A bettor’s guide to 2018-2019 MLB free agency

The MLB is about to be the "Wild Wild West" this offseason (shoutout to Will Smith)

This is no ordinary article detailing the beginning of the 2018-2019 MLB free agency season. That’s already been done.

So here at What The Sports decided to see what Vegas was saying about this year’s free agency class and where they thought the big names were gonna end up.

Keep in mind this is a select few, but nonetheless, it’s quite an interesting mix. And yes, I will find a way to include some Rays conversation into this article so don’t worry about that.

These are all according to OddsShark.


Bryce Harper: Phillies 1/1

There was no chance that Harper was going to stay in Washington unless they offered him $400 million up front and even then, he is definitely in the mindset to go to a contender. Harper never even won a postseason series with the Nationals, and his time in D.C. was definitely trending south.

Why Philly? It’s simple: THEY HAVE A LOT OF MONEY. The Phillies’ 2018 payroll was 23rd in baseball at just over $104 million. Their highest-paid players currently are Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana, both making over $20 million a year. However, they have the cap space to do it.

It also helps that the team is receiving $100 million a year from Comcast thanks to a lucrative television deal. With enough space freed up, the Phillies would be dumb to not offer Harper.


Manny Machado: Phillies 3/2

First off, Machado already seemingly wrote off the Dodgers in his last Instagram post and I’m almost positive that they assumed he would be a rental anyways.

On that note, I don’t remember the last time that the top two players in free agency were signed by the same team, but again, it’s not surprising that Vegas would favor the Phillies for all the reasons I stated above. The Dodgers are the next-closest team at +225 and the Yankees are third at +300.

The interesting team in here is the Marlins who are at +800 or 8/1. This is because their 2018 payroll was $91 million, they don’t have any stars, and Machado has Latin American roots, so he would be a good fit there. Also, he could be a hot head and I’m sure that Jeter would love since the Marlins managed to barely draw over 10,000 fans a game last season.


Josh Donaldson: Cardinals +115

Not as valuable as in years past, Donaldson is coming off an injury-riddled season where he was traded to the Indians at the trade deadline. He ended up contributing at the end of the season, but the 33-year-old’s prime might behind him now. However, Donaldson is an MVP-caliber player when healthy.

Due to 2018, teams won’t give him a big-time contract, probably $20 million a season max. His OPS+ was still 119 and he had a .280/.400/.520 split with the Indians in 16 games. Jedd Gyorko is St. Louis’s current third baseman. In 2018, Gyorko hit 11 home runs and 47 RBI with a .762 OPS. Donaldson would be a massive upgrade for the Cards and could have a Nelson Cruz 2014 Orioles-type impact, but we will see.

The Rays are an interesting team in the mix at 5/1. (I told you I would get my Rays point in.) However, he’s not a good fit in St. Pete. The Rays have two third baseman: Matt Duffy and Christian Arroyo, forcing Donaldson to DH, another problem since the Rays have two first baseman: C.J. Cron and Jake Bauers. Cron started more games at DH in 2018, meaning Donaldson would fight to start, something he doesn’t want to do.


Dallas Keuchel: Astros, Angels, Yankees +230

Keuchel regressed in 2018 with a 12-11 record and 3.74 ERA in 204.2 innings pitched. His WAR was 2.6 and he became the No. 3 starter on an Astros team with Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander headlining the starting rotation. In 2017, he went 14-5 with a 2.90 ERA. Keuchel is a durable arm who can eat innings up and would be a No. 1 starter on other teams in the MLB.

Somehow, the Angels have an eight-man starting rotation and only two of them finished the season with an ERA below 4.00. Jaime Barria was their best starter, going 10-9 with a 3.41 ERA in 129.1 innings pitched. Keuchel averaged six innings a start in 2018 while Barria struggled to average five.

Andrew Heaney was the only Angels starter to start 30 games or more and he led the team with 180 innings pitched. Of the three teams, Keuchel makes the most sense in Anaheim because he will be the No. 1 starter for the Angels for sure.


Patrick Corbin: Yankees -190

Vegas is loving the Yankees with this. Corbin had a career-best season in 2018, going 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA in 200 innings pitched. He’s a durable pitcher who had 11.070 strikeouts per nine, third in the National League. Corbin had a 4.6 WAR, seventh in the NL.

He was third in the NL with 246 strikeouts. He was second in home runs per nine innings with 0.675 and third with a 5.125 strikeout to walk ratio. His ERA+ was also 137 and he had a 2.47 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) second in the NL.

Corbin would only strengthen the Yankees rotation, probably battling for the No. 2 or No. 3 spot in the rotation with Masahiro Tanaka and Sonny Gray. The Yankees would also have two left-handed starters if Justus Sheffield stays in the rotation to begin the 2019 season, so they could alternate left and right for each start.

There are 145 free agents this offseason, so there will be plenty of bets placed and action taking place, especially during the Winter Meetings, which happen to be in Las Vegas this year. Coincidence? I think NOT!!

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