Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke are going to get monster contracts from someone this winter; it’s just a matter of time before someone takes the plunge. The two are undoubtedly the best available hitter and pitcher combination of a free-agency class that lacks significant star power.
Being a top target also makes your price tag go up, which deters some teams from quickly jumping to sign you. That’s true in this case, especially for someone like Hamilton. The former Texas Rangers slugger has had a string of off-field distractions and red flags that may make teams hesitant to commit long-term big-money contracts to him.
Greinke, on the other hand, comes as advertised after he was dealt to the Anaheim Angels before last summer’s MLB trade deadline. What’s holding a potential deal for him up? The asking price.
Greinke could become one of the highest-paid right-handers due to the high demand and low availability for front-end rotation pitching this offseason.
Here’s the latest on the top three MLB free agents still out there.
Josh Hamilton, OF
Latest: Nov. 14, the Seattle Mariners and Philadelphia Phillies join list of potential suitors
Seattle reportedly has interest and is “looking at” the free-agent outfielder, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It would be a risky move for a team that’s struggling mightily to score runs.
Adding a huge multi-year contract on a gamble could set back the franchise a decade.
Philadelphia Phillies president David Montgomery said Hamilton is an option for his club, according to Heyman (via Twitter).
#phillies honcho dave montgomery on josh hamilton: "I don't think there's a whole lot we're not considering."— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 14, 2012
Hamilton has said he will give the Rangers the final chance to sign him before going elsewhere. That may not end up being a possibility if Hamilton takes too long in his pursuit of dollar bills.
"I just don't think we can wait around until January," Nolan Ryan, Rangers general manager, said, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.
Zack Greinke, SP
Latest: Nov. 9, Dodgers confirm interest in starting pitcher
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the Los Angeles Dodgers are in win-now mode and that they would be willing to pay the heavy ransom for Greinke’s services. Nightengale also confirmed the team has been in contact with Greinke’s agent.
On Nov. 7, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports said the Rangers declared they are focusing on signing the top pitching free agent. That focus, according to Heyman, means the team will likely let outfielder Josh Hamilton slip away due to the large salary Greinke will demand.
B.J. Upton, OF
Latest: Nov. 14, Braves name Upton top free agent target
Upton has been pegged as the Atlanta Braves’ top candidate to replace free-agent centerfielder Michael Bourn, according to MLB,com’s Mark Bowman (via Twitter). He would make a good replacement but might come at a higher price tag despite offering much of the same skills as Bourn.
Braves had visions of signing both Torii Hunter and B.J. Upton. With Hunter off the board, Upton remains their top free agent target.— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) November 14, 2012
Last week during the general managers’ meetings in Arizona, a Philadelphia Phillies executive said that signing Upton is the Phillies’ top offseason priority, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. also confirmed that he has been in contact with Larry Reynolds, Upton’s agent.