OK, it was a little weird that so few of these free agents were signing. But we're now into February, spring training is a couple of weeks away, and all these guys have new teams ... WAIT, WHAT? There are still about 130 free agents out there?
Things will happen -- soon. Because guess what? Teams still have holes to fill! Let's take a look at each team and some possible moves that could be made to fill those holes.
Hole: Lefty reliever
Tony Sipp is still here, but he was bad in 2017 (5.79 ERA) and was left off the postseason roster. Given the strength of the team, they can get by without a lefty reliever, though I suspect they'll look to add one at some point during the season, similar to last year's trade for Francisco Liriano.
Hole: Dominant setup guy
A year ago, the Dodgers lucked into Brandon Morrow as their main guy in front of Kenley Jansen. Now he's gone, having signed with the Cubs. The Dodgers' top returning relievers are Josh Fields, Tony Cingrani and Pedro Baez, and I don't think Dodgers fans are comfortable with any of those choices. There are some other good arms down there, but the Dodgers will likely wait until July to evaluate their bullpen situation and make a move before the trade deadline.
Hole: Bullpen depth
They lost iron man Bryan Shaw and in-season acquisition Joe Smith in free agency, though they bring back five relievers with sub-3.00 ERAs, plus lefty Tyler Olson, who didn't allow a run in 20 innings. I could see the Indians adding a low-cost vet. Outfield production is a bit of a concern given Michael Brantley's injury history and some uncertainty over Bradley Zimmer's bat, but they should have a comfortable margin in the division, and that will allow them to make another Jay Bruce-like acquisition if needed. Of course, what I'd love to see is a mega-trade to acquire Manny Machado, but the Orioles now appear intent on giving Machado a season at shortstop.
Hole: Third base or second base
The Yankees have rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar as options, but Torres will need some time in the minors as he bounces back from Tommy John surgery. Andujar would benefit from a full season at Triple-A, and though he wouldn't be a black hole if given the starting job, he projects to a so-so .266/.311/.426 line. Reuniting with Frazier still makes sense and would keep the Yankees below the luxury tax.
The Nationals have plenty of offensive depth -- Matt Adams, Howie Kendrick, Wilmer Difo, Brian Goodwin and uber-prospect Victor Robles form maybe the best bench in baseball -- and the rotation is strong in the top five. The depth in the rotation is a little thin if somebody goes down, but the weakest spot is catcher, where Matt Wieters had a miserable 2017. Lucroy is coming off a poor season as well, thus the rumor all winter has been the pursuit of Realmuto, with the Nationals unwilling to give up Robles or outfield prospect Juan Soto.
The rotation as it stands isn't terrible -- FanGraphs projects it as 10th in the majors -- but Darvish would certainly be an upgrade over Eddie Butler or Mike Montgomery (who is best suited for the bullpen). One report had the Cubs offering Darvish a four-year deal while the Twins offered a five-year deal. Although Theo Epstein signed Jon Lester to a six-year contract a few years ago (with a seventh-year option), we know the front office is averse to giving pitchers long-term deals. Still, many believe that the Cubs remain the favorites to land Darvish.
Hole: Power bat
Targets: J.D. Martinez
This still feels like an inevitable match, but the longer Martinez stays out there, the less likely he ends up in Boston.
The team's website lists Luke Gregerson as closer, and while he has closing experience, he's coming off the worst season of his career, posting a 4.57 ERA with the Astros and serving up 13 home runs in 61 innings. The projections at FanGraphs like the St. Louis bullpen better than I do -- 10th in projected WAR -- but there has to be some concern about the ninth inning. Dominic Leone, if he pitches like he did last year with Toronto, could end up in that role.
Hole: First base/DH
One reason there hasn't been movement on the first-base free agents -- Eric Hosmer, Logan Morrison, Lucas Duda -- is that most of the contending teams are already set. The Angels have Chris Cron and Albert Pujols, and they seem content with that combo, but it isn't a good combo, as the Angels rank 25th in projected WAR at first base and 12th out of 15 AL teams at DH. Yes, that projection includes Shohei Ohtani getting 280 DH plate appearances -- and hitting better than Pujols.
Hole: Outfield depth
They just reached an agreement with Alex Avila to help out at catcher, but the outfield remains precarious. A.J. Pollock and David Peralta are good if healthy, but Yasmany Tomas and Chris Owings aren't good. The Diamondbacks rank next-to-last in projected value in left field. I list Martinez, but he's likely too expensive for Arizona. Gonzalez would be a nice gamble on a one-year contract, giving Gonzalez a chance to rebuild his value after a rough 2017. Dyson would be a sneaky, low-cost signing, a guy who can play center when Pollock has to sit and a better player than Tomas or Owings.
The winter isn't over, but the Twins have had the most disappointing offseason so far, making only minor additions on the fringes while failing to add a significant piece. They're coming off a playoff season, three of the teams in the division will be terrible, and they have enormous payroll flexibility (especially given that Joe Mauer's $23 million comes off the books after this season). If they can't land Darvish, I'd love to see the Twins add a bat. Martinez would actually be a great fit here, and they could sign Frazier or Moustakas and groom Miguel Sano to take over at first base or DH.
