With all the MLB free-agent hype centered on big hitters like Josh Hamilton and David Ortiz, a number of big-time 2013 free agents are falling by the wayside.
The 2012 MLB Playoffs, which are now in full swing, are sure to provide some answers to our questions about some of the major league's top free-agent stars. Oakland's Stephen Drew and Washington's Adam LaRoche are two players that come to mind when thinking about soon-to-be free agents playing with added incentive this offseason.
Here, we get you caught up on the latest buzz surrounding some of this offseason's top available players.
Stephen Drew, Oakland Athletics
The 29-year-old shortstop improved his game considerably after being traded from Arizona to Oakland. Drew went from hitting .193 with the Diamondbacks to hitting .250 in 39 regular-season games with the A's.
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman thinks Oakland's 2012 ALDS opponent could be a realistic landing spot for Drew this offseason:
stephen drew could be free-agent fit for #tigers. miggy did fine at 3b, but they might need more range than peralta at ss— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) October 5, 2012
Look for Drew to benefit from a extremely weak shortstop market this offseason. He can offer a team a young, talented player with tons of upside. Also, like Heyman said, he has plenty of range.
Kevin Youkilis, Chicago White Sox
Chicago White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis went yard 15 times after coming over from Boston midseason. The veteran looked much more at ease post-trade and should earn some decent offers this winter because of it.
According to ESPN's Jason A. Churchill, the White Sox are expected to decline Youk's $13 million option and buy him out for $1 million, making him a free agent.
Youkilis turns 34 in March, but it's baseball. And the fact that this year's free-agent market is not nearly as loaded as ones in years past gives Youk a great shot to make some big money, even if it does come on a one-year deal.
The list of teams who will likely show interest in the veteran should include West Coast franchises like the Oakland A's, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants and perhaps the Seattle Mariners. LA has already shown they are willing to spend, and Youk's versatility in the infield could help each of those teams.
Adam LaRoche, Washington Nationals
Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche has bounced around the major leagues since coming back in 2004; but this season, LaRoche has shined with the Nats, hitting a career high 33 homers and tying a previous best of 100 RBI.
According to the Providence Journal's Brian MacPherson, LaRoche could be a great fit for Boston. LaRoche played for the Red Sox for a brief time in 2009, but may perhaps be a key piece for a proud franchise looking to rebuild this winter.
Still, LaRoche's future will depend heavily on how he and the Nats fare this postseason.
The biggest factor which will ultimately determine LaRoche's fate though, is whether Washington wants to pay him close to $10,000,000 next season. With the club's payroll expanding along with its success, I don't see them hanging onto LaRoche.
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