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2013 MLB Free Agents: 15 Players Who Will Make the Biggest Impact

Mark MillerCorrespondent INovember 15, 2012

2013 MLB Free Agents: 15 Players Who Will Make the Biggest Impact

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    Free agency may be in full swing already this MLB offseason, but it will likely take some time before we see some of the biggest names sign contract extensions as they look to feel out the market and maximize their return.

    A number of players have gotten speculation out of the way early, signing long-term extensions with their teams early on rather than deal with the process of testing the waters in free agency.

    Many others, however, have entered free agency in the hopes of inking a lucrative deal on the heels of their 2012 performances.

    Some will enter the first year of their new deals as a focal point of a franchise looking to turn in the right direction, while others may be that final piece to a team's championship puzzle.

    In any case, here are some free agents that promise to make a big impact with their new teams in 2013.

Edwin Jackson

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    In signing Edwin Jackson to a one-year, $11 million contract last offseason, the Washington Nationals sent a clear signal that they were in it to win it this year. They had ace Stephen Strasburg set to hold down the top spot in the rotation, and they had also recently acquired Gio Gonzalez from Oakland.

    Jackson was solid in 2012 with a 10-11 record and 4.03 ERA, and the Nationals will likely need to offer him a considerable multi-year deal if they want to keep the Scott Boras client in their rotation for the foreseeable future.

    His value may not be peaking yet, but as was the case last offseason, he'll probably hold out and let the market work itself out, at which point he will get a big multi-year deal.

B.J. Upton

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    B.J. Upton is looking like one of the top free-agent outfielders in this offseason's market, possibly putting him out of reach for some teams in need of help there, but a player with his talent can be hard to pass up.

    He's had some down numbers over the past two seasons and batted only .246 in 2012, but with 28 home runs and 31 stolen bases, Upton is showing that he's got the combination of power and speed that's always in demand.

    The Atlanta Braves have him high on their radar right now according to Jack Moore of CBS Sports, and with the Michael Bourn potentially moving on, getting Upton as a replacement would be a huge boost to the Braves.

Marco Scutaro

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    Of all the acquisitions that took place during this past summer, the San Francisco Giants' trade to bring in Marco Scutaro was arguably the biggest.

    After coming over from Colorado, Scutaro batted .362, driving in 44 runs in 61 games.

    His performance in the postseason propelled the Giants to their second World Series title in three years, as he batted .500 during the NLCS, good enough to earn him series MVP honors and no doubt bolstering his value this offseason.

Anibal Sanchez

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    Starting off the season with a team that had as much promise as any other in the league, Anibal Sanchez's season with the Miami Marlins didn't last long. The Marlins' season-long struggles would ultimately lead to him being traded to the Detroit Tigers along with Omar Infante.

    Sanchez was solid during his time with Detroit this season, though his clutch performances during the postseason will leave the best impression on any suitors this winter. The 28-year-old could be in position to cash in.

    He's set his market price a bit higher than most teams will look to pay, but in the end, the thin market for starting pitching could net him a payday somewhere in the $90 million range he's looking (via Fox Sports).

Rafael Soriano

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    With Mariano Rivera lost early in the season, the New York Yankees had a big hole to fill as they looked to piece together the back end of their bullpen.

    Rafael Soriano stepped up in a big way in 2012, posting a 2.26 ERA in 69 appearances while saving 42 games—three short of his career high.

    In opting out of the final year of his contract with New York, Soriano promises to attract plenty of attention this offseason, as he is the best closer option in the free-agent market.

A.J. Pierzynski

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    Recently wrapping up the final year of his contract with the Chicago White Sox, you can't blame A.J. Pierzynski if he's upset about the team's hesitance to work on a new deal as he files for free agency.

    Given his performance in 2012 and the team's close call down the stretch in the AL Central, he'll no doubt be a coveted asset this offseason as the open market for catchers is relatively thin.