Holes: Rotation/second base
After making a big splash with Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, don't rule the Brewers out of the Darvish sweepstakes. The Brewers might be OK at second base if Jonathan Villar bounces back, but right now they rank 30th in projected WAR at the position.
First base is actually a potential problem, as the Mariners rank 29th in projected value there, but Jerry Dipoto acquired Ryon Healy early in the offseason. He just isn't very good. Dipoto also indicated recently that the team isn't going to pursue another veteran pitcher to give youngsters such as Ariel Miranda, Andrew Moore and Marco Gonzales a chance at the back of the rotation.
Hole: Rotation depth
Look, J.D. Martinez would look a lot better in the outfield than Randal Grichuk or Curtis Granderson, but the Jays went the cheap route rather than making the big move. The fifth starter right now is Joe Biagini. They tried that last year, and it didn't work (5.73 ERA over 18 starts), so adding another arm makes sense.
Targets: Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Gomez
The Rockies are also high on my list of disappointing offseasons. This team needs offense, and it hasn't added anybody besides catcher Chris Iannetta. The Rockies rank 26th in projected WAR at first base, last in left field and 26th in right field. I can understand going with Ryan McMahon at first after his strong performance at Triple-A, but the corners need help. The trouble is, it isn't clear that the remaining options are big improvements. The Rockies should have been in on Yelich or Cain, and we can dream what kind of numbers Martinez could put up in Coors.
Holes: Center field/rotation depth
Targets: Jarrod Dyson, Jon Jay, Lance Lynn, R.A. Dickey
Dyson would be the perfect platoon partner for Austin Jackson, with the range to cover all that ground at AT&T. The fourth and fifth starters are currently Chris Stratton and Tyler Beede, so adding a back-end starter is likely. Signing Lynn might mean going over the luxury tax, but given the age of this team, it's now or never. Can Buster Posey catch the knuckleball?
Hole: Second base or third base
Targets: Neil Walker, Josh Harrison (trade), Todd Frazier
Can anybody explain the Jose Reyes signing? His last good year was 2014. Anyway, Asdrubal Cabrera can slide to second or third depending on the potential upgrade -- assuming the Mets want to make one.
Targets: Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn
The Phillies aren't likely contenders in 2018, but the Carlos Santana signing shows that they think they'll be ready in 2019. They'll make a run at Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson next year, but why not upgrade the rotation now if you have a chance to get Darvish?
FanGraphs ranks them 27th in projected bullpen WAR and 25th in starting pitching. They've signed Doug Fister, traded for Matt Moore and intend to give Mike Minor a chance to start, so they might be finished, unwilling to spend the risky big money on a Darvish or Arrieta.
Hole: First base
Brad Miller is the default first baseman, and he might get the job out of spring training, but the guy to watch is Jake Bauers, who hit .263/.368/.412 at Triple-A. Not great numbers, but he spent the entire season at 21, has good plate discipline and shows the potential for more power.
Targets: Probably none
If the A's were in a different division, they could be a sleeper playoff team, but the AL West looks like the best division this season. The bullpen has depth, Matt Olson and Matt Chapman could be stars, Stephen Piscotty could be a good pickup, and Khris Davis mashes. That said, offense in center field and catcher look problematic, and the resources aren't there to add a top-of-the-rotation starter.
Targets: If only
Hole: Corner outfield, third base
Targets: Wait for 2019
The Braves had a remarkable 10 prospects in Keith Law's top 100 list -- two outfielders and eight pitchers. Top overall prospect Ronald Acuna is probably ready to make an impact at some point in 2018, so he solves one outfield corner. At some point, some of that pitching depth will be used to fill some holes elsewhere.
Hole: Big bat, rotation
Targets: Eric Hosmer
Their plan to go after Hosmer and move Wil Myers has been well documented. It appears that Hosmer will end up in San Diego or back with the Royals.
Targets: Check back in 2019
Luis Castillo and Sal Romano made an impact as rookies in 2017, and Tyler Mahle should join them in the 2018 rotation. Nick Senzel, Keith Law's No. 9 overall prospect, should be ready to take over at third base by midseason. The future is starting to look interesting.
Targets: Chris Tillman, Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, Jeremy Hellickson, Jaime Garcia
Is it just me, or could the Orioles end up a 95-loss team this year? Especially if they get off to a slow start and trade Machado. They obviously need help in the rotation, though they'll be in on only the second-tier starters and probably the scraps left over at the start of spring training at that.
Hole: Center field, third base
Targets: Mike Moustakas
The White Sox have rebuilt the farm system, and some of the kids are ready to make an impact. Moustakas doesn't fit the 2018 timeline, but he could provide a veteran power bat and fill a sizable gap in the lineup for the next few seasons.
Hole: Outfield and other spots
I guess the Tigers could be non-awful if Miguel Cabrera bounces back and Victor Martinez bounces back and Michael Fulmer's arm holds together and Jordan Zimmermann isn't awful and ... anyway, the Tigers are in full rebuild mode, so don't look for them to make any significant signings.
Hole: Pretty much everywhere
Targets: Eric Hosmer
It will be interesting to see what the Royals do if they don't keep Hosmer as the permanent face of the franchise. Will they spend money on somebody such as Morrison or Duda to fill first base? You get the feeling that the Royals would prefer not to lose 100-plus games, but that's a strong possibility.
Hole: Well, they do have a good catcher
Targets: Yeah, right