2013 MLB Free Agency: 1 Free-Agent Acquisition Every Team Should Make
So far, the 2012 offseason has been slow. The calm before the storm is upon us, and the next four to eight weeks look to be very exciting.
Some acquisitions for certain teams are more obvious than others, but most teams will have to think outside the box and let the market start to take shape before they jump into the pool of free agents.
Here is a list of one free agent that every team should consider pursing this offseason. Some are what you might think, while others may surprise you.
Here they are.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Alex Gonzalez
The Arizona Diamondbacks are desperate for a shortstop in a market that is the weakest of almost any other position.
The Diamondbacks will most likely try to fill their void via a trade, but as we all know, trades take time and a lot of compromise on both sides to work.
One solution the Diamondbacks could use to fill shortstop on a short-term basis is to sign Alex Gonzalez.
Due to an injury to his knee, Gonzalez only played 24 games in 2012, but in those games, he hit four home runs and drove in 15. Over a full season, those numbers would amount to approximately 25-30 home runs and around 90-100 RBI.
A small sample size for sure, but Gonzalez can still play and will likely sign a very modest deal for 2013, where he will play the season at age 36.
Atlanta Braves: Shane Victorino
With Michael Bourn testing the market, the Atlanta Braves need a quality centerfielder to man the spacious Turner Field.
Shane Victorino seem to fit everything the Braves need. Speed, defense, leadoff potential and he will also come at a good price since Victorino had a down year offensively in 2012.
He still plays Gold Glove-caliber defense and will be the best fit if the Braves don't want to go after a top-caliber free agent.
Victorino will bounce back in 2013, and he may be the steal of the 2012 offseason.
Baltimore Orioles: Josh Hamilton
With the Yankees and Red Sox in somewhat of a downslide, now is the time for the Baltimore Orioles to make the biggest free-agent splash in their franchise's history.
That starts and ends with signing Josh Hamilton to the multi-year deal he is seeking.
Most teams will tread carefully with Hamilton, and this will give the O's the chance to swoop in and make a deal. I doubt any team will risk going over five years with Hamilton, so the market will be wide-open for his services.
Hamilton is still a high-caliber player, and he may be what it takes for the O's to overthrow the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays for an AL East title in 2013.
Boston Red Sox: Michael Bourn
After a 2012 disaster that led to a historical fire sale, the Red Sox will be looking to re-tool by signing a cornerstone player.
Michael Bourn can do a lot of things for a team, and he is just what the Red Sox need. He will bring solid defense in center, continue to steal a lot of bases and bring a quality club house presence to Boston.
Boston has more work to do than pretty much every team this offseason, and it has the means to fill a lot of those needs. It must start with Bourn, and from there, it can begin to build a team around him.
If Bourn can cut down on his amount of strikeouts in 2013, he may be able to help the Red Sox get back to the top of AL East.
Chicago Cubs: Anibal Sanchez
This is the first of many outside-the-box moves that I believe can benefit a team that has been dying for some sort of consistency.
If the Cubs are able to convince Anibal Sanchez to come to Chicago, it could be a start which can lure other free agents to Chicago that can help the team compete in the very near future.
Over the past three years, Sanchez has consistently thrown over 190 innings. A reliable pitcher like this with playoff experience will help any team, especially one that is trying to find an identity.
Theo Epstein should seriously consider bringing in a player like Sanchez in 2013.
Chicago White Sox: Kevin Youkilis
With the third-base market being extremely weak this year, Kevin Youkilis will be one of the most sought after free agents.
Teams like the Phillies will be interested in him, but I believe his asking price will be too high and he will eventually work out a deal with the White Sox, who need his help just as badly.
Youk still has some pop in his bat, and I expect him to have a quality 2013 since he is no longer in that disaster in Boston.
The White Sox need to make him a priority and show him he is wanted in Chicago if they want to keep him.
Cincinnati Reds: Ryan Ludwick
Ryan Ludwick recently declined his option with Cincinnati, but after coming off a season where he hit 26 home runs and drove in 80, who can blame him?
Ludwick made only $2.5 million in 2012, and he simply wants more money after having a quality season. I see the Reds giving it to him and signing him to a three-year deal.
The Reds will most likely look a lot like they did in 2012. They may make a few minor moves here or there, but Ludwick will probably be their biggest signing.
