The 2015 baseball season has come to a close. Its a sad state of affairs when I see every sport on DraftKings eligible to play except baseball. However, we do enter one of the most exciting parts of the sport we love, the Hot Stove season. With a plethora of quality free agents on the market, we’ll be following their progress every Monday on our Hot Stove article here on the DraftKings Playbook. I’ll be covering the rumors making the rounds and posting article when any of the big name free agents have signed somewhere. For our first article, let’s take a quick look at some of the biggest names looking for a new (or old) team for 2016 and beyond. As always, you can follow me on the ol’ Twitter machine.
1) Zack Greinke – RHP
What a life Greinke lives. This is a man who flat out said, “No, I don’t want $71 million dollars guaranteed.” Granted, he will very easily double that on the open market, but the man just shooed away $71 million! Baseball players have it made. Since joining the Dodgers, Greinke has been nothing less than stellar. With a 51-15 record to go with a 2.30 ERA, Greinke is set for a huge pay day this offseason. With so many teams vying for that “ace,” Greinke will be extremely sought out by teams, which could create quite a bidding war for arguably one of the best pitchers on the market. Oh, and just to recap, here’s Greinke’s wOBA against by month in 2015.
PREDICTION: Greinke back to the LA Dodgers
2) David Price – LHP
The other big arm on the free agent market is David Price. He’s everything a team looking to anchor their rotation could be. The former Cy Young winner is only 30 years old and is coming off an extremely impressive run with the Blue Jays. In the second half of the season, Price owned a 2.55 ERA, holding opposing batters to a .210 average and a 10.38 K/9. Nice little run for someone who’s due to get paid, huh? I can see the free agent market holding up a bit until one of these two gets signed and thus, the “the other shoe will drop” as the market will have been set. I expect the AL East teams to go heavy on Price, as I believe this is where he ultimately end up.
PREDICTION: Price to the Boston Red Sox
3) Johnny Cueto – RHP
When the season began, the prospect of Cueto becoming a free agent had a lot of us excited. The Reds ace will be for the taking. Now, I don’t think I’m as excited. His time with the Royals was extremely inconsistent. Quite frankly, I’ll go as far as saying it was a failure. Sure, the Royals won the World Series, but it certainly wasn’t because Cueto carried them on his back. The American League wasn’t kind to Cueto, as he saw his numbers jump up dramatically. His splits between the first half of the season and the second are quite telling.
First Half: wOBA:.253 K/9: 8.5 BB/9: 1.67 Opp Avg : .194
Second Half: wOBA: .341 K/9: 6 BB/9: 2.3 Opp Avg: .292
See what I mean? Cueto will still end up getting a hefty contract, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in the range of a four year/$80 million dollar. Cueto is 29 and turn 30 before the start of the 2016 season. He certainly showed he was vulnerable in the second half and it will be quite interesting to see how much it hurt his value in what should be the final big contact of his career.
PREDICTION: Cueto to the Chicago Cubs
4) Jordan Zimmermann – RHP
Zimmermann didn’t exactly perform like someone who was vying for contract in 2016. He wasn’t horrible, but he wasn’t the Zimm I’ve come to know. Zimmermann ended last season with a run higher ERA than last season from 2.66 in 2014 to 3.66 this season. His strikeouts were done by almost one this season as well, as he saw his K/9 dip from 8.2 to 7.3. Nonetheless, he will most certainly be the consolation prize for whatever team doesn’t end up landing either the Price or Greinke of the world. He’s only 29, which makes him a bit more enticing, but one has to wonder if he’s already heading towards a regression rather than blossoming in going into his 30’s.
PREDICTION: Zimmermann to the Toronto Blue Jays
5) Jason Heyward – OF
Heyward will enter the free agent market as one of the top bats, but I personally find him to be overrated. Heyward could very well land that big six figure contact this season, which is a bit crazy for someone who hasn’t topped 20 home runs more than once in his career. On the flip side, he does have two gold gloves under his belt and he is only 26 years old. I just think the hype plagued Heyward, when he might never actually live up to him. He does provide some speed, as he’s stolen 20+ bases in four of the five seasons he’s been in the majors. I’ve personally never been a huge fan, but someone with a big checkbook will be.
PREDICTION: Heyward to the LA Angels
6) Chris Davis – 1B
This is a tough one. Davis is by far the power of this season’s free agent market. The question is though, which Chris Davis will his new club get? Davis spend four and a half seasons with the Orioles, brining some serious power to the club. During that span, Davis smacked 25+ home runs in each season. The only problem was the 2014 season, which saw Davis hit “only” 26 home runs, but hit an abysmal .196 on the season. 2015 seemed to have put those worries to bed, after hitting .262 with 47 home runs. It just has to be a concern for teams going forward. Davis isn’t getting any younger, as he’ll be 30 just before Opening Day next season. Which team will be willing to take a flier on the power hitter? My guess is that he ends up in the American League again, as he can transition to a full time DH in about three or four years.
PREDICTION: Davis Back to the Baltimore Orioles
7) Yoenis Cespedes – OF
It’s absolutely amazing to think that if Cespedes is signed to another team other than the Mets, this would be his fifth team since 2013. How is this even possible? Well, let’s take a quick look.Cespedes has a cannon for an arm in the outfield, although he has to make the play first, and his bat is capable of doing great things. The problem with Cespedes is the wicked streaks he can go on. Mix that in with his average defense, and I guess I can figure out why he keeps bouncing around. Regardless of his negatives, Cespedes has plenty to offer for a team looking to add a big bat to their lineup. Cespedes has topped 20+ home runs in each of his four season in the big leagues. You just have to deal with his average OBP, which is .312 for his career, and his .335 career wOBA. He’s due for some money this offseason no matter what.
PREDICTION: Cespedes to the SF Giants