While the free agency market is getting thinner, there are still very good players to be signed, like relief pitcher Antonio Bastardo, maybe the best remaining in that role. He last played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and will likely end up with one of the following: Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets, and the Toronto Blue Jays.
Bastardo has been surprisingly patient, as the 30-year old has been listening to incoming offers, but not jumping on anything. He posted a 2.98 ERA last season in Pittsburgh, averaging 10 strikeouts per nine innings and posting a 1.134 WHIP, his best since 2010. He does very well against both left and right handed batters, posting a .167/.273/.295 against lefties and .204/.310/.314 against righties. Control has always been his problem, averaging over 4 walks (4.1 last season) in each of his seasons except for 2009.
He made $3.1 million last season in Pittsburgh, his first after six years with the Phillies. He’s looking for a team that’ll give him a three year deal, probably around the amount Tony Sipp got from the Houston Astros last month, as the left-handed 32-year old signed a three-year, $18 million contract. Now, that kind of demand and ambition doesn’t sit perfectly with the teams that have been in contact with him or his agents, but not completely eliminating any of them.
The Cubs have the money to make this move, and want to add another reliever to the bullpen. However, they already have three lefties (Travis Wood, Clayton Richard, Rex Brothers) which could make signing him a bit difficult. The Dodgers are another team that has no money problems and aren’t limited by some sort of cap they forced on themselves, but they’ve been surprisingly careful with their spending this offseason, although bullpen is a serious need for them.
Both the Blue Jays and Orioles need a reliever, but money could be an issue. The Blue Jays haven’t been adding too much but are already spending more than last season and are wary of moving beyond this point, even with another $6 million a year. The Orioles just re-signed Chris Davis to the biggest contract in franchise history, deferring some of the money to payments going well beyond the day Davis will be an ex-player in.
As for the New York Mets? They have the money, but they’re not willing to spend it. At this point, the Mets are only willing to sign players on short term deals, one-year deals preferably, from what remains in the free agency market. If Bastardo is super confident he can benefit from such a deal, maybe he’ll be tempted to go to the Mets, but it just doesn’t make sense to see someone make that kind of move with a multiyear contract waiting for him at some point this offseason.