Every year the MLB season goes through its offseason, pretty much like every other sport. The NBA Offseason is about what Super Teams will be formed, the NFL offseason tends to swirl around the new blood entering the league. The MLB 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, getting warm and talking 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?
Less lovely is how much action has taken place since the Winter Meetings. Sure, we had a lot of action surrounding the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees, and even the Los Angeles Angels and Philadelphia Phillies have gotten in on the fun. But for the most part, there’s still so much yet to be settled in the three weeks before pitchers and catchers report. So let’s dive right into our second installment of the MLB Hot Stove. For the first part, click here.
Michael Saunders’ fall from grace in 2017 was unexpected, to say the least. After making the 2016 All-Star team with the Toronto Blue Jays, his first All-Star selection, Michael Saunders signed a deal to play for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2017. After 61 games and a less than desirable .205 average, the Phillies released Saunders, and he was scooped up by Toronto, where he continued his year of mediocrity. Now the soon to be 31-year-old outfielder is looking for a locker in another MLB clubhouse.
Landing Spot: Chicago White Sox
Because why not. What do the White Sox have to lose? All the White Sox have to do is field a team in 2018 and 2019, as their farm system grows by the hour. In the meantime, guys like Saunders will be invaluable to an organization that’s just trying to keep its financial head above the water.
Do I think Jayson Werth is a good baseball player? I do not. Do I think he WAS a good baseball player? I do. That being said, I am surprised that Jayson Werth wants to spend another summer in the sun. 2017 was arguably Werth’s worst season of his career. Not was he barely on the field, when he was Werth was underperforming. Seriously. HAving Jayson Werth on the field in a Nationals uniform was a detriment to their ability to succeed.
Landing Spot: Washington Nationals
Jayson Werth should pack up and quit, but I have a feeling he’ll take a hometown discount and will stay in Washington. Fine. #UnfinishedBusiness #FinishedCareer
Jarrod Dyson has been talked about around the league since his 2015 season with the Royals. Dyson’s a real-life Willie Mays Hayes., he’s got speed and a glove and he’s worth the roster spot on your bench. Dyson has consistently stolen more than 26 bases in the 6 season. He’s Dave Roberts in the 2004 ALCS, but like all the time.
Landing Spot: Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles won’t be resigning Seth Smith, which means they’ll be needing some help and speed off the bench and on days off. What Dyson allows them to do is rest guys or use them in DH spot. He’s a great late game defensive addition to the outfield and can allow them to rest Adam Jones and Trey Mancini without having to play Mark Trumbo in the outfield. He’s a solid bench player and a solid contributor to his clubs. He’s worth the money you’ll pay for him.
Cameron Maybin has been bouncing around the league for the past four years, playing for 5 different teams. The only place he really did well? Detroit.
Landing Spot: Detroit Tigers… Again
Maybin hit .315 over 94 games in 2016 for the Tigers. Can he do it again? Maybe, but they’ll probably be able to get more out of him than they got from Tyler Collins and Matt den Dekker.
CarGo had a rough 2017, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Rockies right fielder. Seriously, with the Rockies headed for the postseason all year, CarGo just could not get things going at the plate. The Venezuelan outfielder had his worst season since 2014, where he only played 70 games. In 2017, in 138 games, CarGo put up a .262 average, belting 14 homers, knocking in 57 and putting up a .762 OPS, the third time he’s seen his OPS dip below in .800 in the decade he’s been in the bigs.
Was this a rough season for CarGo? Yes. Will he be able to bounce back? ABSOLUTELY. He’s better than his performance in 2017, and he knows it.
Landing Spot: Colorado Rockies
Why would you want to leave Denver? As a hitter, it’s the place to play. Also, you’ve got to consider how long CarGo’s been there and how close they are to getting competitive. The addition of Bud Black last season was exactly what they needed in Colorado, and it showed. Why would CarGo want to leave?
