As we sit here today in mid-January, we are somehow only a little over a month from camps around baseball being in full swing, at least as of now. Clearly, with everything going on with the pandemic around the nation that could change, but for now the assumption is things are going to run as scheduled. With that being the case, there is no doubt that teams and free agents need to start getting a move on to finish up negotiations so rosters can be set for the most part heading into camp.
There are a ton of free agents from all different tiers still remaining on the open market, and that also includes the very top tier. Those top-tier free agents (most of them anyway) are the topic of this week’s SB Nation Reacts Fan Polls. This time around the questions were fairly simple. We took three of the top free agents who remain unsigned — Trevor Bauer, George Springer and DJ LeMahieu — and asked with which team they are most likely to land.
We start with the top pitcher on the board and reigning NL Cy Young Trevor Bauer. Despite the fact that Boston desperately needs starting pitcher, they have not really been connected to Bauer much at all. Instead, fans see him going to the Angels. This makes a whole lot of sense, in part because Bauer is from Southern California and went to school at UCLA, and also because the Angels are much like the Red Sox in that they very much need starting pitching. They haven’t been afraid to spend in free agency in the past, and though they have a new front office that isn’t expected to change. If I’m being honest, I really don’t have a great feel for Bauer’s market right now and almost no team would surprise me as an ultimate landing spot. I would have said the Mets before the Francisco Lindor trade, but now I suppose the Angels do indeed make the most sense.
As with Bauer, I don’t think the Mets are going to spring for Springer (sorry) after trading for Lindor. Instead, I think New York is now the favorite for Jackie Bradley Jr., which very much bums me out. As for Springer, Toronto makes a lot of sense, but I also wouldn’t sleep on Houston. It’s a big risk for someone like him to go back for a one-year deal, but I wouldn’t count it out. The new CBA laying in wait throws a wrench into that idea, but if the market just isn’t there this year I could see him going back for another run in Houston and then trying things out again next year. I probably wouldn’t say that is the most likely scenario, but I’d keep it in mind the longer his free agency drags out.
There was a report recently that LeMahieu was getting frustrated with how much the Yankees were slow playing things and that he was essentially going to start taking negotiations more seriously with other clubs. I hope that’s true, but it does admittedly seem like a negotiating tactic. I would still be surprised if he doesn’t end up on the Yankees.