MLB Free Agency 2013: Ranking the Top 40 Players Still on the Market
With baseball's winter meetings set to start in less than a week, the MLB free-agency market should be ready to heat up substantially.
All eyes will be on Nashville starting this Monday.
While some deals have been reached thus far, the vast majority of quality free agents are left out there, and many of them are likely waiting to see what the market will bear for their services.
Here are the top 40 players still left hanging without a job as the month of November draws to a close. We will provide updates as to the latest rumblings and grumblings regarding each player as well.
Predictions for the most logical landing spot for each player will also be included.
40. Brett Myers
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Brett Myers would like to return in 2013 as a starter, and the one team that's shown the most interest in granting his wish thus far is the Minnesota Twins.
Myers' agent, Craig Landis, indicated that the Twins were indeed intrigued (per the Star Tribune).
"They're interested, or perhaps even very interested," Landis said. "And that's about as far as we are right now."
Myers has done it all thus far in his career, from starting to middle relief to setup and closing. He told Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago that he'll do whatever it takes.
“I’ve got the mentality, I want to pitch,” Myers said. “Whichever way a team wants me to go I’ll do. I think I’ve proven I can start. I’ve proven I can do both. Hindsight is 20/20. Some teams might like me in the bullpen. Some might like me as a starter. It’s up to the team.”
Prediction: Myers signs with Twins for two years and $16 million.
The versatility is a huge plus, and the ability to deliver 200 innings with consistency doesn't hurt either.
39. Francisco Liriano
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Francisco Liriano is a mystery wrapped around an enigma.
Blessed with the ability to throw a no-hitter, he can also be knocked out of a game by the third inning after walking the ballpark.
But the man possessing the electric stuff is still a draw for several teams.
Earlier this month, the Chicago Cubs reportedly made an offer to Liriano.
The Minnesota Twins, Liriano's home for six-plus seasons, could be interested in bringing him back as well.
Prediction: Liriano signs with Cubs for two years and $12 million.
If he can return to 2006 form, then it's a bargain for the Cubs. Even his 2010 form would produce nice results.
38. Scott Hairston
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Utility players who play multiple positions and hit for power don't grow on trees.
For that reason, Scott Hairston could be a wanted man this winter.
After hitting .263 with 20 home runs, 57 RBI and an .803 OPS in 2012, Hairston could be looking at a substantial raise above the $1.1 million he made in each of the last two years with the New York Mets.
The Mets believe Hairston could get a deal in the two-year, $8-10 million range, likely putting them out of range.
The crosstown rival New York Yankees have also been in discussions with Hairston, who could work very well in a platoon situation if the Yankees bring back Raul Ibanez.
Prediction: Hairston signs with Yankees for two years and $8.5 million.
The suddenly cost-conscious Yankees could find Hairston much more palatable than other more expensive options. He's younger and more athletic than Andruw Jones and has the ability to play all three outfield positions plus second base.
37. Jeff Keppinger
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Last year, infielder Jeff Keppinger thrived with the Tampa Bay Rays, hitting .325 with nine home runs, 40 RBI and an .806 OPS.
It was revealed earlier this week, however, that Keppinger suffered a broken fibula after falling down the stairs at his home.
While it sounds scary, Keppinger is expected to be fully healed by mid-January, easily in time for spring training next season.
That's good news to the half-dozen or so teams interested in him, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
Prediction: Keppinger signs with Tampa Bay for two years and $10 million.
The Rays are desperate for more offense. Keppinger certainly provided that in his one season, and he may be a better offensive option than others on the free-agent market.
36. Jason Grilli
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Right-handed reliever Jason Grilli could fetch himself a nice payday after building a solid resume for himself in the last two years.
Grilli posted a 2.76 in 92 appearances in two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and his agent is already sifting through offers.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe said on Sunday that Gary Sheffield, Grilli's agent, has heard from eight different teams and has received three offers.
“We’re not in a hurry," Sheffield said. "There are some things we want to look at a little further. We’re not sure the market has fully developed for Jason.”
Prediction: Grilli signs a two-year, $8.5 million deal with the Boston Red Sox.
If there is one huge area of need for the Red Sox, it's in the bullpen. Grilli's consistency will be a major factor for a team looking to find stability.
35. Sean Burnett
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For the past three-plus seasons, southpaw reliever Sean Burnett has been a key piece of the Washington Nationals bullpen, posting a 2.81 ERA and averaging over 70 appearances each year.
Burnett obviously knew his value, declining his mutual option on his contract for the 2013 season for $3.5 million.
It certainly seems like a smart move considering that lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt signed a three-year, $18 million contract with the San Francisco Giants.
Burnett is three years younger than Affeldt, so a similar deal for him certainly wouldn't be out of line.
Prediction: Burnett signs with St. Louis Cardinals for two years and $11 million with an option for the 2015 season.
The Cardinals are on the hunt for help in the bullpen for left-hander Marc Rzepczynski, and GM John Mozeliak has indicated he's not opposed to multi-year deals in order to achieve his goal.
34. Joe Saunders
The market for southpaw pitcher Joe Saunders has been quiet thus far, but his former team seems intent on bringing him back.
According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com, the Orioles would like to bring Saunders back, but they're also looking at other rotation options.
The Minnesota Twins checked in on Saunders as well, and GM Terry Ryan essentially said that any pitcher of value will be looked at.
"Anybody who is a starting pitcher that we've identified as having some ability, you can assume we've touched base with them," he said.
Prediction: Saunders signs with Baltimore for three years and $24 million.
The signing of Jeremy Guthrie by the Kansas City Royals likely helped set the asking price for Saunders. Considering his contribution to the team in the final six weeks of the season and his performance in the playoffs, the price may just be right.
33. Cody Ross
Outfielder Cody Ross enjoyed a resurgent season last year with the Boston Red Sox, and it was at a bargain-basement price for the Red Sox.
Ross made $3 million last season while hitting 22 home runs with 81 RBI.
Now, the Red Sox appear focused on getting Ross back into the fold, despite the signing of free-agent outfielder Jonny Gomes.
The Red Sox are still very much in the running for the services of Ross. But in mid-November, Jim Bowden of ESPN tweeted that the Philadelphia Phillies, Seattle Mariners and Detroit Tigers were vying for his services as well.
Prediction: Ross signs with Red Sox for three years and $20 million.
Ross' offense at Fenway Park (.921 OPS, 13 HR in 2012) serves both him and the Red Sox well. His versatility in the outfield is also a plus.
32. Koji Uehara
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Reliever Koji Uehara was more than solid last season for the Texas Rangers, posting a sparkling 1.75 ERA in 37 appearances. Uehara saved his best for last, delivering 14 scoreless appearances in the final month of the season.
With teammate Mike Adams also entering free agency and Alexi Ogando likely returning to the starting rotation, the Rangers have vacancies in the bullpen. According to Jeff WIlson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, general manager Jon Daniels is open to Uehara returning in 2013.
The Rangers do have some competition, however.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported last week that the Philadelphia Phillies also have interest in Uehara. The Phillies are looking to build a better bridge between their starters and closer Jonathan Papelbon.
Prediction: Uehara stays in Texas for two years and $7.5 million.
Uehara was crucial to the Rangers bullpen last September/October with Mike Adams on the shelf.
31. Lance Berkman
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If Lance Berkman is indeed thinking about retirement, he would likely rather go out on a better note.
After three stints on the disabled list and appearances in only 32 games for the St. Louis Cardinals last season, Berkman gave the idea of retirement strong consideration.
He met with Houston Astros owner Jim Crane in mid-November to talk about the possibility of returning home.
Berkman certainly sounded willing.
It just depends on what kind of money they are talking about. Am I going to come back for a couple of million bucks, no.
If they want to pay me close to what I feel like my value is in terms of what I bring to the table, I mean if they're going to ask me to be there and hit third and play every day and DH every day, I want to be compensated like a guy who is a Major League three-hole hitter.
Obviously, I would be willing to take a little bit less because it's my hometown and for the opportunity to get back to the Astros organization. I'm just waiting for them to make some sort of offer and go from there.
Prediction: Berkman returns to Astros for one year and $7 million.
30. Ichiro Suzuki
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After establishing himself as a vital presence in the New York Yankees lineup in the second half and in the postseason in 2012, right fielder Ichiro Suzuki is looking for an encore performance.
Suzuki has indicated his desire to return to the Yankees. His agent, Tony Attanasio, told George King of the New York Post that his client's preference is to remain in pinstripes.
