With the free agency period about to open, there’s no shortage of grist for the rumor mill and you can find a prediction piece on pretty much every major site. I looked at MLB Trade Rumors’ list of the top 50 free agents — which included both destination and salary figures — a couple days ago, but you can never get enough of a good thing.
These lists are like the Almond Joy of the offseason, which is to say they’re a supremely delicious treat that can be both savored and consumed in mass quantities. If you happen to be among the rabble of heathen troglodytes yet to realize the transcendent yumminess of these candy bars, well, I feel sorry for you. Either way, we’ve always got the hot stove.
The latest entry in the prediction mix comes from MLB.com’s Jim Duquette and features only projected destinations. That’s pretty smart, since guessing at salary figures is about as worthwhile as peeing into a stiff breeze. He’s also got only the top 25 free agents, though he includes Shohei Otahni at No. 2.
Duquette believes Yu Darvish will head to the Mariners and doesn’t list the Cubs among interested teams. That’s quite a change, and an accurate one, from MLBTR’s list. Jake Arrieta is headed to the Rangers this time, with the Cubs checking in. For what it’s worth, Duquette has the Cubs in on Otani as well (which is pretty much a given in the very unlikely event that he actually comes over this year).
The first would-be free agent the Cubs are projected to land is closer Wade Davis, who comes in at No. 6 and could land something in the neighborhood of the four-year, $62 million deal Mark Melancon inked last year. Then you’ve got former Tampa pitcher Alex Cobb, who many believe will choose to reunite with Joe Maddon and Jim Hickey, the Cubs’ recently-hired pitching coach.
The only other players in the top 25 to whom the Cubs are tied are former Royals and Rockies closer Greg Holland and former Cardinal Lance Lynn. Duquette has Holland, who declined his $15 million player option and is almost guaranteed to get a qualifying offer, staying in Colorado. Lynn is projected to join Arrieta in the Rangers rotation.
All in all, this appears to be a very reasonable list, though having Otani so close to the top is a little questionable. With free agency opening at 5pm ET on Monday, we’re going to start finding out how accurate any of these predictions are.