MLB Free Agency: Ranking All 30 Teams' Most Coveted Free Agents

Doug MeadCorrespondent INovember 6, 2012

MLB Free Agency: Ranking All 30 Teams' Most Coveted Free Agents

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    Over the next several weeks, each MLB team will be looking to bolster their rosters via trade or through the acquisition of free agents.

    In many cases, teams will be looking to re-sign their own free agents, but in others, teams will simply say goodbye and good luck.

    A few teams across MLB have very few worries in terms of losing their own players, with only one or two eligible for free agency.

    We will take a look at each MLB team and rank them according to their most coveted free agent. Players who have been released or placed on waivers since the end of the regular season will not be included.

30. Houston Astros: Chris Snyder

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    The Houston Astros are preparing for a move to the AL West Division next spring, and they'll be doing so without needing to spend much time on signing their own free agents.

    In fact, their only free agent, catcher Chris Snyder, has already had his 2013 option for $4 million declined by the Astros.

    Snyder, 31, hit just .176 with seven HR and 24 RBI in a part-time role with Houston in 2012. Snyder at this point can offer some depth and can be used in a pinch, but not as an everyday option.

29. Chicago Cubs: Shawn Camp

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    The Chicago Cubs, much like the Houston Astros, have very little to worry about this winter in terms of spending valuable man-hours in re-signing their own free agents.

    Only reliever Shawn Camp will be on the docket this winter for GM Jed Hoyer as he works to continue the long-term plan of restoring respectability to the Cubs franchise.

    Camp posted a 3.59 ERA for the Cubs in 2012, making a major league-leading 80 appearances. With a salary of just $550K this past season, it won't take much for the Cubs to retain Camp, if they so choose.

28. Colorado Rockies: Jonathan Sanchez

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    The Colorado Rockies currently have three free agents seeking new contracts—Jason Giambi, Jeff Francis and Jonathan Sanchez.

    Giambi is actually a candidate for the Rockies' open managerial position, interviewing for the job on Friday.

    Francis has indicated a desire to return, so a team-friendly contract could be worked out to facilitate that happening.

    Sanchez, acquired from the Kansas City Royals for Jeremy Guthrie in July, made just three starts for the Rockies before biceps tendinitis ended his season.

    Sanchez was miserable with the Royals, posting a 1-6 record and 7.76 ERA in 12 starts before he was dealt to Colorado.

    At this point, it's probably safe to say that no one will be beating down Sanchez's door with a lucrative contract offer, least of all the Rockies.

27. Arizona Diamondbacks: Matt Lindstrom

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    The Arizona Diamondbacks had only one player on their roster at the end of the 2012 season who was eligible for free agency—reliever Takashi Saito.

    However, three others had 2013 options that the Diamondbacks needed to make decisions on—catcher Henry Blanco and pitchers J.J. Putz and Matt Lindstrom.

    Putz's $5 million option was picked up by Arizona, but they declined Blanco's $1.25 million option and Lindstrom's $4 million option.

    Lindstrom was dealt to Arizona by the Baltimore Orioles in the Joe Saunders trade in August. Lindstrom was solid in both Baltimore and Arizona, posting a 2.68 ERA in 46 appearances. He will definitely have appeal for teams seeking veteran bullpen arms.

26. Miami Marlins: Carlos Lee

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    The Miami Marlins could be busy this offseason after a massively disappointing 2012 campaign. They've already started the reshaping of their roster with the trades of Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante and Edward Mujica.

    They also have four free agents—Carlos Zambrano, Juan Carlos Oviedo, Chad Gaudin and Carlos Lee.

    Lee has expressed an interest in returning, but at 36 years of age, Lee has become more of a singles hitter than the power guy who routinely hit 25-30 HR and 100 RBI each season earlier in his career.

25. New York Mets: Scott Hairston

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    The New York Mets have six free agents on the books—pitchers Ramon Ramirez, Tim Byrdak and Jon Rauch, infielder Ronny Cedeno, catcher Kelly Shoppach and outfielder Scott Hairston.

    Hairston will definitely draw interest and could still be retained by the Mets. Coming off two consecutive one-year contracts for $1.1 million, Hairston once again proved his worth as a valuable role player.

    Hairston hit .263 with 20 HR and 57 RBI in 134 games, covering all three outfield positions last season.