“There has been a lot of interest [from teams], but he enjoyed playing for the Yankees so much it’s hard for him to say no to the Yankees," Attanasio said. "His preference is to stay there instead of going someplace else, but we will wait and see.’’
Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted on Wednesday that Suzuki and the Yankees have not held talks recently. However, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com said on Sunday that the Yankees are "confident" that they'll be able to ink Suzuki.
Prediction: A one-year, $6 million deal gets Suzuki to stay in New York.
He adds tremendous value as a quality glove who can capably man all three outfield positions and provide a spark at or near the top of the lineup.
29. Russell Martin
Catcher Russell Martin is apparently looking to cash out this winter.
According to Andy Marchand of ESPN New York, Martin may have priced himself out of New York:
I'm told Martin is looking for four years and $9-10M per. Doubt Yanks will do that.— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) November 27, 2012
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported on Monday that the New York Yankees aren't the only ones vying for Martin's services. Rosenthal cited sources as saying the Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates and Texas Rangers all have interest in him.
However, if Martin is indeed looking for upward of $10 million, the cost-conscious Pirates might be just a bit leary.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports said on Sunday that talks between Martin and the Yankees are "heating up," and that the two sides made progress over the weekend.
Prediction: Martin stays in pinstripes for three years and $27 million.
With few options available in terms of production on the free-agent market, keeping Martin makes more sense for the Yankees.
28. Angel Pagan
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After enjoying a renaissance season with the San Francisco Giants and walking away with a well-deserved World Series ring, center fielder Angel Pagan is looking for a nice payday.
In a chat with Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com on Friday, Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. discussed Pagan as one of the options the Phillies are looking at to fill a gap in center.
The Giants could look to re-sign Pagan, but may not be keen on offering a three-year deal.
Pagan is only 31, so not sure what the hesitancy is in signing him for three years—unless they view top prospect Gary Brown as taking over full-time during that span, which is likely.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported two weeks ago that Pagan could possibly sign with a team before the start of the winter meetings. Sources told Rosenthal that many of the same teams looking at B.J. Upton are also eyeballing Pagan as well.
Prediction: Pagan signs with Giants for two years and $14 million with 2015 option.
Why break up a good thing? The safe bet is that GM Brian Sabean brings back both Pagan and Marco Scutaro.
27. Shaun Marcum
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In a chat with fans last Friday, Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune said that free agent Shaun Marcum would be a second option for the San Diego Padres this offseason behind Dan Haren.
Center also believes that the Padres are more apt to find a pitcher through the trade market as well.
Other than the Chicago Cubs expressing interest earlier this month, the chatter regarding Marcum has been quiet.
The health concerns surrounding him will be a sticking point in any negotiations. Marcum missed nearly three months this past season with elbow tightness just three-plus years after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
That doesn't give any GM a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Ricky Doyle of NESN.com expressed his belief that the Boston Red Sox should target Marcum, but there's no indication the Sox have actually reached out thus far.
Prediction: Chicago Cubs for two years and $16 million.
While Marcum would like a longer deal, no team will be willing to go longer with the elbow issues he experienced last season.
26. Kevin Youkilis
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This offseason certainly seems to feature a free-agent market where players coming off down years are getting considerable interest.
Third baseman Kevin Youkilis certainly fits that mold.
Youkilis hit .235 with a .745 OPS between the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox last season, with both numbers representing career lows.
Despite that, six teams have checked in on Youkilis: the Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners, Miami Marlins and White Sox.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reported on Sunday that the Indians have interest in Youkilis taking over at first base, while the Dodgers and Phillies are looking for Youkilis to play third, although the Dodgers aren't quite as keen.
Prediction: Cleveland Indians for three years and $25 million.
Youkilis can still pick at first, and there's familiarity with new manager Terry Francona.
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So, just how much is a 36-year-old (birthday Dec. 30) catcher worth on the open market? Especially one who just had a career year offensively?
A.J. Pierzynski will find out soon enough.
Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com believes that Pierzynski's days with the Chicago White Sox may be over.
He has drawn his share of looks if he is indeed not in Chicago's plans.
Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York tweeted that Pierzynski is a backup plan for the New York Yankees if they're unable to re-sign Russell Martin.
Pierzynski could possibly be targeted by the Texas Rangers as well if Mike Napoli signs elsewhere.
Prediction: Re-signs with White Sox for two years and $18 million.
