Grading The Big Free Agents In The National League At The One Third Point Of The Season
Dallas Kaechel Will Finally Wear A Uniform Different From That Of The Astros
Only One Of The Septet Made High Honors On His Interim Report Card
The K Combo of the quartet are now signed, so the biggest baseball news from last winter can finally be put to rest. As any fan was well aware, every lead story from November through March centered on the four free agents and where they would end up.
Just before Spring Training the two position players received lucrative long-term contracts, but neither of the two pitchers was on a roster for Opening Day. Over sixty games into the 2019 season, starter Dallas Kaechel signed with the Atlanta Braves and veteran closer Craig Kembrel joined the Chicago Cubs.
Whether either of these arms can lead his new club to a World Series Championship is yet to be determined, although it is noteworthy that each took up residence in the National League. Their two sharers of the winter headlines have also signed to play in the Senior Circuit, but neither has so far lived up to the hype they were given last winter.
Now that the season is one third of the way complete, let us assign grades based on the success of seven of the position player free agents who signed in the National League.
Bryce Harper: C plus
His contract set a record for money and longevity when he inked it back in March, when he immediately sold a lot of jerseys in the City of Brotherly Love. Since then he has hit 11 home runs with 44 runs batted in and a .251. batting average. The last stat is very near his career average, but certainly Philadelphia was expecting much better results. The Phillies are in first place right now, but they were at the top at this time last year before a free fall down the stretch.
Manny Machado: C minus
His 10 home runs and 33 RBI are decent for a shortstop but, unfortunately, Machado is now a third baseman. His .242 batting average is well below his career mark, and his fourth place Padres have lost as many as they have won.
Adam Jones: B
He was a perennial All-Star with the Baltimore Orioles, who because of a rebuilding commitment let Jones walk away. As a regular presence in the outfield of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Jones is hitting .276 with 12 homers and 37 driven in.
Brian Dozier: C
Clearly this is not the same All-Star second baseman who established offensive records for the Minnesota Twins just a few seasons ago. He struggled after a trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the deadline last year, and he has not been much better (10 HR, 23 RBI, .235BA) since signing with the Washington Nationals.
Derek Dietrich: A plus
He was a forgotten ex-Miami Marlin at the end of last season, when the Reds signed him to serve as a versatile player to come off the bench. He has proven to be much more than that for Cincinnati, slugging 17 home runs and 37 RBI with a .248 batting average.
Josh Donaldson: D
Several years and teams removed from his Most Valuable Player season in Oakland, injuries have hampered Donaldson's performance in recent seasons. He has shown little hope of complete recovery, as his 8 homers, 25 RBI, and .243 BA make Atlanta regret not turning third base over to top prospect Austin Riley.
Wilson Ramos: B
Always in need of offense, the Mets have to be pleasantly surprised with the impressive numbers of this veteran catcher. In addition to aiding the New York pitching staff with his experience behind the plate, Ramos has contributed 7 home runs with 34 RBI while hitting a career high .280.