New places, new faces – MLB free agency

Parker Kern and Parker Kern

Baseball is officially back as spring training started in Major League Baseball. Some big-name players have found new homes this year and will look to make an immediate impact on their new teams. With contract money reaching new heights, front offices have been opening their wallets in hopes of bringing a spark to their team to make them (or maintain their status as) World Series contenders. I’ve highlighted some marquee players who will put fans in seats and will potentially create more wins for their new teams.

Marwin González

  • Old Team: Houston Astros

  • New Team: Minnesota Twins

Marwin González reached a two-year, $21-million deal with the Minnesota Twins. The 29-year-old utility player played every position but pitcher and catcher for Houston in 2018. He will be a valuable piece for the Twins as they attempt to contend in the AL Central with the likes of the Cleveland Indians and the up-and-coming Chicago White Sox.

DJ LeMahieu

  • Old Team: Colorado Rockies

  • New Team: New York Yankees

DJ LeMahieu and the Yankees came to a two-year, $24-million deal on Jan.14. LeMahieu brings infield defensive help for the Yankees as a three-time Gold Glover and two-time All-Star. His career 0.298 batting average will also assist the Yankees lineup to generate more offense, which will offset strikeout-prone outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.

AJ Pollock

  • Old Team: Arizona Diamondbacks

  • New Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers inked Pollock to a five-year, $60 million deal, which will soften the blow to the outfield that recently lost Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig, both of whom were dealt to the Cincinnati Reds. A sure-handed defender and a power hitter, Pollock will be a welcome addition to the Dodgers lineup on both ends. Potentially joining him in the outfield at Dodger Stadium is Bryce Harper – I’ll get to that later.

Yasmani Grandal

  • Old Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

  • New Team: Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers were one win away from being in the World Series in 2018. The team has a solid lineup and an excellent rotation. The addition of Grandal could catapult Milwaukee into an instant NL pennant favorite, as they have not lost any notable players this offseason. Grandal’s career batting average is 0.240, which is exemplary for a catcher. Pair that with his gun of an arm, and Milwaukee may have had the most impactful signing of 2019 free agency.

Manny Machado

  • Old Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

  • New Team: San Diego Padres

Let’s face it: Machado was a rental for LA in 2018, mostly due to shortstop Corey Seager’s season-ending UCL injury that occurred just weeks into the season. It was a “one-season stand” if you will. The Dodgers simply cannot pay him long-term the way other teams can. Their NL West counterpart, the San Diego Padres, did have enough cap space to pay Machado adequately, hence why Machado elected to move three hours down the California coastline to join San Diego.

Machado inked the largest free-agent contract in American sports history on Feb. 21 – a ten-year deal worth $300 million. The infielder was certainly a splash signing for the Padres, but I grapple with the fact that the team currently has enough talent to contend in the NL West. However, since Machado is committed for the long haul, it’s plausible the Padres will acquire more talent over the next several years to become a World Series contender. I’m guessing that’s the direction they’d like to head, but this will take time. Come talk to me in three or four years. Hopefully, by then, I’ll be living in San Diego or somewhere in the West myself – although I’m quite sure I won’t have $300 million.

Bryce Harper

  • Old Team: Washington Nationals

  • New Team: ?

The biggest question mark in free agency still stands: where is Bryce going? His suitors are many, including the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants. Harper likely has two schools of thought at this juncture. Does he go to a team currently ready to contend for a title on a short-term deal (i.e. the Cubs, Dodgers, Phillies or Yankees), or does he, similar to Manny Machado, go to a team that isn’t quite in the hunt yet, but can pay him massively and surround him with players in the next few seasons to win? It all comes down to what he wants. It’s quite clear that he won’t be returning to the Nats, so what will Bryce do? Stay tuned to find out.