Predicting Landing Spots for Each Top Soon-to-Be Free Agent on MLB Contenders
While many MLB teams have already begun thinking about free agency, there are a number of franchises that currently have their focus on October. Some of these contending teams will be looking to make a run to the playoffs, while the ones that have clinched will be getting ready to go after the World Series trophy.
Free agency is the last thing from these teams' minds at the moment, but they will have to deal with it when their season is over. A number of top players from these teams will become free agents after the year.
Once the free-agency period begins, a number of teams will be going after these potential game-changing players like Josh Hamiltion. Playoff contenders hope that they can retain their top free agents so that they can repeat their success again next year, but re-signing these players is far from a guarantee once they hit the open market.
Predicting the landing spot for free agents is never easy, but this slideshow provides possible destinations for the top free agents on contending teams.
New York Yankees: Nick Swisher
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There are two high-profile free agents-to-be on the New York Yankees. Mariano Rivera is going to be a Yankee if he comes back and plays next season. Nick Swisher is the much more interesting case.
Swisher has put up his eighth straight season with at least 20 home runs and his fourth straight year with at least 80 RBIs. He is the type of player that produces on an almost nightly basis and an American League executive believes that he is the type of player that every team needs (h/t Mark Feinsand of The New York Daily News).
Prediction: San Francisco Giants
Baltimore Orioles: Joe Saunders
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With the news that the Baltimore Orioles are interested in picking up Mark Reynolds' $11 million option this winter, the best player that could become a free agent for the Orioles is Joe Saunders (h/t Roch Kubatko of MASN).
Saunders has been a very mediocre pitcher this season, and his 103 ERA+ through 27 starts attests to that. There will be a few teams that look into signing Saunders to help out with the back of their rotation.
Prediction: Miami Marlins
Tampa Bay Rays: B.J. Upton
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B.J. Upton will be one of the top outfielders available on the market this winter. He is 28 years old, and he has already put together three 20/20 seasons thus far in his career.
As Upton continues through his prime, he should display 30/30 potential. That is something that fits well into any team's lineup. There could be a bidding war on Upton this winter and the team with the deepest pockets will come away with a great talent.
Prediction: Boston Red Sox
Detroit Tigers: Anibal Sanchez
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The Detroit Tigers gave up an outstanding prospect when they included Jacob Turner in the deal for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. Sanchez has pitched well for the Tigers, posting a 3.95 ERA in 11 stars.
Detroit should be looking to retain Sanchez this winter, and based on the fact that it traded Turner for him, it likes what he can do. Don't be surprised if Sanchez signs a long-term deal with the Tigers.
Prediction: Detroit Tigers
Chicago White Sox: A.J. Pierzynski
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A.J. Pierzynski has been a staple in the Chicago White Sox lineup for the past eight years, and he could continue to play for the team for at least a few more. He is having a career year and he has hit a personal best of 27 home runs this season.
This outstanding season has likely pushed up Pierzynski's price, and he will be expensive for a 35-year-old catcher. As long as the two sides can come to a reasonable price, expect to see Pierzynski back on Chicago's South Side.
Prediction: Chicago White Sox
Texas Rangers: Josh Hamilton
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It is without a doubt that Josh Hamilton is the crown jewel of the 2013 MLB free-agent class. He is an MVP-caliber player that has been absolutely dominant over the past three seasons.
The Texas Rangers are going to need to spend a ton of money to retain him, but it would be a worthwhile investment, especially if he leads them to their first World Series title this year.
Prediction: Texas Rangers
Oakland Athletics: Stephen Drew
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The Oakland Athletics need to make a decision this winter about if they believe that Stephen Drew is worth $10 million for 2013. While Drew has played well since joining the Athletics, there is a decent chance that they do not pick up the option.
In that case, he could be the top shortstop on the market this winter assuming that the Detroit Tigers pick up Jhonny Peralta's option. Drew seems like the type of player that would fit on the Tampa Bay Rays roster if he was willing to accept a short-term deal.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays
Los Angeles Angels: Zack Greinke
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The best pitcher on the market this winter will be Zack Greinke. He has proven that he can pitch in the American League after his rough start with the Los Angeles Angels, and he will draw a lot of interest this winter.
If Greinke does not return to the Angels, he may not even need to leave California to find a new home. Should the Los Angeles Dodgers miss out on the postseason, their ownership may look to make another big splash, and Greinke could be it.
Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers
Washington Nationals: Edwin Jackson
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After accepting a one-year deal with the Washington Nationals this past offseason, Edwin Jackson has proven that he deserves a longer contract. He has gone 9-10 with a 3.77 ERA on the year.
Jackson makes a good middle-of-the-rotation starter, and he will be paid accordingly. A team looking for starting pitching this winter, such as the Milwaukee Brewers, could give him the money that he wants.
Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers
Atlanta Braves: Michael Bourn
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Michael Bourn has led the National League in stolen bases in each of the past three seasons, and he is on pace to do it again this year. He is the type of table setter that every team would love to have at the top of their lineup.
The Atlanta Braves have certainly been impressed with Bourn's performance since they acquired him in the middle of the 2011 season, and they are certainly going to do their best to make sure that they get to see what he can do for at least another four or five years.
Prediction: Atlanta Braves
Cincinnati Reds: Jonathan Broxton
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After his resurgent second half, there is zero reason why the Cincinnati Reds should not pick up Ryan Ludwick's option. That means that Jonathan Broxton is the best potential free agent that they should have hit the market.
Quality relief pitching has always been valued at a premium in the majors, and at least one team will be considering him as a closer. After the Boston Red Sox had 16 blown saves between Alfredo Aceves, Vicente Padilla and Matt Albers this season, they will be looking for someone who can do a better job of holding down the fort (h/t ESPN).
Prediction: Boston Red Sox
St. Louis Cardinals: Kyle Lohse
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Through the first two years of his four year, $41 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, it appeared that Kyle Lohse had been overpaid. However, he has been outstanding over the past two years. This season he has gone 16-3 with a 2.77 ERA.
Lohse has emerged as one of the better starters on the market this winter and teams will be very interested in him. He would be a nice fit in the Chicago White Sox's rotation.
Prediction: Chicago White Sox
San Francisco Giants: Angel Pagan
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Prior to his PED suspension, Melky Cabrera would have been the top free agent that the San Francisco Giants had hitting the market this winter. That honor now goes to Angel Pagan.
The 31-year-old outfielder is a great hitter for a team to place at the top of their order. Pagan might be a good fit for the Chicago Cubs if they determine that Brett Jackson is not ready for the major leagues full-time or if they can deal Alfonso Soriano.
Prediction: Chicago Cubs
Los Angeles Dodgers: Shane Victorino
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One of the players that the Los Angeles Dodgers picked up this summer as they were trying to make a run to the postseason was Shane Victornio. He is a free agent after the year, and he doesn't fit into the team's future plans with Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford all pegged to be starters in the Dodgers outfield next year.
Victorino could end up back on the team that he played the past eight years for. The Philadelphia Phillies will be looking for outfielders this winter, and Victorino is certainly a fit for their team.
Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies