MLB Free Agency 2013: Ranking Top Free Agents and Trade Targets Still Available
Most of the big names of MLB's free agent class have already found new homes and a number of major trades have been made as well, but there is still plenty to be done between now and spring training.
While Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton have signed, and top trade chips like R.A. Dickey, Shin-Soo Choo and James Shields have all been moved, the player pool is far from tapped dry for teams still looking to make a splash.
Here is an updated ranking of the top players currently available, either through free agency or trade market rumors.
20. DH Delmon Young, Free Agent
With virtually no plate discipline (.317 career OBP) and his fair share of problems off the field, it's no surprise that Young has not garnered much interest so far on the free agent market.
However, he does have solid pop coming off an 18 HR, 74 RBI season, and he's put up solid numbers in the postseason with eight HR and 15 RBI in 28 games.
Young will likely find someone willing to give him regular at bats before the winter is over.
19. RP J.P. Howell, Free Agent
Alex Trautwig/Getty Images
Howell was one of the best setup men in baseball in 2008 and 2009 before missing all of the 2010 season after shoulder surgery.
He struggled upon his return in 2011, with a 6.16 ERA in 46 appearances, but he was back to his old self last season with a 3.04 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over 55 appearances.
Not only is he the best left-handed reliever still on the market, but he is among the best setup options in general.
According to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, there are at least five teams interested in Howell, with the Nationals, Phillies, Cubs, Mariners and Rangers all in on him.
18. SP Joe Saunders, Free Agent
Saunders has been quietly effective since coming up to the big leagues back in 2006, as he's gone 78-65 with a 4.15 ERA pitching for the Angels, Diamondbacks and Orioles.
He certainly boosted his stock with a strong performance after being traded to the Orioles for the stretch run last season, going 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in seven starts with Baltimore and then allowing just two earned runs on nine hits in 11.1 innings of work during his two postseason starts.
As starting pitching chips continue to fall, Saunders could eventually wind up with a multi-year deal somewhere. It's just a matter of establishing the market for him, which will be done through the signings of the rotation options that are above him on this list.
17. LF Scott Hairston, Free Agent
Alex Trautwig/Getty Images
Long considered one of the better platoon players in the league, Hairston broke out this past season while playing in a career-high 134 games, as he hit .263 with 20 HR and 57 RBI over 377 at-bats.
Though he has proven that he can handle himself against all types of pitchers, his real value lies in his ability to crush left-handed pitching (.867 OPS against lefties last year).
In the right situation, Hairston can be a real asset. The Yankees may be actually be the best fit, as they have an entirely left-handed hitting outfield and are looking to add a bat off the bench to replace the departed Andruw Jones.
Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York called Hairston the front-runner among outfield candidates the Yankees are currently looking at.
16. SP Brett Myers, Free Agent
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Myers enjoyed a career revival when he joined the Astros in 2010, going 14-8 with a 3.14 ERA on a bargain one-year deal that earned him a two-year extension.
Those numbers fell to 7-14 with a 4.46 ERA in 2011, and last season the team moved him to the closer role, where he saved 19 games before being dealt to the White Sox at the deadline.
Myers has indicated that he plans to pitch as a starter this coming season (via Jon Morosi of Fox Sports), which could be a game considering how well he's pitched in relief.
Nonetheless, he's still only 32 years old, so expect the market to eventually warm up on him.
15. CF Peter Bourjos, Trade Target
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
With their signing of Josh Hamilton, the Angels now have a pair of starting caliber outfielders slated to ride the bench in Peter Bourjos and Vernon Wells.
Wells' contract is more or less immovable, but Bourjos could be of interest on the trade market. According to a tweet from Jon Heyman, the Angels are looking to trade an outfielder for starting pitching, and Bourjos is the most likely candidate to be moved.
The 25-year-old saw everyday at bats in 2011 and hit .271/.327/.438 with 22 stolen bases and an AL-best 11 triples. However, he moved to the bench last season with the emergence of Mike Trout.