The other question is: Why would the Rockies want CarGo back? That answer is even easier. He had a bad year, and he’ll rectify that situation or he’ll get traded. It’s that simple. Plus, the Rockies don’t have too many outfield prospects on the horizon, and when they do get to the bigs they’ll shift to Left before they go to Right. Simple as that. This is a no-brainer for both sides.
After Edwin Encarnacion left for Cleveland, it was only natural to assume that the honus of power hitting for the Blue Jays would fall to Josh Donaldson and José Bautista. No one told Joey Bats that he had help. 2017 saw a spike in his strikeout numbers like you would not believe. His career high for strikeouts in a season was 116 in 2010. Seven seasons later, he tops it by striking out 170 times in 2017.
For a spike this large you can really only take away one thing. 1) Bautista was trying to do way too much for a struggling Jays team and his abysmal average. Either way, it’s clear that Toronto is ready to separate themselves from their bat-flipping Rightfielder, but that’s fine. Joey Bats is ggonnaland on his feet.
Landing Spot: Tampa Bay Rays
What better way to end your career than sticking it to the team who didn’t think you were worth the money you thought you deserved? Before you write me a mean tweet, I know that Toronto didn’t kick him out the door, but they didn’t exactly welcome the guy back with open arms for the 2017 season. If Joey Bats wants to stay in the league he’ll need to adapt to a teams needs, and the Rays could use his bat, his glove, and his name to get fans to the ballpark.
Carlos Gomez has played in the 11 years and has put up some solid numbers. Having played the majority of his years as a Centerfielder, Gomez was known for his glove and his speed on the basepaths, but as he going into the twilight of his career a lot of questions begin to swirl about his longevity in that position.
Gomez is a definite shift away from how Center is being looked at nowadays. Most centerfielders are built like Billy Hamilton or Byron Buxton, lean, lanky and speed demons with fishing nets for gloves. That’s the Gomez of old, and now he’s shifting into more of a Leftfield option. There are only so many guys like Mike Trout who combine speed with power, and most of those guys end up playing the corner spots. That’s the future for Gomez, so finding a team that would allow him to transition there is ideal.
Landing Spot: Kansas City Royals
There aren’t too many spots I can see Gomez landing in 2018, but with Alex Gordon on the decline, Paolo Orlando slow to grow and Lorenzo Cain on his way out, Gomez is a solid option for the Royals.
He comes with a solid bat, putting up a .255 average and .802 OPS, which if he were to join the Royals, would make him their top outfielder. Not too shabby. If the Royals want a veteran to help develop their young talent for the future, it makes Gomez even more attractive.
The Melkman. Melky Cabrera, while remaining relevant for the past few years hasn’t lived up to his own hype. For the past three years, Melky played for the Chicago White Sox, who signed him for 3 years at $42 million, a $14 million AAV. What did the White Sox get? 5 wins. Not an ideal return on investment there, especially since the Blue Jays got 3 for $16 million the two years before.
Melky should be sitting pretty in a teams lineup, instead, he’s treading water in the thick free agent outfield market. Why? Because he’s a solid bat without speed. In today’s game hitters need to be supplemented and speed or power, so a guy who is solidly hitting above .275 without speed or power, falls by the wayside. That’s where Melky Cabrera is.
Landing Spot: Chicago White Sox
Melky Cabrera never wanted to leave Chicago, so why wouldn’t he go back? Before being traded to Kansas City at the deadline last year, Cabrera sadi to the Chciago Tribune, “I would like to finish the season here… I like Chicago. I like this team and I would like to stay here for a long time, not just until the end of the season. But I don’t have control of those decisions. They know what they have to do, but if you ask me, I would say I would like to stay here.”
With Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert on the horizon, the White Sox will be getting an influx of youth in the upcoming years, but until then sending Nick Delmonico and Adam Engel won’t be super effective.
Jimenez and Robert have a Big League ETA of 2019 and 2020 respectively, and with Avisail Garcia going into free agency after the 2019 season, the outfield is going to have two spots wide open for them. Who better to teach these kids how to hit on a major league team than Melky Cabrera. It’s a win-win.
