The Major League Baseball free agent landscape hasn’t changed much in recent days. It has been one of the slower periods since the Winter Meetings in early December as the corps of notable free agents has dwindled. But with pitchers and catchers reporting in just a matter of weeks, time is running out for rosters to take shape and for free agents to find their new homes.
One of the best starting pitchers on the market has struggled to find much interest from teams this offseason. Kyle Lohse, coming off a career year with the St. Louis Cardinals, is still trying to find a home. Like other high-class, unsigned players, Lohse’s signability is being hurt due to the draft pick compensation attached to him because he received a qualifying offer from the Cardinals. Additionally, as a 34-year-old with a career 4.45 ERA, there is a certain amount of risk for signing him to the big contract his agent, Scott Boras, is surely looking for. With question marks about his future destination, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick hypothesizes he could be a good fit with the Texas Rangers, who could still use another starter. FOX’s Ken Rosenthal also says the Washington Nationals could end up making a run at the righty.
Meanwhile, the Rangers may also be a likely landing spot for another top free agent who has had trouble getting anywhere with a new team. Matthew Pouliot of NBC Sports suggests that Michael Bourn may ultimately end up with the Rangers, Seattle Mariners, or Atlanta Braves. Both the Rangers and Mariners could use a center fielder, but the Braves have already signed B.J. Upton, rather than keep Bourn. They could always take on another outfielder, though, if they were to find the money. All of these teams could use a speedy, top-of-the-lineup player and this is the time of year Boras, who also represents Bourn, tends to get big contracts for his clients.
Despite trading for Ben Revere this offseason, the Philadelphia Phillies aren’t done adding pieces to their outfield. They have signed Delmon Young to a 1-year, $750,000 deal. He will compete for playing time in left and right field with a quartet of other players—Darin Ruf, John Mayberry, Jr., Domonic Brown, and Laynce Nix. Despite Young’s inconsistencies during his career, he is coming off of a very promising postseason. He won the ALCS MVP Award for hitting .353 with two home runs and six RBI, then added another home run while hitting .357 in the World Series. Young is a .284 career regular season hitter, but comes with baggage as he has had difficulty staying out of trouble. At just 27-years-old, though, the former top overall draft pick still has plenty of upside and comes at very low cost. He’s also hit .336 in his career against National League teams.
The Boston Globe’s Nick Carfado speculates on the possibility that the Mariners and Boston Red Sox may entertain a trade centered around Justin Smoak and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. A deal would seemingly work on the surface. The Mariners have first basemen and need a catcher after trading away John Jaso and the Red Sox have too many catchers and not enough first basemen. The 26-year-old Smoak was a highly-touted prospect who was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Cliff Lee to the Rangers, but has struggled at the Major League level, hitting just .223 in three seasons. Saltalamacchia is coming off a season during which he hit 25 home runs from behind the plate. There is no indication the Mariners and Red Sox have progressed toward such a trade, but it is worth keeping an eye on as Spring Training approaches.