With a number of this offseason’s top free agent market — Yoenis Cespedes, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen — already off the board, here’s a look at what’s left as we head toward the holiday season. Here are the top 10 remaining players, with rankings via MLBTR’s top 50 list from early November.
2. Edwin Encarnacion. While closers have flown off the board in the last few weeks, the market for sluggers has been slower to develop. A variety of AL teams — including the Indians, Athletics, Rangers and Blue Jays — have been connected to Encarnacion, as have the Rockies and Cardinals in the NL. Thus far, there’s been little reported movement toward a deal, with many of Encarnacion’s potential suitors’ reported interest looking tepid at best.
8. Mark Trumbo. At this point, the Orioles likely have extended the best offer to their former slugger, with the Cardinals and Rockies also looming as possibilities. Trumbo is on the long list of sluggers the Indians have reportedly contacted, and the Mariners appear to be a possibility as well.
10. Ivan Nova. There’s been surprisingly little chatter about Nova even as free agent pitchers like Rich Hill and Jeremy Hellickson have disapppeared from the already poorly stocked starting pitching shelves. Of course, just because there’s little reported movement on a player doesn’t mean there isn’t interest, only that not all the interest has been reported. Pirates GM Neal Huntington says his team has been in touch with its former trade deadline acqusition, although it would be a small upset if the Pirates did sign Nova, due to their apparent budgetary issues. The Astros have been connected to a variety of hurlers, but at last check, they reportedly weren’t in on Nova.
12. Jose Bautista. As with Encarnacion, there doesn’t seem to be much good news for Bautista at the moment, who has been connected to a variety of teams that, for various reasons, aren’t likely to give him the sort of contract he might seek. The potential loss of a draft pick for signing Bautista appears likely to be problematic for some potential suitors as well. A return to the Blue Jays could make the most sense, as MLB.com’s Jon Morosi recently argued.
15. Jason Hammel. At last check, Hammel’s camp said there were ten teams pursuing its client. At present, there’s no telling who those teams might be. The Yankees and Marlins have been connected to Hammel, although it’s unclear how much interest the Marlins might still have after adding Edinson Volquez and Jeff Locke.
16. Matt Wieters. Wieters’ agent, Scott Boras, recently said his client might not sign until late in the offseason, since the market for catchers had been slow. Since then, the Orioles’ signing of Welington Castillo perhaps made it less likely Wieters would return to Baltimore. Fan Rag’s Jon Heyman tweeted today, though, that the Orioles could conceivably still sign Wieters — they like him, and they’ve benefited in the past from late-breaking deals like their 2014 signing of Nelson Cruz. The Braves (who were also connected to Castillo) and Rockies could still make sense as well.
20. Michael Saunders. The Indians reportedly offered Saunders a one-year deal, and the Orioles and Blue Jays have been connected to him as well. At least from the outside, though, Saunders’ market has been quiet.
21. Mike Napoli. Napoli joins a glut of offense-minded corner/DH types on this list, also including Encarnacion, Trumbo, Bautista and Saunders. (The presence of interesting secondary players like Brandon Moss, Chris Carter and Adam Lind also probably hasn’t helped get the market moving.) The Indians have been most strongly connected to Napoli recently.
23. Greg Holland. Unlike many players on this list, Holland could join any number of teams and not cause roster headaches. Bullpens are highly malleable. For that reason, there’s a long list of teams that could gamble on Holland’s upside as he returns from Tommy John surgery. As MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk noted last week, that list includes the Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees, Giants, Red Sox, Indians, Rays, Mariners, Nationals, Padres, Twins, Mets, Phillies, Tigers, Blue Jays, Royals and Brewers, all of whom have shown at least some degree of interest.
24. Travis Wood. We’ve heard nothing about Wood since the Winter Meetings, when it emerged that the Cubs had been in touch with Wood about the possibility of re-signing. Wood reportedly wants another chance to start after a season in which he posted a 2.95 ERA, albeit with a modest 6.9 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9. One factor that could work in his favor in that quest is his hitting ability, which is well above average for a pitcher; for that reason, it wouldn’t be surprising if he wound up with an NL team.