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Faces In New Places: 20 MLB Players Who Will Change Teams In The Offseason

Even before the 2018 World Series, Major League Baseball clubs are preparing for the upcoming offseason and the transactions that will occur during the fall and winter months. Numerous big-name free agents are set to hit the market and will generate quite a bit of buzz and headlines as they consider their futures. The top players among those individuals will earn massive paydays and could also affect pennant races for 2019. While it is possible that at least one of them could stay put, it seems likely that they will change teams in the offseason because of what other clubs will be willing to offer them in December.

Just as with every offseason, some players who change teams as the snow is falling will not be able to choose their future employers. A handful of guys who are currently on massive contracts could be traded by franchises that are looking to embrace rebuilding processes. Getting younger and acquiring assets who could contribute down the road are the objectives of those teams, and doing so could help those clubs compete for a World Series crown in the 2020s. The Houston Astros have produced a blueprint for how an organization can successfully produce a winning roster in today’s market. Which franchise can best follow that model as of October 2018?

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20 Michael Brantley

Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Possible Destination: New York Yankees

The days of outfielder Michael Brantley being a Silver Slugger may be in the past, but the 31-year-old showed in 2018 that he can still be an All-Star during what will likely be his final season with the Cleveland Indians. The Indians could certainly use Brantley’s bat in the lineup, but he should attract a good amount of attention from other clubs. Both the San Francisco Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies may make offers for Brantley’s services. While he may not be the first name coveted by the New York Yankees, the Bronx Bombers could come calling if they miss out on other would-be signings or acquisitions landed via trades.

19 Andrew McCutchen

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
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Possible Destination: New York Mets

There is an interesting case to be made for the New York Yankees retaining outfielder Andrew McCutchen, especially if he would be willing to give the team a discount. The 32-year-old, who is no longer an All-Star and who has experienced a massive drop in production over the past few years, should realize that this could, realistically, be his last chance to make significant money as a pro. The Atlanta Braves have a need in the outfield, and Atlanta should be able to afford to add him to the clubhouse. If McCutchen wanted to remain in the Big Apple, he and the New York Mets could also be good fits for each other, if only for a season.

18 Nelson Cruz

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Possible Destination: Tampa Bay Rays

In theory, the Chicago Cubs pursuing Nelson Cruz makes all kinds of sense, especially knowing the club is going to lose at least one noteworthy bat from the lineup. These days, though, Cruz is more of a designated hitter rather than anything resembling an outfielder. Cruz apparently wants to remain with the Seattle Mariners, but those running the Mariners have to be honest about team assessments and about if Seattle can compete in 2019. Cruz could be a solid buy for the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that could use his 35+ homers next season. He’d likely enjoy batting in that ballpark at least 70 times per year.

17 Cody Allen

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
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Possible Destination: Chicago White Sox, New York Mets

Cody Allen routinely hanging breaking balls over the heart of the plate was the cause of many headaches and nightmares for passionate fans of the Cleveland Indians. The former closer will be only 30 years old at the start of the 2019 campaign, and he could just need a change of scenery to reclaim his old form and possibly become the last guy on the bump for a team. The New York Mets need to bolster the team’s bullpen and could use a closer. If Allen doesn’t want to move too far away and wants to remain in the AL, the Chicago White Sox should also be a good designation for him.

16 Sonny Gray

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Possible Destinations: Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds

At this point, the New York Yankees are essentially telling anybody who will listen that the team wants to move on from Sonny Gray this offseason. As long as the Yankees — specifically general manager Brian Cashman — realize there won’t be too big of a return for the 28-year-old, it shouldn’t be too difficult to complete a deal before the new year arrives. The Washington Nationals have a spot in the rotation for somebody looking to turn his career around. One surprise candidate could be the Cincinnati Reds, a team that won’t overspend on a free agent but has a need that could be filled by adding somebody such as Gray.

15 Bartolo Colon

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports
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Possible Destination: Cleveland Indians

Apparently, 45-year-old veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon wants to keep on pitching up through the 2019 season, and all of Major League Baseball will love watching him back on the bump. Colon signing with the Cleveland Indians would be more than just a nice homecoming story. The Tribe could use his arm to eat innings during the long summer months. Granted, Colon probably would not do much, if anything, in the playoffs assuming that the Indians once again win the division as expected. He would still be an inexpensive signing for a team that could utilize whatever Colon has left in the tank at this stage of his career.

