MLB Free Agents Who Teams Should Let Walk
Most MLB teams find their season over as the playoffs get underway.
Owners and general managers are already planning and determining how to improve their team in the offseason.
One of the many tough questions front offices will face is who to sign and who to let go?
Mess up in either direction and your franchise can be harmed just as bad.
The key for every GM this offseason will be to find value. Sometimes, you have to make the tough decision to let your best player walk.
This is what makes free agency such a slippery slope and so intriguing for baseball fans.
1. Josh Hamilton
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The Texas Rangers reportedly will not offer Josh Hamilton a contract offer before the free agent period begins.
That doesn't necessarily mean he won't end up as a Ranger, but if the price is not right then there are reasons to let Hamilton go.
Overall, Hamilton had a tremendous year, hitting .285 with 43 home runs and 128 RBI.
However, Hamilton's strikeouts dramatically increased from 93 in 2011 to 162 in 2012. He hasn't played in more than 150 games since 2008, and his finish to the 2012 season was less than stellar.
Combine that with the fact that Hamilton will turn 32 at the beginning of next season and that leaves the Rangers with real concerns.
From the Rangers perspective, the next best hitter to Hamilton in free agency is Melky Cabrera. Therefore, some team will throw a major deal at him.
We all saw the Angels give Albert Pujols an enormous contract last offseason. We also saw Pujols' runs, home runs, average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage drop from last season at the age of 32. He still had a good year, but is it worth the money?
The Rangers may look at the contract Hamilton is looking for and say it isn't a valuable signing.
2. Michael Bourn
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One of the true lead-off hitters in baseball, Michael Bourn will attract a lot of attention this offseason.
It won't hurt Bourn's payday chances having agent Scott Boras representing him.
This will leave the Braves with the decision that they will have to part ways with the outfielder.
Bourn proved to be a great fit in the Braves lineup as he solidified the top spot while allowing Martin Prado to hit in his natural two spot.
However, Bourn struck out 155 times and hit just .225 during the second half of the season.
The Braves can still be an effective offense without a true lead-off hitter. The top two teams in the National League—Washington and Cincinnati—have Jayson Werth and Brandon Phillips hitting in the lead-off spot for their respective teams.
Boras's effective bargaining, combined with the Braves' stinginess, makes this feel like a parting relationship.
3. B.J. Upton
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The Tampa Bay Rays' formula to be successful is the draft and being selective in free agency.
The Rays will have to pick up a $10 million option on pitcher James Shields and $2.5 million option on closer Fernando Rodney.
B.J. Upton will likely be the odd man out and it is the best decision for the Rays franchise.
While Upton possesses breathtaking skills from his range in center field to his power at the plate, he lacks the consistency to warrant the contract he's likely to receive.
A few teams will be willing to take a chance on his skill-set and potential, overlooking the fact that he hasn't hit over .250 in his last four seasons.
Upton didn't even break .300 with his on-base percentage in 2012.
The Rays just don't have the finances to afford Upton and will make the smart decision to let Upton walk.
4. Ryan Dempster
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The Texas Rangers tried to fill the voids of Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz by acquiring Ryan Dempster at the trade deadline.
The trade didn't help the Rangers much as they lost in the Wild Card round, and Dempster was average at best.
Dempster sizzled in the National League with the Cubs but was pedestrian with the Rangers as he posted a 7-3 record and 5.09 ERA.
The Rangers have options to fill the back end of their rotation without re-signing the 36-year-old Dempster.
Lewis will be back at some point next year. Felix Ogando could move back to the rotation where he had success. Or, he could hit the free agent market where the pitching depth is deeper than position players.
If the Rangers choose not to re-sign Hamilton, they could use that on a top-tier pitcher instead.
The Rangers have arms and options and don't need to rely on Dempster, who would benefit from a move back to the National League.
5. Jake Peavy
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Jake Peavy quietly was in the top 10 in the American League in ERA this season (3.37).
The problem for the White Sox regarding Peavy is that he's due $22 million next season in order to keep him.
That puts him into the category of highest paid pitchers in the game, and he is simply not that anymore.
The White Sox also have an option with pitcher Gavin Floyd who's posted respectable seasons and comes at a better price.
It seems more likely they'll make a run at retaining Floyd rather than Peavy.
With Chris Sale's emergence, as well as the return of John Danks, the White Sox should not re-sign Peavy.