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Where Will Big MLB Free Agents Sign?

(The Verge)- Each offseason teams need to bolster their rosters, and the free agent pool is the main medium to do so. Here’s a look at the top 10 free agents who will find a new, or old, team to suit up for this winter.
1. Josh Hamilton-Who wouldn’t want a guy who just hit over 40 homers and drove in over 100 runs? He is one of the most feared hitters in any league, and also plays an impressive center field. What Hamilton can do for a team is almost unparalleled, however there are some questions posed about the type of offer he may receive. First off, he has an injury history which could work against his cause. Second, he is 32. Teams will not be willing to hand out long contracts worth large amounts of money, like Prince Fielder received last offseason. Given these issues, Hamilton is likely to get a deal for 5-6 years worth around $100-115 million. As expected, several teams will be in the running for Hamilton, but Texas is most likely to resign their superstar outfielder as long they do not spend big money anywhere else.
2. Zach Greinke- At 29, Greinke is in his prime, has been battle tested in both the NL and AL, and will command what might be the largest contract given out this offseason. This could be a battle in Los Angeles for the former Cy Young Award winner, meaning the Dodgers and Angels could both be in the bidding. The Dodgers, who under new ownership have seemingly endless amounts of money, could make a play for Greinke. With him pitching in the same rotation as ace Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers could have the best 1-2 punch in any rotation. The Angels on the other hand will have Greinke as their top offseason priority after acquiring him in a trade last July. Whichever team is willing to give Greinke a contract worth $125 million over 7-8 years will likely land the services of this year’s most prized free agent pitcher.
3. Michael Bourn- He consistently hits for a high average, steals over 50 bases per season, and is a gold glove candidate every year in center field. The Phillies could use outfield help and will rival Bourn’s former team, the Braves, for his services. Although these two teams are viewed as the leading candidates to land Bourn, I believe he will be wearing Yankee pinstripes when comes opening day 2013. The Yankees are not likely to resign right fielder Nick Swisher, and have seen Brett Gardner fall victim to injuries in recent years. The Yankees have the money to outbid for Bourn and could slide him in a corner outfield spot next to Curtis Granderson in center. A 5 year deal worth around $50-60 million should make it happen.
4. BJ Upton- This is an interesting case. Upton is 28, and just came off a fine offensive season for Tampa Bay. However, he has been known to play lackadaisically at times, and has shown inconsistent numbers at the plate before this past season. He has always had the potential to be an all star calibur player, but will a big contract cause him to play at lower than a maximum effort? My prediction is that Upton will get a good deal-something in the range of 5 years $60 million, and will sign with the Nationals who could use an upgrade in center field.
5. Anibal Sanchez- He has been a solid middle of the rotation pitcher for the Tigers over the past few seasons, and consistency goes a long way in the free agent process. At 29, Sanchez should command a deal for at least 5 years and $40-50 million. If the Rangers do not resign Hamilton, look for them to make a push for Sanchez. Otherwise, the Yankees could make a splash to sure up their rotation.
6. Edwin Jackson- The Nationals are loaded when it comes to pitching, and bringing back Jackson could still be a strong possibility. He consistently takes the mound every fifth day, and could be a no2. or 3 in many rotations. The Blue Jays are looking for depth in their rotation, but may not have the money to land Jackson after their blockbuster trade with the Marlins. The Yankees could also be players for Jackson if need be, but I predict the Angels to make  a surprise signing of Jackson for 4 years and $55 IF they do not resign Zach Greinke. Also look for the White Sox to be in this mix.
7. Shane Victorino- Although he is already 32, Victorino’s performance has not slipped over the past 5 years. He hits for a high average, has some power, steals plenty of bases, and plays one of the best center fields in the game. A 3 year deal for $27-32 million seems fair, look for the Giants, Rangers, and Braves to be in the bidding. The Rangers would have strong interest if they can’t resign Hamilton, the Braves if they can’t sign Bourn, and the Giants if they lose Angel Pagan. My prediction is that Victorino lands with the Giants, where he can play any outfield position the team requires.
8. Dan Haren- Haren is 32, and has had injury issues in recent years which makes him lower on this list. However, his ability to keep one of the lowest walk ratios in the league will be attractive to many teams. He is also a proven winner and innings eater if in good health. Look for Haren to get a 3 year deal for around $30-35 million, with many incentives based on performance. The team to shell out the cash? The Tigers, who may not be able to bring back Anibal Sanchez.
9. Delmon Young- Young is only 27, and if healthy, is a lock for at least .270+ average, 20 homers, and 80 rbi’s. The Tigers would love to have him back, but will they be willing to pay after Prince Fielder’s monster contract last winter? I look for the Reds to make a surprise landing of Young for somewhere in the 4 year $40 million range.
10. Kyle Lohse- In the free agent frenzy, momentum sometimes beats consistency. Given that, Lohse is coming off an outstanding season in which he was 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA. Pitching is a premium in this league, and although Lohse is 34, he is still in line for a multi-year offer. An outstanding year this past season and a solid year before that, I look for the Cardinals to resign Lohse for 3 years and 29 million.

2 Replies to “Where Will Big MLB Free Agents Sign?

  1. Interesting to see BJ Upton get signed by the Braves. I wonder what will happen to his brother Justin….same type of player….big potential; yet disappointing at times

  2. The Upton signing was a bit of a surprise, but not a total shocker, as the Braves needed to replace Bourn…as for his brother, he is still under contract with Arizona, and it will be interesting to see if he is traded or not. The biggest factor in that– the Diamondback’s performance as a team-if they began to struggle, and fade by mid July, he could be moved to help the team rebuild. If not, he isn’t likely to move because he’s just too talented to trade away at such a young age.

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