Predicting Where The Top MLB Free Agents Will Land
Now that the 2013 MLB season has ended, it’s now time to find out where all the free agents will be signings and which teams will get stronger for the 2014 campaign. Yesterday we saw free agent OF Marlon Byrd sign a two-year, $16 million deal with the Philadelphia Philies. It was the first big free agent signing off the off-season and should jump-start some more deals in the very near future. I’m going to predict where the top 10 free agents will go in this piece (and no, Marlon Byrd wasn’t in my top 10), and we will see how well I did once all 10 players sign. 13 players were given a one year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from their 2013 teams and all 13 turned down the offers. So if any of those 13 players sign with a new team, the new team will have to forfeit their 2014 first round draft pick. If the new team has a top 10 pick in the 2014 MLB draft, they will then have to give up their second round pick.
The clear-cut top free agent is New York Yankees second baseman, Robinson Cano. The elite middle infielder possesses slick fielding abilities, a good batting average, and serious power for a second baseman. Cano is everything you look for in any player, not only just a second baseman. Back in September a report came out that Cano wanted a 10 year, $300-310 million contract, which turned off everybody. I don’t see how anybody can be willing to give any player that long of a deal and that much money, let alone Cano, after what has happened with the Alex Rodriguez deal and Albert Pujols deal. After the disasters of the A-Rod and Pujols deals, I don’t think any player will ever get a 10 year deal again, with exceptions for Angels OF Mike Trout, Nationals OF Bryce Harper, and Marlins OF Giancarlo Stanton, who are all still in their early 20’s and would have to sign extensions with their teams now. The top free agent starting pitcher is Masahiro Tanaka, from Japan. Tanaka is 25 years old and is expected to go through the MLB’s posting process soon. Tanaka is regarded to be not as great as Yu Darvish, but still able to be a reliable #2 pitcher in any teams rotation.
With my predictions, I will have the player’s name first, position second, and old team third. Afterwards, I will put what I think their new deal will be and with what new team at the end of a short summary about the player and their situation. Here are the predictions…
1.Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees – Most people expect Cano to return to the Yankees because many other teams will not be willing to meet Cano’s contract demands and because the Yankees will be missing a large portion of their offense if Cano were to leave. I agree and believe that Cano and the Yankees will meet somewhere in the middle on a new deal.
Prediction: 8 year, $181 million, New York Yankees.
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers.
2.Jacoby Ellsbury, CF/OF, Redsox: Jacoby Ellsbury is a tough case because he’s another player whose game relies heavily on his speed and defense. Ellsbury is 30 years old and has Scott Boras as his agent, so it will not be easy whatsoever to make a deal happen with Ells. Ellsbury hasn’t been known to produce power outside of his MVP caliber 2011 season where he hit a whopping 32 homers. Ellsbury is pretty much a case of a player who holds great speed (which will disappear more and more as he ages), great defense, and will get extra base-hits thanks to his speed. Some people think Boras will try to top Carl Crawford’s seven-year, $142 million deal that he signed with the Redsox in the 2011-2012 off-season. I don’t think that’ll happen.
Prediction: 6 years, $117 million, Seattle Mariners.
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: Boston Redsox, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs.
3.Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Reds: Choo is a 31-year-old outfielder who possesses solid power, a solid average, and a very good on-base percentage. He can also give you a steal here and there and is a very good lead-off hitter to have. Choo is another Boras client and will look to break the bank. A report surfaced last week that Boras was looking to break Jayson Werth’s $126 million contract that he signed with the Washington Nationals three years ago. If that’s the case, many teams will bow out of the race for Choo quickly. Choo is a solid all around player, but he’s not worth more than $120 million in any universe. The Reds would like him back, but it seems as if they won’t have the money to retain him, especially if a lot of other teams are vying for Choo’s services.
Prediction: Five years, $93 million, Texas Rangers.
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds.
4.Brian McCann, C, Braves: McCann is a soon to be 30-year-old, power hitting, solid defensive catcher. Guys like this don’t hit free agency often, but the Braves have Evan Gattis for behind the plate now. McCann has been injury riddled as well over the last couple of years but had a nice bounce back year this year and should have a lot of suitors and get paid well. AL teams make the most sense for McCann so he can DH and since he’s expected to garner a deal that’ll bring him into his mid-30’s and because of his big power that you will want to keep in the lineup everyday.
Prediction: 5 years, $80 million, New York Yankees.
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: Boston Redsox, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers.
5.Masahiro Tanaka, SP, Japan: Tanaka is regarded as the best starting pitcher on the market and will go through the usual posting process that mostly all Japanese players go through. All teams will have a chance to bid for the negotiating rights to Tanaka and the team that bids the most will get a 30 day window to sign Tanaka to a deal and if they don’t sign him they don’t get their posting fee money back. Tanaka isn’t as polished as Yu Darvish currently is, but he’s expected to be a very solid #2 starter and perhaps in time, a teams ace #1 pitcher. Expect a lot of suitors.
Prediction: 6 years, $66 million, New York Yankees. ($62 million posting fee, totaling $128 million spent with Tanaka).