24. Pittsburgh Pirates: Kevin Correia

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    The Pittsburgh Pirates will enter next season looking to avoid a record 21st consecutive losing season.

    They'll also be entering the offseason months with several roster spots open, courtesy of former players Rod Barajas, Jason Grilli, Chad Qualls and Kevin Correia now being eligible for free agency.

    Correia has served a useful purpose as a back-end rotation guy for the past four years. Between 2009-2012, Correia has averaged 28 starts with a 4.51 ERA.

    Correia made $3 million in 2012, so he's certainly affordable for teams looking for rotation depth.

23. Cleveland Indians: Grady Sizemore

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    The Cleveland Indians have four players entering free agency—pitcher Roberto Hernandez, first baseman Casey Kotchman, designated hitter Travis Hafner and center fielder Grady Sizemore.

    Both Hafner and Sizemore are arriving at bittersweet endings should they both move on to parts unknown this offseason.

    Both players endured a spate of injuries that severely limited their production over the past several seasons. With the exception of Hafner playing his first 23 games for the Texas Rangers, each has played his entire career in Cleveland.

    Sizemore sat out the entire 2012 season following back surgery in February. While the initial timetable for his recovery was 8-12 weeks, Sizemore experienced issues during his recovery, including recurring soreness in his surgically-repaired right knee, that kept him shut down for the season.

    Whether anyone gives Sizemore a chance this offseason remains to be seen, however teams might be interested if Sizemore agrees to a minimum contract with incentives built in for games played.

22. San Diego Padres: Jason Marquis

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    When the San Diego Padres signed starting pitcher Jason Marquis in late May, they were taking a chance on a pitcher who was miserable in his two months with the Minnesota Twins.

    Marquis posted a 2-4 record and 8.47 ERA in seven starts before being released by the Twins on May 28. The Padres pounced on Marquis the following day.

    While Marquis wasn't brilliant for the Padres, he was serviceable, with a 6-7 record and 4.04 ERA in 15 starts.

    Much like Kevin Correia of the Pirates, Marquis could draw some interest as a back-end rotation option or as an insurance policy, likely at a value at or under his 2012 salary of $3 million.

21. Seattle Mariners: Kevin Millwood

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    The Seattle Mariners are another team who won't have to spend much time this winter discussing their own free agents. Only pitchers George Sherrill and Kevin Millwood are on that list. Catcher Miguel Olivo had his 2013 option for $3 million declined.

    Millwood didn't pitch nearly as badly as his record might indicate. Millwood was 6-12 with a 4.25 ERA in 28 starts, often the victim of poor offensive support.

    With a bevy of young arms in the Mariners farm system, it's unlikely Millwood will be invited back. Like others on this list, Millwood would serve mainly as a back-end rotation option at best.

20. Minnesota Twins: Scott Baker

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    The Minnesota Twins cleared $23.75 million from their payroll at the end of the season. The 2013 options for pitchers Matt Capps ($6 million) and Scott Baker ($9.25 million) were both declined, and Carl Pavano ($8.5 million) is an outright free agent.

    The Twins have no interest in bringing Pavano or Capps back at this point, but Baker could work out a new deal in Minnesota. However, the Twins will have competition for his services.

    According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, five teams have interest in Baker—the Twins, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers.

    Baker missed the entire 2012 season after having surgery to repair the flexor pronator tendon in his right elbow. He is expected to be completely healthy by spring training.

19. Toronto Blue Jays: Kelly Johnson

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    At just 30 years of age, it's hard to imagine that second baseman Kelly Johnson is over the hill. However, over the past two seasons, he's certainly looked like a player approaching retirement years.

    Johnson is one of four players from the Toronto Blue Jays entering free agency, along with pitchers Brandon Lyon, Carlos Villanueva and Jason Frasor.

    Johnson is certainly an enigma. After hitting just .209 in 114 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011, the Jays and D-Backs swapped second basemen, the D-Backs receiving Aaron Hill.

    Johnson showed enough promise in his 33 games with Toronto at the end of the 2011 regular season (.270 BA, 3 HR, 9 RBI) to prompt them to re-sign Johnson for one year and $6.38 million.

    Johnson's struggles clearly returned in 2012, hitting just .225 with 16 HR, 55 RBI and a 27.4 percent strikeout rate.

    There are teams in need of a second baseman—Johnson could get a shot, but likely at a price far lower than $6.38 million.

18. Philadelphia Phillies: Juan Pierre

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    The Philadelphia Phillies chose to decline the 2013 options on three players—third baseman Placido Polanco ($5.5 million), pitcher Jose Contreras ($2.5 million) and utility infielder Ty Wigginton ($4 million).

    Catcher Brian Schneider and outfielder Juan Pierre are both outright free agents, and Pierre may be the most valued commodity of the quintet.

    After signing a minor-league contract for $800K, Pierre was one of the more consistent performers in the Phillies offense. Pierre hit .307 with 37 stolen bases in 130 games.

    While mostly a singles hitter, Pierre's .351 on-base percentage would be a far sight better than the OBPs posted by several leadoff hitters in the majors last season. No question Pierre was one of the most under-valued players in the league.

17. Kansas City Royals: Jeremy Guthrie

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    The Kansas City Royals have two players who will be looking for work this offseason. Closer Joakim Soria had his $8.5 million option for the 2013 season declined by the Royals, and starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie is a free agent for the first time in his career.

    Guthrie was a tale of two players in 2012—the one that started the season with a 3-9 record and 6.35 ERA in 19 appearances for the Colorado Rockies, followed by the one who posted a 5-3 record and 3.16 ERA in 14 starts for the Royals.

    While the Royals would like Guthrie back next season, they were unable to consummate a deal before their window to negotiate exclusively with Guthrie ended last week.

    The Royals will now join other teams in bidding for Guthrie's services. Considering his Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-type season, there's no telling where Guthrie might end up next season, and at what cost.

16. Baltimore Orioles: Joe Saunders

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    For the Baltimore Orioles, Nick Johnson, Endy Chavez, Jim Thome, Joe Saunders and Randy Wolf will all be looking for employment next season.

    Wolf, however, will be sidelined for the entire season as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery.

    Johnson and Chavez are almost certainties to be looking elsewhere, but the O's could well be interested in bringing back Thome and Saunders.

    Saunders was a steadying presence following his trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks, posting a 3-3 record and 3.63 ERA in seven regular-season starts and two stellar performances during the postseason.

15. Los Angeles Dodgers: Shane Victorino

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    The Los Angeles Dodgers have nine free agents, the most of any team on this list.

    Jamey Wright, Adam Kennedy, Bobby Abreu, Randy Choate, Joe Blanton and Shane Victorino are all outright free agents.

    Matt Treanor, Juan Rivera and Todd Coffey all had options that were declined. All told—including buyouts—the Dodgers have $36.7 million coming off the books.

    Considering the Dodgers added a total value of $251.5 million with the contracts of Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez alone, every penny helps.

    Victorino could be the one player among the group that has the most intrigue for other teams. While Victorino has stated a desire to return to the Dodgers, he would do so only if he is guaranteed playing time every day. With Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the fold, that likely won't happen.

14. Boston Red Sox: Cody Ross

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    The Boston Red Sox certainly have some decisions to make concerning their roster for the 2013 season. Five players from the 2012 squad are now free agents—Daisuke Matsuzaka, Aaron Cook, Vicente Padilla, James Loney and Cody Ross.

    Ross enjoyed a resurgence following a disappointing 2011 season with the San Francisco Giants. Ross hit .267 with 22 HR and 81 RBI, including 13 homers with a .921 OPS at Fenway Park.

    Ross is likely to have much more value to the Red Sox at this point, especially considering his OPS was just .684 away from Fenway.

13. Chicago White Sox: A.J. Pierzynski

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    The Chicago White Sox have a potential $30.5 million (including buyouts) coming off the books with four players who are now free agents—Brett Myers, Kevin Youkilis, Francisco Liriano and A.J. Pierzynski.

    Pierzynski presents an interesting case. With 27 HR and 77 RBI and an .827 OPS, it was the most productive season in his 15-year career.

    Pierzynski made $6 million last season, so a raise certainly could be in order. However, Pierzynski will also be 36 years old before the start of next season, so teams may balk at a long-term deal.

    In addition, White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf stepped in back in 2010 to keep Pierzynski from jumping ship—could he possibly do so once again?

12. Cincinnati Reds: Ryan Ludwick/Jonathan Broxton/Ryan Madson

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    The Cincinnati Reds have some decisions to make concerning their roster for the 2013 season, and for at least two of their free agents, the decision is complicated.

    First, outfielder Ryan Ludwick declined his mutual option for $5 million for next season, opting instead to take a $500K buyout and try his hand at free agency.

    Ludwick enjoyed his best season since 2008 with a .275 average, 26 HR, 80 RBI and an .877 OPS. Considering the dearth of corner outfielders on the free-agent market, Ludwick will likely earn more than the $5 million he declined.

    As for Jonathan Broxton and Ryan Madson, the situation is a bit muddier.

    The Reds are still considering moving current closer Aroldis Chapman to the starting rotation. According to GM Walt Jocketty, that move will depend on whether the Reds can re-sign Broxton or Madson.

    Madson's 2013 option for $11 million was declined by the Reds. Considering Madson missed the entire season following Tommy John surgery, that move was expected. The Reds, however, have expressed interest in Madson at a cheaper rate.

    On the other hand, Broxton was healthy for the entire season, and his pitching throughout the season with both the Kansas City Royals and Reds reflected his good health.

    Broxton could be in high demand for teams seeking out a closer and stands to make considerably more than the $4 million he was paid in 2012.

11. Milwaukee Brewers: Shaun Marcum

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    The Milwaukee Brewers will have almost $20 million coming off the books this offseason with the shedding of the contracts of free agents Francisco Rodriguez, Shaun Marcum and Alex Gonzalez.

    Gonzalez could return to the fold at a reduced rate following his recovery from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee.

    Marcum is a name that will generate much interest this winter.

    The operative phrase with Marcum, however, is "when healthy."

    Marcum missed over two months with elbow issues, and considering he's only three-plus years removed from Tommy John surgery, that certainly raises a red flag.

    Marcum did return to make three quality starts to end the regular season, but it's doubtful any team will commit to a contract longer than two or three years given his history.

    And here's where the "when healthy" part kicks in.

    When healthy, Marcum has the stuff to be a No. 2 or 3 starter in any rotation. The Brewers won't be players—they'll work on building with the young arms in the system—Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Wily Peralta and Tyler Thornburg.

    They've also got Yovani Gallardo at the top and Chris Narveson returning following rotator-cuff surgery.

10. Oakland Athletics: Brandon McCarthy

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    Ah, another pitcher where the phrase "when healthy" comes into play.

    The Oakland Athletics have four free agents—Jonny Gomes, Brandon Inge, Stephen Drew and Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy is by far the most intriguing of the four, and the one most likely to generate strong interest across the league.

    McCarthy's time in Oakland was special—a 3.29 ERA in two seasons and a command of the strike zone that was considerably better than his earlier years.

    However, his time in Oakland also didn't come without stints on the disabled list, and it's the injuries that have haunted McCarthy throughout his career.

    It's unlikely McCarthy will return to Oakland, and teams will have to take his history into consideration when determining an appropriate length of contract.

    Much like Shaun Marcum, McCarthy has the stuff to be a front-line starter—when healthy.

9. San Francisco Giants: Marco Scutaro

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    The defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants enter the offseason having wiped $40.4 million from their payroll, courtesy of nine players becoming free agents.

    Xavier Nady, Guillermo Mota, Jeremy Affeldt, Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Ryan Theriot, Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro are all free to sign with other teams.

    Scutaro stands to benefit from a season that couldn't possibly have turned out any better. A .362 average in 61 games following his trade from the Colorado Rockies, followed by his outstanding performance during the postseason makes Scutaro a person of interest this offseason.

    Cabrera will certainly garner interest as well, likely needing to take a much smaller contract in order to prove himself all over again. Pagan will also generate interest following his stellar year by the bay.

    But Scutaro turned more than one head with his NLCS MVP award-winning performance. Considering the weak middle-infield market this offseason, Scutaro could very well cash in.

8. Washington Nationals: Adam LaRoche

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    When first baseman Adam LaRoche declined the $10 million mutual option on his contract for the 2013 season, he immediately put himself near the top of the free-agent list for corner infielders.

    LaRoche's great comeback season for the Washington Nationals likely earned him another lucrative contract, and it could well be with the Nationals.

