It is now February, and still over 100 free agents remain unsigned, including many top free agents. Blame collusion, blame the collective bargaining agreement, blame players for wanting to much, blame whoever you want. The bottom line is so many free agents remain unemployed with spring training less than two weeks away.
The slow free agent market is, unequivocally, a bad thing for baseball. Forget about players not getting paid. This offseason has been incredibly boring. Imagine if the Miami Marlins hadn’t torn things down? Aside from the Marlins deals, there have been maybe three trades and five free agent signings of consequence. That’s bad. This has been a thoroughly uninteresting offseason for fans, and when fans are bored, it’s bad for MLB and the MLBPA. It’s a problem.
At the same time, all 30 teams can look at the current free agent market as an opportunity. Spring training is coming up and many impact players are available for nothing but cash (and maybe a draft pick). No front office or ownership group wants to look in the mirror at midseason and say, “you know, we really should’ve taken advantage of the slow free agent market and tried to get better over the winter.” It’s going to happen. We’ll probably never hear about it, but there will be regret somewhere.
So, with that in mind, let’s look at the five teams that stand to gain the most by stepping out of their comfort zone and signing one (or more) of the many quality free agents still on the board. These are teams with clear roster needs and an opportunity to improve their chances of contention in 2018.