Cleveland Indians: Melky Cabrera
We all know the drama that surrounds Melky Cabrera after he tested positives for performance enhancing drugs.
Look for him to sign a modest one-year deal in a small market and the Cleveland Indians couldn't be a better fit for him.
Cabrera needs to get back to baseball and stay as far away from the media as he can. This move works well for both parties involved, if he plays well, the Indians make a great move that didn't cost them much in return. If not, they can release him with out any significant obligations to him.
Taking a risk on him now may payoff with him signing with them for a few more years if he plays well at the fraction of the cost he would have received if he never got caught violating the leagues drug policy.
Looks like a win-win for Cleveland.
Colorado Rockies: Joe Blanton
The Rockies need a pitcher who can bring some consistency to their rotation and an off-the-radar player who could that mold is Joe Blanton.
Blanton has thrown over 1,400 innings in his career and can be the anchor of the Rockies rotation in 2013.
Big Joe has had recent struggles with the long ball, and that may be a concern for the Rockies, but they need someone who can pitch more than four or five innings a start, and Blanton can certainly do that.
The Rockies need all the pitching they can get, and they need it to come at a cost. Blanton can give a team a lot of innings for a relatively cheap price.
Detroit Tigers: Ryan Madson
The Detriot Tigers need to bring some stability to their merry-go-round at the closer position. One risk that may be worth taking is to sign former Phillies setup man and closer Ryan Madson.
Madson missed all of 2012 with an injury and will be a major risk for any team in 2013. For this reason, and the fact that he will likely sign a deal lower than his potential pay-grade, the Tiger should pursue Madson hard.
Madson is a bulldog, a fierce competitor who hates to lose. I believe he will be a huge asset to any team that signs him, whether that is in a closer or a setup role.
Scott Boras had to settle for a one-year deal with Madson last year, and that will most likely be the case again in 2013.
The Tigers should go all in on Madson.
Houston Astros: Roy Oswalt
Another wild card acquisition that I could see happening is Roy Oswalt returning to Houston in 2013.
Oswalt will pitch the majority of 2013 at age 35, and with his mediocre performance with Texas last year, he will most likely not return.
I don't see Oswalt returning to a large-market team in 2013, and Houston would be the perfect match. Any pitching depth it can acquire this offseason will only benefit it as it transitions to the American League.
When it's all said and done, Oswalt may call it a career, but if he doesn't, look for Houston to be one of his possible suitors.
Kansas City Royals: Carlos Villanueva
Carlos Villanueva will likely be due a raise come 2013. He made $2.7 million last year and after a quality season where he went 7-7 and struck out 122 in 125 innings with a 4.16 ERA.
The Royals are in search of quality starting pitching that won't break their bank and still have the chance at an upside.
Villanueva will be 29 next year and will be most likely seeking a multi-year deal where he is given the opportunity to start on a regular basis.
He has the potential to accumulate a lot of strikeouts over a full season and bring some power to their starting rotation.
Los Angeles Angels: Zack Greinke
When the Angels sent away a huge package of prospect to acquire Zach Greinke, they had every intention of signing him to a long-term extension at the end of the season.
That is exactly what they will do. It's not every year that a former Cy Young Award winner hits the open market, and it would be foolish for them not to go all in on Greinke.
Every team would love to add a 200-inning, 200-strikeout pitcher to its rotation, and the Angels have the money to make it happen.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Kyle Lohse
With Joe Blanton hitting free agency, the Dodgers will look to replace him with a quality starter who can help them surpass the world champion Giants.
Kyle Lohse is coming off a great season, one of the best of his career.
The only downside is his age. He will pitch 2013 at age 34, and anything over a three or four-year contract will scare most teams away.
The Dodgers have already shown that money is not an option as they continue to add All-Star after All-Star to their roster.
Lohse should be next, and he can solidify a rotation that can compete with the best in baseball in 2013.
Miami Marlins: Rafael Soriano
The Miami Marlins should have money to play with this offseason after shipping Hanley Ramirez to Los Angeles.
They also parted ways with Heath Bell and are in serious need of a closer if they want to compete in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, the NL East.
Rafael Soriano has opted for free agency, and the Marlins need to consider bringing him to Miami.
