Published On: Thu, Mar 8th, 2018

Debate: Who should sign the top 5 remaining free agents?

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With three weeks to go until Opening Day, it’s time to find homes for the group of marquee free agents who remain on the open market.

theScore’s MLB editors Brandon Wile and Michael Bradburn offer their takes on who should sign Jake Arrieta, Neil Walker, Mike Moustakas, Greg Holland, and Jonathan Lucroy.

Jake Arrieta

Seattle Mariners: Much of the Mariners’ offseason hopes were riding on the recruitment of Shohei Ohtani. In fact, converting Dee Gordon to an outfielder after getting him from the Marlins was part of the sales pitch for the sought-after star. Instead, after missing out on Ohtani, Seattle has sat almost entirely idle beyond signing Ichiro Suzuki in an ostensible attempt to generate positive PR. Rather than rolling over, the Mariners could address their most glaring need: starting pitching depth. Seattle didn’t have a single qualified starter last year, and handed starts to 17 different pitchers – Ariel Miranda leading them all. If the Mariners plan to make a push for a wild-card spot, they need someone behind Felix Hernandez and James Paxton, and Arrieta can be that or more. – Bradburn

Washington Nationals: There’s no team under more pressure to win a World Series than the Nationals. The club has never advanced past the National League Division Series and is entering its final season with Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy under contract. It’s no longer good enough just to win the division – something they’ve accomplished in back-to-back seasons and should be able to do rather easily again in 2018. Adding Arrieta on a multi-year deal would give the Nationals arguably the best trio of starters in the majors. They don’t have the funds to re-sign Harper next year, so they might as well take advantage of the chance to land a pitcher of Arrieta’s quality this late in the winter. – Wile

Neil Walker

Arizona Diamondbacks: With ambitions of getting back into the postseason but limited funds, the Diamondbacks would be wise to shore up their middle infield with Walker. The duo of Ketel Marte and Nick Ahmed hit just 11 home runs last season and combined to play only 126 games. Meanwhile, Walker has averaged 16 homers and 130 games played over his last eight seasons in the majors, and offers defensive versatility, having played second, first, and third base last year. – Wile

Cleveland Indians: Walker isn’t an intuitive fit for Cleveland, but after the Royals reportedly asked the second baseman to take a minor-league deal, recruiting him could be worth moving Jason Kipnis to the outfield full time. Kipnis made the move to center field down the stretch of 2017 to fill in for an injured Bradley Zimmer. Now that the young center fielder is healthy, Kipnis could move to a corner spot and help share the load with Michael Brantley, who’s making his way back from injury. The 32-year-old Walker posted a .362 OBP last year and would be a welcome addition to a top-heavy lineup. – Bradburn

Mike Moustakas

Texas Rangers: Although it seems Adrian Beltre has actually located the fountain of youth, the Rangers will eventually have to replace their stalwart third baseman, and Moustakas is a candidate to make that transition smoother. There’s also almost no market for him, meaning Texas can likely land the slugger for a similar contract to the one Todd Frazier signed with the Mets. Moustakas would primarily serve as the team’s designated hitter while giving Beltre, entering his age-39 season, some days off in the field. – Bradburn

Chicago White Sox: Expected to come out on the other side of their rebuild as soon as next year, there are plenty of reasons for the White Sox to be hopeful, and adding a veteran like Moustakas would be a smart piece of business. Third base is an area of need for Chicago, and Moustakas wouldn’t block any of the South Siders’ top prospects. Coming off a 38-homer campaign, he’d provide some thunder in the middle of the lineup, and bring his World Series ring to a young clubhouse. – Wile

Greg Holland

St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals added three relievers this winter, but would benefit from landing an established closer like Holland. Luke Gregerson, who’s currently penciled into the role, is coming off a season in which he posted a 4.57 ERA, and he’s currently dealing with an oblique injury. Bud Norris has experience at the back end of the bullpen, but he’s also dealing with an injury, and Holland would be a much more comfortable option closing games. The bottom of St. Louis’ rotation could be an issue, so shoring up the bullpen would be wise if the Cardinals wish to snap a two-year playoff drought. – Wile

Chicago Cubs: Of any would-be contender, the Cubs have arguably the most worrying bullpen. While Brandon Morrow is coming off a fantastic year as the Dodgers’ setup man, it was the 33-year-old’s only good season since being a starter in 2012, and he worked a mere 43 2/3 innings. Carl Edwards Jr., Steve Cishek, and Pedro Strop represent good depth, but Holland could be the top-tier addition that makes the Cubs National League favorites. – Bradburn

Jonathan Lucroy

Baltimore Orioles: At this point, there’s really only one team that needs a catcher, and it’s the Orioles. Working against Lucroy is the fact that even Baltimore doesn’t have much incentive to invest at the position. In a division with the Red Sox and Yankees, there’s little hope for these Orioles to make the postseason, and giving regular reps to Chance Sisco – the club’s No. 3 prospect – would likely be more beneficial. – Bradburn

Colorado Rockies: Chris Iannetta is coming off an impressive 17-homer campaign in just 89 games with the Diamondbacks a season ago, but he’s 34 and hasn’t logged more than 100 appearances in any of the last three years. Meanwhile, backup Tony Wolters has hit just three homers in 154 career games. Lucroy isn’t the player he once was, but he is coming off a nice two-month stint with the Rockies last season, and Colorado would be wise to reunite with the two-time All-Star. – Wile

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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