Though much excitement has been surrounding the various teams currently in the rebuilding process, including the Philadelphia Phillies, many have been voicing their anticipation for the 2018 MLB season, due to the amount of “big name” free agents that will hit the market.
In 2018, the following players will become free agents:
- Bryce Harper, OF (Currently signed with the Washington Nationals)
- Manny Machado, 3B (Currently signed with the Baltimore Orioles)
- Josh Donaldson, 3B (Currently signed with the Toronto Blue Jays)
- Andrew McCutchen, OF (Currently signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates)
- Matt Harvey, RHP (Currently signed with the New York Mets)
- A.J. Pollock, OF (Currently signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks)
- Michael Brantley, OF (Currently signed with the Cleveland Indians)
- Zach Britton, RHP (Currently signed with the Baltimore Orioles)
Angels outfielder Mike Trout would have been a part of the 2018 free agent group, and many Phillies fans have been clamoring for him to come to Philadelphia, however, before 2014, Trout signed a six-year deal worth $144 million.
If the Phillies do continue their rebuilding process, the following players are the most probable pick-ups for the team:
Harper may very well be the first $400 million player, and he even hinted at a half-billion dollars. He turns 26 next October, and the Cubs’ eight-year, $184 million contract with Jason Heyward, in part, reflected how teams will stretch when a free agent is young (Heyward is 26) and mostly prime years are being purchased. If the Phillies make a move to sign Harper, they will definitely need to offer up serious amounts of money. However, Harper is arguably the top offensive player in the National League, and acquiring him would be a big win, especially since he currently plays for the Phillies’ division rivals, the Washington Nationals.
He is just three months older than Harper. Going into last season, many were questioning the state of his surgically repaired knees. Machado answered those questions by hitting 35 homers in 162 games, in addition to more great defensive performances. The Phillies would need to do a lot of convincing, along with giving Machado a big payday, however, many have speculated that he will join the New York Yankees, seeing as how Alex Rodriguez is his idol (Harper’s as well).
Last season, Pollock reached an elite level, after hitting 20 homers, with 39 stolen bases, a .315 batting average, and impeccable defensive performances, which ultimately led him to win a Gold Glove. His free agency means that Arizona will have to act quickly if they want to keep him. In addition to Pollock, the Diamondbacks currently have a big commitment to pitcher, Zack Greinke, as well as Paul Goldschmidt, whose contract will expire after the 2019 season. The Phillies could make a good case for Pollock to come to Philadelphia, as the newly crowned elite player would undoubtedly add a tremendous amount of offensive and defensive skill to a young, up and coming team.
Five years ago, the Phillies would have been crazy not to go after McCutchen, but he will be 32 once he becomes a free agent in 2018, and though he is still performing considerably well, many have started to question whether or not we will see a gradual decline in his overall performance throughout the duration of the season.
Once he becomes a free agent in 2018, Donaldson will be 33, but you simply cannot ignore his last three seasons. In 2015, he was named AL MVP, in addition to winning a Silver Slugger award and leading the American League in RBIs. Over the last three seasons, Donaldson has averaged 31 homers and a .874 OPS. In the first half of last season, Donaldson continued his MVP performances, though he struggled a bit throughout the second half. Despite a minor hip injury, Donaldson performed exceptionally well in the Blue Jays’ postseason series with the Texas Rangers. In the three games sweep, Donaldson earned a .500 batting average, five doubles, .526 on-base percentage, .778 slugging percentage, four runs scored and three RBIs. There’s no question that the Phillies would hit the jackpot if they were able to acquire Josh Donaldson, however, it’s unlikely, due to Maikel Franco already being at third base. Though it is always a possibility that the Phillies could sign Donaldson, and shift Franco to shortstop, depending on the status of Freddy Galvis, who will also become a free agent in 2018.
Even though we can speculate countless offseason moves, one thing is certain. In 2018, the market will become full with high-caliber players, and it will be interesting to see who the Phillies pursue and if they are able to bring one of the top players in the league to the city of brotherly love.
Photo: Keith Allison (via: Flickr)