MLB Free Agency 2013: Ranking the Best Bargains on the Market
It's not often that an MLB team can say that it found a great bargain for a skilled player. Presently, many teams shell out millions in cash to bring big-name talent to their respective organizations.
But there are good players at cheap prices out there, especially come MLB free agency this offseason.
Many elite and not so elite players will hit the market looking for contracts with organizations that require their skills. A few will hit it big when they join new ballclubs, while others will have to settle for what they can find out on the market.
But with so many teams in an economic squeeze, finding the best deals will be the top priority on many clubs' wish lists.
These are the best bargains to be found come free agency.
8. Juan Pierre
Outfielder Juan Pierre can still hit the ball and steal a base with the best in the MLB.
The 35-year-old still has some good years left in him that any organization would love to have for a discounted price.
Pierre made $800,000 last year with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The current active career leader in stolen bases, at 585, will be a great steal for any team willing to take a look at the veteran outfielder.
7. Zack Greinke
Los Angeles Angels pitcher Zack Greinke has proven he has the talent to be considered elite in the MLB.
Greinke made $13.5 million with the Angels last season and will hit free agency this offseason to find a long-term suitor. Expect his salary to go down, though, if he is signed to a long-term contract.
Greinke has enough talent to be an ace for any organization—he's just inconsistent. That volatility will lead to a pay cut in a long-term contract, though it will be a big steal for any team willing to work out a deal with the 28-year-old pitcher.
6. Marco Scutaro
Marco Scutaro is a superb second baseman, currently playing for the San Francisco Giants. You may have heard that he was recently involved in a little scuffle at second base with St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday in the NLCS.
The 36-year-old is about to enter free agency, and many teams are in need of a solid second baseman that provides veteran leadership.
He made $6 million last season with the Giants, but expect that number to drop due to his age.
5. Jose Valverde
Jose Valverde is known around the league as one of the more dominant closers. His ability to "forget" about errors made in previous games is desirable.
Valverde has had a good postseason, shutting down teams even when they are threatening to score.
The 34-year-old made $9 million last season and is expected to enter free agency at the end of the Detroit Tigers' postseason run.
Any team willing to fork over a little bit of money may be able to sign Valverde long term. However, it is expected that his salary will go down, partially due to his age.
4. Joakim Soria
Relief pitcher Joakim Soria, 28, was injured for the entire 2012 season. He underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a damaged UCL in his right elbow.
His injury is sure to bring down his salary of $6 million from two years ago and make him a coveted relief pitcher.
He still has enough in his arm to be very effective in any bullpen.
3. Torii Hunter
Thirty-seven-year-old Torii Hunter has been one of the more under-the-radar players in the game.
His offensive numbers speak for themselves. Hitting .308 with 79 RBI in 2012, Hunter will be one of the prime targets come free agency.
Hunter suggested that he would take a big pay cut next season to stay with the Los Angeles Angels. The Angles should jump on this opportunity, as Hunter still has a few good years left.
Offensive players like Hunter don't pop up overnight, and he will be a great bargain for the Angels if they do re-sign him.
2. Freddy Sanchez
Second baseman Freddy Sanchez did not play the entire 2012 season because of an injury. He is due to hit free agency in 2013 and will be highly sought after.
The San Francisco Giant will be 35 next season and may take a pay cut in free agency. He made $6 million last season with the Giants and is still considered to have a good bat.
Sanchez will be one of the biggest bargains for any team in need of offense and veteran leadership at a good price of around $4 million for two years.
1. Melky Cabrera
Outfielder Melky Cabrera has faced his fair share of problems over the last season. His stay with the San Francisco Giants is likely over after he had a positive PED test that ended his season with a suspension.
Cabrera was in talks to win the NL MVP and batting title, which makes him a valuable player going into free agency. Admittedly, Cabrera's testosterone use boosted those chances, but that makes his services a bargain going forward.
His salary will surely go down, as well as his chances of signing a long-term contract, but Cabrera still has skills that many organizations want.
The only problem is that it would likely be a bad PR move for many of those teams interested in signing him.
Nonetheless, Cabrera will be the best bargain come free agency.
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