MLB Free Agency: All 30 Teams' Chances of Spending $100 Million This Offseason
This winter's MLB free-agent class does not have the superstar power of last year's, with only two players potentially headed for a $100 million payday in Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke.
There are a handful of teams each season who spend big, and these days, surpassing the $100 million threshold on dollars spent in the offseason is aggressive spending.
With that in mind, here is a look at the chances of all 30 MLB teams spending $100 million on free agents this offseason, either by signing one of the two aforementioned superstars or with a collection of other impact players.
AL Teams with Zero Chance of Spending $100 Million
They'll go after a veteran starter to bring some stability to the staff, but they have their core in place and more help on the way from the farm. A full season of Manny Machado and potentially Dylan Bundy will make a bigger impact than any signing the Orioles make.
Chicago White Sox: The White Sox were a pleasant surprise in 2012, and while they eventually coughed up the AL Central lead down the stretch, they avoided the tear-down/rebuild process that many expected to begin last season.
That said, for now what you see is what you get with the White Sox. With so much money tied up in guys like Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Paul Konerko, and others tied up long-term, the team doesn't have much freedom to spend. Bringing back Jake Peavy on a two-year, $29 million deal will be their marquee offseason move.
Cleveland Indians: The last thing the Indians—who are expected to begin rebuilding from the ground up this coming season under new manager Terry Francona—need is to bring on a bunch of big-money veteran contracts.
In fact, their payroll could approach the lowest in baseball if they decide to trade off guys like Shin-Soo Choo, Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Chris Perez.
Houston Astros: The Astros have trimmed their roster down to a collection of arbitration- and pre-arbitration-eligible players, after trading away the bulk of their veteran pieces the past two seasons.
They will look to add a veteran bat at the DH spot, and perhaps a veteran starter to anchor their young staff, but it'll be several years before they're spending anywhere near $100 million.
Minnesota Twins: The Twins are by no means a small market team anymore, as they have been willing to spend in the past few seasons and made one of the best free agent signings of last year, when they added Josh Willingham.
Starting pitching is a glaring deficiency, but the Twins are unlikely to spend big money on veterans this offseason, as the team as a whole is not ready to make a run at the postseason.
Oakland Athletics: One of the biggest surprises of the 2012 season, the A's used a collection of homegrown talent, veteran journeymen and a few key offseason acquisitions to capture the AL West crown.
They need a shortstop and could look to add some offensive depth, but the A's are as unlikely as anyone to spend big in this or any offseason, as that is simply not their way of doing things.
Seattle Mariners: The Mariners have a bright future, and they should begin to reap some of the rewards of a terrific farm system this coming season, especially in the starting rotation.
Their offense needs a lot of work, but they will continue to give their young guys every chance to succeed, and likely field a team very similar to what it would be if the season started today.
Tampa Bay Rays: If the Rays had $100 million to spend, they would have already done it a long time ago, bolstering their anemic offense to support a fantastic staff.
They could be as active as anyone on the trade market this season, in the hopes of improving at catcher, first base, shortstop and in the outfield, but don't expect them to be a player for anyone in the top tiers of free agency.
NL Teams with Zero Chance of Spending $100 Million
Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks are not a team opposed to spending, but the simple fact is that they don't have any glaring needs that will require them to do so this offseason.
A three-team trade in October brought in Heath Bell and Cliff Pennington, and while they could look to deal another outfielder and add a veteran starter and bullpen help, they just have some roster tinkering to do between now and spring training—nothing huge.
Colorado Rockies: The Rockies' biggest need, without question, is starting pitching, after they posted an MLB-worst 5.22 ERA as a staff last season.
With their lineup more or less set, and young pitchers expected to fill much of the rotation, there really isn't anywhere for the Rockies to spend $100 million. The top free-agent pitchers won't want to sign there, and the lower-level veteran guys they may wind up with will surely not command that kind of money.
Miami Marlins: After spending big last offseason and signing Jose Reyes ($106 million), Mark Buehrle ($58 million) and Heath Bell ($27 million), the Marlins will take a markedly different approach this winter.
A rough first half led the team to sell big at the deadline, and they will now look to go young and build up a core of inexperienced—but low-cost—talent.
New York Mets: Aside from the little money they have coming off the books for free agents like Jon Rauch and Scott Hairston, the Mets don't have much in the way of financial wiggle room this offseason.
They could spend big by locking up stars David Wright and R.A. Dickey on long-term deals, but they won't do much in free agency, and will likely spend more like $7 million than $100 million.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates have done a nice job of cultivating a homegrown offensive core, and now their impressive minor-league pitching is close to big-league ready.
