MLB Free-Agent Predictions: The Ideal Destination for the Top 10 Players

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIOctober 3, 2012

MLB Free-Agent Predictions: The Ideal Destination for the Top 10 Players

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    With the 2012 postseason about to begin, it's never to soon to talk about free agency.

    And while this upcoming crop of free agents isn't as strong as years past, there are still several players to be excited about.

    While I'm sure plenty of players will be on the move, they don't always end up with the best fit. A look at Carl Crawford's time in Boston is proof that sometimes free agents end up in places that aren't ideal.

    As a writer who's never met these players, I have no idea what the "ideal" spot for a player would be.

    But with certain factors taken into consideration—past success, money, popularity—I can make some pretty good stabs in the dark.

    And here they are.

Cody Ross

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    Boston Red Sox


    After signing a one-year deal with Boston back in January, Cody Ross is batting .267/.328/.484 with 22 home runs and 79 RBI in 2012. His .812 OPS is second on the team.

    Originally signed as a stopgap, Ross has proved to be one of the more important members of the Red Sox lineup. He's been one of their more consistent players all season long.

    As far as intangibles go, it's hard to find a better guy than him. Not only has Ross been clutch, but he also carries a big heart and great personality. He's perfect for a team trying to rebuild its image.

    It seems Ross has found a new home, and both he and the Red Sox would be fools to let this partnership disappear.

Hiroki Kuroda

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    New York Yankees


    Signed as a 37-year-old and going from throwing in the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium to the home run haven Yankee Stadium, I don't know if anyone expected Hiroki Kuroda to have the amazing season he's having.

    The man as become a true ace, going 15-11 with a 3.34 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 3.33 K/BB ratio in 212.2 innings pitched.

    With a rotation that's seen its fair share of injuries in 2012, I can't see the Yankees letting Kuroda go. He's been a fixture in their rotation, and hands down he'll get his best deal staying in New York.

Ryan Dempster

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    Los Angeles Dodgers


    For a while there it looked like Ryan Dempster would be traded to the Dodgers. This seemed like a great fit for everybody. Instead he landed with the Rangers.

    What followed is a rough few starts for Dempster, as he's posted a 4.64 ERA and 1.39 WHIP post-trade.

    Heading into free agency, it looks like L.A. remains the right place for Dempster. He's posted a 1.95 ERA at Dodger Stadium in his career, and I'm sure the Dodgers would be able to give him a strong offer.

Kyle Lohse

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    St. Louis Cardinals


    If you folks didn't consider Kyle Lohse an ace before, you will after this season. Hard to argue with a pitcher that's gone 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 3.76 K/BB in 211 innings pitched.

    Though he'll certainly have his pick of suitors, it's hard to imagine Lohse anywhere other than St. Louis.

    The right-hander pitched for three different teams before the Redbirds, with success at none of his stops. He's enjoyed the bulk of his prime in St. Louis, and he seems to pitch well in the environment.

Dan Haren

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    Washington Nationals


    While Dan Haren struggled in 2012, it doesn't change his overall body of work. He's still one of MLB's best at eating innings and controlling the strike zone.

    While I'm sure the Angels would love to have Haren back, it's unknown if they'll have the financial means to do so.

    The Nationals are a budding team who could use Haren's leadership. They have the financial means to net a player of Haren's caliber, and their recent success could be a big selling point.

David Ortiz

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    Tampa Bay Rays


    Even at 37 years old, David Ortiz has a dangerous bat. Before being derailed with a heel injury, the big lefty was enjoying his best season in years, posting a 1.026 OPS with 23 home runs and 60 RBI.

    With the media storm that has taken over Boston, it might be time that Ortiz jumps ship.

    While he'll have plenty of suitors, his best bet could be taking a pay cut to be with a contender.

    The Rays could use an able bat, and if Ortiz wants to chase another ring it's a good place to be. In his career, he's posted a .982 OPS at the Trop.

Michael Bourn

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    Atlanta Braves


    While in Houston Michael Bourn wasn't much of anybody; in Atlanta he's been a budding star. In his one-and-a-half seasons with the Braves, the 29-year-old his batting .276/.342/.383 with 62 stolen bases.

    The speedster has a great gig going in Atlanta. He's got a leadoff spot, he's the veteran in a young outfield and his most recent team has plenty of money to throw his way.

    While there are plenty of teams with open outfield spots, Atlanta would be Bourn's best destination.

Jake Peavy

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    Los Angeles Dodgers


    Jake Peavy is another player enjoying a renaissance to his career. The one-time ace has a 3.37 ERA on the season with a 1.12 WHIP and 3.88 K/BB ratio.

    While he's having a great year, it doesn't erase the struggles he's had since leaving San Diego. It's hard not to think he'd enjoy a return to the pitcher friendly National League West.

    While the Padres don't have the financial means to bring their former ace back, the Dodgers do. They also have a rotation that could use the added bonus of a division veteran.

Zack Greinke

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    Los Angeles Angels


    Zack Greinke made his return to the American League this season after being traded from the Brewers to the Angels. He might have had a rocky start, but he's since returned to form.

    Post-trade, Greinke is 6-2 with a 3.53 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 3.00 K/BB ratio in 89.1 innings pitched.

    While they might not have the money to retain all their free-agent pitchers, the Angels have the means to make Greinke a strong offer.

    It'd be a good situation for both sides. L.A. would retain the core to a strong rotation. Greinke would make plenty of money while playing in a great environment—one that he's proved he can handle.

Josh Hamilton

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    Texas Rangers


    Obviously, Josh Hamilton remains the prize of the 2013 free-agent class. Despite some injury concerns, the 31-year-old is still a beast with the bat.

    Hamilton will have plenty of suitors this offseason, with a lot of money thrown his way. It still seems like Texas would be his best landing spot.

    This is the place where his career got its jump-start. The fans and organization love him. He's got a park perfect for his playing style.

    It's just a great fit.