada, as they appear set more likely for a rebuild than to bring back their own free agents. One of the Blue Jays' rivals, the Boston Red Sox, however, could certainly use some starting pitching depth. Estrada is a perfect pitcher for the Red Sox, a middle of the rotation starter that will not break the bank but can provide plenty. He will sign in Boston to compete for a World Series.
1 J.D. Martinez - Colorado Rockies
J.D. Martinez is best known for his ability to hit the long ball, and if there's one place that players can hit the long ball in it's Colorado. The Colorado Rockies will be looking for a replacement for Carlos Gonzalez after he signs elsewhere this offseason, and there's no better replacement than someone that can hit home runs. Although Martinez has struggled through some injury woes with the Detroit Tigers in recent years, he is still an enticing free agent. With that in mind, there appears to be a perfect fit between the outfield-hungry Rockies and the home run-hungry Martinez. Look for Martinez to join the Rockies in free agency then hit a whole bunch of home runs for his new club.