MLB Free Agency: One Player Every Non-Contender Must Sign to Go for It in 2013
For a number of teams, the 2012 season is looking more and more like a lost cause. These non-contenders will soon begin to focus on the future.
There will be a number of top talent on the market as a part of the 2013 free-agent class, and teams that are not contenders could look to these players to change their fortunes around for the 2013 season (h/t MLB Trade Rumors).
Some teams are more than one player away from having a chance at reaching the postseason in 2013, but others could be pushed over the hump with one big signing.
Boston Red Sox
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Starting pitching has been an issue for the Boston Red Sox in 2012, and they have posted one of the worst ERAs for any starting rotation in the MLB (h/t ESPN). Neither Clay Buchholz or Jon Lester has looked like an ace this season.
Boston could pick up an ace on the free-agent market this winter if they decide to go after Zack Greinke. He would provide a huge boost to their starting rotation and would significantly increase the Red Sox's playoff chances in 2013.
Toronto Blue Jays
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Despite being one of the better pitchers available on the free-agent market in 2012, Edwin Jackson was only able to secure a one-year deal with the Washington Nationals. He has put together a solid year for them and will once again be a free agent after the season.
The Toronto Blue Jays should pursue Jackson to help fill out their starting rotation. He has a lot of experience pitching in the American League, and he would make a good No. 2 or 3 starter for the Blue Jays.
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While the Cleveland Indians have two solid outfielders in Shin-Soo Choo and Michael Brantley, they have struggled to get production from left field. Johnny Damon and Shelly Duncan have played the majority of the games there, but they have not put up great numbers.
By signing Shane Victorino, the Indians would have three talented outfielders. A move like this would likely mean that Brantley would need to shift to left field, a position that he has played in the past. The Flyin' Hawaiian would serve as a spark plug for the Indians offense.
Kansas City Royals
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The Kansas City Royals will likely have a number of their young prospects on their roster next season, but that does not mean that should be counted out of the playoff hunt. There is a lot of young talent in the Royals organization that could make an impact.
Because the Royals will not crazy exceptions for the 2013 season, they can afford to take a risk that could have a big reward. Colby Lewis suffered a tendon injury that required surgery this season, and he is a free agent after this year (h/t Associated Press via USA Today). Kansas City could sign Lewis with the hopes that he comes back healthy and can bolster its rotation.
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Alexi Casilla has struggled mightily at the plate for the Minnesota Twins over the past two seasons. So far this year, he has an OPS+ of 56. If the Twins are going to improve next season, they need a better second baseman.
Kelly Johnson would be a nice addition to the Twins lineup since he would provide some pop from the second base position. Minnesota would need to make at least a few other additions to be a playoff contender.
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By trading away Ichiro Suzuki, it is clear that it is time for a new era of baseball in Seattle. The team could certainly use a dynamic leadoff hitter to be the spark plug to its lineup.
Michael Bourn will not be cheap, but he could help usher in a change for the Mariners. He would be an outstanding fit in their outfield over the next four to five years.
New York Mets
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The New York Mets outfield has been a pretty big mess this season. Scott Hairston has been the most consistent outfielder that they have had, and he is a free agent after the year. New York really needs to find a talented outfielder for next season.
While Josh Hamilton may be a pipe dream for the Mets and their fans, he would certainly help turn the organization around. Joe Sheehan of Sports Illustrated believes that a team will pay Hamilton at least $100 million when he hits the market.
Despite the high price, it would be worth it for the Mets, as he would not only help them win, but he would also help get fans back in the seats.
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The Miami Marlins went on a big spending spree this past offseason when they went out and signed Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. That hasn't turned out that well so far, but it may not stop the Marlins from spending again this winter.
They may not need to look far to find a player that could make them playoff contenders in 2013. B.J. Upton and his 20/20 potential would be a great way for the Marlins to fill out their outfield, along with Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison next season.
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With Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino now playing out west and Juan Pierre due to become a free agent after the season, the Philadelphia Phillies will not have a starting outfielder that they began the 2012 season with.
Philadelphia will need an outfielder that it can build around in 2013. Melky Cabrera would be a great way for the Phillies to get back into contention next year. He will be 28 for most of next season, so he could be a long-term solution in the outfield for the Phillies.
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A year after reaching the playoffs, the Milwaukee Brewers have struggled, and they will likely spend October on vacation as opposed to the baseball diamond. To get back to the postseason in 2013, the Brewers should go after a No. 2 starter.
Ryan Dempster would be a great fit for the Brew Crew. He could slot in behind Yovanni Gallardo, and he has a lot of experience pitching in the the National League Central from his time with the Chicago Cubs.
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Geovany Soto once looked like a rising star, but he has since come crashing down to Earth over the past few years. His struggles led the Chicago Cubs to trade him to the Texas Rangers this year (h/t Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago).
Theo Epstein and company could bring in Mike Napoli to be a part of the team's future success. He is a big power bat that could compliment Anthony Rizzo in the Cubs lineup.
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The Houston Astros are in the middle of a rebuilding process, and they likely will not go out and spend big money on free agents. Their focus will be on bringing in young players who can help them in 2014 and beyond.
While the Astros will not be in contention in 2013, they could sign a veteran or two to help teach their young players. Someone like Erik Bedard may be a good fit for that role.
San Diego Padres
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The Arizona Diamondbacks currently have a $10 million option on Stephen Drew for the 2013 season. However, based on his performance this season, the Diamondbacks may decline their half of the option.
The San Diego Padres could use a starting shortstop, and Drew may be worth taking a flier on if he is available. He would certainly be an improvement over Everth Cabrera.
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Colorado Rockies starting pitchers have been absolutely horrendous this season. No one that has made more than 10 starts for them has an ERA below 5.00. Collectively, they have the worst ERA in baseball (h/t ESPN).
The Rockies need a veteran presence that can put up outstanding numbers for them. Kyle Lohse could fit all of the Rockies' needs and help them turn things around.