    The Nats and LaRoche are continuing to negotiate, but are no closer to a deal than they were at the end of the season.

    He is sure to garner much interest in the coming weeks from several teams, including the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Miami Marlins, Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays.

7. St. Louis Cardinals: Kyle Lohse

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    Starting pitcher Kyle Lohse posted a 30-11 record and 3.11 ERA over his last two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite his stellar performance, Lohse will be looking for a new employer this winter.

    Lohse, Lance Berkman and Brian Fuentes are the three free agents from the Cardinals' 2012 roster looking for work.

    Lohse will be one of the more highly-sought after starters on the market and could be looking at a deal similar to or better than the four-year, $41 million contract he received from the Cardinals in March 2008.

6. New York Yankees: Hiroki Kuroda

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    The New York Yankees have two free agents likely to generate tremendous interest—right fielder Nick Swisher and starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.

    Kuroda posted a 16-11 record and 3.32 ERA in 33 starts for the Yankees, a performance certainly worthy of his $10 million contract.

    David Lennon of newsday.com, reported last week that Kuroda "told friends" he was interested only in the Yankees or returning to Japan to pitch for the Hiroshima Carp, his former team.

5. Detroit Tigers: Anibal Sanchez

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    The Detroit Tigers will look to repeat as American League champions in 2013, but they'll have to do so without key contributors from last season.

    Delmon Young, Jose Valverde, Gerald Laird and Anibal Sanchez are all free agents. Of the quartet, Sanchez is the one likely to generate the most buzz this winter.

    Sanchez posted a 2.43 ERA in his final six starts of the regular season then followed up with a stellar postseason, posting a 1.77 ERA in three playoff starts. His seven scoreless innings in the ALCS against the New York Yankees was must-watch TV.

    Sanchez is certainly a candidate at this point to return to the Tigers, but it will likely cost owner Mike Ilitch a pretty penny, possibly approaching $70 million-$80 million over five years.

    That's what building a solid October pedigree can do for a player.

4. Tampa Bay Rays: B.J. Upton

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    At only 28 years of age, center fielder B.J. Upton is one of the youngest players on the MLB free-agent market.

    Upton is one of six free agents from the Tampa Bay Rays, joining Luke Scott, Jeff Keppinger, Kyle Farnsworth, J.P. Howell and Carlos Pena.

    Upton almost certainly won't be back with the Rays, but he will absolutely garner much attention this winter.

    The Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals both figure to be interested in his services.

3. Atlanta Braves: Michael Bourn

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    The Atlanta Braves have six players entering free agency this offseason, but center fielder Michael Bourn will be the one that has rival general managers licking their chops.

    Bourn is a prototypical leadoff hitter—the ability to get on base and a threat to steal at any time. Throw in the fact that Bourn is a tremendous defender, and you have a player that will be in high demand.

    Bourn is also represented by Scott Boras, so teams thinking about bringing Bourn on board will be expected to throw large amounts of money Bourn's way.

2. Los Angeles Angels: Zack Greinke

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    The Los Angeles Angels have seven free agents from the 2012 roster. Big names like Dan Haren and Torii Hunter will generate some buzz, but it's starting pitcher Zack Greinke that every GM in the league would be happy to add to their roster.

    Greinke posted a 15-5 record and 3.48 ERA in 34 starts between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Angels. With Matt Cain and Cole Hamels already setting the bar with the contracts they signed earlier this year, Greinke can certainly expect a payday somewhere close to the $150 million range.

1. Texas Rangers: Josh Hamilton

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    The Texas Rangers will have some holes to fill after seeing nine players hit free agency last week.

    However, none of those holes will be bigger than the one left behind by outfielder Josh Hamilton.

    Hamilton has already generated a tome of opinions regarding his value this offseason, and the World Series ended less than 10 days ago.

    His substance-abuse issues, his injury history and his streaky nature have all been discussed ad nauseum. With Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder last offseason, their status and value was a bit more cut and dried.

    The Rangers could still be in play in the Hamilton sweepstakes, but they won't tip their hand until Hamilton starts receiving offers from other teams.

    Let there be no doubt whatsoever that Hamilton's free-agency status will continue to be sliced and diced until that one team finally takes a chance and sets the bar.

     

    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.