MLB offseason ripe with key free agents

Harper and Machado among most sought after acquisitions

Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons | Outfielder Bryce Harper will be one of the most prized talents available in the offseason after he turned down an offer to return to the Nationals.

Even though the 2018 MLB World Series ended a little more than two weeks ago with the Boston Red Sox defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games, the offseason has created a stir as it has already begun.

Despite losing in the World Series for the second year in a row, Dodgers’ starting southpaw Clayton Kershaw decided to decline his player option for $65 million for two more years. Instead, he signed an extension with the team for three years and $93 million.

However, his teammate, shortstop Manny Machado, is expected to be one of the most sought after free agents this year. The Dodgers originally acquired him in a trade from the Orioles, but only controlled his contract through the end of this season.

The Red Sox have their own free agent question to answer if they want to maintain their championship-caliber roster next year. Star closer Craig Kimbrel declined his qualifying offer on Nov. 2 and is expected to attract the attention of the Cubs, Indians, Phillies and his former team, the Braves.

Six players have turned down qualifying offers from their current teams so far, which seems to be a continuing trend for players on the verge of hitting the free agent market. A.J. Pollock, Bryce Harper, Patrick Corbin, Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel all declined their offers. Only Hyun-Jin Ryu accepted his offer to stay with the Dodgers.

Harper has voiced that his asking price is around the $400 million range for his next contract, but teams have already expressed concern for consistency. The Yankees, who were expected to be in the hunt for the Nationals’ outfielder, have stated they are no longer interested. This may be due to the dip in Harper’s average from .319 in 2017 to .249 in 2018, despite having a better second half of the season that than the first.

Harper, who was selected to be on the cover of MLB ‘19 The Show, is currently pictured in a training jacket and not wearing the jersey of a specific team.

On Nov. 7, Harper rejected a 10-year $300 million deal to return to the Nationals. This is perhaps a signal of his intentions to explore free agency.

In the meantime, MLB award finalists will continue to be announced this week. The week got started on Monday with the Rookie of the Year for both leagues, with pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani winning in the American League and Ronald Acuña, Jr., winning in the National League.

The managers of the year were announced on Tuesday as Braves’ manager Brian Snitker and Athletics’ manager Bob Melvin.

The Cy Young winners will be announced at 6 p.m. on Wednesday and the MVPs will be announced at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

The Boston Red Sox claimed their fourth title since the new millennium, the most by any one team in the same span of time.

They are also only the fourth 100 regular season win teams since 2000 to win the World Series the same year.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora became the first rookie manager since 2001 to win the World Series in his first season after winning the World Series last year with the Astros as a bench coach.

The Dodgers will be looking for answers after this first ever World Series matchup against the Red Sox since their relocation to California. Despite going to the NLCS for the last three seasons, and the World Series for the past two, the Dodgers have not won a World Series since 1984.

By: Jack Dunn | U.S. & World News Editor