TOP FREE AGENTS AND WHERE THEY ARE HEADED IN 2017
Cespedes has collected no fewer than 22 homers and 80 RBIs in each of his five seasons in the majors. He was the driving force in the Mets lineup until a quadriceps injury kept him out for two weeks last year. He returned to action in late-August, finishing with 31 long balls and 86 RBIs. The Mets waited until November 29th to sign him to a four-year contract worth an average of $27.5 million per year.
Encarnacion has been among the most reliable sluggers in the AL over the last five seasons. In that span, he has averaged 39 homers and 110 RBIs. In 2016, he led the AL with 127 runs batted in. Even so, the Blue Jays didn't feel he was worth the investment. The Indians ended up signing him on January 5th for an average of $18.7 million per year over the next four seasons.
A left-hander, Sale has spent his entire seven-year career with the White Sox. Since 2012, he has posted a 70-47 record while leading the league twice in complete games. The five-time All-Star signed a three-year contract with the Red Sox in early-December, joining a pitching staff that is already one of the best in the majors.
Trumbo is the American League's reigning home run king, having launched 47 bombs last year. On the downside, he struck out a whopping 170 times and posted a mediocre .316 on-base percentage. Perhaps that's why the Orioles waited until January 20th to meet his salary demands (3 years $37.5 million). The Rangers were said to be seriously pursuing Trumbo before then.
Bautista was on target for another 30 homer 100 RBI season before losing time to multiple injuries in 2016. When healthy, he can slug with the best of them and draws a lot of walks. On January 18th, the Blue Jays decided it would be best not to let Bautista go, re-signing their perennial fan favorite to a multi-year contract with mutual options.
Desmond has been one of the top offensive shortstops in the majors for seven years now. In 2016, he had one of his finest seasons ever, reaching career-highs in runs scored (107) and runs batted in (86). Mixing speed with power, he has captured three Silver Slugger Awards and played on two All-Star teams. In mid-December, the Rockies took advantage of his availability, signing him through 2021. The thin air in Colorado can only serve to pad his numbers.
Chapman's 100-plus mph fastball made a nice addition to the Cubs bullpen in July of 2016. Chapman saved 16 games down the stretch, helping Chicago break a World Series curse spanning more than a century. In December, the Yankees decided they wanted him back, inking a five-year deal worth $17.2 million per year.
Turner is among the most productive third baseman in the majors. He had a breakout season with the Dodgers in 2014, accruing a robust .340 average in 109 games. He hasn't come close to matching that figure since, but he reached career-high marks with 34 doubles, 27 homers and 90 RBIs in 2016. He spent well over a month on the free agent market before the Dodgers locked down his contract through 2020.
A mountain of a man at 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, Jansen had his best season ever in 2016, gathering 47 saves--second only to Jeurys Familia of the Mets. Jansen also recorded an impressive 1.83 ERA in 71 appearances. Despite those numbers, he remained a free agent until January 10th, when the Dodgers finally made him an offer he could not refuse (5 years $80 million).
Colon has averaged 15 wins per year over the last four seasons. He posted a 3.43 ERA last year and came close to the 200 inning mark at the age of forty-three. A smart, savvy right-hander, Colon signed with the Braves in Mid-November, leaving behind a legion of fans in New York.
Knuckleballers are a dying breed. And despite Dickey's sub-par performance in 2016 (10-15/ 4.46 ERA), the Braves have much to gain by adding him to their rotation. A change of scenery might be just what the veteran right-hander needs. During his three previous seasons in the National League, he posted a 39-28 record with an ERA of 2.95.
Fowler was a key ingredient in the Cubs success last season. When he sustained a hamstring injury in late-July, the team hit a rough patch until his return. The highly regarded Fowler hits, runs and fields well. He seems to be getting better with age, making his first All-Star appearance last year at 30 years old. In early-December, the Cardinals signed him to a five-year contract.