Ranking the Top 2014 MLB Free Agents Available at Every Position Next Winter

Benjamin KleinContributor IIIJanuary 18, 2013

Ranking the Top 2014 MLB Free Agents Available at Every Position Next Winter

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    If you thought that this offseason’s class of free agents was full of talent, just wait until next season.

    Over the past few months, some of the game’s top stars have signed monster deals with new clubs, including Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke—arguably the top two names on the open market. Others have preferred to return to their former teams instead.

    Regardless of which team got which player, the point is that a ton of money exchanged hands this winter and even more could be spent next offseason.

    As of now, the likes of Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury headline the 2014 class of free agents, and they will likely command major contracts from either the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox or whoever else has enough cash to land them.

    Aside from Cano and Ellsbury, there are plenty of names that you should know about who could come to your favorite team next season. Here’s a look at who will be available at each position next winter.

Starting Pitchers

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    1. James Shields, Kansas City Royals

    Shields was one of the top arms in the AL East before the Tampa Bay Rays shipped him to the Kansas City Royals this offseason.

    Shields won 15 games for the Rays last season to along with a 3.52 ERA across 33 starts. He’s 13 wins shy of 100 for his career and has registered a sub-4.00 ERA over his seven seasons. Kansas City holds a $12 million on him for 2014.

     

    2. Hiroki Kuroda, New York Yankees

    Hiroki Kuroda turned out to be the best move that the New York Yankees made last offseason. Kuroda won 16 games for the Bronx Bombers and posted a 3.32 ERA over 33 starts. He signed a one-year deal with the Yankees this offseason and will hit the open market again next winter.

     

    3. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants

    Tim Lincecum had a fluke year in 2012. It wasn’t like anything we had ever seen before from the lanky right-hander. Despite being a Cy Young Award candidate each year beforehand, Lincecum won just 10 games and saw his walk rate and ERA skyrocket compared to previous seasons. He was basically restricted to relief work during the postseason. Should he return to form in 2013, he will earn himself a huge deal on the open market.

     

    4. Josh Johnson, Toronto Blue Jays

    Despite battling shoulder issues the past couple of seasons, Josh Johnson is still one of the better right-handers in baseball. Considering that he was pitching for one of the worst teams in baseball (the Miami Marlins), winning at least 11 games in two of the last four seasons is actually an accomplishment. His ERA has stayed extremely low as well.  Johnson will pitch for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013 after the Miami Marlins cleaned house this offseason.

     

    5. Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs

    Matt Garza has had two interesting seasons for the Chicago Cubs. In 2011, he went 10-10 with 198 innings pitched. Last season, he was restricted to just 18 starts due to a stress fracture in his pitching elbow, but ended the season at 5-7 with a 3.91 ERA. He pitched extremely well in his three seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, and a healthy season could be what Garza needs to get back on track. The 2013 season is the last year where he’ll be arbitration-eligible.

     

    6. Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox

    Jon Lester had a down year for the Boston Red Sox in 2012, but has still been a very valuable left-hander over the last couple of seasons. Lester has won at least 15 games in four of the last five campaigns, tossing at least 200 innings in all but one of those seasons. The Red Sox hold a $13 million option on him for 2014 that they could easily exercise—which would probably be less expensive than if he were to hit the open market.

     

    7. Johan Santana, New York Mets

    I would be absolutely shocked if the New York Mets exercised their $25 million team option on Johan Santana so that he’d pitch for them in 2014. Santana has been good since coming to New York, but not great. He’s pitched nowhere close to the level that he did while with the Minnesota Twins. He has won 46 games in his three seasons with the Mets, while also posting a 3.18 ERA across 700-plus innings.

     

    8. Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco Giants

    The San Francisco Giants hold a $6.5 million option that they can exercise on Ryan Vogelsong after the 2013 season, but until they do, he’ll be a free agent next winter. Vogelsong has been a reliable arm in the middle of the Giants’ rotation, winning 27 games over the past two years with low ERAs. He’s also been very good in the postseason, allowing just three earned runs in 24.2 innings last year.

     

    9. Gavin Floyd, Chicago White Sox

    Gavin Floyd suffered from inflammation and a strain in his throwing elbow last season which restricted him from pitching in close to 200 innings. He hasn’t reached that plateau since 2008 when he won 17 games. But he’s won around 11 games consistently over the past four seasons, throwing around 190 innings in each.

