Sep. 26, 2016
Five MLB Winter Meeting Predictions
The MLB Winter Meetings are here and the most exciting part of MLB’s offseason is underway. Every year there are big moves and surprises. This year should be no different. Here are five predictions on what will happen this week.
Andrew McCutchen will be traded
Before last season, the idea that the Pittsburgh Pirates would trade their star outfielder seemed insane. However, it now seems as if it’s inevitable. Rumors have been swirling around that not only are teams asking about Andrew McCutchen, but that the Pirates are aggressively going out trying to find a trade partner.
McCutchen had by far the worst season of his career, batting only .256/.336/.430. It was his first season since 2010 where he had not be elected to the All Star Game. Logically, trading McCutchen probably makes sense given how the Pirates also have Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte in the outfield, as well as other promising prospects such as Josh Bell.
There is plenty of interest. The Washington Nationals were reportedly close to trading for him last week and the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers are also reportedly interested.
The Washington Nationals will end up paying Bryce Harper
Over the past few years there has been talk about the next blockbuster contract. Between amazing young players like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, it’s only a matter of time before the record for the largest contract in MLB history is broken. This winter it will be Harper who will hold the record.
Harper is a free agent in two seasons and if the Nationals realistically want to keep Harper for the foreseeable future, they need to sign him before he hits the market. Harper and his agent have reportedly asked for a 10-year, $400 million contract. That would destroy the current largest contract held by Giancarlo Stanton at $325 million.
Washington supposedly thinks Harper is asking way too much and are not willing to sign him for that much money and will let him leave the team in two years. In the end, the Nationals will bite the bullet and sign Harper. It may not be for as much money, but expect it to be over $350 million or $38 million per year.
The Milwaukee Brewers will not trade Ryan Braun
The Milwaukee Brewers have traded almost all of their big name players over the past couple years as a result of their rebuild. The Brewers traded Jonathan Lucroy last season and Carlos Gomez two seasons ago including others.
Ryan Braun is the last remaining aging big name player left for the Brewers to trade. The Brewers have put a very high asking price on Braun and do not seem to be willing to budge. Braun is still under contract through the 2021 season and will not make more than $20 million a year.
There were concerns about Braun’s production and injury history in 2013 and 2014, but he had a comeback season last year, where he hit .305/.365/.538 with 30 home runs and 91 RBIs. The Brewers may look to keep Braun to be a veteran leader who still can be very productive.
Given his team friendly contract, it won't hurt the Brewers too much to keep him around. The Brewers have promising outfield prospects, but they will not be arriving until probably 2018. Milwaukee may trade Braun after this next season, but the Brewers will keep him for 2017.
Edwin Encarnacion will sign with the Boston Red Sox
After it was announced that Yoenis Cespedes re-signed with the New York Mets, Edwin Encarnacion became the next biggest free agent commodity. Even at 33, Encarnacion is one of MLB’s best power hitters, hitting 42 home runs and 127 RBIs last year.
There were some reports out of Houston that the Astros signed Encarnacion to a five-year deal worth $115 million, but either the reports were fake or the deal fell through at the last moment. Nevertheless, Encarnacion is still a free agent.
The Toronto Blue Jays have offered Encarnacion a contract, but likely far less than what he will get on the free market. The team that makes the most sense is the Boston Red Sox. They are an American League team so he can play designated hitter. Their star power hitter David Ortiz just retired so they will be in need of more power. They also will have the money to sign him if they want.
Given his age, Encarnacion probably won't get anything more than four years. So four years and $90 million sounds about right.
Chris Sale will not be traded
Among McCutchen and Braun is Chris Sale who might be the best player who has a chance to be traded. Trade rumors surrounding Sale have gone on since the trade deadline. The thought of Sale being traded escalated after his clubhouse meltdown where he cut up jerseys he did not want to wear before a game on July 22nd.
Sale has been one of the best pitchers in MLB since debuting in 2010 and many would love to have a pitcher of his caliber on their team but a trade might not happen. Sale is under contract through 2019 and the Chicago White Sox are not aggressively shopping him like the Pirates with McCutchen.
Similarly with the Brewers and Braun, the White Sox asking price for Sale is sky high and reportedly starts with a potential suitors’ No. 1 prospect. That’s a high asking price for anyone, but especially for a pitcher who has a delivery as violent as Sale’s.
Sale has stayed healthy for the most part throughout his career, but his delivery style makes an elbow injury more likely and team’s are probably not going to want to take the risk.