2012-2013 MLB Free Agents: The Best of the Rest
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MLB free agency has been in full swing thus far, and we have already seen the two hottest free agents find new homes on the west coast.
Last week Zack Greinke signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers to a six-year deal worth a guaranteed $147 million, the largest ever for a right handed pitcher in MLB history. Not long after Greinke signed with the Dodgers, Josh Hamilton also found a home in Los Angeles, teaming up with Albert Pujols and the Angels. Hamilton’s deal is a five-year deal worth $125 million and solidifies an already dangerous lineup that is filled with names like Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Kendrys Morales.
There are still several players to be signed this offseason and where they may land remains a question. Let’s take a look at five free agents and where they could possibly end up before the start of the 2013 MLB season.
1. Nick Swisher (OF/DH)
Nick Swisher is still searching for a new home since being released by the Yankees.
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Former Team: New York Yankees
Nick Swisher has spent the last four seasons with the New York Yankees, solidifying the lineup in the Bronx for the majority of that time (.267, 105 home runs, 349 RBI). However, poor playoff performances over his time in New York could be what played a decision in the Yankees showing Swisher the door this offseason.
Swisher’s postseason statistics with the Yankees have been unimpressive, as he hit just .171 in 36 post season games, tallying only four home runs and seven RBI.That being said, Swisher remains the best hitting free agent on the MLB market.
Teams that are reportedly interested in Swisher’s services are the Orioles, Rangers, Phillies, Indians and Mariners.
Of these teams, the only team Swisher would most likely not play outfield for is the Orioles, who have Nate McLouth, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis in the outfield. The Orioles tried various options at DH this past season, none of which produced the kind of numbers Swisher did last year for the Yankees. Being familiar with American League pitching as well as the AL East, I think Swisher landing in Baltimore could be a real possibility.
New Team: Baltimore Orioles
2. Michael Bourn (CF)
Michael Bourn's speed and defense make him a highly coveted player in free agency.
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Former Team: Atlanta Braves
Michael Bourn has been one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball over the last few years. A speed threat who can hit for a high average and gets on base, Michael Bourn is the ideal leadoff guy. One of the best qualities Bourn possesses in addition to his base stealing ability is his ability to reach base via the walk. Bourn walked 70 times last season, tied for 16th in the league, and the most among leadoff hitters.
In my opinion Michael Bourn makes the most sense for the Rangers, who could be willing to pay more money for Bourn’s services than any other team. Having just lost Josh Hamilton to the rival Los Angeles Angels, Michael Bourn can make that loss hurt a little less. Just like Hamilton, Bourn gets on base and makes plays in the outfield.
While he would not replace the home runs and RBI that Hamilton provided the Rangers, Bourn is a catalyst who can make things happen at the plate and on base.
New Team: Texas Rangers
3. Rafael Soriano (RHP Reliever/Closer)
Rafael Soriano closed out 42 games for the Yankees in 2012.
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Former Team: New York Yankees
Rafael Soriano played a huge role in the Yankees success this season after taking on the closer role following the season ending injury to future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera. Soriano appeared in 69 games for the Yankees last season, converting on 42 of 46 save opportunities, posting a 2.26 ERA.
Despite being one of the best relief pitchers in the majors since 2005, Soriano has been a well-traveled player even through his success. Since 2005 Soriano has played for the Mariners, Braves, Rays and Yankees. Over the last eight seasons Soriano has had a 2.67 ERA to go with 130 saves.
Soriano had success last year where the Red Sox did not. While Soriano was posting stellar numbers for the Yankees, Alfredo Aceves of the Red Sox posted not so stellar numbers. Aceves appeared in 69 games for the Red Sox, posting a 2-10 record, along with a 5.36 ERA, converting on 25 of his 33 save opportunities.
Soriano has been a model of consistency over his career. There could be interest from the Red Sox and given the lack of success out of Aceves, Soriano might just take the chance to close out games as a member of his former team’s bitter rival.
New Team: Boston Red Sox
4. Adam LaRoche (1B)
Adam LaRoche led the Nationals in home runs (33) and RBIs (100) last season.
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Former Team: Washington Nationals
Of the five players in this slideshow, LaRoche is the only player I don’t see leaving the team he last played for.
LaRoche was a solid contributor for the Nationals last season, hitting .271 with 33 home runs and 100 RBI. The 33-year-old veteran is also a solid defensive player, committing only 7 errors all season, good for a .995 fielding percentage and a Gold Glove award this past season.
LaRoche is currently looking for a three-year deal from a team, but at the moment the Nationals are only willing to give him two. While I could see teams like the Red Sox and Orioles also showing interest in LaRoche, ultimately I think he stays with the Washington Nationals.
The Nationals will arguably be better than both of those teams this coming season, and having already established himself with the Nationals organization, I don’t see LaRoche going anywhere.
New Team: Washington Nationals
5. Kyle Lohse (RHP Starter)
Kyle Lohse went 16-3 with the St. Louis Cardinals last season with a 2.86 ERA.
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Former Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Kyle Lohse is one of the most intriguing free agents on the market as well as one of the best. Lohse went 16-3 last season with a 2.86 ERA and 143 strikeouts for the St. Louis Cardinals. Even with the phenomenal numbers Lohse posted last season they were not good enough for the St. Louis Cardinals to not let him walk.
The biggest factor in this decision could be Lohse’s age (34) and career numbers (118-109, 4.45 ERA). Because of his great year the thought is that Lohse could be demanding a lot of money that the Cardinals don’t appear willing to pay.
The Kansas City Royals are quietly building what could be a solid pitching rotation in the AL Central. Early on it appears to be the second best rotation in the division behind the Detroit Tigers.
With James Shields, Ervin Santana, Wade Davis and Jeremy Guthrie already in the rotation for the Royals, pursing Lohse makes a lot of sense. The Royals have shown their willingness to spend money this season and Lohse could add to the payroll, and possibly a turnaround year in Kansas City.
New Team: Kansas City Royals