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MLB Free Agents Whose Former Teams Will Miss Them the Most in 2013

Doug MeadCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2013

MLB Free Agents Whose Former Teams Will Miss Them the Most in 2013

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    Already this offseason, as with every offseason, MLB free agents have cashed in with lucrative contracts, either with their previous teams or with new ones.

    Several teams made an effort to sign their own free agents, but those efforts didn't pay off in the end. As a result, they were forced to enter into a "Plan B" with their offseason plans.

    Whether or not those alternative plans work out in the end remains to be seen, but it's a safe guess that many teams will miss their former stars that have left for greener pastures.

    Here are eight MLB free agents from this past offseason whose former teams will miss them the most this upcoming season.

     

Sean Burnett: Washington Nationals to Los Angeles Angels

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    In 2012, lefty relief specialist Sean Burnett dazzled for the Washington Nationals.

    Facing left-handed batters 95 times last year, Burnett struck out 28 of them, and held them to a .211 batting average and .534 OPS.

    Now, Burnett will be doing the same for the Los Angeles Angels, and the Nationals will be relying on Zach Duke and Bill Bray to fill the void.

    Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo doesn't seem particularly worried, though.

    "We feel good about our bullpen," Rizzo said. "It's not a necessity to get a left-handed specialist type of reliever. But if one made sense for us, we certainly wouldn't rule it out."

    Still, manager Davey Johnson has always been fond of having two lefty specialists in his bullpen. Not re-signing Burnett could end up haunting them.

Koji Uehara: Texas Rangers to Boston Red Sox

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    Despite missing two months with a right lat muscle strain, reliever Koji Uehara gave a stellar performance for the Texas Rangers last season.

    In 37 appearances, Uehara posted a 1.75 ERA, holding opposing batters to just a .160 batting average for the season. Right-handed hitters, in particular, found Uehara to be nasty, hitting just .125 against him for the year.

    Uehara will now be asked to give the same effort for the Boston Red Sox after signing a one-year, $4.25 million contract.

    The Rangers signed both Jason Frasor and Joakim Soria to help fill the void left behind by Uehara and Mike Adams. However, Soria isn't expected to be ready until at least June and no one is going to confuse Frasor with Uehara.

A.J. Pierzynski: Chicago White Sox to Texas Rangers

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    The Chicago White Sox didn't make many moves this offseason, and it is the one move that they didn't make that could end up coming back to haunt them.

    The White Sox failed to retain catcher A.J. Pierzynksi after he put forth a career year offensively. Pierzynski hit 27 HR with 77 RBI, winning a Silver Slugger Award for the first time.

    Now, the White Sox will turn to Tyler Flowers, who has hit just .205 in 273 at-bats over parts of four seasons.

    It's a major gamble for a team who, other than Adam Dunn, lacks punch from the left side of the plate.

Kyle Lohse: St. Louis Cardinals (Currently a FA)

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    After a stellar season in which he posted a 16-3 record and 2.86 ERA, Kyle Lohse was not invited back to the St. Louis Cardinals.

    Instead, they signed Jake Westbrook to a one-year, $8.75 million contract with a mutual $9.5 million for the 2014 season. The move, announced in August, effectively signaled the end of the line for Lohse in St. Louis.

    Ironically, it was Westbrook, and not Lohse, who was left off the posteason roster for the Cardinals.

    The Cardinals' decision to keep Westbrook over Lohse was clearly motivated by money. But it's a decision that could have dire consequences in 2013.

Rafael Soriano: New York Yankees to Washington Nationals

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    The New York Yankees were saved by Rafael Soriano last season, in more ways than one.

    After legendary closer Mariano Rivera went down for the season with a torn ACL, Soriano stepped in and delivered 42 saves in 45 chances, posting a 2.26 ERA. The Yankees literally didn't miss a beat at the back end of the bullpen.

    Now, Soriano will be attempting to perform his magic with the Washington Nationals after agreeing to a two-year, $28 million contract. It was a shrewd move by the Nats, who have built up a bullpen that was already considered fairly stout.

    The Yankees will now rely on the 43-year-old Rivera to make a full recovery from his knee injury and return to form in 2013.

    I have never been one to doubt Rivera—he's clearly proven his worth over a spectacular 18-year career—but to expect him to return at 100 percent at the age of 43 seems a bit aggressive.

    Soriano was the one to opt out of his contract with the Yankees, who then offered him a qualifying bid to return next season. Soriano turned it down, played the waiting game and found a willing taker.

    Still, the Yankees may rue their inability to retain Soriano in the long run.

B.J. Upton: Tampa Bay Rays to Atlanta Braves

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    If the Tampa Bay Rays were playing anywhere other than Southwest Florida, center fielder B.J. Upton might still be a Ray.

    Instead, Upton is now with the Atlanta Braves after signing a five-year, $75.25 million contract. And he now gets to play with his younger brother to boot.

    Upton spent his entire career with Tampa Bay only to move on like so many others because of budgetary constraints. At just 28 years of age, Upton has a better-than-even chance of excelling for many years with the Braves.

    The Rays will just have to hope that top hitting prospect Wil Myers makes his way to the majors soon because they certainly don't have any other power-hitting alternatives at this point.

Zack Greinke: Los Angeles Angels to Los Angeles Dodgers

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    The Los Angeles Angels gave up three top-25 organizational prospects in order to acquire the services of Zack Greinke last July.

    Now, they have nothing to show for it.

    Because Greinke was traded mid-season, the Angels weren't eligible to receive compensation in the event that Greinke signed with another team. Now, Greinke will be toiling away about a half-hour Northwest after signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    The Angels will now rely on Tommy Hanson, Jason Vargas and Joe Blanton to fill out the rest of their rotation. A trio of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Greinke sounds a lot better than Weaver, Wilson and whomever steps up as the No. 3 starter for sure.

    It's a good thing that general manager Jerry Dipoto fortified his bullpen—they could well be tasked with helping to salvage the 2013 season.

Josh Hamilton: Texas Rangers to Los Angeles Angels

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    For the second straight season, the Los Angeles Angels went after a free-agent from their division rivals.

    After prying starting pitcher C.J. Wilson away from the Texas Rangers last offseason, the Angels went back to the same well once again. This time, they nabbed Josh Hamilton.

    Between Hamilton and Wilson, Angels owner Arte Moreno committed over $200 million in an effort to strengthen his own team while also helping to weaken his rival.

    Hamilton's 43 HR and 128 RBI will simply not be replaced by A.J. Pierzynski and Lance Berkman next season. Pierzynski hit 24 homers for the White Sox last season, while Berkman played just 32 games while undergoing two knee surgeries.

    In addition, the damning report about PED's published by the Miami New Times yesterday that mentioned Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz could serve to be a major distraction for both Cruz and the Rangers over the next several months.

    If Hamilton wasn't missed before, he well could be in the coming months.

     

    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.

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