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These 6 Under-The-Radar Free Agent Signings Have Worked out Great in 2016

When baseball season is over and we have nothing to look forward to except a long, cold winter, who doesn’t love watching a team get the Hot Stove going with a huge splash via trade or free agency?

Nobody, that’s who. Even if it negatively impacts your favorite team, it’s at least entertaining to hop on social media and watch everyone freak out for a short period of time. But as we’ve seen over the past couple winters with the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks, the offseason winners don’t always end up being the actual winters in October.

Actually, it seems like that almost never happens.

There’s nothing wrong with going after top-tier free agents once winter rolls around – especially if a team has a glaring need at that particular position. Sometimes it seems like a no-brainer, but it’s not that easy. The smaller deals that don’t grab as many headlines for one reason or another can end up having just as much – or even more – of an impact on a team’s ultimate success or failure in the following season.

Here are six free agents from last winter who mostly flew under-the-radar compared to other higher-priced ballplayers, but have worked out very well in 2016. 

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Odds To Win The 2016 MLB World Series

Yoenis Cespedes led all LF for HRs with 35 on the campaign in 2015.  He picked a contract year for his best season to date out of the 4 years he has been in the Major Leagues.  Cespedes hit 17 HRs with the Mets in 2 months, after smacking out just 18 in the first four months with Detroit.  Cespedes finished in the top 40 for both leagues in respective big fly's, and was tie for 13th overall with Manny Machado and David Ortiz.

Yoenis Cespedes led all LF for HRs with 35 on the campaign in 2015. He picked a contract year for his best season to date out of the 4 years he has been in the Major Leagues. Cespedes hit 17 HRs with the Mets in 2 months, after smacking out just 18 in the first four months with Detroit. Cespedes finished in the top 40 for both leagues in respective big fly’s, and was tied for 13th overall with Manny Machado and David Ortiz.  New York brought him back for at least another year, where he helped the Mets go 34 – 23 down the stretch.  Expect more of the same in 2016.  Mets are the best bet of the week for the ‘Fall Classic’ value wise.

Hunter Stokes (Featured Writer) 

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A couple of things have happened over the last week.  The Mets signed Yoenis Cespedes and no odd was changed after this.  Very strange indeed.

With adding the Cuban slugger, the Mets have almost assured their fanbase for another post season berth in 2016.  This club is more like it was in the last 2 months than it was in the 1st four months.

Even if the Nationals were to have an unbelievable year – the Mets should still make the postseason as the #1 Wild Card seed.

I have the Mets as a 96 win team after this move, with the Nats listed about 93 victories.  Had the Nats picked up Cespedes, I would have given Washington a 95 – 92 win advantage over New York. (more…)

Los Angeles Dodgers State Of The Union For 2016

The Dodgers need to start spending money like right now, otherwise they stand to jeopardize themselves winning a 4th straight NL West title in 2016. Both the Giants and D'Backs have signed ace pitchers this year, and added another good Starting Pitcher besides the point. The club does have several young pieces and Depth at Roster to pull off a blockbuster trade forth coming - or they still have enough resources to acquire players for their 2016 run. The clock is officially ticking gentelmen

The Dodgers need to start spending money like right now, otherwise they stand to jeopardize themselves winning a 4th straight NL West title in 2016. Both the Giants and D’Backs have signed ace pitchers this year, and added another good Starting Pitcher besides the point. The club does have several young pieces and Depth at Roster to pull off a blockbuster trade forth coming – or they still have enough resources to acquire players for their 2016 run. The clock is officially ticking gentlemen.

Hunter Stokes (Chief Writer) 

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The Dodgers are having the same kind of offseason the Baltimore Orioles had in 2014 – going into 2015.

If everyone remembers that year, they rejected a couple year contract with Grant Balfour, when he failed a physical, and they did the same thing with Grady Sizemore.

That club also traded back to back 50 Saves guy Jim Johnson.  By the way, the 2014 O’s won the AL East with a 97 – 65 record.

Key cogs in the wheel were new Closer Zach Britton, and Super Utility man Steve Pearce.  A lot of parallels can be made between that squad and the Dodgers.

Late last week, the Dodgers pulled out of a three year deal wish Hisashi Iwakuma because they had concerns with a physical.

