2013 MLB Free Agency: The Best Destination for Top Available Hitters
MLB free agency may be in full swing, but it will likely take time before we see the biggest names sign contracts as they feel out the market to maximize their return.
A number of players have already signed long-term extensions with their teams. Many others, however, have entered free agency hoping to capitalize on outstanding 2012 seasons by signing a more lucrative deal with another team.
In any case, here are seven free agents who could be a signature away from making a huge impact on a new team.
1. Angel Pagan
With an outfield market boasting top remaining targets like Josh Hamilton and Michael Bourn, it's easy to look past a player like Angel Pagan.
In reality, though, Pagan could be just as impactful as those players and likely won't command nearly as high a salary.
The Philadelphia Phillies could end up being a good fit for Pagan (h/t philly.com) as the team looks to solidify its situation in center field.
Pagan's speed is a huge asset. He led the league in triples with 15 and stole 29 bases. He's also shown consistency at the plate, hitting .288 in 2012.
2. A.J. Pierzynski
After 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.
He's been noted as one of the most disliked players in the league, but his durability can't be questioned and he's always been a relatively productive player.
Even though an offer wasn't made to sign Pierzynski prior to free agency, the White Sox still would like to bring him back next season, according to Jim Margalus of South Side Sox.
Even if he doesn't end up staying with the White Sox, his performance in 2012 should no doubt solidify him as a valuable asset this offseason.
3. Cody Ross
Having been an important part of championship teams in the past, Cody Ross established himself as a viable option for the Boston Red Sox in 2012.
He struggled a bit throughout the season, though he did manage to hit 22 home runs and post an on-base percentage of .326.
With the free-agent outfield market looking like a feast-or-famine situation, Ross' agent will be out for blood, and the Baltimore Orioles just might be a team willing to bite.
Ross is familiar with Baltimore having played in Boston, and with the Orioles looking to continue to build on their impressive 2012 campaign, he could be an inviting option.
4. Marco Scutaro
Of all the acquisitions that took place 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. He e batted .500 in the NLCS, good enough to earn him series MVP honors.
Interest in Scutaro will no doubt be high this offseason, but staying in San Francisco would be the best for both sides and appears to be likely, according to Henry Schulman of SFGate.com.
5. Nick Swisher
Having spent the past four seasons in pinstripes, Nick Swisher has been one of the Yankees' most animated players.
For every bit of animation he may bring, he has also been very consistent, batting .268 over the past four seasons while posting an on-base percentage of nearly .370.
On a roster full of stars, he may not get the credit he deserves, having made only one All-Star Game appearance while averaging nearly 90 RBI and hitting at least 23 home runs in each of the last four years.
As expected, Swisher declined the Yankees' qualifying offer, opting for free agency instead.
However, we've seen that those moves don't always signal the end of a tenure with a franchise. In Swisher's case, he's even said that he hopes to return to the Yankees in 2013.
6. Michael Bourn
Speedy outfielder Michael Bourn has led the league in stolen bases three times already during his young career, twice swiping more than 60.
On top of that, he appears to be improving at the plate and will no doubt continue to have his chances to steal bases.
The Washington Nationals have been in the market for center-field help for some time now, and with B.J. Upton, one of their targets, off the market, they're going to be in the mix for Bourn's services.
7. Josh Hamilton
As one of the top names on the free-agent market, Josh Hamilton is getting attention from plenty of suitors looking to insert his powerful bat into their lineup.
While such a move would make sense in many ways, the Red Sox have been quick to point out that the whirlwind of speculation about the connection might be a bit overblown and that nothing is in any way imminent (h/t Rob Bradford, WEEI.com).
Should Hamilton find his way to Boston he'll be set up for big things as he moves into the next phase of his career. Fenway would provide the perfect atmosphere for him to further his chances of creating a lasting legacy.