It is time to fire up the Hot Stove and let the rumors fly as MLB teams start the spending frenzy. There are plenty of big name free agents this off-season that could have a major impact on how the 2013 season plays out.
Josh Hamilton is obviously the big free agent available right now and even with a subpar postseason will still cash in with a monster contract. However, he is not the only player teams will be looking to lure to their organization. The following slides are where I see some of the top free agents playing in 2013.
It is looking more likely that Josh Hamilton has swung the bat as a member of the Texas Rangers for the last time. On Friday, it was reported that Hamilton rejected his qualifying offer and the Rangers won't offer more than a three-year deal.
If fans believe what the Rangers are saying, and fans should know to take what teams say with a grain of salt, they won't offer anything more than a three-year deal to Hamilton. The outfielder is obviously looking for a longer-term commitment, which opens the door for other teams to step up.
Most Likely Landing Spot: Seattle Mariners
This could come as a surprise to some but Jon Heyman reported that the Mariners, along with the Orioles and Brewers, could end up as finalists for Hamilton.
Seattle makes sense for Hamilton as they have quality pitching, like ace Felix Hernandez, but have struggled at the plate. With the departure of Ichiro Suzuki this past season, Seattle could use a superstar like Josh Hamilton.
Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton are the top outfielders available in free agency after Josh Hamilton, and it looks like Bourn will be heading out of Atlanta.
Bourn rejected the one-year qualifying offer from Atlanta, which comes as no surprise, but David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the Braves may not be willing to go as high as some other teams.
Most Likely Landing Spot: Washington Nationals
This just makes too much sense not to happen and Jon Heyman reports them as the early front-runners. The Nationals could use a lead-off hitter and by bringing in Bourn, and they could move Bryce Harper to a corner outfielder spot.
Not to mention the Nationals have not been afraid to open their wallet and fans need to look no further than the $126 million they gave Jayson Werth.
Zack Greinke is the top starting pitcher available on the market this year and like Hamilton will have a number of teams pursing him. One of those teams seem to be the Texas Rangers, according to Jon Heyman, and they could offer big money if they don't sign Josh Hamilton.
Most Likely Landing Spot: Los Angeles Angels
Heyman mentions they will be competing with the Rangers and Dodgers, but the Angels are still the favorites to get Greinke. Even though it looks like it will take a big contract to bring Greinke back, I expect Greinke to be pitching for the Los Angeles Angels next season.
They made the mid-season trade to get Greinke and it would be hard to believe they will let him walk with nothing in return.
At the beginning of this month, it looked like Dan Haren was heading to the Cubs in a trade for closer Carlos Marmol. However, as soon as it looked to be official, it was declared dead shortly after. The Angels decided to decline Haren's option, making him a free agent and one of the top pitching options after Grienke.
The problem with Haren, though, is that he has some question marks about his health. This will most likely limit the number of years teams are willing to offer the right-handed pitcher.
Most Likely Landing Spot: San Diego Padres
Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Diego Padres are the favorites to sign Haren but will most likely be only for a one-year deal. Overall it makes sense for both sides as the Padres are looking for starting pitchers and Haren is looking for an opportunity to prove he is healthy.
If Haren has a strong first half of the season, the Padres could also look to move him at the trade deadline for a couple of prospects.
It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that B.J. Upton would be playing for a new team in 2013. The Rays did what they had to do by offering a qualifying offer, which Upton rejected according to this tweet by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
Most Likely Landing Spot: Philadelphia Phillies
Just like Michael Bourn, this spot makes too much sense not to happen. The Phillies are in the market for a center fielder since they traded away Shane Victorino last season.
They also have gone out and hired a couple of people from the Rays organization and Ken Rosenthal wrote that one baseball agent said, "there are no coincidences in baseball." The writing may already be on the wall for this one.
One of the more interesting storylines this offseason will be who will take a chance on Melky Cabrera and how much is he going to be able to make on the free-agent market. Cabrera was hitting .346 and being mentioned in MVP discussions before he was suspended 50 games for testing positive for PEDs.
While he won't get the huge contract he was hoping for, there has been a precedent set already this off-season that these suspensions may be as bad as first thought in the eyes of GMs. Bartolo Colon has already signed a one-year deal with Oakland and received a $1 million pay raise.
Most Likely Landing Spot: Texas Rangers
Joel Sherman reported that five teams have expressed interest in Cabrera and while he didn't list the teams who were interested, he did say the Yankees and Mets were not among the five.
If the Rangers lose Josh Hamilton this off-season, there will be a big hole in center field and Cabrera could fill in nicely. Cabrera could hit for average and even potentially see an increase in power playing in Arlington.