For the whole winter they have watched the Giants sign Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, while the Diamondbacks stole Zack Greinke way from them, while trading a kings ransom for Shelby Miller. (more…)

St. Louis Cardinals State Of The Union For 2016

The Cardinals continued their great play in the MLB since the turn of the milennium - with an MLB best 100 wins in 2015. The organization has transitioned to the next core of young nucleus, while still holding on to a couple of capable veterans. Considering they have plenty of depth, and lots of payroll flexibility coming forth, the franchise could orchestrate a blockbuster trade soon. St. Louis could always sign 1 - 2 Starters via Free Agency as well. As it stands right now, the club has a payroll of around $133 MIL In 2016 listed. They can afford to add about $15 - $17 more million without batting an eye.

St. louis continued their great play in the MLB since the turn of the millennium – with an MLB best 100 wins in 2015. The organization has transitioned to the next core of young nucleus, while still holding on to a couple of capable veterans. Considering they have plenty of depth, and lots of payroll flexibility coming forth, the franchise could orchestrate a blockbuster trade soon. St. Louis could always sign 1 – 2 Starters via Free Agency as well. As it stands right now, the club has a payroll of around $133 MIL listed in 2016. They can afford to add about $15 – $17 more million without batting an eye.

Chuck Booth (Owner/Lead  Analyst) 

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The Cardinals continue to be the model franchise in the Major Leagues.  With 9 NLCS births since 2000, this club has thrived with rolling over the roster, and not making mistakes on the Free Agency watch.

2016 shouldn’t be any different for competing for a playoff spot. St. Louis won 100 games in 2015 – and may top the century mark in 2016 again.  Crazily enough though it might not be enough for a Division win.

I think I can safely say the Cards and the Cubs are the two best all around teams in the big leagues right now.

I am still giving the nod to Chicago as the favorite right now, but that may change with some winter alterations.

Word has come down that Matt Holliday has been taking reps at 1B this offseasons.  If he were able to convert that to his positional arsenal for the next few years, than that would free up Matt Adams to be traded.

Among the moves the club has made over he last week was trade Jon Jay to the Padres for 2B Jedd Gyorko.  This is a classic Cardinals move. Read the rest of this entry

Chicago White Sox State Of The Union For 2016

The White Sox should be decisively better in 2016, however to lump them in with the Royals right now for the Division is just not practical yet. However the team could hit on all cylinders and then add players as the year goes on. Chicago only stands to lose four player to Free Agency after 2016 in John Danks, Adam LaRoche, Al Avila and Dioner Navarro. The latter 2 were brought in on one year deals to provide the Catching tandem in 2015.

The White Sox should be decisively better in 2016, however to lump them in with the Royals right now for the Division is just not practical yet. However the team could hit on all cylinders and then add players as the year goes on. Chicago only stands to lose four player to Free Agency after 2016 in John Danks, Adam LaRoche, Al Avila and Dioner Navarro. The latter 2 were brought in on one year deals to provide the Catching tandem in 2015.

Chuck Booth (Owner/Lead  Analyst) 

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Chicago has finally thrown their hat into the ring for the AL Central Race.  They have pulled off a trade to acquire Todd Frazier in as 3 way deal with the Reds and Dodgers.

The end result is they get 2 years from the former Reds, while parting with Trayce Thompson, Frankie Montas and Micah Johnson away from the club. It is a quality versus quantity deal.

This comes on the heels of the club picking up Brett Lawrie for 3 years worth of service for a couple of Minor Leaguers.

Before these deals, the club really only hand secured a tandem of Catchers with Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro for the offense.  Now they have much more depth, and are asserting themselves with one of the better lineups in the AL Central.

If Adam LaRoche can bounce back with his usual 25 HRs and  80 RBI power, you could have 3 Infielders and the Designated Hitter all crack 20+ HRs in the 2016 campaign.

Jose Abreu also stands to benefit with bringing in a hitter like Todd Frazier.  You could see a lineup that goes Adam Eaton, Melky Cabrera, Jose Abreu, Adam LaRoche, Frazier, Lawrie, Avisail Garcia, Avila or Navarro and Tyler Saladino.  This looks a lot lengthier than a few days ago.

By the moves they made, they could also trade LaRoche to another club if they were so inclined.  There is no reason to think the Avila and Navarro couldn’t see some DH action for their roles in the 2016 club. (more…)

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