     

    10. Phil Hughes, New York Yankees

    Phil Hughes recently avoided arbitration with the New York Yankees, his fifth and final season as an arbitration-eligible player. Hughes has had issues with his shoulder in the past, but he has still won 39 games over the last three seasons with a decent 4.48 ERA.

Relief Pitchers

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    1. Eric O’Flaherty, Atlanta Braves

    The Atlanta Braves have arguably the top bullpen in baseball, and Eric O’Flaherty has been a big reason why—not the biggest, but still big.

    O’Flaherty has been nearly untouchable in the past four seasons, appearing in at least 56 games in each of them. Last season, he posted a 1.73 ERA in 57.1 innings of work. That was after a brilliant year where he allowed just eight earned runs across 70 innings.

     

    2. Jesse Crain, Chicago White Sox

    Jesse Crain has been one of the most reliable arms in baseball over the last seven or so seasons, pitching for the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox. He’s appeared in at least 50 games the past five seasons while having an ERA above 4.00 just once.

     

    3. Joaquin Benoit, Detroit Tigers

    Joaquin Benoit had a down year in 2012, especially compared to the numbers that he put up in the two previous seasons. He posted a 1.34 ERA in 60-plus innings in 2010 and a 2.95 ERA in 61 innings in 2011. Last season, however, his ERA rose to 3.68 as his workload increased. He set a new career-high in appearances with 73.

     

    4. Boone Logan, New York Yankees

    Boone Logan has been one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball since coming to the New York Yankees for the 2010 season. He’s increased his workload each year—51 innings in 2010 to 64 in 2011 to 80 in 2012—and although his ERA has been on the rise, he’s still been dominant. Logan has turned himself into a more than serviceable reliever that can pitch in any situation. 

     

    5. Kyle McClellan, St. Louis Cardinals

    Kyle McClellan has suffered what you could call Joba Chamberlain syndrome. He was a pretty good reliever with the St. Louis Cardinals until they had him start 17 games in 2011. Stretching him out didn’t help his health, as he suffered a sprained UCL and a partial tear in his elbow last season, limiting him to just 16 games. If he makes a solid comeback in 2013, he’ll get some calls in the offseason.

Closers

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    1. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees

    Despite missing nearly all of the 2012 season due to injury, Mariano Rivera is still the best closer of all-time and will be for a long, long time.

    Rivera will earn $10 million in 2013 after signing a one-year deal with the New York Yankees. Pending he comes back for another year in 2014, the Bronx Bombers will likely be the one’s giving him a contract. With the exception of last season, Rivera has saved at least 30 games in every year since 1996.

     

    2. Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay Rays

    Rivera may be the best closer in baseball, but Fernando Rodney is a very close second. Rodney was brilliant in his first season with the Tampa Bay Rays, saving 47 games and posting a 0.60 ERA in 74.2 innings of work. With such a successful year, Rodney has revamped his career, which had been good, but not great previously.

     

    3. Ryan Madson, Los Angeles Angels

    Ryan Madson missed all of the 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and it will be interesting to watch how he bounces back with his new team, the Los Angeles Angels. With such a star-studded lineup, he should have plenty of games to save. He saved 32 games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011.

     

    4. Joe Nathan, Texas Rangers

    Joe Nathan has been one of the top closers in baseball for a long time, despite the fact that he hasn’t always played for the best of teams. In his first year with the Texas Rangers last season, he saved 37 games and posted a 2.80 ERA in 64.1 innings. Nathan has saved at least 36 games in all but one of the last eight seasons. The Rangers hold a $9 million option on him for 2014, which he can void if he finishes at least 38 games next year.

     

    5. Joel Hanrahan, Boston Red Sox

    This year will be Joel Hanrahan’s first season with the Boston Red Sox, and it could end up being his last as well. Hanrahan is arbitration-eligible for the last time this offseason and will likely enter the free agent market after this upcoming year unless Boston extends him. He’s saved 76 games over the past two seasons while posting sub-3.00 ERAs in each of them.

Catchers

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    1. Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves

    Brian McCann is entering what could end up being his final season with the Atlanta Braves after a storied career with them.