There simply aren't any better options out there, and the White Sox don't seem particularly enamored with the idea of giving Tyler Flowers the everyday job.
A source told Mike Puma of the New York Post that the New York Mets were interested in Flowers, but more as a platoon option for Josh Thole.
24. Jonathan Broxton
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UPDATE: The Cincinnati Reds have signed Broxton to a three-year deal worth $21 million.
By the time this article is published on Wednesday, it's quite possible that Jonathan Broxton will no longer be available.
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Reds are in serious talks with Broxton about a three-year deal, paving the way for closer Aroldis Chapman to transition to the starting rotation next season.
Broxton reinvented himself last season with the Kansas City Royals and Reds. No longer sporting a blazing fastball, Broxton posted 23 saves in 27 chances with the Royals before his trade to the Reds.
Prediction: Broxton signs with Reds for three years and $20 million.
23. Kyuji Fujikawa
Photo courtesy thegreedypinstripes.com
For teams looking to upgrade the back of their bullpen, they could possibly turn to Japan without having to go through an expensive posting process.
Closer Kyuji Fujikawa is now a free agent after six spectacular seasons with the Hanshin Tigers.
During that time, Fujikawa posted 202 saves, a 1.36 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and a terrific 12.4 K/9 rate.
He has reportedly received 10 offers and has narrowed down his preference to five teams.
The Dodgers, Angels, Orioles, Cubs and Diamondbacks are just some of the teams that have met with Fujikawa.
However, considering the Angels have reportedly agreed to a deal with Ryan Madson, they could be out.
The Boston Red Sox also showed interest in Fujikawa earlier this month.
Prediction: Fujikawa signs with Chicago Cubs for three years and $20 million.
The Cubs have already tried to unload current closer Carlos Marmol, so it seems pretty clear they're looking for a more reliable option.
22. Ryan Ludwick
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After a resurgent season in 2012 at a bargain-basement price ($2.5 million), outfielder Ryan Ludwick is looking to cash in. However, it doesn't appear that teams have been beating down his door.
Very little chatter has been heard regarding Ludwick over the past couple of weeks. There is a possibility he could re-sign with the Cincinnati Reds depending on what the Reds choose to do in center field.
Still, considering the cost it will take for teams to land a stud outfielder like Josh Hamilton and others, Ludwick is a low-cost option for teams looking for offensive output.
Prediction: Ludwick re-signs with Reds for two years and $14 million with option for 2015.
21. Shane Victorino
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Since Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton and Michael Bourn are ranked ahead of him on the free-agent depth chart in center field, one could assume that Shane Victorino hasn't gotten a whole lot of love from teams this offseason.
You would be wrong in that assumption.
On Monday, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that at least seven teams are interested in acquiring Victorino, including the Philadelphia Phillies, Victorino's home for eight-plus years.
The Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants, Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox have also expressed some level of interest in Victorino's services.
He'll be much cheaper than the above three options and can easily shift into a corner outfield slot as well.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. identified Victorino as a possibility in center field for the Phillies in an interview with Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:
It’s just a matter of which guy stands out for us and which one helps us put all the pieces together. We can’t put all our resources in one area and not address others. We don’t have unlimited resources. I would say it’s more likely that we go out and acquire an outfielder or two in the free-agent market, but it’s also possible to do trades. There’s been some things, some dialogue that we had, not just for centerfielders but also for corner outfielders. We’re trying to improve as much as we can.
Prediction: Victorino signs with Tampa Bay Rays for two years and $15 million with option for 2015.
Victorino gives Tampa Bay speed at the top of the lineup, and his versatility in the outfield would allow Desmond Jennings to take over in center.
20. Marco Scutaro
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After hitting .362 in 61 regular-season games, winning the NLCS MVP award and delivering the World Series game-winning hit, infielder Marco Scutaro's stock has risen sky-high.
As recently as last Friday, the San Francisco Giants believed they could work out a deal to retain him.
There simply hasn't been more chatter regarding Scutaro because it's widely believed he's staying right where he is.
Prediction: Scutaro re-signs with Giants for two years and $14 million.
19. Joakim Soria
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Even after a second Tommy John surgery, reliever Joakim Soria has an arm wanted by several teams.
It's doubtful that Soria will be ready to pitch on Opening Day, but according to his agent Oscar Suarez, it hasn't stopped the calls from coming in.
