2013 MLB Free Agents: Whose Stock Is Soaring and Whose Is Plummeting?
If you've watched any of the promotions for the MLB postseason, you've certainly heard the line that "legends are born" in October.
This is true, postseason moments of greatness stick in our memories more than less meaningful moments during the regular season.
Also true, great play in the postseason earns upcoming free agents millions of dollars on their next contract as they add the "clutch" label to their resumes.
As October progresses, there will be plenty of lists ranking the top free agents on the market and projecting their landing spots.
Some of the top free agents aren't featured here simply because their teams were not fortunate enough to win their division or one of the two wild-card spots in each league. They will get their time to be scrutinized by the fans and the media, just not in this outlook.
Here's a look at how some free agents (whose teams have made the postseason) are fairing as they get ready to test the open market in a few short weeks.
Plummeting: Melky Cabrera
It shouldn't take much explanation to explain why Melky Cabrera winds up on the plummeting list.
Despite statistically being deserving of the NL batting title, the All-Star Game MVP finds himself sitting at home on the couch as Giants teammates grind their way through the National League Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Popped for performance-enhancing drugs and currently serving a 50-game suspension, Cabrera apparently will still be watching on TV even if the Giants advance past the first round. San Francisco announced that they would not include Cabrera on the postseason roster regardless of how far they wind up playing into October, despite Cabrera being a clear offensive upgrade in the lineup.
If his current team wants nothing to do with him despite the numbers he put up for them during the regular season, how can you expect other teams to swoon over him when he hits the open market in a few weeks?
Soaring: Marco Scutaro
Sticking with the San Francisco Giants for a moment, let's take a look at a positive free-agent situation in the City By The Bay.
Although he finds himself struggling through two postseason games thus far, Marco Scutaro was arguably the best midseason pickup by any team.
Competing with the free-spending Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West division title earlier in the summer, the trade to bring Scutaro to San Francisco failed in comparison to the moves by LA to bring in Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez.
Scutaro, however, proceeded to bat .368 in 41 games and drove in 44 runs for the offensively starved Giants.
Although he will turn 37 on October 30, Scutaro has proven that he is still a valuable player in the right situation and should earn himself a nice final contract this offseason.
Plummeting: Ryan Dempster
Ryan Dempster may not have been one of the most heralded starting pitching names on the open market this offseason, but he is still projected to receive a nice payday after several serviceable seasons with the Chicago Cubs.
He was not the pitcher the Texas Rangers thought they were acquiring in the second half of the season.
Although he did post a 7-3 record with the Rangers, his ERA was 5.09.
He was also the losing pitcher in the must-win final game of the season against the Oakland A's. He lasted just three innings and allowed five earned runs in the 12-5 loss that allowed Oakland to finish a miraculous comeback to win the AL West Crown.
The reigning two-time American League champion Rangers were then eliminated by the Baltimore Orioles in the one-game wild-card playoff.
Soaring: Ichiro Suzuki
A few months ago, Ichiro Suzuki may have found the word "plummeting" preceding his name on this list.
Following his trade request from the Mariners that landed him in New York, the future Hall of Famer turned his year around and should now find himself with plenty of suitors in the offseason.
Suzuki batted just .261 in 95 games for Seattle, but caught fire with the Yankees batting .322 with 73 hits in 67 games.
Suzuki recently demonstrated that his athleticism was still fully intact with an agile base-running display (pictured above) to score the first run in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles.
Plummeting: Bartolo Colon
Rather than just call this one falling stock, we may as well call it a career...
Bartolo Colon, like Melky Cabera, was suspended 50 games late this season for violation of baseball's performance-enhancing drug policy.
As a result, the starting pitcher, 10-9 this season for the A's, is resigned to watching Oakland put forward an all-rookie rotation in the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers. Despite solid performances in the first two games of the ALDS by Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone, there is little doubt that the A's would benefit from Colon's postseason and veteran experience.
There's a chance Colon could come back for one more season, although he likely would have to sign a minor league contract and earn his spot on any major league roster.
Soaring: Nick Swisher
There is little doubt that Nick Swisher will benefit from the Melky Cabera fallout this coming offseason.
With Cabera's stock way down, Swish becomes one of the most attractive free-agent outfielders (who can also play a very adequate first base) on the market.
Swisher's production has been consistent throughout his career. You can count on him for around 25 homers and 80-90 RBI a season.
He finds himself with a bigger stage to further boost his value in the postseason, yet again for the Yankees.
Plummeting: Freddy Garcia
Garcia managed a winning record this season at 7-6, but his ERA was a less than impressive 5.20.
Overall, he still has an impressive 152-101 career record, although teams will point to his down year as evidence that his best years are definitely in the past.
Garcia is still a serviceable back-of-the-rotation arm, but being left off the Yankees postseason roster could affect his value as it shows a lack of faith in his abilities in clutch October situations.
Soaring: Jonathan Broxton
Jonathan Broxton was already having a solid season for the Kansas City Royals prior to his trade to the Cincinnati Reds.
He was 1-2 with 23 saves and a 2.27 ERA before a midseason trade landed him with the first-place Reds. He finished the season with a 3-3 record and four saves in 25 appearances. His ERA was 2.82.
In his only inning of postseason work he allowed just one hit and struck out one batter without allowing a run.
Broxton is among the more accomplished relievers available on the market this offseason.
Plummeting: Josh Hamilton
Okay, this one is a bit tricky.
Josh Hamilton is still probably in line for the biggest payday of all free agents this offseason.
But he is one of the biggest enigmas of all time when it comes to free-agent value. His production is typically off the charts, or at worst, still very very good.
While his batting average dropped for the second straight year, his home run total soared to 43, up from 25 last season.
He has had very well documented off-the-field issues that has kept him out of the league for several seasons though, and despite being one of the best stories in baseball since finally making his debut, he remains a risk should he ever fall off the wagon.
He has also battled injuries throughout his career. Although he managed to avoid the disabled list for the first time in his career in 2012, he did battle sinus problems and an eye problem caused by too much caffeine and sports drinks that hurt his production down the stretch.
Hamilton made a key error that led to an Oakland comeback in the pivotal final game of the season and went 0-4 in the wild-card playoff game to end his season and perhaps bring an end to his time in Texas.
Hamilton has been just a .227 hitter in the playoffs for his career.
Soaring: Jose Valverde
Closers are always a valuable commodity, and the Detroit Tigers currently have a pretty good one in Jose Valverde.
Valverde finished 2012 with a 3-4 record, but he recorded 35 saves and finished a league-high 67 games for the Tigers as they marched toward an AL Central Division title.
He has had one perfect shutdown inning against the A's so far in the postseason.
His age could be a bit of a concern for some teams (35 at the beginning of 2013), but continued dominance in the playoffs this October should earn him some extra money on his next contract for 2013 and beyond.