    McCann has been Atlanta’s primary catcher for the past seven seasons and has hit at least 18 home runs in each of them. The one problem surrounding McCann has been his hitting, which has been on the decline recently. He’s still a great veteran presence to have in the middle of the lineup and the clubhouse.

     

    2. A.J. Pierzynski, Texas Rangers

    After a career-year with the Chicago White Sox, A.J. Pierzynski decided that he’d had enough of Chicago and signed with the Texas Rangers this offseason. In 2012, Pierzynski hit 27 home runs and drove in 77 runs in 135 games. He’s been able to stay healthy throughout his entire career, which has allowed him to play so well.

     

    3. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston Red Sox

    Jarrod Saltalamacchia has finally gotten a shot at a starting job with the Boston Red Sox and has made the most of the opportunity. After hitting 16 home runs in his first full season in Boston, he slugged an additional nine home runs in 2012 to set a new career-high of 25. He has never been much of a contact hitter and strikes out a ton, but the power could be there to stay.

     

    4. John Buck, New York Mets

    John Buck had a great year with the Toronto Blue Jays back in 2010 when he hit 20 home runs and hit .281/.314/.489. Since then, however, he hasn’t been as great. His batting average dropped to .227 the next season with the Miami Marlins, and it then went down to .192 last year. Buck was traded twice over the offseason and maybe a change of scenery is exactly what he needs to find his stroke again.

     

    5. Kurt Suzuki, Washington Nationals

    The Oakland Athletics traded Kurt Suzuki in August of last season, but luckily for him, it was to another playoff team in the Washington Nationals. Before coming to Washington, Suzuki had a handful of good seasons with the Athletics, primarily from 2009 through 2011. During that span, he averaged 14 home runs per year and had an OPS near .700. The Nationals have an $8.5 option that they can exercise on him in 2014.

First Basemen

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    1. Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins

    After missing considerable time in 2010 and 2011, Justin Morneau finally played more than 130 games in 2012. The neck issues that plagued him in 2011 didn’t seem to hold him back at all.

    Morneau used to be one of the top first basemen in baseball, both offensively and defensively. He hit at least 30 home runs in each season between 2006 and 2009. Last season, he finished the year hitting .267/.333/.440 with 19 home runs and 77 RBI. He isn’t back to his MVP days of 2006, but he is in good shape to put together a solid 2013 campaign.

     

    2. Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox

    Paul Konerko is the definition of consistency. Year in and year out, he’s good at the plate and good in the field. He’s hit at least 20 home runs in each season dating back to 2004. He’s driven in 100 runs six times in his career, and he has never played fewer than 122 games in a season since becoming a full-time first baseman with the Chicago White Sox in 1999.

     

    3. Mark Reynolds, Cleveland Indians

    Despite never hitting for consistency and continuing to strike out at an excessive rate each year, Mark Reynolds has made a name for himself with his power. Reynolds has hit 60 total home runs the past two seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. He averaged 30 bombs per year in four years for the Arizona Diamondbacks as well. Now with the Cleveland Indians, we’ll see if he can keep up the pace.

     

    4. Kendrys Morales, Seattle Mariners

    Kendrys Morales has been able to have a decent amount of success during the past couple of years with the Los Angeles Angels, and he will try to keep it up with the Seattle Mariners next season. When healthy, Morales shows off his power swing and can slug with the best of them—but he has to stay healthy. Over the last three years, he’s averaged about 2.1 wins per year in terms of WAR.

     

    5. Michael Morse, Seattle Mariners

    Michael Morse was recently traded to the Seattle Mariners, which means that he may not be playing first base very often, but he is still better off there than in the outfield. Morse has played well in the last three years with the Washington Nationals, hitting 64 long balls over that span. He barely walks and strikes out a fair amount, but does hit consistently. 

Second Basemen

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    1. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees

    As I mentioned in the introduction, Robinson Cano is the best player that you’re going to find in this slideshow. He’s one of the few five-tool players in baseball and should get the biggest contract next winter.

    Cano has consistently hit over .300  with at least 25 home runs and 85 RBI over the past four seasons. Second base is his sanctuary and all we can do is watch. He’s a top 10 player in the game and has the numbers to back that up.