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Houston Astros, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres.
6.Mike Napoli, 1B/DH, Redsox: Napoli had originally signed a three-year deal with Boston last off-season but a hip injury made both parties renegotiate for a one year deal. Napoli stayed healthy all year and had a solid year with the Sox, hitting 23 homers, with 92 RBI’s, and accounting for an .842 OPS. The Redsox were hoping to be major players in the Jose Dariel Abreu sweepstakes but the Whitesox ultimately signed him, so the Redsox are back to negotiating with Napoli to come back again or be missing a huge piece of their offense in 2014. With not many options at first base and coming off a World Series victory, I expect the Redsox to pony up and give Napoli a new deal.
Prediction: 3 years, $44 million, Boston Redsox.
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners, Colorado Rockies.
7.Carlos Beltran, OF, Cardinals: Beltran is entering free agency fresh off of a magnificent postseason in St.Louis, where many wondered if Beltran was the greatest postseason hitter of all time after the show he put on. Beltran stayed relatively healthy during his two years in St.Louis and still has plenty left in the tank. An AL team makes a lot of sense so Beltran can DH and get days off from the field with his past knee problems. With the lack of power in free agency this winter and Beltran coming off of two strong years in St.Louis, expect a lot of suitors for him. I don’t see a return to St.Louis because of the depth the Cards have and because they have the top prospect in all of baseball, OF Oscar Taveras, who is major league ready. Beltran is also probably more likely to want to go to a win-now team so he can get that World Series ring that he deserves.
Prediction: 2 years, $30 million, Pittsburgh Pirates.
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: New York Yankees, Boston Redsox, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, New York Mets, St.Louis Cardinals.
8.Stephen Drew, SS, Redsox: Drew is arguably the top free agent shortstop on the market and he will cost a draft pick to sign as he turned down Boston’s qualifying offer. With the market for shortstop’s so thin, Drew figures to get a nice big deal, especially with Scott Boras as his agent. Boston would like him back, but at what costs? Drew is one of the best defensive shortstops in the game and has some pop in his bat. Drew is also a lefty and will be 31 years old on opening day next season. Hard to pinpoint what kind of deal he will get with his age, attributes, and the bevy of teams that will try to sign him.
Prediction: 3 years, $42 million, Boston Redsox.
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: New York Yankees, New York Mets, St.Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates.
9.Ervin Santana, SP, Royals: Ervin Santana was traded last winter from the Angels to the Royals. The trade ending up being great for Santana, as he put together one of his best seasons in the MLB, going 9-10 (ignore the record, because the Royals offense was horrific at times in 2013), a 3.24 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 161 K’s, and 211 innings pitched. Santana was the #2 pitcher on a Royals rotation that was much improved with the acquisitions of himself and James Shields. Now Santana is a free agent, has four good seasons out of nine in the MLB, with all four of those seasons coming in the last six. Santana also has a no-hitter under his belt and is looking for a big payday this winter, as him and his agent are seeking a $100+ million contract over five years. Considering Anibal Sanchez, a better pitcher, signed a five-year, $80 million deal last winter, I don’t see Santana going over $100 million unless some team wants to go full on out of their mind and throw around money because they can. With the lack of free agent pitching this winter, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Santana got that $100 million contract, considering the contracts we’ve seen doled out over the last few off-seasons.
Prediction: Five years, $82.5 million, Washington Nationals.
Other Teams That Will Be Interested & In The Mix: New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies.
10.Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Indians: Jimenez finished 2010 in the top three of the NL CY Young voting with the Colorado Rockies and has since fallen off big time. The Rockies traded him in 2011 to the Cleveland Indians and Jimenez found his old form in 2013 that made him a CY Young caliber pitcher back in 2010. Jimenez finished 2013 at 13-9, with a 3.30 ERA, 194 K’s, and a 1.33 WHIP. According to MLB Trade Rumors, from April 29th onward, Jimenez posted a 2.61 ERA, and was on fire to finish the season. Jimenez will be 30 years old on opening day of 2014, so he could get a nice big deal this winter, due to the thin market at SP, his age, and his past success.
Prediction: 4 years, $60 million, Los Angeles Angels.
Other Teams That Will be Interested & In The Mix: New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres.
Other Free Agents:
Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees: Prediction – 3 years, $45 million, Chicago Whitesox.
Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers: Prediction – 3 years, $42 million, New York Mets.
Matt Garza, SP, Rangers: Prediction – 4 years, $69 million, Los Angeles Dodgers.
Hiroki Kuroda, SP, Yankees: Prediction – 1 year, $15 million, New York Yankees.
Omar Infante, 2B, Tigers: Prediction – 3 years, $33 million, Detroit Tigers.
Joe Nathan, RP, Rangers: Prediction – 2 years, $25 million, Detroit Tigers.
Scott Kazmir, SP, Indians: Prediction – 2 years, $16 million, Cleveland Indians.
Johnny Peralta, SS, Tigers: Prediction – 2 years, $23 million, New York Mets.