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2017 MLB Free Agents: Rumors and Predictions for Top Available Players

The timing couldn't be much worse for an aging slugger in MLB free agency.

Mike Napoli (35) and Mark Trumbo (30) are both coming off productive seasons, but they've yet to find new homes. Although Jose Bautista (36) had an underwhelming campaign, he still boasts an impressive track record. Despite that, he hasn't signed with a team, either.

The wait may be worth it. Justin Upton didn't agree to terms with the Detroit Tigers until January last offseason yet still commanded nearly $133 million over six years, per Spotrac.

Napoli's, Trumbo's and Bautista's signings may not be imminent, but the rumors below illustrate that their failures to get new deals aren't the result of a lack of interest.

                 

Mike Napoli

Napoli registered career highs in home runs (34) and RBI (101) in 2016, but that hasn't helped him in free agency, given that he remains without a team.

On Dec. 6, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reported Napoli's agent is holding out for a multiyear contract. Bastian added the Cleveland Indians were holding firm on a one-year offer.

In an interview on MLB Network Radio last Sunday, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said contract discussions were ongoing: "We continue the dialogue with him, as we do with other 1B/DH options. Confident we start next year with a better roster."

Napoli added a lot of power to the middle of Cleveland's lineup, and "Party at Napoli's" became a rallying cry for the team as it won its first pennant since 1997.

With that said, the Indians are smart to be cautious about signing Napoli for too long. He turned 35 in October, so it's risky to expect he can repeat last season's success at the plate. 

A small-market team like Cleveland can't afford to make a mistake on a lucrative contract for an older veteran. The Indians learned that lesson the hard way after signing Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher in 2013.

Napoli has found a comfort zone in Cleveland. He would not only have an assured place in the lineup, but he would also have the opportunity to compete for another World Series so long as the key players stay healthy.

Napoli and the Indians should meet halfway and agree to a two-year deal with an option for the second year. Napoli would get his multiyear contract, and Cleveland would have a little more protection should his performance regress.

Prediction: Napoli signs with the Indians.

             

Jose Bautista

Bautista picked the wrong time to have his worst year offensively since his career renaissance began in 2010.

The 36-year-old had a .234/.366/.452 slash line to go along with 22 home runs and 69 RBI. According to FanGraphs, his strikeout rate climbed to 19.9 percent, up from 15.9 percent the year before.

Like Napoli, Bautista was largely anonymous in the playoffs. He went 6-for-33 in the postseason with two home runs, five RBI and 12 strikeouts.

In addition to his lackluster offensive production, MLB.com's Daren Willman showed that defense is becoming a growing concern for Bautista:

On Dec. 6, FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman reported Bautista met with the Toronto Blue Jays, indicating the two parties may be open to a reunion.

MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported that Joey Bats' available options are dwindling. Morosi spoke to sources who said that the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants have pulled out of the running and that the Los Angeles Dodgers may prefer a trade rather than free agency to bolster their outfield.

Bautista is a fan favorite in Toronto, and relying on Ezequiel Carrera as their everyday right fielder isn't an optimal plan for the Blue Jays. Re-signing Bautista wouldn't just be a sentimental move; it would also address what looks to be an issue in the lineup.

Prediction: Bautista signs with the Blue Jays.

                  

Mark Trumbo

Heyman reported on Dec. 7 that Trumbo is looking to get $80 million in free agency and that the price tag hasn't scared off teams that are interested in signing the 30-year-old.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold reported that signing Dexter Fowler wouldn't preclude the St. Louis Cardinals from going after Trumbo. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted the Colorado Rockies would be in the mix as well, even after making a splashy free-agent addition:

MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko didn't provide specific figures but reported on Sunday that the Baltimore Orioles "are believed to have the best offer on the table."

Age is somewhat of an advantage for Trumbo in this year's free-agent market. At 30, he's nearing the end of his prime playing years, but he's still younger than Napoli, Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion (33).

It's fair to question whether Trumbo can repeat his 47 home runs and 108 RBI, but outside of his time with the Arizona Diamondbacks, he has been a solid power hitter. Over seven years, he has averaged 34 homers, 99 RBI and a .473 slugging percentage per 162 games, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

The Rockies would be a good fit for Trumbo.

The Ian Desmond signing was a statement of intent by the franchise. Adding Trumbo to a lineup that already includes Desmond, Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado would give Colorado an imposing offense.

As Rosenthal argued, getting Trumbo would provide the Rockies with enough flexibility to deal Carlos Gonzalez for present or future assets.

Trumbo would likely have a better chance to contend in Baltimore, but the Rockies should be a strong suitor for his services if that isn't a decisive factor in his decision.

Prediction: Trumbo signs with the Rockies.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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