The 2017-18 free agent drought has left plenty of players uncertain what to expect next year even with a potentially historic (albeit top-heavy) class of players set to hit the open market. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale spoke to nearly a dozen players on the matter, getting thoughts from Charlie Blackmon, Brad Brach, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Manny Machado, Dallas Keuchel, Adam Wainwright, Josh Donaldson, Pat Neshek and Evan Longoria. Some of that group are set to hit the market next winter, including Blackmon and Brach, both of whom expressed that this offseason’s market has them less excited for free agency and a bit concerned. Others such as Machado and Keuchel feel the market is in line for a correction.
“There’s too many really, really, talented players that have plaques in their houses and are generational players,” says Keuchel of next year’s class. “You’re talking about three potential Hall of Famers (Clayton Kershaw, Bryce Harper and Machado).” Donaldson (also a free agent next winter), Scherzer and Verlander, meanwhile, urged their fellow players to believe in their abilities, with Donaldson adding that he hopes no impending free agent is swayed into taking a poor deal before season’s end out of fear for a repeat of this winter’s market.
Some notes on the current crop of free agents…
- The Padres have had “internal discussions” about Jake Arrieta, writes FanRag’s Jon Heyman, though he notes that it’s not clear if the team has any interest in actually making an offer. Realistically, there are likely many clubs that aren’t obvious suitors for Arrieta and the remaining top-level free agents that have at least internally kicked around the idea of delving back into the open market with prices bottoming out in recent weeks. Arrieta “has the fortitude to wait things out,” per the report, however. Heyman notes that Padres sources have indicated they’re at least keeping tabs on market prices for several players, which, again, probably holds true for a number of clubs.
- Meanwhile, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune spoke to two agents who represent two of the remaining starters on the market within the past week and was told that the Padres are “looking for pitching.” However, Padres officials emphasized to him that they’re not actively pursuing arms from outside the organization and are focused on the in-house options they have — both at the big league level and looming in one of the game’s best farm systems.
- Heyman also writes that there’s still a chance the Rockies could bring Carlos Gonzalez back to Denver. The Rox have remained in touch with Gonzalez and Scott Boras, though Gonzalez is talking with “a couple” of clubs as he looks to find an offer to his liking. There hasn’t been much in the way of injuries to starting outfielders among contending clubs thus far in Spring Training, so no new opportunities for Gonzalez have really arisen.
- Jon Jay was still seeking a fairly notable two-year deal when the Orioles signed Colby Rasmus to a minor league deal, reports MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. The O’s even checked back with Jay’s camp last week, he adds, but didn’t get any indication that Jay was willing to sign the type of contract he took with the Royals: a one-year, $3MM deal with a reported $1.5MM available via incentives. Jay fit the profile the Orioles were reportedly seeking for much of the offseason — a left-handed hitter who would be an upgrade defensively over some of their current corner options.