Although the MLB playoffs are in full swing, it’s never too early to begin thinking about the happenings of the 2013 free-agency period. After all, free agency is the time when top players are on the move and shift the power structure of the league as a result.
Smaller market teams aren’t really competitive in free agency, and thus won’t be largely in on the bidding for these emerging stars. But they’ll still be curious to see which of their rivals will be willing to throw down some big money to bring in these guys.
Take a look at some of those top emerging stars who will lock down big paydays because of both their potential and their performance in 2012.
B.J. Upton, Center Fielder
Upton has been rumored to be on the trading block for the past few seasons near the trade deadline. Because of that, he’s unlikely to come back at a home-town discount for the Tampa Bay Rays.
He didn’t do anything to hurt his stock in 2012 as he got ready to be a free agent in 2013. In the month of September alone, with his time in the wild-card chase, he hit 12 home runs. That gave him a career-high 28 dingers.
Upton is a solid commodity bringing both the glove and steady bat. He’s also got the speed to make opponents pay once he’s on base.
Michael Bourn, Center Fielder
Bourn isn’t going to hit for power and “wow” you with his clutch hitting. But there’s something to be said about the outfielder’s excellent ability to get on base and hurt opponents with his feet.
In 2012, the speedy Bourn totaled 42 stolen bases but had 61 in both 2009 and 2011.
His glove is another huge positive. He’s committed just 16 errors in his seven-year career and has a nearly perfect fielding percentage.
It’s hard to put a price tag on Bourn, but he’ll likely bring in a considerable haul from a contender needing front-of-the-lineup help.
Kyle Lohse, SP
Lohse has had a tumultuous MLB career with many ups and downs. The 34-year-old is coming off of the best season of a long but overall successful career. He went 16-3 and recorded a career-best 2.86 ERA in the process.
It’s hard to call 2012 a breakout year for Lohse, but he’s definitely emerged as a solid middle-of-the-rotation option. He won’t warrant a long-term deal but will be able to capitalize off of his excellent 2012 to earn a big pay day this offseason.