His 42 saves and 2.26 ERA in 2012 should land him a nice payday, and the Marlins should have the funds to try and bring him to South Beach.
Milwaukee Brewers: Ryan Dempster
Since the Brewers shipped Zack Greinke to the Angels and their offense does not have trouble scoring runs, a quality starter will be on their wish list this offseason.
Ryan Dempster should be on the top of their radar. Dempster is someone who can log a bunch of innings and always keep the Brewers in games. He finished 2012 with a 1.20 WHIP and a 3.38 ERA.
Since Dempster will turn 36 next year and will definitely take a pay cut in 2013, the Brewers can sign him to two-year deal without much risk.
He could be the veteran presence their starting rotation needs to help keep the Brewers in contention in the NL Central in 2013.
Minnesota Twins: Dan Haren
The Twins need pitching, and they need it bad. The ranked 28th in ERA, 29th in quality starts, 24th in WHIP and 29th in BAA.
The Twins did have a $100 million payroll in 2012, though, dropping $13 million from 2011, so I believe they have enough money to go after a starter like Dan Haren, who made $12.75 million in 2012.
Haren is coming off a down year where he went 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA, .275 BAA and a WHIP of 1.29. All of these numbers are below his career averages and may put Haren right in the Twins' price range.
Haren still had a quality walk-to-strikeout-ratio in 2012, 38 BB to 142 K, and the Twins must take a serious look at trying to acquire Haren.
New York Mets: Torii Hunter
Recent rumors have been linking Torii Hunter to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but personally, I just do not see how it will work because they already have a packed outfield full of quality players.
Will Hunter take a limited role? I doubt it, but he may in order to get another shot at a ring.
I see him wanting to play every day, and one team that would work well for Hunter is the New York Mets.
With their recent breakup with Jason Bay, they need a left fielder, and most likely one who won't cost a boatload of cash on a short-term deal.
It seems like the two could be a perfect match, but so far, the Mets have been extremely quiet this offseason, and if they continue this way, Hunter will sign elsewhere.
If Hunter wants to play everyday, New York could be the place for him.
New York Yankees: Hiroki Kuroda
We all know the Yankees can hit, but if they want to stay atop the NL East with their aging core, they are going to have to keep their starting rotation intact.
One of their major priorities this winter is to bring back Hiroki Kuroda, who will be 38 next season on another short-term deal.
Kuroda pitched very well this season; he threw 219.2 innings with a 3.32 ERA in a tough division. I think they will sign him on another one-year, $10 million contract.
If Kuroda walks, the Yankees starting rotation could be in serious trouble.
Oakland Athletics: Brandon McCarthy
The stability Brandon McCarthy brought to the A's in 2012 is one of the major reasons they were able to win the AL West. It is imperative that Billy Beane and company bring him back.
With his injury history, he will come relatively cheap. He made $4.2 million in 2012, and I see him making slightly more than that over a three-year deal.
If the A's don't aggressively pursue him, several other teams will be knocking down his door. Cheap, quality-starting pitching is always on every team's most wanted list.
His 3.24 ERA and his positive presence in the clubhouse is more than enough for the A's to bring him back for 2013 and beyond.
Philadelphia Phillies: B.J. Upton
The Phillies desperately need a centerfielder, and B.J. Upton is one of the best on the market. He also fits well with the Phillies because they need a right-handed power bat to balance their lineup that is centered around Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
Upton is a player who has yet to hit his fullest potential, and hopefully by playing in front of a sold-out crowd every night, it will motivate him.
Michael Bourn is another option for the Phillies, but Upton is two years younger. Look for the Phillies to go hard after Upton and bring his speed and power to Philadelphia.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Mike Napoli
Mike Napoli is a versatile player with his ability to catch and play first base. He would fit perfect in Pittsburgh and would be a great addition to Andrew McCutchen in their batting order.
Rod Barajas is a free agent, and the Pirates are most likely going to be looking for another catcher.
His .227 average in 2012 is a cause for concern, but I see him improving on that in 2013. His ability to hit 20-plus home runs a season is something the Pirates desperately need.
Napoli will be an immediate improvement to what the Pirates have behind the plate, and he can also give Garret Jones some off days at first base because Jones can also be used in the outfield.