Suarez told Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York that eight teams have contacted him regarding Soria's service. The Cincinnati Reds were one of those teams, but they now seem intent on signing closer Jonathan Broxton.
Suarez also said that Soria would be open to setting up for New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera next season if the Yankees were so inclined to call.
That seems doubtful considering the Yankees have David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain in place.
According to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, the Boston Red Sox were one of the teams that checked in on Soria.
Though Suarez has said that eight teams checked in, only the Red Sox and Reds have actually been confirmed.
Prediction: Re-signs with Kansas City Royals for two years and $10.5 million.
Soria has expressed his desire to stay in Kansas City, saying it was beneficial for his family.
18. Mike Adams
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When reliever Mike Adams underwent surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome in late October, it certainly slowed down chatter on the rumor mill.
The Texas Rangers would be open to Adams returning to Arlington, but general manager Jon Daniels was coy in his remarks about a long-term contract.
"I think Mike's earned the right and put up performances indicative of a substantial contract," Daniels said. "Historically we haven't done those kinds of deals."
Adams posted a sterling 1.71 ERA between 2008 and 2011 before slipping last year to a 3.27 mark.
He is expected to be fully ready by spring training. So while the chatter right now might be slow, Adams likely won't be unemployed for long.
Prediction: Adams signs with Boston Red Sox for three years and $17 million.
Adams will be another addition to the Red Sox bullpen as they look to build a proper bridge for closer Andrew Bailey.
17. Ryan Dempster
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Ryan Dempster was a popular man at the trade deadline last July, with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers, among others, all in hot pursuit of him.
Now, not so much.
The rumor mill has been quiet recently concerning Dempster. The Minnesota Twins have been in contact with him, but they've also reached out to several others as well.
The Milwaukee Brewers have shown interest in Dempster as well—not shocking considering how much they've seen of him in the past eight years or so in the NL Central.
Dempster's career 2.66 ERA in 101.1 innings at Miller Park could certainly be a factor.
Prediction: Dempster signs with Milwaukee for two years and $18 million with option for 2015.
Definitely don't see a longer deal for Dempster considering he'll be 36 in May. It's a great fit in Milwaukee, as he'll help to groom a young corps of starters as well.
16. Stephen Drew
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In a free-agent market seriously lacking for shortstops, Stephen Drew is a popular man these days.
Even though he only hit .223 with seven homers and 28 RBI for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland A's following his return from a gruesome ankle injury, Drew has already drawn interest.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees have all checked in.
The Yankees are a long shot, viewing Drew more in a super-sub role.
The A's are continuing negotiations with Drew as well, despite turning down his $10 million contract option for next season.
Prediction: Drew signs with Tampa Bay Rays for two years and $16 million.
The Rays have Hak-Ju Lee and Tim Beckham in waiting, but they're looking for offense in 2013 as well. Neither Lee nor Beckham are likely to impact the team next year.
15. Kyle Lohse
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Fresh off a spectacular season in which he posted a 16-3 record and 2.86 ERA in 33 starts, the chatter concerning free-agent pitcher Kyle Lohse has been quiet lately.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are one team that could have interest, but right now they seem more intent on locking up ace Clayton Kershaw to a long-term deal and negotiating with Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-Jin.
The Boston Red Sox have made inquiries about Lohse as well. So have the Toronto Blue Jays, but that was before their mega-deal with the Miami Marlins that netted starters Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle.
Prediction: Lohse signs with Kansas City Royals for three years and $30 million.
Royals owner David Glass said he would spend to bring in impact pitchers, and Lohse could be that guy.
14. Edwin Jackson
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Starting pitcher Edwin Jackson may have a .500 record and a lofty 4.40 ERA, but it certainly hasn't slowed teams down from inquiring about his services.
The Minnesota Twins were one such team, according to John Shipley of the Pioneer Press.
Jackson would also consider returning to the Washington Nationals, but that seems more like hope than reality at this point.
Teams are simply going to be wary of offering up a long-term deal for Jackson, as evidenced by the relative lack of chatter concerning his free-agency status.
Prediction: Jackson signs with Toronto Blue Jays for three years and $33 million.
Jackson is an innings-eater, and the strikeout rate was vastly improved last season. With the Blue Jays' apparent go-for-it attitude, adding Jackson could be the right play.
