With the season just around the corner, check out these ten superstar players finding themselves in a different city for 2017.
1. Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale
The Boston Red Sox made the biggest splash of the offseason by acquiring Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox for a package of prospects headlined by second baseman Yoan Moncada. While new teammate Rick Porcello is the reigning AL Cy Young winner, Sale is the more dominant pitcher on the Red Sox’s roster. He also has a team-friendly contract through 2019, which includes a $12 million salary for this season.
2. Cubs closer Wade Davis
The Chicago Cubs acquired pitcher Wade Davis in a trade with the Kansas City Royals for talented young outfielder Jorge Soler. Davis replaces Aroldis Chapman, who returned to the Yankees as the closer. While his fastball’s velocity is not quite as impressive as Chapman’s, he finished 2016 with an excellent 1.87 ERA.
3. Indians first baseman Edwin Encarnacion
The Cleveland Indians unexpectedly signed first baseman Edwin Encarnacion to a three-year, $60 million contract after he reportedly initially sought a five-year, $125 million deal. He has hit at least 34 home runs while posting an OBP of .354 or higher in every season since 2012. The Indians’ offence should be dangerous in 2017 with Encarnacion, shortstop Francisco Lindor, and designated hitter Carlos Santana in the lineup.
4. Rockies first baseman Ian Desmond
The Colorado Rockies shocked the baseball world by signing Ian Desmond to a five-year, $70 million contract. Desmond played shortstop and outfield for the Washington Nationals and Texas Rangers, yet the Rockies are well-stocked at those positions. On his new team, he will transition to first base and could reach the 20 home run and 20 stolen base plateau for the fifth time in his career. Unfortunately, surgery on his left hand will cause him to miss at least the first month of the season.
5. Astros designated hitter Carlos Beltran
At age 39 last season, this former All-Star continued to produce with a .295 batting average, 29 homers, and 93 RBI. Carlos Beltran’s days as a base-stealer and star defender are over, but his bat and leadership should help a young Houston Astros team contend in the American League this season.
6. Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler
Outfielder Dexter Fowler agreed to a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals following a career year with the Chicago Cubs. He finished 2016 as one of the elite leadoff men in the game with above-average defence in centerfield. The Cardinals expect him to be an offensive catalyst at the top of their lineup.
7. Giants closer Mark Melancon
While he doesn’t receive as much attention as fellow closers Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Zach Britton, Mark Melancon has been consistently dominant over the past four seasons, including a 1.64 ERA and 47 saves with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals in 2016. He should continue to thrive at the San Francisco Giants’ pitcher-friendly park.
8. Yankees designated hitter Matt Holliday
The New York Yankees’ rationale for signing Matt Holliday is similar to that of the Houston Astros’ for signing Carlos Beltran. Holliday’s leadership skills will not show up directly in a box score but will prove vital for a young team with playoff aspirations. His bat can still help, too, as he slugged 20 home runs in just 110 games for the Cardinals last season.
9. Nationals catcher Matt Wieters
Matt Wieters has not reached the superstar ceiling that many scouts thought he possessed as the fifth overall pick in 2007 in part due to an extensive injury history. Nonetheless, he is a four-time All-Star who could hit 20-or-more home runs for the Washington Nationals this season at a reasonable $10.5 million salary.
10. Braves starting pitcher Bartolo Colon
Bartolo Colon continued to be a workhorse during his age 43 season with the New York Mets, posting a 3.43 ERA in 191 2/3 innings. His production may slip in 2017, but the Atlanta Braves’ plethora of young pitchers will benefit from his experience. If Atlanta fails to contend again, expect multiple teams to pursue him at the trade deadline.