Angel Pagan

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    With an outfield market boasting top targets like Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton and Michael Bourn, it's easy to look past a player like Angel Pagan.

    In all reality though, Pagan could be just as impactful as those players, and likely wouldn't command nearly the same salary.

    Leading the league in triples with 15 and swiping 29 bags, his speed is a huge asset, and with a .288 batting average in 2012 he's been able to show consistency at the plate.

Joakim Soria

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    Despite being sidelined after having Tommy John surgery this spring, Joakim Soria will still be an important part of the Kansas City Royals' plans for 2013 and beyond.

    He's had a number of successful campaigns with the Royals in recent years and, when healthy, represents one of the best bullpen options in the league.

    With Rafael Soriano out in New York, Soria's name has come up in conversations about an eighth inning role behind Mariano Rivera, something that could see the former Royals closer's value increase as teams look to feel out the market.

Michael Bourn

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    Speedy outfielder Michael Bourn has led the league in stolen bases a few times already during his young career, twice swiping more than 60 bags.

    On top of that, he appears to be improving at the plate every year and will no doubt continue to have his chances to steal bases.

    You better believe that agent Scott Boras will do everything in his power to get him a massive contract.

Jose Valverde

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    After receiving such lofty expectations heading into this season, it's almost hard to call 2012 a success for the Detroit Tigers as many pegged them as World Series champs in light of their offseason maneuvering.

    With big money handed out to Prince Fielder last January, Detroit's checkbook may not have much room to move and the disappointing Jose Valverde may be a casualty as the Tigers look to remain competitive in 2013.

    His postseason was far from spectacular, and as the Tigers have opted to let Valverde enter free agency, he'll have a chance to get back on the right foot with a new ballclub next year.

Zack Greinke

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    After coming over from the Milwaukee Brewers prior to this year's trade deadline, Zack Greinke struggled somewhat upon his arrival in Los Angeles, as he went 6-2 but saw his strikeout averages drop while walk numbers increased.

    He's still the top arm available this offseason, and while there hasn't been much in the way of offers yet, things should heat up as the winter meetings get under way.

Melky Cabrera

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    Leading into the end of the summer it looked like Melky Cabrera could be an MVP candidate and in turn work his way into a huge contract this offseason.

    That all changed when he was handed a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing supplement.

    We can only guess at how much that suspension cost him when it comes to a contract, and while he'll no doubt find a home somewhere, it will likely be a short contract that will basically be an audition for his future, giving him much to prove and plenty of motivation to put up big numbers again. 

Torii Hunter

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    With a big decision to make this offseason with regards to the potential signing of Zack Greinke to a long-term extension, the Los Angeles Angels likely didn't have the money that Detroit paid veteran outfielder Torii Hunter this week.

    Heading back to the division where he got his start in the league, Hunter's strong defense will be a big plus in the spacious confines of Comerica Park, and if he can put up another offensive effort similar to his 2012 output, the team will be in a good position to make a run in the postseason once again.

Josh Hamilton

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    The Texas Rangers will have a huge decision to make when they finally sit down to hammer out a plan with Josh Hamilton's agent regarding the star outfielder's future.

    With an astounding offensive outburst earlier this summer, Hamilton gave the entire league notice of what he's capable of.

    He slowed a bit toward the middle of the season, but rebounded down the stretch and finished the season with 43 home runs and 128 RBI.

    Hamilton may not end up getting what he's looking for this offseason, but in the meantime, he has set his expected value at seven years, $175 million.

Kyle Lohse

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    With pitchers like Cole Hamels off the market this coming offseason, we'll see pitchers like Kyle Lohse come into play far more than previously expected.

    Lohse went 16-3 this season with the St. Louis Cardinals, and with a strong 2.86 ERA to his name, he'll surely be sought after once he hits the open market.

    He'll still have to wait for Zack Greinke to set the bar for pitcher paydays this offseason, but with a solid effort down the stretch this season, Lohse has certainly helped his cause heading into the winter.

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