We are several months into the MLB offseason, and quite a lot has gone down already. Yoenis Cespedes returned to the New York Mets. The big three closers have signed, with the San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers winning the bidding for the likes of Mark Melancon, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen respectively. The Chicago Cubs did not care, as they went out and traded for Wade Davis, sending Jorse Soler to Kansas City. Ian Desmond and the Colorado Rockies surprised the baseball world by agreeing to a deal.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg. There have been plenty of trades, signings and all around buzz. But with all of those moves, there are still a handful of good players left out on the free agent market. With that, there are still opportunities for clubs to improve upon their current roster before players begin to report to Spring Training in February.
But with all of the really big names that got all of the attention when the MLB winter began now under contract, who are the names that are sitting on top now? Take a scroll down below to check out the top five remaining MLB free agents as 2017 is officially upon us.
Mark Trumbo (First base/DH/Outfield)
The soon to be 31 year old is getting minimal love on the open market to this point despite leading MLB in home runs in 2016. Trumbo launched 47 home runs, drove in 108 runs and slugged .533 in 2016 during his only season with the Baltimore Orioles. His power is hands down his greatest attribute, and those home run numbers alone make him worthy of a discussion for any team who is still looking for an extra bat to put in their lineup.
Trumbo has never been seen as a great defensive player, and his lack of a true defensive position could be hurting him on the free agent market. He can play first base or the outfield, but not very well. It is his bat that will eventually help land him a deal. Teams may be hesitant to part with a draft pick for him, but eventually someone will cave. He could very well return to the Orioles, or make his way to a club such as the Colorado Rockies or Texas Rangers.
Jose Bautista (Outfield)
One of the most interesting players to hit the market this winter is still out there, and his (nick)name is Joey Bats. Bautista is a big time power hitter who is coming off an injury filled season that saw his production suffer big time because of it. He also carries the reputation of being a potential problem child in the club house, and has been in the middle of a few dustups with other clubs in recent seasons. His down season plus that reputation has led to clubs like the Orioles saying they want no part of him, and one would imagine the Rangers would fall in that same category (Just ask Rougned Odor).
So in a down season, Bautista still hit 22 home runs. But that was paired with a .234 average, 69 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .452. He will be entering his age 36 season, so it is clear his best seasons are behind him. But his power is still very real, and a healthy season could certainly result in a 30 homer year. It appears a return to the Toronto Blue Jays may be the most likely outcome at this point, but a cheap one year deal with a surprise team such as the Tampa Bay Rays or San Francisco Giants cannot be ruled out.[Kenny]
Matt Wieters (Catcher)
When the MLB offseason began, Wieters was seen as the top name on the catching market by many. But almost every other catcher drew early attention, while Wieters name went unmentioned for the longest time. But now that Jason Castro is with the Minnesota Twins, Wilson Ramos is a Ray, Welington Castillo took over in Baltimore and Derek Norris was dealt to the Nation’s Capitol, Wieters is finally getting some attention. He did not have the greatest year in 2016, but with 17 homers and 66 RBIs, he is still a slightly above average catcher.
He enters his age 31 season, and it is possible a change of scenery could do him some good. He never fully lived up to the big time prospect hype with Baltimore, but certainly has the talent and hits the ball hard. If he can put together another healthy year, he can certainly reach the mid 20’s in homers, and bump that average up to a more respectable number. Teams who could be in pursuit include the Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies, Washington Nationals and Seattle Mariners.
Greg Holland (Relief Pitcher)
With all the top closers off the market, many assume they can ignore the rest of the relief market. But not so fast, as we have a former top closer still lurking. Greg Holland is only a few seasons removed from being a top three closer in baseball, and the only reason he is still sitting out here is because he missed all of last year because of Tommy John Surgery. So while he is no sure bet, he is still a guy who saved 47, 46 and 32 games in the years 2013-2015. He is expected to be a full go for Spring Training.
So who will be willing to roll the dice on this former Kansas City Royal? With relievers always in demand, it is anyone’s guess where he lands. The Washington Nationals still need a closer, and may be willing to add him to the mix. The Colorado Rockies have been in contact with the right hander. The Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers have both been mentioned with Holland in the past. If his velocity can return to his pre-Tommy John days, where ever he lands could have themselves the steal of the winter.
Tyson Ross (Starting Pitcher)
When free agency opened, Ross’s name was not amongst the list of MLB free agents. Instead he hit the open market when the San Diego Padres non-tendered Ross in early December thanks to his health problems. After one start in 2016, Ross was shelved for the rest of the year with shoulder inflammation. Ross would go on to have a rib removed via surgery in October, thanks to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, and it is not positive if he will be ready for Opening Day.
But despite this, he was a very solid and consistent pitcher for three seasons for the Padres prior to last year’s lost season. Between the seasons of 2013 and 2015, Ross’s highest ERA was 3.26 and he is still only 30 years old. Given how weak this starting pitching market is, Ross clearly stands out as a possible name who could certainly provide a team with a stable force in the middle of their rotation in 2017, even if he is not ready for the very start of the year. Look for a rebuilding, incentive type of deal, potentially with a smaller market club for the righty as he looks to prove himself once again.
Who are your top five remaining MLB free agents now that 2017 is upon us? Tell us in the comments!