MLB Free Agency 2013: 5 Teams Taking a Big Step Back

John AltamuraContributor IINovember 28, 2012

MLB Free Agency 2013: 5 Teams Taking a Big Step Back

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    The Miami Marlins, led by owner Jeffrey Loria, have been one of the MLB teams who have taken a big step back during the 2012-13 offseason.

    Loria and Marlins president David Samson created quite a stir earlier this month when they traded Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle to the Toronto Blue Jays in what amounted as a monumental salary dump.

    The Marlins are not the only team who project to be heading in the wrong direction for 2013.

    The Los Angeles Angels will have to decide whether or not to bring back Zack Greinke—as well as finding a replacement for Torii Hunter, who departed this offseason to the Detroit Tigers via free agency.

    The world champion San Francisco Giants will also have to figure out whether or not they would like to re-sign NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro and Angel Pagan. Both players were instrumental in their 2012 championship run.

    Here are the five teams who have taken a step back this offseason.  

Cincinnati Reds

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    ***UPDATE 11/28*** The Reds have signed Broxton to a three-year, $21 million deal, according to ESPN.com.    

    The Cincinnati Reds have been one of the most successful teams in recent times as they have won the NL Central in two of the last three seasons. This streak of success is in serious jeopardy as they stand to lose several key free agents.

    The Reds have already lost Ryan Ludwick, (.275 BA, 26 HR, 80 RBI), who declined a player option, and could potentially lose free-agent closer Jonathan Broxton (3-3, 2.82 ERA).

    According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Reds are trying to work out a three-year deal with Broxton. He started out 2011 with the Kansas City Royals but was traded to the Reds on July 31 for minor leaguers Donnie Joseph and J.C. Sulbaran. Rosenthal believes Broxton could take over the closer's role if the Reds go forward with the plan to move Aroldis Chapman to the rotation.

    As for replacing Ludwick, the Reds have been rumored to be interested in free-agent right fielder Shane Victorino, according to John Heyman of CBSSports.com. Victorino split the 2012 season with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers, batting .255 with 11 home runs and 55 RBI.

    The Reds cannot afford to take a step back this offseason as the NL Central seems to always be a very competitive division.

    Steps back: 2

Los Angeles Angels

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    One of the big questions surrounding the Los Angeles Angels this offseason is whether or not they will go on a spending spree as they did in 2012 when they brought in both Albert Pujois and C.J. Wilson. The Angels will spend $331.5 million on both players but finished a disappointing third in the AL West behind the Oakland A's and Texas Rangers.

    The 2012-13 offseason has already been a busy one for the Angels as they have traded Ervin Santana and lost Torii Hunter to the Detroit Tigers via free agency. There is also a possibility that they could lose Zack Greinke as well since he is also a free agent.

    This possibility, according to CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler seems to be becoming more certain as the Angels and Greinke have not been able to work out a new deal. A loss of Greinke would leave the Angels in a position where they would have to acquire someone to fill the third starter role behind incumbents Jared Weaver and C.J. Wilson.

    Angels GM Jerry Dipoto will also have to replace the offensive production lost by Hunter. He had a strong season in 2012 where he batted .313 with 16 home runs and 92 RBI. There are some free-agent options out there but its likely Dipoto will go in-house to find outfield depth.

    The Angels have not made enough moves this offseason to close the gap between the A's and the Rangers. Fortunately for them, both of those teams have done basically the same—nothing.

    Steps back: 1

Miami Marlins

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    November 13, 2012, will go down as a sad day for Miami Marlins fans.

    On this day, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria held what amounted to a fire sale by trading away almost all of the starting talent on the 2012 Opening Day roster.

    Loria and company traded away Emilio Bonifacio, Mark Buehrle, John Buck, Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes to the Toronto Blue Jays for Yunel Escobar, Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jeff Mathis and several minor leaguers.

    The move was the culmination to what has amounted as a fire sale for Miami as it has dumped over $240 million in salary since July. A good fiscal move for ownership, but bad for the Marlins fans who supported building Marlins Park and are now left with a swank new stadium devoid of significant major league talent.

    Bob Nightengale of USA Today also spoke about the impact the fire sale has had on a fanbase who are on the hook for the $409 million new Marlins facility and the accompanying $2.4 billion in service debt.

    So, how many steps back have the Marlins taken this offseason? Losing Reyes, Johnson and Buehrle will hurt, but losing fans from the already small Marlins fanbase could be killer.

    Steps back: 4

Milwaukee Brewers

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    One team looking not to take a step back this offseason is the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers finished 2012 in third place behind the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds. The Brewers will need to replace free agents Shaun Marcum (7-4, 3.70 ERA) and Francisco Rodriguez (2-7, 3.70 ERA) if they are going to improve on their 83-79 record from 2012.

    According to CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, the Brewers are interested in potentially bringing back former staff ace Zack Greinke. He was traded to the Angels last season for a pair of minor leaguers. Heyman believes the Brewers will not be able to get into a bidding war if Greinke's asking price approaches the $150 million expected pricetag.

    It is also believed that the Brewers could become a player for the services of Josh Hamilton. According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com, the Brewers are one of the teams interested in bringing in the slugger. Hamilton could help the Brewers recoup some of the offense they lost during the 2012 offseason when Prince Fielder signed $214 million deal with the Detroit Tigers.

    Adding Hamilton and Greinke could potentially close the NL Central gap between the Cardinals and the Reds. As it stands right now, the Brewers have not made any moves that could put them in that position.

    Steps back: 1

San Francisco Giants

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    The San Francisco Giants celebrated their second world championship in the past three seasons this fall after defeating the Detroit Tigers. This feat was accomplished in part by the contributions of NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro and Angel Pagan. Both these players are currently on the free-agent market and the Giants will have to determine whether or not to pay or replace them.

    According to ESPN.com's Buster Olney, the Giants are not willing to give Pagan as many years as he wants in his next deal. He also believes the Giants will work out a deal and bring back Scutaro.

    This presents a mixed bag of sorts for the champs as they will need to bring in some new talent if Pagan, Scutaro or both decide to leave the team via free agency.

    One potential possibility is Shane Victorino.

    Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com said the Giants are one of the teams who could potentially be interested in bringing in Victorino. He could provide a suitable replacement for Pagan as he could play center field.

    The next few weeks will be quite telling for the world champs as they will have to decide how to move forward for the 2013 season. One thing is for sure: if they fail to replace Scutaro and Pagan, they are bound to take a few steps back in the NL.

    Steps Back: 2