     

    2. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays

    There’s really no better value than Ben Zobrist. He can play a wide variety of positions and is an offensive threat as well. You don’t come across a player like Zobrist each day. He’s averaged a WAR of about 6.3 over the past four years while hitting around 20 home runs and driving in around 80 runs per season. He doesn’t strikeout very often and certainly knows how to draw a walk. The Tampa Bay Rays hold a $7 million option on him for 2014, which they should exercise.

     

    3. Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks

    Aaron Hill is not the most consistent second baseman that teams will look at next winter. He could be great one year and not so great the next. It’s pretty much a tossup to determine which Aaron Hill you’re going to get. The 2012 season, however, was a good year for him. In 156 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks, he hit .302/.360/.522 with 26 home runs and 85 RBI. Will he be able to replicate those numbers in 2013, though?

     

    4. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies

    Chase Utley has battled an abundance of injuries recently, and 2013 will prove that he can still be a good second baseman with a healthy bat. Despite missing more than half of 2012, he still managed to hit .256/.365/.429 with 11 home runs and 45 RBI. Although those aren’t nearly the numbers that he is capable of putting up, it’s a work in progress. If Utley stays healthy through the entire year, expect to see some league-leading statistics.

     

    5. Omar Infante, Detroit Tigers

    Omar Infante’s stock is rising, but he has to keep it going through 2013 in order to earn himself a multi-year deal. His WAR has improved in each of the last five seasons, despite the fact that his batting average dropped around .050 points from 2010 to 2011. He doesn’t have much power but should hit double-digits in terms of home runs, and he is also starting to show some speed. He’s an above-average second baseman that won’t be an expensive endeavor. 

Shortstops

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    1. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

    Look, Derek Jeter is one of the greatest players to ever play the game and will probably be a New York Yankee forever. He will, however, become a free agent after the 2013 season if he decides to decline his $8 million player option for 2013.

    The only way that I see Jeter doing that is if he bounces right back from this ankle injury and has a great year. That would imply that he thinks he could get more than $8 million on the open market. Could he? Sure, but it would probably still be the Yankees who end up re-signing him. If Jeter signed with another team, it would be one of the biggest storylines in baseball history.

     

    2. Rafael Furcal, St. Louis Cardinals

    Rafael Furcal is another guy on this list of upcoming free agents who has struggled staying healthy over the course of his career. That’s been the story for Furcal in four of the last five seasons. When he’s healthy, he’s a productive shortstop that hits atop any lineup with consistency and can steal plenty of bases. The number of years Furcal will get next winter will completely depend on whether he plays at least 135 games in 2013.

     

    3. Brendan Ryan, Seattle Mariners

    People may not realize it, but Brendan Ryan is a pretty good shortstop. I’ll admit that he’s a sore sight on the offensive side of the ball, but no one tops his defensive prowess. His ability to play shortstop alone will land him a job in 2014. Teams won’t have to worry about him at the plate if they know he’s saving runs on defense. As an example of his offensive skills, or lack thereof, he hit .194/.277/.278 in 470 plate appearances last year.

     

    4. Yunel Escobar, Tampa Bay Rays

    Yunel Escobar is one of the few players who have been traded more than once this offseason. Originally with the Toronto Blue Jays, he was shipped to the Miami Marlins and then later traded to the Tampa Bay Rays, where it’s expected that he’ll be the starting shortstop. He’s a fair hitter and a fair defender. Despite those claims, he’s still an above-average shortstop that a team shouldn’t have to worry about—just keep an eye on his eye black. The Rays have a pair of team options on him for 2014 and 2015.

     

    5. Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers

    Inconsistent. Inconsistent. Inconsistent. Why can’t Jhonny Peralta be consistent? It all started in 2008, when he put together one of the best seasons of his career. Then he was relatively bad the next two seasons. In 2011, he was good again. And in 2012, he was bad again. If Peralta is going to get a starting job after his current contract expires, he needs to forget about 2012 and think about what went right in 2011. He needs to hit in the high .200s, hit around 18 home runs and drive in around 80 runs.

Third Basemen

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    1. Martin Prado, Atlanta Braves

    Even though Martin Prado doesn’t play a lot of third base, it’s the position where he’ll make the most money next offseason. Left field is where he’s recently been playing more often.

    But Prado is still a very good hitter, no matter where he’s slotted in the field. He nearly always hits above .300 and is a great doubles hitter. He does have some power that will lead to double-digit home runs and doesn’t strike out very often. I don’t think he’ll get a huge contract, but he will get a very fair one, at the least.