13. Brandon McCarthy
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At 29 years of age, starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy has figured things out on the mound.
Over his last two seasons with the Oakland A's, McCarthy posted a 3.29 ERA and a much-improved command of the strike zone.
However, the shoulder concerns still linger. He again landed on the disabled list twice last season with shoulder woes, and his season was ended by a line drive to the head.
A team official told Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports that if McCarthy's medical issues are deemed to be behind him, he could in fact receive a multi-year deal.
Prediction: McCarthy signs with San Diego Padres for two years and $13 million with option for 2015.
Petco Park is perfect for McCarthy, going from one spacious area of real estate to another.
12. Andy Pettitte
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UPDATE: The New York Yankees have signed Pettitte to a one-year deal worth $12 million.
Boy, Andy Pettitte looked pretty good at 40 years old, didn't he?
Unfortunately, Pettitte likely won't be available to any team but the New York Yankees.
On Tuesday, ESPN's Buster Olney was told that the Yankees and Pettitte are closing in on a one-year, $11 million contract.
Pettitte was 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 12 starts last season, missing over two months with a broken fibula.
Prediction: Um, let's see. Pettitte signs with Yankees for $11 million. Yeah, I'll call that.
11. Dan Haren
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Back in early November, it was widely reported by numerous sources that the Los Angeles Angels had traded starting pitcher Dan Haren to the Chicago Cubs for closer Carlos Marmol.
However, the deal was never finalized, and reports of health concerns were then being distributed.
David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com was told by a source that the Cubs had concerns about Haren's back issues, which put him on the disabled list for the first time in his career last season.
Now, the concerns seem to center around Haren's hip, not his back.
Before last season, durability was certainly not a concern regarding Haren. From 2005 to 2011, he pitched at least 200 innings every season before dipping to just 176.2 in 2012.
The San Diego Padres are reportedly interested, and Haren and Padres GM Josh Byrnes have an excellent relationship stemming from their days together with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Prediction: Haren signs with San Diego Padres for two years and $22 million with option for 2015.
He won't pass up the opportunity to pitch in California and return to some familiarity with Byrnes.
10. Adam LaRoche
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Free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche is continuing to negotiate with his former team, the Washington Nationals.
According to Bill Lasdon of MLB.com, talks have been slow thus far, and no new news has been reported in the last week.
The sticking point may be the length of the deal, with LaRoche looking for at least three years and the Nationals unsure of whether or not that's agreeable.
If a deal isn't reached, LaRoche will find suitors in a market devoid of top-flight first basemen.
Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports said earlier this month that the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox would have interest.
However, one Red Sox official later told Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that the Sox aren't completely enamored with LaRoche.
“Like him. Don’t love him," the official told Rosenthal.
Prediction: LaRoche signs with Nationals for three years and $30 million.
LaRoche's presence last year was huge, not just with the bat but in the clubhouse as well.
9. Mariano Rivera
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Yes, he's a free agent, but is there really doubt as to where Mariano Rivera is going to sign?
I'll give you hint, and it rhymes with thin stripes.
The New York Yankees have yet to make an offer to Rivera, but that's just a matter of time. He has already declared his intention to return for one final season after recovering from a torn ACL.
Mark this deal as done.
Prediction: Yankees for one year and $14 million.
8. Rafael Soriano
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Is it possible that New York Yankees reliever Rafael Soriano made a major misstep in opting out of his $14 million salary for the 2013 season.
Considering the relative inactivity in the bidding for his services, it's entirely possible.
In the last week, the only rumblings on the web concerning Soriano come from Buster Olney of ESPN. Olney wrote that Soriano's agent, Scott Boras, has been in contact with the Detroit Tigers.
However, the Tigers seem more inclined to go with internal candidates in replacing the departed Jose Valverde and indicated that they might be willing to give Bruce Rondon a shot at closing next season.
The Yankees, meanwhile, are absolutely thrilled that Soriano opted out of next season, freeing up money to use in other areas of need.
Prediction: Soriano signs with Yankees for three years and $35 million.
When all is said and done, the market simply won't bear what Soriano is asking for. In the end, the Yankees still have a need for a replacement for Mariano Rivera at the end of next season. Why not go with what you know?
