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2013 MLB Free Agents: Updates on Where Top Prizes Will Land

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2013 MLB Free Agents: Updates on Where Top Prizes Will Land
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With MLB free agency well underway in preparation for the 2013 season, the vast majority of the most highly coveted players remain available. 

Though stars such as David Ortiz, Melky Cabrera and Torii Hunter have been signed since the free-agent market opened, there are a host of impact players still up for bidding, and the races for many of them remain wide open. 

More than two weeks into the offseason, here's a look at where some of the MLB's top free-agent prizes could land.

 

Josh Hamilton

As this year's top offensive free agent, Josh Hamilton has been fielding offers from a variety of teams, including a handful of deep-pocketed, big-market franchises, including the Boston Red Sox. 

This week, NESN's Mike Cole reported that Boston's Ben Cherington was very much interested in acquiring the services of the former AL MVP, and that the Red Sox should be in the running to get his signature on a long-term deal. 

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington isn’t afraid to admit the team’s interest in Josh Hamilton, going on XM Radio on Tuesday and saying that the team still has interest in the free-agent outfielder.

While Boston's interest in Hamilton has increased as the free agency period has worn on, another one of the perceived top contenders in the Hamilton sweepstakes has apparently fallen, according to CBS Sports' R.J. White

According to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, agents who have been in contact with the team say the Phillies may be out on the 31-year-old despite their need to add at least two starting outfielders.

CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported Monday that the Phillies were believed to have Hamilton as a fallback option as they pursue center fielders Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
With the Phillies out, there are a number of potential destinations for the five-time All-Star, but there's no clear leader in sight. 

 

Zack Greinke 

From the beginning, it's looked like the front-runners in the bidding for prized pitcher Zack Greinke would be the two teams based in Los Angeles, the Angels and the Dodgers. 

According to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, that hasn't changed. 

Greinke is the Dodgers' top choice on the free agent market, according to sources, followed closely by Anibal Sanchez. The Dodgers have also shown interest in Hiroki Kuroda, but it's believed that he is more likely to either stay with the Yankees or return to his native Japan.

The Greinke market could well pit the Dodgers against their Southern California rivals, the Angels, although the Rangers and possibly other teams could also get involved in the bidding. The Angels have made retaining Greinke their top priority, and it's easy to believe that owner Arte Moreno will do all that he can to keep Greinke away from his local rivals and his division rivals.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Kuroda has re-signed with the Yankees, and at this point, it seems that the most likely destinations for Greinke are the Angels and Dodgers, though the Rangers are very much still in the running for the former Cy Young winner. 

Whether Greinke chooses to remain an Angel or move to their cross-town rival remains to be seen, but this could be the winter's most heated bidding war going forward. 

 

Michael Bourn 

Heading into the winter, former Braves outfielder Michael Bourn was widely considered to be among the top position players available, which is why he's had no shortage of suitors thus far. 

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
According to ESPN's David Schoenfield, though there are a handful of perceived front-runners, a couple of other teams could make late pushes to acquire the two-time All-Star. 

Dan mentioned the Phillies as a possibility for Bourn, and that makes a lot of sense. They don't have a center fielder, Jimmy Rollins is better suited for a spot lower in the order these days (Phillies leadoff hitters had a .318 OBP) and the Phillies obviously have the rotation of a playoff contender. On the other hand, the Phillies already are paying $20 million-plus in 2013 to Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard, $15 million to Chase Utley, and a combined $24 million to Rollins and Jonathan Papelbon, so maybe they've hit their limit. On the third hand, they've cut nearly $40 million from the 2012 payroll in kicking Joe Blanton, Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco and Ty Wigginton to the curb. 

Two other options: the Rangers, if they lose Josh Hamilton; and the Giants, if they don't re-sign Angel Pagan. 

Sleeper option: the Brewers -- who then could peddle Carlos Gomez for some pitching help. The Brewers led the National League in runs scored in 2012 but a Bourn-Norichika Aoki one-two punch at the top would set the table nicely for the big boys and help the pitching staff with a more reliable defender in center field.

With the Phillies out on Hamilton, it appears that they'll direct all of their efforts towards landing Bourn or B.J. Upton. Considering Philadelphia's already talented roster, if Bourn wants to win in the short-term, he may be looking for a new address in the city of brotherly love before winter's end. 

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