     

    2. Kevin Youkilis, New York Yankees

    Kevin Youkilis got a great opportunity this offseason when it was learned that Alex Rodriguez would miss a big chunk of the 2013 season. That gave him the chance to sign with the New York Yankees, hit in a hitter’s park and in a dangerous lineup. He’s been banged up over the last three years and his production has dropped, but his numbers at home this upcoming year should get him another one- or two-year deal.

     

    3. Michael Young, Philadelphia Phillies

    There wasn’t a spot in the Texas Rangers’ lineup for Michael Young to get the plate appearances that he deserved, so they traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies, where he’ll play third base regularly. Last season was the first bad year that we’ve ever seen from Young, so hopefully it was a fluke. After all, he hit .338/.380/.474 the previous year with over 100 RBI. Maybe a change of scenery will help Young get one more contract.

     

    4. Eric Chavez, Arizona Diamondbacks

    Eric Chavez played a utility role for the New York Yankees last season when Alex Rodriguez was injured and actually had a great year. He hit .281/.348/.496 in 113 games while adding 16 home runs. Now with the Arizona Diamondbacks, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Chavez steal the starting role from Chris Johnson. Chavez clearly has some gas left in the tank, so why not make the most of it?

     

    5. Alberto Callaspo, Los Angeles Angels

    One of the best things about Alberto Callaspo is that he’s a smart hitter. He has a career strikeout rate of 8.6 percent, but unfortunately, he hasn’t been getting hits in those plate appearances where he doesn’t fall by way of the K. Callaspo has hit over .300 in the past, but not since 2009. He has fair power and is a pretty good fielder. He’s not a star, but he will be a good addition to a team looking for a cheap third baseman.

Left Fielders

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    1. Jason Kubel, Arizona Diamondbacks

    Jason Kubel had a solid year that didn’t translate into a lot of success. You can look at the 30 home runs he hit or the 75 runs he scored or the 90 runs he drove in, but he didn’t have a great year.

    Kubel hit just over .250 and struck often very frequently. Despite these negative notes, he’s still the best option next offseason for teams seeking a left fielder. He may not hit the market, though, as the Diamondbacks hold a $7.5 million option on him for 2014. If he can improve his consistency at the plate and hang onto that power, they’ll be sure to exercise it.

     

    2. David Murphy, Texas Rangers

    David Murphy is one of the more underrated outfielders you’ll come across. How many people know that he hit over .300 last season with 15 home runs while playing outstanding defense? Not many, I thought so. Murphy is a consistent hitter who can hit for power and runs relatively well. He doesn’t strike out very often, can drive in runs and is just a great bat to have in the lineup. He won't be an expensive player either, but he should be rewarded this upcoming winter.

     

    3. Nate McLouth, Baltimore Orioles

    Nate McLouth used to be one of the better outfielders in the game, but then he seemed to fall off the face of the earth. That was until the second half of the 2012 season, when he rejuvenated his career with the Baltimore Orioles. He hit .268/.342/.435 with seven home runs and 35 runs scored in 55 games with the O’s. He just needs to stay healthy and get in games and maybe he’ll stay productive.

     

    4. Raul Ibanez, Seattle Mariners

    Playing a wide variety of roles for the New York Yankees, Raul Ibanez earned himself a nice deal with the Seattle Mariners this upcoming year. He’s no longer the 30-plus home run hitter that he once was, but he was one long ball shy of reaching 20 in 130 games last season. He’s a guy that isn’t pretty to watch in the field, but usually makes up for it on offense. And you never know when he’s going to come up with a clutch hit.

     

    5. Reed Johnson, Atlanta Braves

    The first thing that caught my eye when reviewing Reed Johnson’s career numbers is his walk rate. This guy simply never walks. He only walks about five percent of the time, which is extremely low for a guy getting considerable game time. Otherwise, he’s not a decent and inexpensive addition. He hits pretty well, but without any power. The Braves hold a $1.6 million option on him for 2014 which they could exercise, but won’t lose sleep over it if they don’t.  