14 C.C. Sabathia

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Possible Destination: New York Mets

As stated earlier, the New York Yankees need to improve the team’s starting rotation, and parting ways with veteran lefty C.C. Sabathia looks to be part of the plan unless the Yankees are unable to get anyone of potential replacements. Sabathia has not given any indication that he wants to retire ahead of the 2019 season. He may also want to remain in the New York market. The New York Mets and Sabathia need each other. The Amazins won’t break the bank for Sabathia, who shouldn’t expect a boatload of money during what will likely be the final year of his impressive career. Maybe he’d like to get a handful of at-bats on his resume before he calls time on his playing days.

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13 Manny Machado

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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Possible Destination: Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals

The Washington Nationals are probably not signing the last guy mentioned in this piece for multiple reasons. Grabbing Manny Machado to feature in the infield would not be an exact replacement for that person, but it would make Washington fans feel a little better about the state of the team. Machado would be an upgrade on the left side of the infield for the Nationals, and he is the bat that lineup will need if a certain MVP is truly headed out of town. The St. Louis Cardinals will also be linked with signing Machado once he officially enters the free agency process following the postseason.

12 Bryce Harper

Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Possible Destination: Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees

26-year-old outfielder and one-time National League MVP Bryce Harper is going to be richer by hundreds of millions of dollars once the ink on his future contract dries. The only thing in question as of the typing of this sentence is the team he will sign with during the offseason. Obviously, the New York Yankees, a franchise with money to spend, are favorites to sign Harper. The Philadelphia Phillies have not been shy about splashing cash, and the team has the need for such a dynamic force in the outfield and the lineup. It’s possible Harper could choose the Phillies over the Yankees if the money is right.

11 Matt Harvey

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
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Possible Destination: Miami Marlins

If Matt Harvey was able to fulfill his wishes and dreams, the New York Yankees would offer him millions upon millions of dollars to join the club. That isn’t happening this offseason or at any point unless Harvey shows that he can once again pitch at the level of a Cy Young candidate. It’s understood that Harvey does not wish to play for the New York Mets, and the Amazins likely have less than no interest in bringing him back to the team. Enter the Miami Marlins, division rivals of the Mets that should take a flier on an inexpensive starting pitcher who wouldn’t mind beating up on the Mets and other teams in the NL East.

10 Craig Kimbrel

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Possible Destination: St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians

It was not all that long ago when the Boston Red Sox keeping closer Craig Kimbrel around would have been the right move. That’s not the case as of October 2018. The 30-year-old is struggling during the team’s postseason run, and it may be a guarantee that Kimbrel and the Red Sox are going to go in different directions once Boston is either eliminated from contention or wins the World Series. The St. Louis Cardinals are a side that needs to rebuild its bullpen and could spend on an individual such as Kimbrel. The Cleveland Indians need to consider chasing Kimbrel, especially if a pair or relievers leave Northeast Ohio for different destinations.

9 A.J. Pollock

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Possible Destination: St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians 

The idea of the Arizona Diamondbacks hitting the figurative reset button and unloading players is one that is going to be mentioned throughout the offseason. Keeping outfielder A.J. Pollock around probably won’t be part of the process, as the 30-year-old is going to have his pick of clubs that have a hole which would be filled by signing somebody such as himself. Pollock’s agents should already be on the phone with the New York Mets assuming that the Mets would actually pay him. If he wants to move to an AL competitor, he and the Cleveland Indians could do some business in December or in early 2019.

8 Daniel Murphy

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Possible Destination: New York Mets, New York Yankees

Daniel Murphy is never going to be known for having the most golden of gloves among available infielders. It’s also likely that his best seasons at the plate are in the past. With both of those things said, Murphy heading back to the New York Mets is a nice story and also a logical decision for both parties. The Mets need the bat in the lineup, and Murphy is not going to receive real offers from the Chicago Cubs or Washington Nationals. Somewhat ironically, the New York Yankees would also be an excellent choice for Murphy if the Yanks cannot sign other top-tier stars. Murphy could have a lot of fun with that short porch at Yankee Stadium.

