The MLB hot stove has already started to heat up, but most of the marquee free agents and trade candidates in the 2019-20 offseason are still available. Here are 20 bold predictions as the MLB offseason continues to develop.
Cole is the big prize of the offseason and could have his sights set on a record-breaking contract. A native of Southern California and UCLA alum, he's been connected to the Angels but also grew up as a Yankees fan. The Angels are in most desperate need of pitching, and will have money available with Albert Pujols' contract coming off the books after two more seasons.
Bumgarner is a North Carolina native, and could give the Braves an immediate innings eater to surround their young pitchers. The lefty has plenty of playoff experience, winning 2014 World Series MVP, and is coming off his seventh 200-inning season.
The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Hader could be made available by the Brewers this offseason. While it would be curious for a team with playoff aspirations to trade arguably the best relief pitcher in the league, Milwaukee has used Hader heavily over the last two years and would be selling the lefty at peak value. The move could fill other holes, such as their third base spot.
The Cubs have insinuated that they won't be adding significant payroll. That could be a problem because they have several holes to fill in the starting rotation and bullpen. Schwarber is coming off a career year after hitting 38 home runs in 2019, but he's still a liability in left field and starting to cost a lot of money in his final two years of arbitration. Trading Schwarber for a pitcher could help the Cubs address a major need.
Lindor has two seasons before he reaches free agency, but that means he will be expensive in 2020 and is also at the peak of his trade value. MLB.com reported that the Dodgers have already had interest in Lindor, and they certainly have the pieces to make a deal with an elite farm system.
Akiyama is the big prize from Japan this offseason, and the Diamondbacks have a major need in center field. He would potentially fill the void left by A.J. Pollock, who left following the 2018 season, as a leadoff man with power and speed.
Treinen was non-tendered by Oakland after a disappointing 2019 season, but he's just one year removed from being an elite closer. After losing Will Smith in free agency, the Giants have a need at closer, and Treinen will likely be looking for a closing opportunity so he can rebuild his value for free agency next offseason.
Cleveland fell short of a playoff berth last season and did so without Kluber and Carlos Carrasco for most of the year. With that pair healthy, the team has more quality starting pitchers than they need heading into 2020. Despite last year's struggles, Kluber finished top three in AL Cy Young voting in four out of five seasons entering 2019, and could fetch the Indians plenty in return.
Seattle started their firesale last offseason, and the result was a 68-win season in 2019. GM Jerry Dipoto hasn't been shy about making moves, and the team still has plenty of attractive pieces despite their poor results last season. Trading Mitch Haniger, Omar Narvarez, Dee Gordon, and Mallex Smith could complete a full rebuild as the team looks like an even bigger underdog in the tough AL West during 2020.
The Mets ownership likes to steal headlines from the Yankees. A Puig signing wouldn't exactly be the biggest move of the offseason, but it could add some flash to Queens. The right fielder has been a consistent offensive performer recently, and could vastly improve the struggling Mets outfield defense. He also might find it attractive to play under new manager Carlos Beltran, an accomplished MLB hitter.
Strasburg opted out of his contract after one of his best years in 2019 and is set for a huge deal at age 31. Given his injury history, any long-term deal would come with major risk, but the Nationals are extremely familiar with Strasburg since drafting him 10 years ago and should have funds available after winning the World Series.
Ryu won the NL ERA Title last year with a 2.32 ERA, and over the last two years he has a cumulative 2.21 ERA in 44 starts. There's no doubt the lefty adds huge value to any team, but there's also risk given his long injury history. The Padres employ several former members of the Dodgers front office that signed Ryu in 2013 and also have the pitching depth should Ryu need to miss time. Even after signing Manny Machado for big money last offseason, San Diego could make another big splash.
As the Rangers open a new stadium in 2020, they've already started their spending this offseason by adding Kyle Gibson. It's very unlikely that they're finished, and Rendon would be a great fit. A native of Houston, Rendon would fill a major need at third base for the Rangers.
Castellanos revitalized his free agent value after getting traded to the Cubs last July after a slow start in Detroit. He seems likely to move back to the AL given his sub-par defense, but Castellanos has nearly as much upside as any bat available in free agency. The Rays don't typically spend big, but they did so last offseason when they signed Charlie Morton and could try one more time with their current competitive window.
Boston will likely have to be creative to move any of their big contracts, but Price seems ripe for a trade. He's struggled to stay healthy since signing a seven-year contract in 2016 and also rubbed the media the wrong way. New GM Chaim Bloom seems to have his work cut out for him this offseason, but swapping Price for another expensive contract is possible.
Ozuna doesn't seem like a logical fit for a rebuilding team, but the Royals have funds with Alex Gordon's contract now off the books and manager Mike Matheny has a history with Ozuna in St. Louis. The outfielder would add much-needed power to one of the weakest lineups in the game.
Minnesota non-tendered C.J. Cron, opening up a spot at first base. Shifting Miguel Sano from third to first seems like a possibility, but Encarnacion could also be a bargain this offseason. The veteran doesn't offer much defensively, but he showed that he had plenty left last offseason after hitting 34 home runs in only 109 games. He would add to an already powerful lineup.
Donaldson should draw plenty of interest after a huge rebound season in Atlanta during 2019. Several teams have a big need at third base, and the Yankees aren't exactly in that category with Gio Urshela's breakout season and the return of Miguel Andujar. However, Donaldson could also potentially play first base, and would make one of the most feared lineups in the game even better.
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