MLB Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding Top Free Agent Hitters

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IOctober 10, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 02:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers stands on the field before their game against the Oakland Athletics  at Coliseum on October 2, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

If possessing a deep pitching staff is vital to winning a World Series championship, then boasting a superstar at the plate is even more crucial to winning in the Major Leagues. 

After all, someone has to knock the opposing pitchers down a size. 

This summer baseball fans will see a handful of big bats enter free agency. Torii Hunter, Mike Napoli and even the suspended Melky Cabrera will be on the market, looking to lock up a long-term deal. 

Is Josh Hamilton a fit anywhere outside Texas? Will Big Papi be back in Boston? Is Nick Swisher worth nine figures?

Here we break down the latest buzz surrounding the MLB's top free agent hitters heading into 2013.

Josh Hamilton

The 2010 American League MVP crushed 43 homers in 2012 and has hit 100 since the start of the 2010 season. Still with Hamilton going 0-for-4 at the plate for the Rangers in their 5-1 AL Wild Card loss to the Baltimore Orioles this October, it's not hard to imagine him playing elsewhere next season.

This was Hamilton on his future following Texas' playoff loss to Baltimore (via ESPNDallas' Tim MacMahon):

I always would love to stay here. They understand that. They know that. When we talked earlier in the year, we didn't get things worked out, so we said we'd wait until the year was over. They obviously get first shot. I told them they'd get first shot at the end of the year. We'll see what happens.

To me, that doesn't sound all that promising. We'll see what happens? Hamilton can't be happy about the way he and the Rangers finished the season, but that's hardly a sure or hopeful way to go about a return to Arlington. 

Hamilton couldn't deliver Texas a World Series title despite leading the Rangers to two straight American League championships in 2010 and 2011. With the 2012 season ending in disappointing fashion as well, I can only predict that Hamilton will be playing in another city in 2013. 

But, we'll see what happens. 

David Ortiz

Boston's beloved DH will begin contract talks with the club next week, according to ESPNBoston's Joe McDonald:

After the Boston Red Sox concluded their dismal 93-loss season, general manager Ben Cherington said re-signing David Ortiz would be a priority in the offseason. While the sides have had informal talks, serious conversations with the free-agent designated hitter will begin at "some point next week," according to a team source.

Big Papi went yard 23 times last season and knocked in 60 runs in just 90 games. The 15-year big league veteran will turn 37 this November. With his production steadily declining, expect Ortiz to be back in Beantown next season as he looks to remain employed and loyal to the struggling Red Sox. 

Ortiz is looking for a multi-year deal from the Red Sox according to the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber. Although he isn't getting any younger, I fully expect Papi and the Sox to get a deal done shortly.

Nick Swisher

New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher will be a free agent at season's end, and he apparently wants to sign a contract worth nine figures, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.

This was Heyman on Swisher's expected free agency requests in late August:

Word going around is, Nick Swisher, the Yankees' eternally upbeat rightfield power supply, may seek a "Jayson Werth contract" when he hits free agency at the end of the year. To baseball fans, that is well-known to mean $126 million over seven years. In other words, it's a lot more money than most folks have guessed so far for Swish.

He'll turn 32 this offseason and has been consistent, but hardly dominant. Swisher has hit at least 21 home runs in every season since 2005 when he was with the Oakland Athletics, but not once has he recorded over 100 RBI in a season. 

I can't imagine Swisher will find a team willing to offer him such a ridiculous deal, but I've been wrong before. 

Follow me on Twitter for more baseball good times.

Follow _Pat_Clarke on Twitter