2013 MLB Free Agents: Best Options for Teams That Must Bolster Lineups

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 02:  Mike Napoli #25 of the Texas Rangers bats against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on October 2, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Teams looking to add extra power to their lineup should be pleased with the 2013 class of free agents, there's plenty of pop to be found with this crop of players.

Adding a fearsome slugger in the offseason can be the difference between World Series contender and observing the playoffs from your couch.

However, the same can be said for signing a bust, too.

MLB free agency is all about finding the right guys for the club and getting your money's worth. These guys may require clubs to dig deep into their pocket books to sign them, but they will be well worth the investment.


Josh Hamilton, OF

There's no doubt that Hamilton is the crown jewel of this class. The 31-year-old slugger has a tumultuous story, but there's no denying his impressive production at the plate.

Hamilton was second in the Major League with 43 home runs and second in RBIs with 128. If it weren't for Miguel Cabrera's incredible historic season, Hamilton would have been the best bat in baseball. Now, he'll get to reap the rewards on the open market.

He's certainly in line for a monster deal and there are probably only a few teams that will be able to afford the final deal he receives. However, the team that is willing to spring for the outfielder will be rewarded as he should continue to be one of the most dangerous hitters in all of baseball.


Nick Swisher, OF

There may be free agents with higher upside that are available, but none are a sure thing like Swisher. The steady outfielder has at least 20 home runs in each of the last eight seasons and has played in at least 130 games in each of those seasons.

Swisher struggled to hit for a high average early on in his career, but now that he's a veteran he is averaging .273 over his last three seasons.

Swisher isn't Hamilton. You can't build your lineup around him and he doesn't strike fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers. However, he instantly makes every lineup that he's in more dangerous and will be consistent wherever he winds up.

That's the kind of player that can make a difference in your lineup.


David Ortiz, DH

Big Papi is getting pretty long in the tooth and is most likely headed back to Boston. However, if he does hit the market, teams shouldn't hesitate to throw a pretty sizable short-term deal his way.

The 36-year-old only played in 90 games in 2012, but showed that he hasn't lost a step at the plate. He not only displayed that he still has pop left in his bat (23 homers), but he hit a career-high .318.

Ortiz showed that he still has a few years left of productivity at the plate. Because he can't play the field anymore he's probably best suited in the American League, but there are few players that can hit for power and average like Ortiz can.

If he doesn't return to Boston, Ortiz could be the piece that puts a contender over the top.


Mike Napoli, C

It's rare to find a catcher that can hit for power like Napoli, and he can expect to be paid accordingly.

Napoli's 24 dingers put him fourth among Major League catchers in the category. After going yard 30 times in 2011, Napoli has proved that his power is legitimate. He's had at least 20 home runs five seasons in a row now.

The only knock on Napoli's season was a batting average that ended the season at .227. While that could make him a liability in a lineup, it's probably an aberration more than anything. Napoli is a career .259 hitter and hit .320 in his 2011 season.

He probably won't bat over .300 again, but it's highly unlikely that he stays around .227 for another year. He'll make whatever team breaks the bank for him very happy.