MLB Free Agency 2017-2018: Grading Top 11 Major Signings


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Heading into the season, there was a fair amount of buzz. 2017 was a great year for Major League Baseball, and the league was buzzing after the Astros’ World Series victory capped off an exciting season.

The free agent class had a healthy amount of key players such as JD Martinez and Shohei Ohtani headlining the available players. We all wondered where they would land and how they would fit in with their new teams.

A simple blink of the eye has placed us into September. We have seen big names fall from grace, while others have created a new direction in their career with even higher heights.

Kiel Maddox/USA TODAY Sports

11. Mike Moustakas

Heading into the offseason, Mike Moustakas was believed to likely land a multi-year deal somewhere. In 2017, “Moose” compiled a .272 batting average to go with 38 home runs and 85 RBI’s. With the need for third basemen seemingly high and the market being relatively thin, it was quite a surprise that he was only able to ink a one-year deal with the Royals at just $6.5 million.

Moustakas has stayed the course on the direction his career seems to be headed. He is on a road to hitting 30+ home runs, and after being traded to Milwaukee, he could potentially be a wild card as they aim to make a run at the playoffs.

When considering the amount of money he is being paid, Moustakas turned out to be a solid bargain.

Grade: B-

Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

10. Wade Davis

Heading into the 2018 season, Davis was looked at as one of the top relievers in baseball. He had pitched four seasons prior, not finishing with an ERA higher than 2.30 since being converted to a reliever.

He ended up signing a much deserved three-year deal with $53 million from the Colorado Rockies. Since then, he has taken a step back, as Davis is heading into September with an ERA upwards of 4.50 and 6 blown saves.

As of September 4th, Davis has saved 38 games, which is enough to to be second in the MLB and leads the National League.

The Rockies may have liked to get Davis at a cost less than a $17 million annual salary, but when you consider his track record and experience in the playoffs, he may turn out to be a game-changing difference for any major run the Rockies make in 2018.

Grade: B

The Canadian Press

9. Jay Bruce/Todd Frazier

Considering the title of this article states that I’d only be ranking and grading major signings and acquisitions, I was rather unsure on including Jay Bruce and/or Todd Frazier.

However, the Mets seemed to believe that their season would fare a bit better than their 62-75 record that they currently sport. It is hard to imagine the pair could have made a huge difference when you consider the injuries and lack of luck the team has had.

If the Mets’ rotation panned out, a decent offense led by Cespedes, Bruce and Frazier could have been difference makers.

Frazier signed a two-year, $17 million deal, while Bruce landed $33 million over the course of three years. Thanks to some injuries and bad luck, the pair of free agents own a combined 20 home runs, and neither own a .230+ batting average after both smacked at least 27+ home runs last season.

Combined Grade: D

Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

8. Alex Cobb

After the horrific season for both the Baltimore Orioles and Alex Cobb, it’s easy to forget how key this signing seemed to be at the time. The Orioles finished with a competitive 75-87 record in 2017, after finishing with an 89-73 record the previous season.

After signing a four-year deal worth $57 million, it’s not unreasonable to ask for a Cy Young caliber season out of Cobb. However, I’m sure the Orioles didn’t have a 4-15 record to go with a 5.09 ERA in mind.

It wouldn’t be fair to place the blame solely Cobb’s signing for the nightmare season it has been in Baltimore, but the result of his season fits right in with the overall summary for their 2018 season.

Grade: F

Daniel Shirey/Getty Images North America

7. Carlos Santana

The 2018 season has been quite the surprise for the Philadelphia Phillies. After having the second-worst record in the majors last season, they find themselves still in the playoff picture.

While their overall team performance has been a relative surprise, Carlos Santana’s season hasn’t been much of one. He has delivered exactly what the Phillies had to have expected when they inked him to a three-year, $60 million deal.

Santana currently owns 20 home runs and 77 RBIs and is likely to top his totals from 2017. His batting average has taken a dip, but without taking his 2016 season into account, he has performed right on par with his overall career numbers.

Santana could be a difference in the Phillies 2018 playoff run and could continue to be a key piece in their overall future success.

Grade: B

Sports Illustrated

6. Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta signed a three-year, $75 million contract after not being far removed from being recognized as one of the game’s elite starters.

