Now that I got my FA rant out of the way yesterday, my mind wandered to the other side of the fence. Specifically, the big class of 2019. What if Bill DeWitt suddenly decided to open his wallet, or found 2 Billion dollars of pocket change under his couch? Who would fit our team in this little money is no object pipe dream?
One thing to note though: I’m just not randomly signing guys, but rather going off what the teams current strengths and weaknesses are.
The biggest names are, of course, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. As much as I like Harper, I like our outfield as is, so I’m going to dismiss him right away. We traded away Stephen Piscotty because we had a surplus, so it makes little sense to flip around and sign Harper. Don’t get wrong, he’d look nice out there, but I think we’ll be just fine with Dexter Fowler/Marcell Ozuna/Tommy Pham trio for the next few years as all 3 are locked up for a while, with Ozuna the first to be out of contract in 2019.
Machado is a different story. We have a good shortstop in Paul DeJong (provided he follows up his great rookie season with a solid campaign.) Third base, however, is up in the air right now, as Gyorko could be a free agent after 2019 if his option isn’t exercised. With the money he’ll make, I’m sure Machado will happily head back to third. Just imaging him along with a pair of other 26 or under players in the infield with DeJong and Kolten Wong (who hit .285 with a .376 OBP last year) makes me very happy. (I’d love Brian Dozier. Who wouldn’t? I’m comfortable with Wong there long term though.)
There are also other options there. Discount the age factor, and you could go after Josh Donaldson, who the Cards have been longing after for years. He’s 32, but he also hit 33 homers with a solid .270/385/.559 line which indicates he’s not declining just yet. He seems like a guy who might age more gracefully than others. And if you want to toss age entirely out the window, there’s always Adrian Beltre. Beltre is 38 and had his worse year in a while last year, but he still put up a .312/.383/.532 slash line with 17 homers in 389 plate appearances, which were his fewest since his rookie year. You could bet that was an outlier and give him a shot. Plus, he’s likely to sign for far fewer years than the other two, giving us a chance to find a long term option via our farm or trade.
Since I view 3B as our biggest hole on offense (I’m comfortable with Matt Carpenter at first, and we also have Jose Martinez there as a long term option. He had a .309/.379/.518 slash line with 14 homers in 307 plate appearances), let’s move on to pitching. Adam Wainwright is a free agent after this season, and barring sentiment and a drastic reversal of his decline, I’d be happy to let him walk, so let’s start with starters.
The biggest name here is Dallas Keuchel. He had a solid year last year, but he’s more of a finesse pitcher and is 30 years old who’ll want a long term contract. Nobody jumps out at me otherwise, until you look at a guy who isn’t officially listed as a free agent for next off-season yet but might as well be as he has a player opt-out: Clayton Kershaw. With all due respect to Dallas Keuchel, I’m going with Kershaw. How could you not?
As for relievers, there are a lot, so I’ll focus on the closer position. Several interesting names here, like Kelvin Herrera and Zach Britton, but again the best guy is an opt-out, Kenley Jansen. While it’s unlikely that he doesn’t re- sign with the Dodgers, he’ll be an interesting option if he doesn’t. He’ll be 31 at the beginning of the 2019 season, but given that he was a 3.1 WAR reliever last year, he might be another guy that ages gracefully. I like Luke Gregerson, but the closer position can be very volatile so bringing in a stable guy like Jansen (221 saves in the past 6 years if I remember correctly) is a no brainer.
Again, this is all fantasy, but it never hurts to dream a little, no?
As always, thanks for reading.