In this year’s edition of his annual Hot Stove survey (an always-excellent read), ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick surveyed 40 front office execs and scouts from around the league on nine offseason issues as this week’s GM Meetings kick off. Among the topics discussed, at length, are the possibility of a Giancarlo Stanton trade (and his likeliest destination), where Japanese star Shohei Ohtani will land, how much J.D. Martinez can command in free agency, and whether Yu Darvish’s poor World Series showing hampered his free-agent stock. Crasnick also polled the 40 baseball ops/scouting minds on multiple groups of free agents and trade candidates, asking which will provide the most value and which are likeliest to be dealt.
If you follow the offseason even loosely, you’ll want to be sure to read through the entire column, which is packed with quotes and insight from general managers, scouts and other front-office executives on the players in question and their potential landing spots. Some abbreviated highlights…
- Three quarters of the respondents indicated that they expect Stanton to be traded this offseason, with nearly a third listing the Cardinals as the likeliest landing spot. The Giants were the second-most popular spot, though one scout tells Crasnick he has a difficult time envisioning that match, calling the Giants a “bottom-five farm system.” One respondent who felt Stanton would stay in Miami suggests to Crasnick that the Marlins may be underestimating just how much of the contract they’ll need to pay down.
- The Yankees and Dodgers split the vote on the surveyed group’s likeliest destinations for Ohtani, with the Rangers not far behind. Several other clubs received a few votes, and four of the 40 respondents suggested that they believed Ohtani would remain with the Nippon Ham Fighters in 2018. There’s still some work to be done with the league, the players’ union and Nippon Professional Baseball before the posting process can begin in earnest. The agreement between MLB and NPB on the current iteration of the posting system expired this offseason.
- The Red Sox were the overwhelming favorite when it came to the question of Martinez’s next team, though expectations for his contract varied in size. One GM pegged Martinez at around six years and $140MM, Crasnick notes. Some execs felt he’d fall closer to Justin Upton’s $106MM guarantee.
- Only three of the 40 respondents thought that Darvish’s pair of World Series meltdowns would have a substantial impact on his offseason earning capacity. Crasnick’s piece has plenty of insightful quotes on Darvish — more than any other player — from the scouts that were polled. An AL scout tells Crasnick that 15 years ago, the World Series might’ve hurt Darvish, but in a largely sabermetric environment, his late struggles are a “void blip in the radar.”
- Crasnick also asked respondents which of the Royals’ big three free agents (Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain) would provide the best value on his next deal, which of Carlos Gomez or Carlos Gonzalez had a better chance of reestablishing himself as a star, and which major 2018-19 free agent among Andrew McCutchen, Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado is likeliest to be traded this winter. I found it somewhat of a surprise to see Hosmer as the decisive favorite in that Royals question, though many scouts praised his glovework despite poor reviews from defensive metrics. McCutchen, less surprisingly, was deemed likeliest of his trio to go, while Gonzalez topped Gomez handily in their own respective face-off.