Let’s take a look at five MLB teams that will look really different, be it from the addition or subtraction of a big-name player(s), for the coming 2018 Regular Season.
With three of its best and most popular players Free Agents and still testing the waters in this semi-cool Hot Stove 2018 Winter marketplace, Kansas City (200/1 to win World Series, 5Dimes) could look extremely different in 2018, especially in the Batting Lineup and Infield should 1B Eric Hosmer (.318/25/94) and All-Star 3B Mike Moustakas (.272/38/85) head for perceived greener pastures and/or a big payday. Toss in the potential loss of another key player and Free Agent in iconic CF Lorenzo Cain (.300/15/49 in 2017), and the Royals (75/1 to win AL Pennant, 5Dimes) may be forced into a rebuilding mode with the heart of its Lineup from 2017 possibly signed and elsewhere. And the Defensive impact would be huge with Hosmer (4 Golden Gloves) starting 157 games at 1B last year, breakout hitting star Moustakas (led all 3B in Slugging Percentage) starting 127 games at 3B and the rangy Cain starting 151 games in CF.
Toss in the reality that the potential loss of Hosmer (300/1 to be 2018 MLB HR Leader, 5Dimes), Moustakas and Cain would happening so late, and the Royals would have very little time to fill gaps and rebuild with the 2018 season starting in late March. And with starting SS Alcides Escobar, SP Jason Vargas (18-11), SP Trevor Cahill (4-3), RP Peter Moylan (79 GP) and OF Melky Cabrera all also Free Agents, many lockers will have new players using them in 2018 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. The good thing for Manager Ned Yost and the Royals so far is that no big players have left just yet, and they reside in the mediocre (after Cleveland) AL Central Division. Maybe they all stay?
San Francisco Giants
With the acquisition of impact players 3B Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay Rays) and OFs Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates) and Austin Jackson (Cleveland Indians), San Francisco (18/1 to win NL Pennant, 5Dimes) has made both its Infield and Outfield better in the field, at the plate and in the clubhouse, where these veterans will help an evolving club that was used to bringing World Series trophies back to the City By The Bay in even-numbered years (2010, 2012, 2014). And although it’s an even-numbered year, getting by the defending NL Champion Dodgers (+230 to win NL Pennant, 5Dimes) in the NL West will be difficult for Manager Bruce Bochy and the Giants (40/1 to win World Series, 5Dimes).
Pitchers Matt Cain (Retired) and Matt Moore (traded to Rangers) are also gone from San Francisco (64-98 in 2017, 5th in NL West) -- the Giants got Sam Wolff and Israel Cruz from Texas for Moore -- as are OF Denard Span, Stephen Woods, Matt Krook and Christian Arroyo, all sent to the Rays in the Longoria trade back in December. With Longoria (300/1 to be 2018 MLB HR Leader, 5Dimes), McCutchen, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik, San Francisco could make some noise this 2018 Regular Season, but starting and relief pitching will have to be strong and the Giants will have to play well within the NL West against the improved Diamondbacks and Rockies and even the feisty Padres to have a realistic shot at making the playoffs.
NL Central side Pittsburgh (100/1 to win World Series, 5Dimes) will look and feel different up the middle without their long-time franchise player and former NL MVP, CF Andrew McCutchen (.279/28/88) traded to the aforementioned Giants with OF Brian Reynolds and RHP Kyle Crick coming to The Steel City in the deal and staff ace RHP Gerrit Cole having been dealt to the defending World Series champion Astros (+650 to win World Series, 5Dimes) for 1B Colin Moran, RHP Joe Musgrove, OF Jason Martin and RHP Michael Feliz. So the Bucs (75-87, 4th in NL Central) and Manager Clint Hurdle will have a more inexperienced and youthful team in 2018.
Pittsburgh (40/1 to win NL Pennant, 5Dimes) 2B Josh Harrison sees this is a rebuilding year for the team and said “perhaps it would be better for all involved” if the Pirates just trade him, putting the pressure on GM Neal Huntington. Should Harrison (16 HR, 47 RBI in 2017) be dealt, Pittsburgh will look very different and lose a lot of power, and even if not seeing ace Cole and city legend McCutchen leave speaks volumes about the direction of this team.
Tampa Bay Rays
As with McCutchen in Pittsburgh, seeing 3B Evan Longoria (.261/80/126) leave seems like the end of an era with Longoria the player the Rays (100/1 to win World Series, 5Dimes) built around, successfully capturing the AL Pennant way back in 2008 and hanging in one of MLB’s toughest divisions (AL East) with the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Orioles. Besides Longoria, 1B Logan Morrison is a Free Agent and Tim Beckham (70 GS at SS in 2017) -- the first overall selection of the 2008 MLB draft by the Rays -- was sent to the Orioles last season, meaning this Tampa Bay Infield currently looks like its is going through a major refurbishing.
But with the Yankees loading up, perhaps just chillin for now and building for the Future is the best thing for the Rays. That would take a lot of pressure off Manager Kevin Cash and some of the Rays like RHP Chris Archer, CF Kevin Kiermaier, INF Matt Duffy and C Wilson Ramos. New in Tampa (40/1 to win AL Pennant, 5Dimes) and Tropicana Field will be OF Denard Span, IF Christian Arroyo, RHP Stephen Woods and LHP Matt Krook, all coming over for Longoria and cash considerations in the trade with the Giants. The rebuild and getting something for club icon Longoria before he’s too old seems wise.
Los Angeles Angels
Few teams will look more different than the Angels (28/1 to win World Series, 5Dimes) after signing Free Agent Japanese two-way sensation RHP-DH Shohei Ohtani (Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters), Free Agent SS Zack Cozart (Reds) and trading for 2B Ian Kinsler (Tigers) this Hot Stove Offseason and for OF Justin Upton (Diamondbacks) during last season. It's a promising group when added to CF Mike Trout, the best player in the game, and living MLB legend and future Hall of Famer, DH Albert Pujols as well as some young bucks like RF Kole Calhoun, SS Andrelton Simmons, SP Garrett Richards, C Martín Maldonado and 1B CJ Cron.
Watch (and bet on) the Angels (13/1 to win AL Pennant, 5Dimes) early on this Spring as the sheer talent of two-time AL MVP Trout (18/1 to be 2018 MLB HR Leader, 5Dimes), three-time NL MVP and DH Albert Pujols and 23-year-old Japanese sensation Ohtani (42-15, 2.55 ERA lifetime as Pitcher; .286 BA, 48 HR, 296 RBI lifetime as Hitter) will definitely create a great deal of welcome electricity at Angel Stadium. The Halos gained so such quality talent and lost so little, only having to give up Minor League CF Troy Montgomery and 18-year-old Pitching Prospect Wilkel Hernandez to Detroit in the recent Kinsler deal.
Free MLB Pick: Angels To Win Pennant (+1300)Best Line Offered: 5Dimes