Lorenzo Cain gave us all free tacos during the 2015 World Series and for that, we should be grateful. We should also be grateful for Cain’s 2017 performance, as he was the top player on the Royals and kept them moderately relevant. Seriously, while everyone is looking at J.D. Martinez as the top outfielder in the game, I’m looking at LoCain, because he brings the most to the table.
The guy has power and can rake, we all know that, but his best quality is his lineup versatility. He’s like Curtis Granderson, but before he got to the Mets. You can bat Cain in any spot in your lineup and he’s bound to produce. Leadoff, 2-Hole, 3rd, Clean-Up, etc. Cain’s a weapon.
Landing Spot: Texas Rangers
Lorenzo Cain is a perfect answer to this teams problems. With Maraza, Beltre Odor and Gallo raking, it’s time to bring in someone who is much more consistent than Shin-Soo Choo, who is aging out of his stardom and simply hasn’t produced at the level expected of him in Arlington. Maraza isn’t going anywhere in Right, and Delino Deshields is the future in Center, it only makes sense to bring in Cain to solidify that outfield for years to come. It’s the best move for the Rangers if they want to be competitive in 2018 and for the best team for Cain to explode.
J.D. Martinez is the boy who lived. He made it out of Detroit for PEANUTS and made his mark in the NL West by becoming one of the hottest hitters in the game. I mean, the guy was killing the ball in Detroit, but with little fanfare. He was also stuck in a stacked lineup, being run by a lost Brad Ausmus, on a team being dragged down by veterans. Getting sent to the desert was the best thing that could have happened to J.D. and he made the most of it.
Landing Spot: Arizona Diamondbacks
The Red Sox originally offered a 5-year/$100 million dollar deal to Martinez this past week and nothing happened. Friday it was reported that the Sox upped that offer to 5 years at $125 million, a $25 million average for his services. To give you an idea of what that means he’d be making the same amount of money as Giancarlo Stanton, tying him as the 4th highest paid outfielder. Not bad.
J.D. Martinez doesn’t want to play in Boston. If he did, he would have snatched both of these offers the minute the phone rang. But do you blame him? I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Boston is a hard town to play in, especially as a large contract player. Look at David Price, Carl Crawford, Pablo Sandoval. Plus, signing Martinez would mean that Jackie Bradley, Jr. is on his way out the door, something I don’t know if a lot of the Fenway Faithful are on board with. Walking into Boston would be an uphill battle for Martinez, which is why I think he walks.
Arizona was a perfect fit for him. PERFECT. In 2017, over 62 games, Martinez blasted 29 home runs for the D-Backs, just 9 short of his full-season career high from 2015. Hitting behind A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt allowed J.D. to knock in 62 RBIs. Imagine if he played a full season there? He’d be off the charts.
The Diamondbacks are very close to putting all of the pieces together and while the Dodgers demolished them in the Divisional Round, they’re keeping much of their team from last year intact, and they have room to upgrade. Staying the desert is the best case scenario for J.D. even if it means less money.
The best hitter of the 21st century is looking for a new place to call home for the 2018 Season. And he should be able to find somewhere willing to take him. Why? Because he’s Ichiro. Also, there’s this heartbreaking quote:
“I feel like a big dog at a pet shop that hasn’t been sold. Of course, I want to play baseball next year.”
Ugh. I love Ichiro, you guys
Landing Spot: Seattle Mariners
There has never been a better time for the Seattle Mainers to reunite with Ichiro. After trading for Dee Gordon and announcing he’ll start in Center, and acquiring Ryon Healy, who’ll be transitioning to Right Field once Dan Vogelbach is ready to take over, now is the time for Seattle to bring home their legendary right fielder.
Dee Gordon would especially benefit from having a veteran outfielder in the ranks, and one that he’s familiar with. Dee Gordon’s hitting still is as close to Ichiro’s as you can get. So why not double down on that investment? Seriously. It’ll be well worth the money.
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