He could blossom into a solid table setter and terrific defender if given a shot to play everyday, and adding to his appeal is the fact that he is under team control through 2016.
14. RF Cody Ross, Free Agent
J. Meric/Getty Images
After a down year in 2011, Ross had to settle for a one-year, $3 million deal with the Red Sox last offseason. The slugging outfielder bounced back nicely in 2012, hitting .267 BA with 22 HR and 81 RBI.
A signing could come soon, as teams appear to have stepped up their pursuit of Ross. The Phillies appear to be the front-runners at this point, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. However, another tweet from Rosental noted that Ross recently met with the Rangers.
Buster Olney tweeted last month that the 31-year-old is looking for something in the neighborhood of a three-year, $25 million deal, but it remains to be seen if he will get that much.
13. RP Joel Hanrahan, Trade Target
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Always a hard thrower, Hanrahan came out of nowhere to assume closing duties for the Pirates in 2011. He's been named to the NL All-Star team in each of the past two seasons, with 76 saves over that span.
Because Hanrahan will be a free agent at the end of next season, the Pirates are pushing to move him, according to a tweet from Danny Knobler of CBSSports.
Last season, the 31-year-old saw his walks shoot up from 2.1 BB/9 in 2011 to 5.4 BB/9, and there are some concerns about his conditioning (via Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review).
He's also expected to earn about $7 million in what will be his final year of arbitration.
12. SP Shaun Marcum, Free Agent
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
A history of arm problems has undoubtedly driven down Marcum's value this offseason.
When healthy, he's served as a reliable No. 2 or No. 3 starter for Toronto and Milwaukee. Despite missing a good chunk of 2011, the 31-year-old has gone 20-11 with a 3.60 ERA over the past two seasons with the Brewers.
Marcum could wind up re-signing with the Brew Crew, according to a tweet from Jim Bowden of ESPN, but at this point, they are one of a handful of teams in on what could be one of the better bargains of the offseason.
11. LF Jason Kubel, Trade Target
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Though Justin Upton has dominated trade talk in Arizona all offseason, it could wind up being another Diamondbacks outfielder who is on his way out.
According to a tweet from Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, Jason Kubel is the more likely player to be on the move before the season starts. He hit .253 with 30 HR and 90 RBI last season in the first year of a two-year deal with Arizona.
The Diamondbacks have a viable starting option to take his place in Gerardo Parra, and a solid young prospect in A.J. Pollock who could step into the fourth outfield spot.
10. C A.J. Pierzynski, Free Agent
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Pierzynski is the top—and only—remaining option as a starter on the catching market. He's also coming off a career year.
The 35-year-old hit .278 with 27 HR and 77 RBI last season—both career bests.
The Yankees, Rangers and White Sox are all potential suitors, but the White Sox are likely prepared to hand the starting job over to young backstop Tyler Flowers (via ESPN Chicago).
9. LF Alfonso Soriano, Trade Target
David Banks/Getty Images
The eight-year, $136 million deal that Soriano signed with the Cubs back in 2007 has been a big disappointment thus far, but he turned in perhaps his best season with Chicago last year when he hit .262 with 32 HR and 108 RBI.
With two years and $36 million remaining on his deal, the Cubs are reportedly willing to take on as much as $26 of that salary in a trade if it means landing a top prospect in return (via Jon Heyman of CBS Sports).
At $5 million a year for the next two seasons, there may be no better power hitting bargain on the market. Soriano does have a no-trade clause, but he would likely be willing to waive that for a chance to play for a contender.
8. RP Rafael Soriano, Free Agent
Soriano turned down a qualifying offer from the Yankees at $13.3 million to start the offseason. Right now, that move is looking like a grave mistake.
Currently, there is no clear favorite to land the 33-year-old righty, but there is little question that he is the top relief pitcher left on the market.
