Both the National League Championship Series and American League Championship Series are set after the Los Angeles Dodgers took Game 5 from the Washington Nationals on Thursday night, cutting down the remaining field in Major League Baseball to just four. 

But plenty of teams, both alive and eliminated, are already focusing on next season and some free agents who could be on the move. 

As baseball winds deeper into October and closer to the offseason, here is the latest on some possible underrated free agents and where I think they’ll end up next spring.


A Pair of Texas Hurlers Could Be on the Move

Despite posting the best record in the American League in 2016, the Texas Rangers pitching was no match for the powerful offense of the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Division Series.

Two pitchers in that rotation, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis, are facing free agency over the winter. 

Holland has spent all eight of his MLB seasons with the Rangers but is coming off his worst year since he was a rookie in 2009. In an injury-shortened 2016, Holland went 7-9 with a 4.95 ERA while posting a strikeout-to-walk ratio of just 1.91. 

That could be a reason the Rangers are unsure about whether they will pick up Holland’s option for the 2017 season, per TR Sullivan of If his deal is picked up by Texas, Holland will make an estimated $1.5 million next year, per Spotrac

Lewis also experienced an injury-shortened season for the Rangers, going 6-5 with a 3.71 ERA in 19 starts. He was just a year removed from a career year in 2015, when he went 17-9 despite a 4.99 ERA. 

According to Sullivan, both players have expressed their desires to stay with the club, “but that is far from given.”

Given their lack of success and playing time, the Rangers might be looking for more reliable options to support Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Martin Perez, especially because other free agents such as Doug Fister and Rich Hill are projected to be available.

Prediction: Rangers decline Holland’s option, let Lewis walk in free agency.


Nori Aoki

Seattle Mariners outfielder and leadoff man Nori Aoki was not having a good contract year in 2016. With free agency looming this winter, Aoki was batting .247 with an on-base percentage of .321 on Aug. 3. 

However, he was able to turn his season around, collecting 48 hits in his team’s final 41 games to raise his average to .283 and his on-base percentage to .349. The Mariners just didn’t have enough to nab a wild-card spot, though.

With the power of Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano in the Mariners lineup, Aoki was looked upon to get on base and provide ducks on the pond for the big bats:

Despite a .286 career batting average with an on-base percentage over .350, Aoki hasn’t been able to find any sort of continuity in his MLB career. In five seasons, Aoki has played for four different teams, and free agency runs the risk of increasing that number. 

However, Bob Dutton of the News Tribune reported that Aoki‘s hot finish to the 2016 season has “hiked interest” from Seattle to offer him a new deal. 

If the Mariners believe Aoki can play a consistent brand of baseball moving forward, then they have their leadoff man for the next few years as the team prepares to become more of a threat in the American League. 

Prediction: Aoki remains with Mariners. 


Mike Napoli

Cleveland Indians veteran first baseman Mike Napoli isn’t letting age slow him down. During his age-34 season, he put up career highs with 34 home runs and 101 RBI, and he’s been a big part of an Indians team that is in the ALCS for the first time since 2007. 

His 101 runs batted in were a team high, while the 34 round-trippers tied designated hitter Carlos Santana for most by a Clevelander

With those two in the middle of the lineup, the Indians had the fifth-best scoring offense in the league:

It seems like he really enjoys playing for Indians manager Terry Francona too, per’s Buster Olney: “I’m getting goose bumps just talking about him.”

Olney also pointed out that there is a good chance Napoli remains in Cleveland next season: “He probably could test the free-agent market and get a good deal elsewhere. But the Indians and Napoli are interested in seeing if they can work out some kind of extension that would keep him in Cleveland.”

Napoli played under a one-year, $7 million deal after signing with the Indians via free agency, per Spotrac. During a contract year in 2015, he was dealt from the Boston Red Sox to the Texas Rangers. 

But having already endeared himself to the Indians fans and organizations thanks to his big year, Napoli could very well find a home where he’ll end his MLB career.

Prediction: Napoli returns to Cleveland.


Stats courtesy of

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