The team could look to add a veteran bat in the outfield or a veteran arm in the rotation, but the small-market team won't make any earth-shattering signings and won't come close to eclipsing $50 million, let alone $100 million.
They could open up their wallets to lock up third baseman Chase Headley, but as far as the free-agent market is concerned, they'll be targeting second-tier starting pitching and perhaps outfield help, but nothing major.
St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals will likely enter the 2013 season with a substantially lower payroll than they had in 2012, as Lance Berkman and Kyle Lohse are both expected to depart in free agency, and their replacements are already in place.
They'll search for some bullpen help, and will at least explore their options with middle infielders, but the Cardinals' core of players is in place, and they won't do much this offseason.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals need starting pitching, and will likely sign at least a starter or two this offseason to join impressive youngster Jake Odorizzi and veteran Luke Hochevar in the staff.
Not generally big spenders, the Royals only sneak off of the zero-chance list because there is an outside chance they'll make an effort to bring back ace Zack Greinke. It'll take a $100 million deal to sign Greinke alone, and if the Royals can convince him to return to the scene of his Cy Young Award, it would be a major coup for them.
The Brewers let Prince Fielder walk last offseason, and traded Zack Greinke at the deadline, yet they found themselves in the thick of things down the stretch, thanks to a strong offense and surprisingly good pitching from a group of youngsters.
The team is reportedly considering making a run at Josh Hamilton (h/t Jon Heyman), and while that remains a long shot at this point, it would almost certainly propel them to a $100 million offseason if completed.
The Cubs battled through a tough season in 2012, as they began the rebuilding process under their new front-office regime, and it will likely be more of the same in the season ahead.
That said, the team appears ready to spend this offseason to bring some respectability to their rotation behind Jeff Samardzija and Matt Garza. No one is off the table, meaning the team could be in on Zack Greinke, and it's not out of the question that the team could spend $100 million on some combination of starting pitchers.
The Reds return with essentially the same roster from last season's NL Central-winning team, with their biggest question mark for next season lying in the outfield.
Ryan Ludwick declined his end of a mutual option, so the team will need to find a left fielder and could also look to upgrade over Drew Stubbs with a more prototypical lead-off hitter.
The team could take a look at guys like Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton in center field, and either bring Ludwick back on a multi-year deal or go after some of the other market options like Nick Swisher or Shane Victorino.
Depending on who they wind up signing for the outfield, along with whether or not they bring back Jonathan Broxton, the Reds could have a $100 million offseason.
The Tigers' offseason action will include signing a starting pitcher of some sort, whether it is re-upping with deadline acquisition Anibal Sanchez or signing someone of similar stature.
They will also likely be players in the outfield market, with room to upgrade in left and right field and with Delmon Young no longer on the team. The closer is a spot that could be addressed as well, with Jose Valverde gone, but the team does have a number of internal options.
Regardless of what they do, the Tigers will already be getting a big addition with the return of Victor Martinez. That said, if they spend $50-$60 million on a starting pitcher and add an impact outfielder and some other lesser pieces, they could certainly push $100 million as they look to return to the World Series and finish the job in 2013.
During a disappointing regular season, the Phillies roster had already undergone a good deal of turnover since the trade deadline, and while there are still plenty of familiar faces, they have a number of areas to address in free agency.
The entire outfield could be upgraded (currently it would be Domonic Brown, John Mayberry and Nate Schierholtz, from left-to-right), Placido Polanco is gone at third base, and the team is incredibly thin from top to bottom.
They're expected to go after a center fielder of some sort, with Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton ranking as the top potential options. If they sign one of those guys, perhaps make a run at Kevin Youkilis to play third base and add some arms, that could leave them in the $100 million neighborhood.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays were absolutely decimated by injuries last season in both the lineup and starting rotation, and while their rotation should be healthy and rank among the most potent in the league, it remains a question.
Brandon Morrow will front the staff, and Henderson Alvarez looked good as a 22-year-old in his first full big-league season, but with Ricky Romero struggling mightily in 2012 and a number of question marks after him, the team will look to add an arm or two this winter.
Depending on who they sign to join the rotation, they could possibly eclipse $100 million on a pair of second-tier arms in the vein of Anibal Sanchez, Ryan Dempster, Shaun Marcum and Brandon McCarthy.
Boston Red Sox
After their blockbuster deal with the Dodgers, and potential relief from the contracts of Daisuke Matsuzaka ($10.33 million) , Kevin Youkilis ($12.25 million) and Bobby Jenks ($6 million), the Red Sox have over $80 million coming off the books in 2013 alone.