After saving a league-high 45 games in 2010, Soriano signed with the Yankees to serve as the primary setup man to Mariano Rivera. After Rivera went down, he stepped into the closer role again and saved 42 games with a 2.26 ERA.
7. CF Dexter Fowler, Trade Target
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
Fowler, once considered a blue chip prospect, finally enjoyed the breakout season many expected from him in 2012.
The 26-year-old hit .300/.389/.474 with 13 HR and 53 RBI, and he's always had solid on-base skills with a .363 career OBP.
His home/road splits are cause for concern (.984 OPS at home against .720 OPS on road in 2012), but that hasn't stopped several teams from pursuing him this offseason.
The most recent suitor is the Braves, according to a tweet from David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, as the team continues their search for a left fielder that would allow Martin Prado to play third base.
6. SP Edwin Jackson, Free Agent
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
He's no ace, but Jackson is one of the more reliable starting pitchers on the market, having made at least 31 starts in each of the past six seasons.
He could be joining his eighth different team in what will be his 11th big league season, and his career numbers paint a good picture of just how average he's been—70-71 with a 4.40 ERA.
So far, no team has stepped forward as a front-runner to land Jackson, but there are no shortage of teams interested in a consistent innings eater who is still just 29 years old.
5. RF Nick Swisher, Free Agent
Leon Halip/Getty Images
Swisher saw his four-year stint with the Yankees end in a chorus of boos and another abysmal postseason showing, but his production over the past four years can't be overlooked.
He averaged a .268/.367/.483 line with 26 HR and 87 RBI during his time in New York, and he's topped the 20 home run mark in each of the past eight seasons.
The Indians have stepped up in the pursuit of Swisher, according to a tweet from Buster Olney, as he continues to meet with teams and look for the best potential fit for the upcoming season.
4. SP Rick Porcello, Trade Target
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Following their re-signing of Anibal Sanchez, the Tigers have an abundance of starting pitching depth with Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly slated to battle for the fifth starter spot.
According to a tweet from Danny Knobler, dealing Porcello could be the team's next move as roughly a dozen teams expressed some level of interest following the Sanchez signing.
Still just 23 years old, Porcello already has 48 career victories, though he's coming off a down year in which he went 10-12 with a 4.59 ERA.
Those numbers are deceiving though, as he had terrible luck with a .347 opponent batting average on balls in play.
Porcello is as good a candidate as any for a breakout season in 2013.
3. 1B Adam LaRoche, Free Agent
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
At the beginning of the offseason, the Nationals identified re-signing LaRoche as their top priority (via MLB.com), but to this point, no deal has been struck.
The Nationals have offered LaRoche a two-year deal, and according to a tweet from Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, adding a vesting third-year option would likely be enough to get a deal done. However, no further progress has been made to this point.
LaRoche enjoyed a bounce-back season last year after missing most of 2011, as he hit .271 with 33 HR and 100 RBI for his second 100-RBI season in three years.
2. SP Kyle Lohse, Free Agent
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
With Zack Greinke and Anibal Sanchez signed, and James Shields traded, Lohse is now the top remaining pitcher on the market.
The 34-year-old went 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA last season while serving as the Card's staff ace with Chris Carpenter on the shelf.
His career has really hit its stride the past few seasons, and he should have at least a few top-tier years left in him.
So far, no one has come forward as a clear favorite. He could wind up netting a similar yearly salary to the $16 million per that Anibal Sanchez received, though he will likely sign a shorter deal.
1. CF Michael Bourn, Free Agent
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
One of the premiere leadoff hitters in the game today, Bourn has stolen at least 40 bases in each of the past five seasons, leading the league in that category.
That blazing speed also makes him a premiere defensive center fielder, and he even found some power last season with a career-high nine home runs.
However, he strikes out a ton (155 times in 2012), and his career .339 OBP leaves a lot to be desired. That's been enough to scare some teams off, but he is likely headed for a big payday anyway.
The question is: Which team is going to pony up?