Who will win the arms race for Shields, Lester, and Scherzer?
Going into this offseason, James Shields, Jon Lester, and Max Scherzer all find themselves looking for new teams. These are all ace pitchers who will be looking for a big bucks when they sign on the dotted line with whatever team swoops in to sign them.
James Shields is coming off a fantastic year for the Royals and should be due for a big pay-day. The Cubs are in the market for an ace-type pitcher and with the recent acquisition of new manager Joe Maddon, Shields’ former manager in Tampa, this seems like a perfect fit for Shields. The Cubs are ready to take that next step with their young guys, and if they can acquire Shields, they will be a bit ahead of the curve. The Royals don’t have the money to acquire someone like Shields and they will probably let him walk which is why the Cubs should snatch him up.
Next, Jon Lester is also looking for someone to use his services. Lester has a wide range of options. But, I see Lester going back to the Red Sox. That was such a perfect fit, and now they can start clean with a new contract and with new bats behind Lester in the outfield, Boston needs an ace in their rotation. They need to almost start over after an abysmal 2014 and this would be the place to start. Boston seemed hesitant to let him go last season, but now with some experience for the young guys, and players back to being healthy, Lester seems to fit the mold in the organization. The southpaw had his best years in Beantown and, just like Shields and Chicago, it just seems to fit nicely.
Lastly, after not resigning with Detroit before the 2014 season, Max Scherzer is testing the free agent market. He turned down a sizable offer from the Tigers, but I think he is seeking more. Detroit has a great shot to resign him, and I think they will. With no other prominent starter other than Scherzer last year, the Tigers need an ac like Scherzer on their staff. Verlander wasn’t the real Verlander in 2014, but Max was the real deal. They might have to overspend a little bit, but this move is well worth it for the Tigers in the long haul.
Who will win the International sweepstakes for Tomas and Maeda?
First lets start with Yasmany Tomas. Tomas is a righty, power hitting, corner outfield that is only 24 years old. He has major, major upside, but will cost a good amount to get. What worries some teams about Tomas is that he isn’t as sure of a product as Jose Abreu was when he signed last year with the White Sox. Being so expensive will cut out many of the teams that would want to potentially make a run at him. In the end, it will come down to just a few teams. The Phillies have a major chance to get him after AJ Burnett turned down his $12.75 million option for 2015. Another team in the mix could be the Rangers. They are unlikely to resign Alex Rios, which leaves a spot on that team for a young star that could be Tomas. In the end, I see Tomas signing with Philadelphia.
Second, Kenta Maeda is the next big starting pitcher to come out of Japan. He isn’t going to be like Tanaka was last year on the market, but he should still draw plenty of interest. Being that he is 27 at the start of the 2015 season, he will want to have a deal that will have some security. Look for clubs like Arizona, Anaheim, the White Sox, and maybe even a team like the Astros which mlbtraderumors.com picks to land Maeda. Those teams, minus the Astros, are all ball clubs that missed out on Tanaka last year and are all in need of a quality-starting pitcher. It will be interesting to see what team ends up signing the next big thing from across the Pacific.
Will Pablo Sandoval resign with San Francisco?
It seems hard to imagine Pablo Sandoval on a team other than the Giants. After winning 3 World Series’ with San Francisco since 2010, he is so embedded in that organization that it’s almost as if he can’t leave the Bay Area. After turning down the Giants’ qualifying offer, he is officially going to test the market to see what is out there. Because the Giants don’t have many other glaring holes, it would make a lot of sense to resign him. They have been willing to spend the big bucks on their big players. Hunter Pence received a nice 5-year deal worth $90 million. There have been rumors that the Red Sox could swoop in and take Sandoval if the Giants don’t act on him. When the dust settles, I can’t imagine Sandoval anywhere other than the Giants and they will be willing to pay him what he wants.
What team will make the biggest splash?
The Cubs. Yes, the Chicago Cubs could get back into contention this upcoming season if they spend some money and bring in the right pieces. They have already made the biggest move of the offseason by bringing in manager Joe Maddon. Players love playing for him and because of this, it could attract some big names to the North Side. Because of this move, Theo Epstein and front office personnel seem ready to take that next step and get some of that great young talent up to the Bigs and ready to compete this upcoming season. By adding an ace pitcher like James Shields, a middle of the rotation guy like Justin Masterson or Brandon McCarthy, and maybe a few other role players like David Robertson and/or Russell Martin, this team could be dangerous if not next year, then in 2016 for sure. They have the money available to spend and I see no reason why they shouldn’t spend it. Look for the Cubs to make the biggest splash of the offseason.
Seattle sports fan and MLB writer for International Sports Hub