St. Louis Cardinals: Shaun Marcum
With Kyle Lohse hitting free agency and contracts expiring on Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Jake Westbrook in the very near future, the Cardinals need to sign a starting rotation arm for the future.
Shaun Marcum could be just that guy. Marcum will be 31 next season and would be a solid additional to the middle of the Cardinals rotation.
He also has pitched the last two seasons in the NL Central and is already familiar with the players throughout the division.
Marcum posted a 3.70 ERA while striking out 109 in 124 innings of work and had a 1.3 WAR in 2012.
San Diego Padres: Joe Saunders
The Padres need to add another quality starter to their rotation in 2013. They finished 22nd in quality starts in 2012, and that is pitching in a very pitcher-friendly ballpark. That mark must improve if they want to even think about competing in 2013.
One starter who can help solidify their rotation is Joe Saunders. He is someone who can consistently throw over 200 innings, and since he played in Arizona in 2010, 2011 and part of 2012, he already knows the hitters well in the NL West
Saunders made $6 million in 2012 and had a mediocre season, so he will be right in the Padres' price range this winter.
Pitching in San Diego will only improve his overall numbers and can give the Padres the quality starts they are looking for.
San Francisco Giants: Marco Scutaro
Marco Scutaro almost single handily helped the Giants reach and win the 2012 World Series. He also had great regular season for a 36-year-old. He hit .306 and drove in 77 runs.
I look for the Giants to sign him to a two-year deal worth between $12-15 million.
He is a leader on their team and in the clubhouse, and I don't see them moving forward without re-signing him.
If they don't, he will be missed by fans and teammates alike.
Seattle Mariners: Nick Swisher
Nick Swisher seams to be all about the money as he makes his plans for next season. One team who may be willing to risk it and pay him is the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners have the worst offense in baseball hands down, ranking dead last in average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Swisher is someone who can provide some pop; over his career, he has consistently hit over 20 home runs and driven in between 80-90 runs a season.
He will turn 32 in November and will be looking for at least a five-year deal, probably more.
I think the Mariners are a perfect fit and will probably be one of the only teams willing to overpay for Swisher.
Tampa Bay Rays: Mike Adams
The Tampa Bay Rays seem to always roll the dice with their bullpen, and Mike Adams could be the perfect fit to come in and be the setup man next year.
The Rays don't have a lot of money to spend on offense, so they will continue to play a lot of tight games in 2013. A quality setup man could help put them in a position to win a lot of games, and Mike Adams can do just that.
Adam can also be had for a reasonable price; he made $4.4 million in 2012, and look for him to sign for around that, if not a little less, next season.
He will turn 35 in July next year and could be the short-term fit the Rays are always looking for.
Toronto Blue Jays: Edwin Jackson
The Blue Jays need all the pitching help they can get in 2013. They ranked towards the bottom in almost every single pitching category in 2012.
One quality arm with a substantial amount of upside is Edwin Jackson, who continues to improve year after to year in his craft.
Jackson can give you innings, strikeouts, a decent BAA and an ERA somewhere between 3.50 and 4.00.
He made a little over $10 million in 2012, and I think that number will come down to around $8 million per season with a long-term deal.
He should be right in the price range for the Blue Jays, and he can help bring some consistency to a starting rotation that ranked 22nd in quality starts.
Texas Rangers: A.J. Pierzynski
With Mike Napoli on the free agent market, the Rangers are going to need to fill his role with someone who can catch and occasionally DH.
A.J. Pierzynski can do all that very well, and with Geovany Soto coming off a season where he hit just .192, the Rangers will need some offense from the catcher position.
Pierzynski hit .278 with 27 homers and 77 RBI in 2012 and would fit right in with the Rangers offense.
He will turn 36 in December and come to Texas on a short-term deal where he will make between $5-7 million per season. I'm thinking a two-year deal sounds about right.
Washington Nationals: Adam LaRoche
Adam LaRoache had big hit after big hit in 2013 and will be one of the most sought after free agents on the market. His defense is also the best in the National League.
The Nationals must bring him back; he can balance their offense while picking up the infielders on defense. He drives in runs and saves them, something every team looks for in a first baseman.
LaRoche blasted 33 homers, hit .271 and drove in a 100 runs in 2012. The Nats will definitely miss that kind of production if they let him walk this offseason.