7. Nick Swisher
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The corner outfield position isn't exactly rife with quality hitters, so Nick Swisher has drawn considerable interest.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants are all taking a hard look at Swisher. Heyman lists the Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies as possible matches as well.
Last Wednesday, George A. King III of the New York Post also listed the Red Sox as having Swisher within their sights.
Prediction: Swisher signs with Seattle Mariners for five years and $75 million.
The run-starved Mariners will bite with Swisher. He also provides protection for Justin Smoak at first base should he continue to falter offensively.
6. Mike Napoli
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The Texas Rangers met with free-agent catcher Mike Napoli on Tuesday to get a better understanding of what each side is looking for.
But the Rangers aren't the only players in town for Napoli's services.
The Yankees could be in as well if they're unable to come to terms with free-agent catcher Russell Martin.
Prediction: Napoli signs with Red Sox for four years and $48 million.
He becomes the new first baseman—one that can rake at Fenway Park.
5. Anibal Sanchez
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Earlier this month, it was reported that free-agent starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez was looking for a six-year, $90 million contract.
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, Sanchez could get what he's looking for.
A baseball official told Passan, "He's crazy. And he's probably going to get it."
The Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins are the teams most recently tied to Sanchez.
Prediction: Sanchez signs with Detroit Tigers for five years and $65 million.
The Tigers saw what Sanchez can deliver, and he provides a terrific fourth option alongside Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister.
4. B.J. Upton
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UPDATE: B.J. Upton has signed with the Atlanta Braves, pending a physical:
B.J. Upton of Tampa Bay Rays agrees to deal with Atlanta Braves, says source es.pn/QMRByK— ESPNDallas (@ESPNDallas) November 28, 2012
While the Philadelphia Phillies may have expressed interest in signing free-agent center fielder Michael Bourn, it certainly appears that fellow free agent B.J. Upton might be higher on their list.
According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Upton could make his decision as early as this week.
Jim Bowden of ESPN believes it's between the Atlanta Braves and Phillies, but he hinted about another team as well:
Braves-Phillies in fascinating bidding war for BJ Upton with mystery team...Braves considered in slight lead with final offers due this week— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) November 25, 2012
Could Upton be the first major signing of the offseason?
Prediction: Upton signs with Phillies for six years and $80 million.
Upton gives the Phillies youth and athleticism—something the older team is definitely seeking. In addition, his right-handed bat is a great complement to lefties Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.
3. Michael Bourn
Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images
The Philadelphia Phillies are clearly focused on finding a center fielder this offseason, and they've set their sights on at least two prominent stars on the market: B.J. Upton and Michael Bourn.
Bourn is a known entity in Philadelphia, and according to Matt Gelb of Philly.com, the Phillies, who originally drafted Bourn, have no doubt that Bourn can handle playing in Philly.
According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Bourn might be too expensive for the Cincinnati Reds.
The Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals could be players as well, but the Atlanta Braves are likely out of the bidding entirely.
Prediction: Bourn signs with Reds for five years and $90 million.
The Reds find a way to jettison Drew Stubbs this offseason to accommodate Bourn in center field.
2. Josh Hamilton
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
On Monday, Buster Olney of ESPN published a handicapping of sorts, and it had nothing to do with thoroughbred racing.
Olney polled some baseball executives and agents and asked for their best guess as to which team would be the winning bidder for the services of outfielder and slugger Josh Hamilton.
To say that the vote was split would be an understatement. The Texas Rangers won out by just a half-vote over four other teams plus a mystery team.
Prediction: Hamilton signs with Rangers for five years and $130 million.
It's simply the best fit. The Rangers started winning after Hamilton was in place, and no one on the market can deliver anything close to what Hamilton can provide.
1. Zack Greinke
Jeff Golden/Getty Images
New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia set a new record for pitchers when he signed a seven-year, $161 contract.
Some executives believe that free-agent pitcher Zack Greinke could set a new standard for right-handers.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, executives that he spoke to said that Greinke could very well be in line to receive a $150 million contract in the coming weeks.
Both Los Angeles-based teams—the Angels and Dodgers—will be in play, as well as the Texas Rangers and possibly the Washington Nationals.
Prediction: Greinke signs with Angels for six years and $138 million.
After unloading three top-25 prospects and clearing payroll space by jettisoning Ervin Santana, Dan Haren and Torii Hunter, Angels GM Jerry DiPoto simply won't let another team outbid him.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.