While that kind of money will make it tempting to spend, the team will no doubt add a handful of veterans in free agency. My guess is they'll avoid getting tied up in any long-term, big-money deals for the next few seasons, as they look to reshape the franchise.
With so many needs right now, they could very easily make four or five mid-level signings that add up to a total of $100 million, but don't expect them to make that one splash that dominates the offseason headlines.
The Rangers are set to potentially lose what will likely be the highest-paid player of the offseason in Josh Hamilton, as well as catcher Mike Napoli and pitcher Ryan Dempster.
With that much money freed up, and clear needs in the rotation and at outfield and catcher, the Rangers could easily turn around and spend that newly freed-up money just as quickly as they got it.
Looking to avenge a disappointing finish to the 2012 season, and with their World Series window still very much open, the Rangers should continue to be one of the bigger spenders on the market this offseason.
Despite retaining the majority of their team from last season, the Nationals do have a few areas they'll need to address this offseason.
Adam LaRoche declined his end of a mutual option, and if the team bring him back it would likely mean a commitment in the $12-$15-million-per-year range for at least three or four years.
If they let him walk, they would likely shift Michael Morse over to play first base and go after a center fielder to allow Bryce Harper to move to a corner outfield spot. B.J. Upton has been tied to the team before, and Michael Bourn could be an option as well.
They also have to address Edwin Jackson's rotation spot, as well as Sean Burnett's bullpen spot, after he declined his option. All of that certainly has the potential to add up to a very expensive offseason for one of baseball's most promising teams.
The Braves have one of the year's top free-agent targets in Michael Bourn, and they will be in the running to bring him back on what should be a contract in the ballpark of a five-years, $75 million.
If they are able to retain him, that could be the extent of the team's spending, but they also need to re-sign backup catcher David Ross, who will likely get a raise, as well as address a few bench spots and third base.
The team could either start Juan Francisco at the hot corner, look to sign a third baseman, or shift Martin Prado in from left field and look to sign another outfielder. Regardless, if they sign Bourn and make any other significant move, it would likely put them over $100 million spent this winter.
New York Yankees
If this were still the Yankees of the George Steinbrenner era, the team would almost certainly counter their embarrassing postseason exit with an offseason spending spree.
However, with the team serious about staying under the luxury tax threshold, they may not be quite as active as some people would expect this coming winter.
Right field will need to be addressed, and bringing back Ichiro Suzuki could be the short-term solution to that problem.
The team will also look to bring back Hiroki Kuroda, and beyond that will need to figure out what to do not only at catcher but also closer, with Mariano Rivera a free agent and coming off of injury and Rafael Soriano opting out of his deal in favor of a long-term contract on the open market.
It could all very well add up to $100 million, but it's not quite as sure a thing as some people may think, given that the team likely won't be players for the market's top four or five players.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers already have a nice head start on a $100 million offseason, as they re-signed Brandon League to a three-year, $22.5 million deal to be the team's closer next season.
The team's biggest remaining needs are in the rotation, where they are searching for a frontline starter to pair with Clayton Kershaw.
They'll make a serious run at Zack Greinke, and will work their way down the line of top starters if unable to land him. They could also pursue some more bullpen help and a third baseman of some sort, so it seems inevitable that the team will surpass the $100 million mark.
Los Angeles Angels
After trading Ervin Santana and buying out Dan Haren, the Angels have a pair of rotation spots open behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson that they'll look to address this offseason.
They're expected to compete with the Dodgers for the services of Zack Greinke, and signing him alone would make for a $100 million offseason.
Even if they don't get Greinke, expect the Angels to pass that mark on whatever combination of pitchers they sign, as well as possibly re-signing veteran outfielder Torii Hunter.
San Francisco Giants
For reigning champions, the Giants are expected to have a busy offseason, as they look to bolster their offense and defend their title in 2013.
First of all, the team will no doubt pony up to bring back postseason hero Marco Scutaro, who could get something in the ballpark of a three-year, $30 million deal to shore up second base for the foreseeable future.
After that, they'll turn their attention to the outfield, where the team will try to re-sign Angel Pagan after a terrific year and then look to add an impact bat (Nick Swisher?) to play left field. They'll also try to add some pop to the middle of the lineup.
There's almost no conceivable way that this combination of buys won't add up to $100 million, and if the Giants open spring training without Scutaro or a pair of outfielders that may or may not include Pagan, the offseason can be considered a failure.
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