Every year, MLB goes through its offseason, pretty much like every other sport. The NBA offseason is about what Super Teams will be formed, and the NFL offseason tends to swirl around the new blood entering the league. But Major League Baseball’s offseason takes a while to get going. One of my favorite baseball terms is “Hot Stove.” You’ll hear a lot of baseball fans talking about “Hot Stove Season” and how it’s starting to heat up.
The term “Hot Stove” comes from the idea of the “Hot Stove League,” the offseason gathering of fans around a hot stove during the winter to get warm and talk baseball. It doesn’t get any more Americana than that, y’all. Just sitting around a hot stove in the dead of winter, talking baseball. Doesn’t that sound lovely?
Well, this year we’re starting early. We’re preheating things early on so that when this stove gets hot, we’re already cooking. Today, let’s start by looking at some of the most interesting Centerfield options on the Free Agent market.
Billy Hamilton – Free Agent
Is Billy Hamilton a big-name free agent? No, he’s not. So why is he on this list? Because he’s fascinating to me. Billy Hamilton’s signature move is running out ground balls like he’s Ichiro in 2001.
Hamilton is lightning fast. So why isn’t he on an MLB roster?
Because he does put the ball on the ground. Watching Hamilton play for the Mets in 2020 and continuously pop out was infuriating to no end. Hamilton is a misfit toy looking for his place to live out the rest of his career. Which is why I think he’ll find solace on the Island of Misfit Toys.
Predicted Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Predicted Contract: Minor League Deal.
Jake Marisnick – Free Agent
The Jake Marisnick Experience in Queens did not pan out the way anyone thought it might, with the exception of the Astros, who took their prospects and ran.
It’s a low-risk move for Houston, who can at least assure themselves some level of competency in 2021.
Predicted Team: Houston Astros
Predicted Contract: 1 year, $4 Million Dollars.
Kevin Pillar – Free Agent
In the off chance that the Red Sox miss out on Springer and JBJ doesn’t return, bringing Pillar back makes a lot of sense. Simple as that.
Kevin Pillar isn’t known for his big bat, but his reputation as a defensive phenom is well known. His glove, plus his momentum coming off of the best offensive season of his career would help Pillar make an almost seamless transition back onto the Boston roster.
Predicted Team: Boston Red Sox
Predicted Contract: 1 year, $4 Million Dollars.
Jackie Bradley Jr. – Free Agent
Speaking of the Boston Red Sox outfield, let’s talk JBJ.
Jackie Bradley, Jr. has a lot of options, but might not find the contract he’s looking for. Is a return to Boston out of the realm of possibility? No, but it doesn’t feel like a lock that he’ll be back at Fenway Park. Instead, it’s possible he might rejoin an old friend who he met at Fenway.
The Dodgers are going to go through some changes this offseason. Justin Turner might not come back, Joc Pederson is looking for a new contract, and Kiké Hernandez is set to land a starting role outside of Dodger Stadium. That’s a lot. However, the sneaky bit of change is more than likely going to come from within.
Cody Bellinger recently had shoulder surgery to repair damage from an injury he suffered after hitting a home run in the World Series. With the Universal DH coming to the National League sooner than later, it seems more than likely that Bellinger will be the Dodgers’ prime candidate for that position. Plus, depending on how this shoulder issue heals, his days of playing center might be over.
With Kiké Hernandez gone, Chris Taylor‘s flexibility puts him in line to play a lot more infield positions, as would Justin Turner’s departure. And it’s unclear whether or not AJ Pollock can play center. However, it seems best to err on the side of caution there.
So this leaves Los Angeles with an opening in centerfield. One they can fill with Mookie Betts‘ old teammate, Jackie Bradley, Jr.
Predicted Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Predicted Contract: 3 years, $21 Million Dollars.
George Springer – Free Agent
Behind JT Realmuto, George Springer is the second-best position player on the Free Agent market. It’s not up for debate. That’s a scientific fact. Where he’ll end up in 2021, that’s very much debatable.
Others think he’ll opt for a different color sock, heading to Boston to roam the vast expanse of Fenway’s centerfield.
And even wilder is the notion that Springer would trade in his Astros’ Orange and Blue for the Mets Orange and Blue.
Everyone has their opinions, and we won’t know until Springer signs his name on the dotted line, so let’s toss one more in there, shall we?
One team that has the potential to return to the playoffs, but has seen their outfield decimated over the last few years, is the Washington Nationals. As Adam Eaton leaves in free agency, and Juan Soto cements himself as a young Ted Williams, now’s the time to bring in reinforcements. The Nats outfield has been struggling to find its identity ever since Bryce Harper went to Philly.
Bringing Springer into an outfield that has Soto and Victor Robles, who is still trying to find his footing, gives them one of the better outfields in the NL East. And after losing the bat of Anthony Rendon last season, the Washington offense fell flat in their World Series defense.
The Nationals have never been a team to shy away from spending to make themselves competitive. A contract signed by George Springer would do just that.
Predicted Team: Washington Nationals
Predicted Contract: 5 years, $125 Million Dollars.
Think we missed the boat? Skimmed over a key piece of the market? Let us know in the comments!
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