Pitchers and catchers started to report to Spring Training on Monday, despite many of baseball’s elite still without a team to play for.
In what will go down as one of the most notorious free agency periods ever, the market has been extremely slow, even as Spring Training has now opened to all 30 teams.
There will be a 31st Major League camp this year in Bradenton, Fla., open to any current free agent to get themselves in shape for the 2018 season if they so choose.
It’s a shame that there isn’t an expansion team in Montreal because they could sign the free agents still on the market and be pretty stacked.
Here is what an Opening Day starting lineup with all currently free agents would look along with their market value, according to Spotrac.
C: Jonathan Lucroy (from COL, $12,876,674)
Lucroy revamped himself after a midseason trade to the Rockies last season, slashing .310/.429/.437 with Colorado. However, in his 77 games with the Rangers in 2017, he hit just four homers with an average of .242. He also threw out just 23 percent of base stealers. Part of the reason why the two-time All-Star isn’t signed yet is that he’s simply a huge question mark.
1B: Eric Hosmer (from KC, $20,631,792)
Hosmer played in back-to-back World Series with the Royals, winning in 2015. He is coming off a season in which he matched his career high with 25 home runs (which he also hit in 2016) and set new highs in his slash line, going .318/385/.498. He earned a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger last year and has two seven-year offers on the table, but apparently, he wants more.
2B: Neil Walker (from MIL, $13,506,782)
In a contract year, the 32-year old did not perform. He hit for his lowest average and RBI totals since 2013. However, he walked 28 times in 40 games with the Brewers after walking just 27 times in 73 games with the Mets. Todd Frazier’s short contract does not help Walker’s long-term career, however.
SS: Eduardo Nunez, (from BOS, $11,601,871)
After an All-Star season in 2016, Nunez and his helmet set career highs in average (.313), on-base percentage (.341), and slugging percentage (.460). He also played five positions defensively, and eight of his 12 home runs came after he was traded to the Red Sox.
3B: Mike Moustakas (from KC, $16,641,528)
Moustakas was an All-Star for the second time last year, notching career highs in home runs (38), RBI (85), OBP (.314), and slugging (.521). However, his contract talks have been relatively quiet all offseason.
LF: Melky Cabrera (from KC, $15,742,125)
Cabrera struggled in his second stint with the Royals, hitting just .269 and hitting four home runs in 58 games after hitting .295 before being traded by the White Sox. Cabrera, quietly a .286 hitter who has hit over .300 three times, does not turn 34 until August.
CF: Carlos Gomez (from TEX, $14,042,850)
In the last three years, Gomez, in a 162-game season, is averaging 21 homers and 77 RBI while slashing .247/.317/.417 in that time span. While Gomez might not be spending six years with a team like he did with Milwaukee, teams could benefit with a shorter contract for the 32-year old.
RF: Carlos Gonzalez (from COL, $15,076,928)
The three-time All-Star had arguably his worst season of his career at the worst possible time. His slash line of .262/.339/.423 was his lowest in a season in which he played in over 85 games, but it was just two seasons ago where he drove in 100 runs.
DH: J.D. Martinez (from ARI, $25,938,502)
Martinez is arguably the most attractive free agent left standing. He set career highs in almost every offensive category. Martinez has offers and is reportedly “fed up” with Boston, who offered him a five-year, $125 million contract, and might hold out until he gets what he feels he deserves.
SP: Jake Arrieta (from CHI, $26,607,823)
He hasn’t quite performed to his 2015 Cy Young Award-winning level in which he posted a 1.77 ERA and a 0.865 WHIP, but the 31-year old is still right up there with the game’s most quality starts. His ERA climbed to 3.53 last year, and he struck out only 163 batters, as compared to 190 and 236 in 2016 and 2015, respectively, but he’d still be the No. 1 starter on many teams.