Another day, another set of hot stove predictions to share. We’ve already broken down MLB Trade Rumors’ look at the top 50 free agents and Jim Duquette’s top 25, but now comes a slightly different set of guesses. MLB Network Radio had 15 different experts predict the landing spots of 10 top free agents, including Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis, and Shohei Otani.
The results…well, they’re interesting. I’m not going to examine every single one of these, but go ahead and take a look at their predictions and we’ll meet back on the other side for some quick discussion.
I’ve got to be honest, I’m a little shocked by this. I hadn’t really thought about the Braves or Phillies being real players, and I figured the LA team making the strongest push would’ve been the Dodgers. That’s what surprises me the most, not seeing the defending NL pennant winners picked by anyone. Nor are the Cardinals on this list, despite rumors that they’re likely to pursue Arrieta to some degree. But the Rangers are the clear favorite here, with 10 of 15 votes. That’s the second-most of anyone displayed.
MLBTR predicted Darvish to the Cubs for six years and $160 million, which I think is wildly inaccurate. Duquette had the former Ranger and Dodger heading to Seattle. All of those teams appear above, with the Angels and Phillies joining the mix. Only Jim Memolo and Steve Sax have Darvish going to the Cubs, so take that for what it’s worth. The six-team spread is second-most of anyone on this list.
With eight experts predicting that he’ll stay in Chicago, Davis/Cubs is tied with Eric Hosmer/Red Sox for third-most picks of the 10 names. Houston and St. Louis received two votes apiece, with Arizona, LA (Angels), and Washington each pulling one. Though MLBTR had Davis going to Houston, the overall vibe seems to be that the Cubs will try to retain him. And unless they just flat-out let their closer walk, it seems like Davis will stay put.
Holland has the most varied range of teams, with no fewer than seven possible destinations listed. The Rockies are the favorites with four votes, followed by the Cards and Rangers with three apiece, but the Cubs are among those with one prediction. And it’s from Jim Bowden. Holland would be a fallback if the Cubs don’t try to retain Davis, but it’d be weird for them to pursue one former Royals closer who had TJS in 2015 and has a qualifying offer attached to him rather than keep the former Royals closer with milder elbow injury history who would not require draft pick forfeiture.
There was a little buzz about the Cubs maybe trading for Cain at last year’s deadline, so you can see how they might be linked to him on some level here. But with a contract that should pay him $16-20 million AAV over the next four years or so, the investment doesn’t make much sense. Unless the Cubs swing a trade to clear out at least two of their young outfielders (with Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr., and Ian Happ); you don’t pay a guy that much money to platoon. Jeff Joyce cast the vote for Lo Cain to the Cubs.
The probability of Otani’s move to MLB remains in a state of flux. One recent report said a posting system disagreement might keep him in Japan, though that was followed shortly by another that he had hired an MLBPA-approved agent, presumably to facilitate the defection process. Most of the experts believe he’ll be playing stateside next season, with 11 of them saying he’ll do so with the Yankees. The Dodgers and Blue Jays got one vote apiece, with only two people thinking Otani will stay in Japan. No Cubs, so I’m playing a sad trombone on this one.
I’ll close with with another reminder that these predictions should be used for entertainment purposes only, which in some cases may be simply pointing and laughing at some of them. If nothing else, it offers a jumping-off point for conversation and paints an overall picture of which teams are in the market for what kind of talent.