Center Fielders

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    1. Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox

    The injury bug has never been kind to Jacoby Ellsbury, despite the fact that the injuries that he’s suffered haven’t really been his fault. They were more a result of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

    What Ellsbury needs to do in 2013 in order to land a big contract is show off his power like he did in 2011. That year, he hit 32 home runs, scored 119 times and drove in 105 runs. It was by far the best season of his young career. But in shortened season in 2012, his batting line dropped and the power didn’t return. Will we see the Ellsbury who hits for single and doubles in 2013 or the Ellsbury who hits home runs?

     

    2. Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees

    Something just clicked with Curtis Granderson in 2011. Whatever it was, I’m not sure, but he should keep it up. Granderson had always been a guy who hit around 20 home runs per season, but in 2011, he slugged 41 long balls. And unlike the No. 1 guy at this position, he replicated it in 2012 with an additional 43 home runs. He strikes out a ton, but his run production easily makes up for it.

     

    3. Chris Young, Oakland Athletics

    Chris Young will be the best not absurdly expensive center fielder expected to enter free agency next winter. Previously with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Young was a great defensive player who struggled at the plate. He has power, but struggles to hit with consistency. He’s never hit higher than .257 in a season, and after being traded to Oakland this offseason, that’ll be something he will look to work on. The A’s hold an $11 million option on him for 2014.

     

    4. Coco Crisp, Oakland Athletics

    Coco Crisp is another inexpensive option that will actually play alongside Chris Young this season with the A’s—that is unless one of them gets dealt. He’s been rather successful since coming to Oakland, hitting .266/.324/.406 and hitting eight home runs per year. Crisp has been up and down defensively, but will bring his speed to his next destination. He’s stolen 120 bases during the past three years. Oakland holds a $7.5 million option on him for 2014.

     

    5. Franklin Gutierrez, Seattle Mariners

    Franklin Gutierrez had a rough 2012. He first suffered from a pectoral strain that kept him out of 63 games and then missed an additional 50 games with a serious concussion. He hasn’t played a full season since 2010, where he wasn’t as sharp as he was in 2009. That season, he hit .283/339/.425 with 18 home runs, 85 runs and 70 RBI. The Mariners hold a $7.5 million option on him for 2014. 

Right Fielders

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    1. Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals

    Now healthy, Carlos Beltran has put together two great seasons in a row. In fact, there hasn’t really been a bad year where Beltran stayed healthy though its entirety.

    Last season with the St. Louis Cardinals, Beltran hit .269/.346/.495 with 32 home runs and 97 RBI. Despite being 35 years old, it doesn’t look like he is ready to slow down one bit. If he can continue his success in 2013, he’ll be sure to get a nice contract that could end up being his last.

     

    2. Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati Reds

    Shin-Soo Choo is one of the bright, young outfielders in baseball. After spending nearly his entire major league career with the Cleveland Indians, he’ll be playing for the Cincinnati Reds in 2013. Had it not been for a slew of injuries in 2011, Choo most likely would have played in around 140 games, which would have been the fourth year in a row that he’s done so.

     

    3. Corey Hart, Milwaukee Brewers

    I think that Corey Hart doesn’t get the respect that he deserves because he isn’t the top outfielder on his team. That role belongs to Ryan Braun, but Hart has been as good as you can expect since 2007. You know what you’re going to get each time he’s in the lineup. He’s going to hit around .275 with 20-30 home runs and around 70-90 RBI.

     

    4. Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants

    Compared to his previous season, Hunter Pence actually didn’t have the best of seasons between the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants in 2012. He did hit 24 home runs and drive in a career-high 104 runs, but his batting average dropped drastically. After hitting .314 in 2011, he only hit .253 in 2012. That’s a major, major drop that Pence has to turn around in 2013.

     

    5. Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers

    Nelson Cruz thrives in a great lineup. He benefits from the star power surrounding him and loves to drive those in front of him home. He set a career high in 2012 with 90 RBI while slugging 24 home runs. He is no longer the .300 hitter that he used to be, but he still holds his own. His fielding has also been a bit jumpy from year-to-year.

Designated Hitters

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    1. Lance Berkman, Texas Rangers

    Lance Berkman is one of the few designated hitters that is expected to hit the open market next offseason.

    Berkman missed a bunch of time this past season with injuries and his career may finally start going downward. He has hit at least 20 home runs in all but two seasons in his career and hit over .300 in 2011. As long as he excels with the Texas Rangers in 2013, someone will give him a shot in 2014.

     

    Position players who could serve as designated hitters include Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales and Michael Young, among others.