2013 MLB Free Agents: Rounding Up Latest Rumors on Top Stars Available

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: B.J. Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays  after hitting a two-run homer against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning  on September 30,  2012 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images

The Hot Stove Season is cooking, but the process, like making a turkey on Thanksgiving, is quite slow and draining. We have seen some movement with a few names here and there. For the most part, the big guns won't sign until the winter meetings in early December. 

While the wait can be unbearable, it does provide a lot of fodder for discussion. Teams are meeting with and talking to players right now, so the rumors come fast and furious in all directions. The things we think we know today could take a drastic turn tomorrow. 

Here are the latest news and rumors coming from the Hot Stove as we inch closer to the winter meetings. 


Josh Hamilton, A Backup Plan?

While the Philadelphia Phillies seem to be in the market for a true center fielder, that doesn't mean they aren't keeping close tabs on Josh Hamilton, who has played center but is better suited for a corner outfield spot. 

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Hamilton is very much on the radar for the Phillies this offseason. 

The Phillies are believed to have superstar outfielder Josh Hamilton as a fallback option in case B.J. Upton and Michael Bourn can't be signed. So Hamilton is at least on their radar.

Heyman also notes that Hamilton could be the biggest-name player to have the "mystery" team get in on the bidding. 

The Phillies could use more versatility on offense, as well as an outfielder, but it has always made more sense for them to go after a player like B.J. Upton or Michael Bourn ahead of Hamilton. This team really doesn't need another injury-prone player over the age of 30 signed to a long-term contract. 


Upton and Bourn Seeking Huge Deals

While we are on the subject of center fielders, it turns out that the two best on the market this winter, B.J. Upton and Michael Bourn, are seeking bigger deals than a lot of people would've guessed. 

According to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Bourn is going to play the market for a bigger deal than Upton. 

5 yrs/$75M figure bandied about for Upton & Bourn might be accurate for Upton, but Bourn and agent Boras are asking for more $ than that.

— David O'Brien (@ajcbraves) November 18, 2012

Upton's age and upside make that seem like a reasonable price to pay, but his actual performance doesn't justify that kind of commitment, either in years or dollars.

Bourn is a better player now than Upton, though he doesn't figure to hold his value for five years since his game is predicated on speed, a tool that can decrease rapidly with age and natural wear-and-tear. 

Both players come with flags. Bourn is a safer risk based on present performance, while Upton is likely to make a team look really good or really bad, depending on how interested he is in playing up to his talent level. 


Adam LaRoche's Market Ready to Open

While it seemed like a given that LaRoche, who hit 33 home runs with 100 RBI and won a Gold Glove, would re-sign with the Nationals at the end of the season, his desire for stability could complicate matters. 

According to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, LaRoche is seeking a three-year deal, which could be more than the Nationals are willing to offer. 

LaRoche already turned down the Nationals' qualifying offer of $13.3 million, and he wants at least a three-year deal. LaRoche has talked to several teams, but the source declined to name them. It has been reported that the Red Sox have interest in LaRoche.

LaRoche is a good defensive first baseman who saw his power return after missing most of last season with an injured shoulder. He has patience and hits for a good average despite striking out a lot. 

As long as the Nationals are close to matching any offer on LaRoche, it seems likely that he will re-sign with the team.


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