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Look Ahead to Top 2018 Free Agents

Posted by Javier Morales on 2/27/2017 9:28:09 AM

MLB scouts are ready for spring training with exhibition games getting underway.

They will monitor veteran players’ health, evaluate prospects trying to make teams, and wander to the minor league complexes to get their eyes on opposing clubs’ prospects their teams might want in trades. But they will also begin their evaluations of next winter’s free-agent class.

MLB betting handicappers

The MLB betting handicappers at SportsBetting.ag are also viewing what moves might take place during spring training when posting their futures odds.

The reason scouts start so early is because several of these free agents will become available in deals come this year's trade deadline.

This article takes a look at the best potential free agents as teams start scouting them for the trade deadline and next season with analysis from ESPN.

RF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

MLB betting handicappers odds of Rockies winning World Series: +5000

GM Jeff Bridich has made it clear that he wants Carlos Gonzalez to remain with the Rockies and wants to sign him long term, and the feeling is clearly mutual for Gonzalez. However, the Rockies have yet to make a significant contract offer. That could change in March, but if there is no extension by Opening Day, it’s safe to assume he’ll get to free agency. His slash line of .330/.390/.618 at home and .260/.315/.448 on the road in his eight seasons with the Rockies will certainly be factored into his contract offers in free agency.

OF J.D. Martinez, Detroit Tigers

MLB betting handicappers odds of Tigers winning World Series: +3300

Martinez went from being released by the Astros after the 2013 season to being a Silver Slugger and All-Star for the Tigers in 2015, when he belted 38 home runs with 102 RBIs. His counting stats regressed in 2016 because he played in 38 fewer games, but his on-base percentage was a career-high .373. This year will be important for him, to determine whether he gets paid in free agency as a 20-homer hitter or a 35-homer, 100-RBI producer. If the Tigers fall out of the race by July, teams like the Dodgers, Giants and Blue Jays will speed-dial Detroit to try to acquire him for the stretch run.

C Jonathan Lucroy, Texas Rangers

MLB betting handicappers odds of Rangers winning World Series: +2500

Lucroy is clearly one of the best overall catchers in baseball and is coming off one of his best offensive seasons yet, hitting .292/.355/.500 with 24 homers. He’s solid at calling a game and framing pitches and can stop the running game as shown by his throwing out 36 percent of opponents’ stolen-base attempts last season. His market is expected to be strong.

1B Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals

MLB betting handicappers odds of Royals winning World Series: +5000

Hosmer has already been to two World Series, won three Gold Gloves, and played in an All-Star Game. He is just 27 years old and is entering his prime years. Hosmer is coming off one of his best seasons for power, belting a career-high 25 home runs. There are big-market teams that have a long-term need at first base -- the Red Sox, Phillies, Nationals, Rangers and Mets. Hosmer is such a great clubhouse presence and complete player that he’s starting to separate himself as next offseason’s best free-agent position player.

RHP Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs

MLB betting handicappers odds of Rockies winning World Series: +475

Arrieta was the best pitcher in baseball in 2015, leading the NL in wins, complete games and shutouts while winning a Cy Young Award. He was strong again this past year, finishing in the top 10 in Cy Young voting after posting a 3.10 ERA and 190 K’s in 197? innings pitched. He’d like to stay with the Cubs, but with agent Scott Boras representing him it’s more likely he'll go to free agency before signing an extension with the Cubs. If Arrieta has another strong season in 2017, he’ll be looking at a record contract.

RHP Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers

MLB betting handicappers odds of Rangers winning World Series: +2500

Darvish was an All-Star in his first three years in the majors. 2013 was his best year; he posted a 2.83 ERA with a league-leading 277 K’s and finished second in the AL Cy Young voting. He missed the end of the 2014 season and all of 2015 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but returned last year for 17 starts and a 3.41 ERA; his strikeout, walk and hit ratios were all similar to those from his first three seasons. He’s healthy and should have another Cy Young-type season in 2017. If he does that, he has the potential to land a contract worth $30 million per year.

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