7 Josh Donaldson

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
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Possible Destination: St. Louis Cardinals, Colorado Rockies

The Cleveland Indians taking a flier on Josh Donaldson did not work out for either player or club in 2018. That doesn’t mean the Indians should not look to keep him on the cheap this offseason. For the purposes of this piece, let’s say that Donaldson either wants to start anew with a different club or that the Indians do not feel that paying him is worth the investment. The St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies are two teams that should be willing to take a chance on the 32-year-old. Don’t count the Chicago White Sox out either, as losing 100 games is not in the team’s long-term plans.

6 Yasmani Grandal

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Possible Destination: Atlanta Braves, Arizona Diamondbacks

Catcher Yasmani Grandal is going to get paid this offseason because so many teams are desperate to find some consistency at that position. The 29-year-old may be having a poor postseason while with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but such ugly appearances fade from memories when it comes to free agency. The New York Mets have needed a catcher seemingly since Mike Piazza left the club. The Atlanta Braves, division rivals of the Mets, are also in need of a new catcher. Perhaps the Arizona Diamondbacks could also pursue Grandal if that team frees-up funds before putting pen to paper on this type of contract.

5 Dallas Keuchel

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Possible Destination: Boston Red Sox

The Houston Astros would likely prefer to keep Dallas Keuchel in the rotation beyond 2018, but that might not be realistic, especially if the team wins the World Series and guys like Keuchel want to get paid from a different team. The 30-year-old wouldn’t be available for long if he wanted to secure his future destination quickly. The Los Angeles Angels, San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox are all teams that should reach out to Keuchel as soon as he hits the market. The Red Sox should be in contention once again next year, and that team will need an arm such as Keuchel even if it doesn’t lose talent in free agency.

4 J.A. Happ

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Possible Destination: Cincinnati Reds

The New York Yankees need to fix the team’s starting rotation, and keeping J.A. Happ around even on a short-term contract will only be considered if the Yankees fail to acquire one of several other targets. It’s too bad the Oakland Athletics are not a team that will spend money on somebody such as Happ, as the team needs a proven commodity in the rotation. The Cincinnati Reds will sign a starting pitcher this offseason. Why not Happ if he would be willing to accept a role with a team that has zero chance of winning the World Series in 2019 or 2020?

3 Andrew Miller

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
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Possible Destination: New York Mets

The New York Mets and southpaw reliever Andrew Miller need each other in 2019. Mickey Callaway, Miller’s former pitching coach, is the manager with the Mets. Miller needs to rehabilitate his image and stock after injury woes prevented him from being what he was when at his best and pitching for the Cleveland Indians in the World Series. The lengthy 33-year-old with a rocket arm is not going to be re-signed by the Tribe unless he really loves the Cleveland region and wants to stay at a fraction of the price he would be paid by a team such as the Mets.

2 Zack Greinke

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Possible Destination: New York Yankees

The next two are individuals who are likely to be traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks as long as the franchise can find homes for those players. Pitcher Zack Greinke is owed a ton of money, the Diamondbacks aren't winning anything with him on the roster and the veteran who will be 35-years-old before the end of October is not getting any younger. The New York Yankees need a better arm in the team’s starting rotation, and the Yankees legitimately have more young assets in the team’s system than it knows what to do with. Pull the trigger on this trade, Yankees, and go try to win the 2019 World Series.

1 Paul Goldschmidt

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
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Possible Destination: New York Yankees

Speaking of the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees potentially doing business with each other, the Yankees trading for Paul Goldschmidt is something that needs to happen for the sake of everybody. The 31-year-old first baseman needs a fresh start with a different club that is going to play meaningful October baseball games. The Yankees need the help at first base. As mentioned earlier in this piece, the Yankees have more than enough young talent to make this trade worth it for the Diamondbacks. Even if New York does not acquire Zack Greinke, getting Goldschmidt in a transaction should be atop the team’s goals this offseason.

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