Pro Sports

Tracking MLB’s free agent market

The Nationals ended the 2019 MLB season on a high, as they won the World Series for the first time in franchise history. They won because of their deadly rotation and the ability of the hitters to have smart at-bats and be smart in the field. They had major obstacles to keep the core together. Anthony Rendon, an MVP finalist and the definition of a three-hole hitter and former first overall pick and one of the aces of the rotation, Stephen Strasburg were free agents. Rendon just signed a multi-year deal with the Angels, while Strasburg opted out of the rest of his 4-year contract that was worth over 100 million dollars, but later signed an extension with the Nats. The team that lost the World Series, the Houston Astros, have to deal with losing their ace in Gerrit Cole. Cole reached new heights with Houston and is a huge part of their World Series push, but he recently signed a blockbuster deal with the Yankees. All of these pieces could make or break a team’s 2020 campaign.

This seasons Free-Agency pool is stacked with high end pitchers and good role hitters. There are many hidden gems throughout. But here are the top players in this year’s free agent class.

Anthony Rendon:

Old Team: Washington Nationals 

New Team: LA Angels

(*Rendon has signed 7-year contract with the Angels, worth $245 Million*)

The Nats got rid of Bryce Harper to be able to keep Anthony Rendon, as he’s been a threat at the plate his entire career. He broke out during the 2017 season batting .301 with 100 RBIs on 153 hits. He was still very underrated. He then became the face of the team following the 2018 season when Bryce Harper left for the Phillies. In 2019 Rendon had his best year yet, as he batted .319 and had career highs in most major stats including hits (126). On December 12th Rendon Signed a 7-year-pact with the Angels. Rendon should fit in nicely with LA, as their lineup is going to be incredible and full of talent. Rendon is going to play a big role in getting Mike Trout to the playoffs and pressuring the Astros for being the best in the AL West.

I originally picked the Nationals to resign Rendon but after they locked up Strasburg I decided to change my prediction. LA need another star, to add a two-headed threat with Trout. They got another hitter that is a huge threat whenever he steps in to the box.

Stephen Strasburg

Old Team: Washington Nationals 

New Team: Washington Nationals

(* Strasburg has signed a 7-year, $245 Million deal with the Nationals*)

The first overall pick in 2008, a three-time all-star, and a one-time National League Silver Slugger. Stephen Strasburg has quite the resume. After dominating as the Nationals second best arm behind Max Scherzer, in 2019 Strasburg went 18-6 and had a 3.32 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP. Strasburg, had a postseason for decades. The Nationals won the series and Strasburg was the World Series MVP. After the game he opted out of his 4-year $100 million dollar contract to test the FA market knowing he is going to get paid. The Nationals waited no time signing him to a 7-year $245 million deal, Strasburg will be getting paid $35 million per season. For the other top pitchers this is going to raise the prices on all of them. This was especially true for Gerrit Cole, an even better pitcher than Strasburg.

The Nationals had to pick between Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg, they took the latter wanting to solidify the best rotation in baseball for the last month and postseason last season. They want to have a reliable ace when Max Scherzer declines in abilities or retires.

Gerrit Cole 

Old Team: Houston Astros 

New Team: New York Yankees

(*Cole signed a 9 year, $324 million contract with the Yankees*)

CINCINNATI, OHIO – JUNE 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros throws a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 19, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

After being traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Houston Astros during the 2017 off-season, Gerrit Cole resurrected his promising career. The 2012 first overall pick had a breakout year in 2015 as the Pirates went to the playoffs. Cole went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA, but he slumped over the next two years before being traded to Houston. Over his tenure in Houston he lived up to the draft hype. Over two years with Houston he went 35-10 and had a 2.68 ERA. Cole was dominant and was an MVP and Cy Young finalist every year he was in Houston. Now Cole has to decide on what team he wants to lead next. I predict he lands in NY as the Yankees were killed in the postseason over the fact they didn’t having quality arms during the postseason. The Yankees need a consistent healthy veteran. He would make instantly one of the worst rotations in baseball better, as pitching held the team back from their true potential.

Cole will provide NY an ace and if he remains healthy through the season then will be pushing for a Cy Young and even the MVP. But NY will either regret this contract or it will be a bargain. Pitchers in the coming year are going to get paid after the deals this offseason.

Madison Bumgarner

Old Team: San Francisco Giants

New Team: Arizona Diamondbacks

(* Bumgarner has signed a 5-year, $85 Million deal with the Diamondbacks*)

Madison Bumgarner, Better known as “Mad-Bum”, has been the heart and soul of the 2010’s dynasty, the Giants, he was considered the best pitcher in baseball, he had a slight drop off and a few injuries, Most famously him missing 2 months over a dirt bike accident.  Mad Bum is also a threat with a bat which makes him more valuable for NL teams. I originally thought the Reds would be the one to sign him, but Bumgarner has signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Old Team: Los Angeles Dodgers 

New Team: Los Angeles Angels 

Hailing from South Korea, Hyun-Jin Ryu dominated his competition in the KBO leauge. His biggest accomplishment in Korea was being the first player to strike-out 17 players in a 9 inning game. He was allowed to sign with any MLB team for the 2012 MLB season. The Los Angeles Dodgers signed him to a six year $36 million deal. Ryu’s first two seasons were very impressive but he had a significant drop off during 2016-2018, as injuries derailed him from being able to be successful. 2019 was a prove-it year for him, and he dominated the first half of the 2019 regular season with people naming him the Cy Young front-runner before the All Star game. He slowed down during the second half of the season but still finished with a record of 14-5 and an ERA of 2.32. The other team in LA, the Angels, are in need of starting pitching, especially since Tyler Skaggs passed away. They need an ace to lead their rotation. The Angels need to pay up for his services. 

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

Josh Donaldson:

Old Team: Atlanta Braves 

New Team: Philadelphia Phillies 

After two poor seasons in 2017 and 2018, Josh Donaldson finally found some of his old MVP form. The Third Baseman had only 150 hits over those two seasons. He wasn’t playing like the Josh Donaldson that led the Blue Jays to the playoffs over the past few seasons. He signed a one year prove-it deal with the Braves to help sure up their infield and bring a veteran presence to a young locker-room. Donaldson did that and much more. He hit .259 and had 142 hits along with an OBP of .379. Donaldson was awarded the NL Comeback Player of the Year award. Now he’s going to be able to be paid well. The Phillies gave Bryce Harper that opportunity last season and now its Donaldson’s turn. The Phillies have a gaping hole at 3rd base after they non-tendered Mikal Franco. Donaldson could provide a stable presence in the lineup as the organization aims to win the World Series.

Andrews Sheppard is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class and a member of The Quill.