His season has been a tad below his overall career numbers. His 10-9 record and 3.54 ERA is fairly similar with his 2017 season.

A salary of $75 million over three years may seem a tad rich, but when you consider his track record of success and how much worse the Phillies starting pitching staff would be without him, he seems to be worth the signing.

Grade: B

Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports

5. Lorenzo Cain

As mentioned, the Milwaukee Brewers are a presence in the September playoff picture, and one key reason has been Lorenzo Cain. The 32-year old is putting together what may be his best season, currently owning a .309 batting average and 25 stolen bases.

Cain is a player that has experience in a playoff atmosphere and will be a crucial part of the Brewers’ success. He signed a five-year, $80 million deal in the offseason. Even though it remains to be seen if he’ll be worth the signing by the end of his contract, he has earned his spot at the moment.

Grade: A-

Carlos Osorio/AP

4. Yu Darvish

After finishing 2017 with a 10-12 record and a 3.86 ERA, Yu Darvish was able to land with the Chicago Cubs on a six-year, $126 million deal.

His season has already come to a close after an injury-riddled year. Darvish has been able to participate in just eight games and will close with a 1-3 record and 4.95 ERA.

Many suspected that the Cubs overpaid the former All-Star pitcher. Even though he deserves the benefit of the doubt, Darvish hasn’t panned out.

The Cubs are having yet another solid season, as they sit in first with a 81-57 record. Their chances at another World Series would look even better with Darvish being apart of their rotation, assuming he would live up to the reputation he has created for himself.

Grade: F (Pending 2019)

ESPN Images

3. Shohei Ohtani

One of the most anticipated acquisitions was Shohei Ohtani. Coming over from Japan, Ohtani brought potential to be elite at both the mound and batter’s box.

Ohtani was unfairly expected to show that immediate elite level of play right away by many, while others predicted him to be a bust.

The 23-year old has inserted himself as a solid presence. He has been able to smack 15 home runs and 43 RBIs with a .276 batting average across and a modest 4-2 record with a 3.31 ERA.

Had it not been for the injury bug, Ohtani would likely be a clear Rookie of the Year winner. There is something to be said to that when you consider the levels of success Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres have reached in New York.

The sky is the limit for the Japanese import, and he may be seen as the brightest free agent signing ten years from now.

Grade: A

K.C. Alfred/AP

2. Eric Hosmer

Don’t feel bad if you forgot about the eight-year, $144 million deal that was given to Eric Hosmer. He definitely fell off the radar in 2018 after the subpar season he’s had. It doesn’t help that the San Diego Padres are wrestling the Miami Marlins for worst record in the National League.

That being said, it’s difficult to be too angry at Hosmer for feeling a lack of motivation after the season the Padres had, and when you consider that he is still 28-years old, the Padres shouldn’t be blamed for locking up the 2015 World Series champion.

Hosmer could be the first chip to getting the Padres out of the obscurity they’ve traveled for years, but that seems to be pretty far away.

Grade: D

Charles Krupa/AP Photo

1. JD Martinez

The Red Sox are well on their way to flirting with a ninth World Series win and currently hold the best regular season record in baseball.

Boston has been well led by Chris Sale’s dominant leadership as an ace, Craig Kimbrel holding down the bullpen, and JD Martinez fighting with Mookie Betts for an MVP case.

Martinez was undoubtedly the best acquisition of the 2017-2018 season. The Red Sox look like thieves after signing Martinez to a five-year, $110 million contract.

Martinez currently holds a .335 batting average and has smacked 39 home runs with a career-high 115 RBIs. He has successfully filled the gap that was left by David Ortiz, and could be one of main pieces in a 2018 World Series win. T

Grade: A+


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Isaiah Hansen

I'm a 25 year old student aspiring to be a journalist. I currently am just gaining experience and learning as I go, I never had a writing coach or any special resources that lot of writers have growing up. I currently write and blog about sports, and wrestling, although I won't box myself into just those categories. Soon I will be taking photographs, and providing them to the public through my articles, and allowing other bloggers to use them, with giving me credit in the caption is all that will be required. To the reader, I'd love for you to follow me as I grow. Each view I get, each share and each comment humbles me. This is my passion and this is what I love to do. Thank you for reading my mini-bio!

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