MLB Free Agency: One Surprise Destination Option for Top 10 Players Available
With free agency now looming on the horizon for Major League Baseball, dozens of players and their agents will be negotiating for better contracts with quite a few different teams.
Hundreds of millions will again be spent in the hopes that these players can do what guys like Prince Fielder did—help deliver them to the postseason.
Bleacher Report will take a look at the 10 of the top free agents on the market and determine a surprise team who could be doing the bidding for their services.
10. Shawn Marcum: Toronto Blue Jays
Starting pitcher Shaun Marcum certainly has a promising resume—a lifetime 3.76 ERA, including a 3.85 ERA with the Toronto Blue Jays when he was competing in the ever-competitive AL East Division.
Sounds like a guy the Blue Jays need right about now.
With a starting rotation that's in tatters, it's no secret that the Blue Jays want pitching. General manager Alex Anthopoulos has stated that with certainty on more than one occasion.
Perhaps it's time for Marcum to go north of the border once again.
9. Dan Haren: Chicago White Sox
In all likelihood, starting pitcher Dan Haren won't be back with the Los Angeles Angels next season. The Halos will decline Haren's option for the 2013 season in order to go after prized free agent Zack Greinke.
Haren straightened things out in the second half of 2012, dropping his ERA a full 1.3 runs lower than his first half and his WHIP was considerably lower as well.
With the Angels out of play, Haren will be highly sought after for sure. Seems to me the Chicago White Sox just might have a spot for him.
The Sox will not exercise the 2013 option on Jake Peavy's contract. Chris Sale, John Danks and Jose Quintana are the definite starters in the rotation right now. Adding Haren would be a nice get for new GM Rick Hahn.
8. B.J. Upton: Cleveland Indians
General managers across MLB will be looking at center fielder B.J. Upton with great interest this winter.
The upside is that he's only 28 years old with his potential prime years still ahead of him.
The downside is a maddening inconsistency at times and a sense that he has yet to tap into that great potential.
Still, the upside outweighs the down for Upton, and the Cleveland Indians are in clear need of that upside.
Michael Brantley could easily slide back over to left field to fill a need there, and the Indians add a power bat they're desperately in need of.
7. Kyle Lohse: Detroit Tigers
It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that starting pitcher Kyle Lohse will not be back in St. Louis next season.
Lohse has become one of the more attractive free agent options this winter, courtesy of his last two seasons in which he posted a terrific 30-11 record and 3.11 ERA.
The Detroit Tigers came oh so close to their goal of a World Series title. Adding Lohse to a starting rotation already consisting of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister would be formidable. Add to the fact that Victor Martinez will be returning for the offense, and the Tigers will absolutely be among the favorites to win it all next season as well.
6. Nick Swisher: San Diego Padres
The new ownership group now in place in San Diego has made it clear that they intend on putting a team on the field that will compete in the 2013 season.
General manager Josh Byrnes will be tasked with improving his roster to meet that goal.
While pitching will be the priority for Byrnes, the opportunity to add another solid bat for his starting lineup could also be in play.
A corner outfield of Carlos Quentin and Nick Swisher doesn't sound too bad to me.
If Swisher isn't looking for Jayson Werth-type money, the Padres could be a landing spot. With youngsters Yonder Alonso, Jedd Gyorko and Yasmani Grandal along with veterans Quentin, Swisher and Chase Headley, all of a sudden the Padres' lineup looks a little more lethal.
5. Brandon McCarthy: Los Angeles Angels
If starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy isn't re-signed by the Oakland Athletics, he'll be another high-value add for many teams this winter.
The Los Angeles Angels could be losing both Dan Haren and Ervin Santana in their pursuit of Zack Greinke this offseason. However, even if they land Greinke, they're still going to have on opening in their rotation to fill.
McCarthy could be the man to fill that opening.
Injuries are certainly a concern for McCarthy, but he's shown when healthy that he's become an elite pitcher. Over the past two seasons, McCarthy has posted a 3.29 ERA and walks just over 1.5 batters per nine innings.
McCarthy's command and control lends itself well to Angel Stadium, and adding him with the likes of Jered Weaver, Greinke and C.J. Wilson would make the Angels serious contenders in the 2013 season once again.
4. Michael Bourn: Boston Red Sox
Something tells me that the Boston Red Sox aren't just going to be active this winter, they're going to have some surprises up their sleeve.
One of those surprises could be signing free agent center fielder Michael Bourn.
The Red Sox either trade Jacoby Ellsbury or move him to left field. Bourn gives the Red Sox another terrific presence at the top of the lineup, solid defense and speed to match Ellsbury.
New manager John Farrell said during his introductory press conference that his team would be aggressive next season. The addition of Bourn gives Farrell another element of aggression.
3. Jake Peavy: San Diego Padres
Starting pitcher Jake Peavy clearly had the best years of his career pitching for the San Diego Padres.
Maybe it's time for Peavy to head back home.
Peavy won't be commanding a $20 million payday, and Petco Park is surely to his liking. The Padres are clearly in need of quality starters at this point. When Clayton Richard is your ace, that's saying something about the lack of quality starters.
2. Zack Greinke: Kansas City Royals
Kansas City Royals owner David Glass said last month that he will open up the purse strings to aggressively pursue the goal of improving his starting rotation.
Mr. Glass, it's time to put your money where your mouth is.
He can start by bringing Zack Greinke back home.
Glass spent millions in bringing the All-Star Game to Kansas City this past summer.
It's time to spend millions and bring back a Cy Young Award-winning pitcher.
1. Josh Hamilton: Milwaukee Brewers
Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attansio absolutely hates to lose.
He watched his team get ever so close to a playoff berth in early September only to fade down the stretch. He's the owner of an alleged small-market team, yet his team consistently draws the biggest crowds in the National League.
Don't think for one second that Attansio is going to think like a small-market owner this winter.
ESPN's Buster Olney reported two weeks ago that the Brewers could be in play for free agent center fielder Josh Hamilton.
I not only agree, I say go for it.
For one, Hamilton's former accountability partner, Jerry Narron, is in the Brewers' organization. That gives Hamilton his main guy back who can keep him on the straight and narrow. And it allows manager Ron Roenicke to go with an outfield of Ryan Braun, Hamilton and Carlos Gomez with Corey Hart taking over at first-base full time.
Attansio hates to lose. Acquiring Hamilton will give him and his team a winning feel for next season.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.
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