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MLB Free Agents 2014: Predictions for Top 50 Available Players

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2013

MLB Free Agents 2014: Predictions for Top 50 Available Players

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    We are still a month from the start of the 2013 MLB postseason, and players often significantly impact their free-agent stock with their play down the stretch and in the playoffs, but it's still never too early to take a look at the upcoming crop of free agents.

    At the plate, Robinson Cano, Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury, Hunter Pence and Brian McCann make up the cream of the position-player crop. On the mound, Matt Garza looks like the top option, while veterans like Roy Halladay, Josh Johnson and Phil Hughes make for interesting buy-low candidates. Top closers Grant Balfour, Edward Mujica and Fernando Rodney also figure to be available.

    So here at the start of September is an early look at the top 50 free agents available in their year's free-agent market, complete with predictions on where they'll sign and what their contract could look like.

     

    *Note: All contract information courtesy of Baseball Prospectus

SP Bronson Arroyo

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    2013 Salary: $6.5 million (with another $5 million deferred)

    2013 Stats: 27 GS, 13-10, 3.66 ERA, 108 K, 172 IP

     

    Overview

    Bronson Arroyo is currently in his eighth season with the Reds, and he's gone 104-92 with a 4.04 ERA during his time in Cincinnati.

    The 36-year-old has been solid this season, and while the team should have Johnny Cueto back healthy next season to potentially fill his rotation spot, the Reds bringing him back on a one-year deal as insurance would make a lot of sense.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Cincinnati Reds

    Predicted Contract: one-year, $8 million deal

RP Grant Balfour

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    2013 Salary: $4.5 million

    2013 Stats: 56 G, 35-of-37 SV, 2.52 ERA, 10.2 K/9

     

    Overview

    With Mariano Rivera set to retire at the end of the season, the Yankees will enter a season without the future Hall of Famer penciled in as their closer for the first time since 1996.

    David Robertson has proven better served as a setup man, and prospect Mark Montgomery does not yet look ready to step into the role. Signing Grant Balfour to a short-term deal as a stopgap option would make sense, and with Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle as potential options in Oakland, the A's likely won't want to pony up the money to re-sign him.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: New York Yankees

    Predicted Contract: two-year, $15 million

RF Carlos Beltran

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    2013 Salary: $13 million

    2013 Stats: .310/.343/.522, 23 HR, 71 RBI, 72 R

     

    Overview

    Carlos Beltran has been fantastic in his two seasons with the Cardinals, and even at 36 years old, he's among the premier run producers in the game today. The two-year, $26 million deal he signed has been a great move for St. Louis, and the team will have a tough decision whether or not to re-sign him.

    Top prospect Oscar Taveras (.310/.348/.471, 5 HR, 32 RBI) battled injury this season at Triple-A, and as a result the plans for him to take over an everyday outfield job next season may be pushed back. Instead, the team could look to bring Beltran back on a one-year deal with a slight raise and option for a second year, if he'd be willing to do that.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: St. Louis Cardinals

    Predicted Contract: one-year, $14 million (2015 option for $14 million)

RP Joaquin Benoit

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    2013 Salary: $5.5 million

    2013 Stats: 55 G, 17-of-17 SV, 2.13 ERA, 9.8 K/9

     

    Overview

    With Jose Valverde gone in free agency, the Tigers hoped hard-throwing rookie Bruce Rondon would step into the closer's role this season, but when he struggled in spring training they sent him down and opened the season with a closer-by-committee.

    That was a disaster early on, but Joaquin Benoit has locked down the ninth inning role since being named closer on June 20. Even if he returns to a setup role next year, the 36-year-old is one of the best in the business, and certainly worth re-signing with a slight raise.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Detroit Tigers

    Predicted Contract: two-year, $14 million

SP A.J. Burnett

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    2013 Salary: $16.5 million

    2013 Stats: 25 GS, 7-9, 3.09 ERA, 172 K, 160 IP

     

    Overview

    A.J. Burnett has revitalized his career since joining the Pirates last season, and he has pitched really well this season when he's on the field, though injuries have limited him to just 25 starts on the year.

    The 36-year-old indicated earlier this year that he would either retire at season's end or re-up with the Pirates, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-ReviewWith Jameson Taillon knocking on the door to take over for him in the rotation, my guess is he winds up retiring.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Retirement

    Predicted Contract: N/A

RF Marlon Byrd

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    2013 Salary: $700,000

    2013 Stats: .286/.331/.520, 22 HR, 76 RBI, 65 R

     

    Overview

    There may be no bigger surprise this season than the resurgence of Marlon Byrd. The veteran hit just .210/243/.245 last season and was without a job after June 12, following his release by the Red Sox.

    He signed a minor league deal with the Mets, and has likely played his way into a multiyear deal after fighting to earn a roster spot this past spring. He is 36, so he likely won't get paid a ton but could still make a run at earning 10 times what he did this season next year.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Kansas City Royals

    Predicted Contract: two-year, $12 million

2B Robinson Cano

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    2013 Salary: $15 million

    2013 Stats: .305/.384/.508, 25 HR, 89 RBI, 72 R

     

    Overview

    It's a safe bet that Robinson Cano will be the highest-paid free agent in the upcoming class, and while there will be other teams who pursue him, it's hard to imagine the Yankees letting him get away.

    The 30-year-old is the game's elite second baseman, and he's been a driving force in the middle of a decimated Yankees offense this season. It may not be a quick process as he tests the market, but expect Cano to be in Yankee pinstripes when the 2014 season rolls around.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: New York Yankees

    Predicted Contract: seven-year, $150 million

CF Shin-Soo Choo

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    2013 Salary: $7.375 million

    2013 Stats: .285/.415/.466, 19 HR, 46 RBI, 93 R, 17 SB

     

    Overview

    Shin-Soo Choo has given the Reds exactly what they needed this season, providing terrific on-base skills and serving as a table-setter atop their potent lineup. However, with top prospect Billy Hamilton knocking on the door, they don't necessarily need to shell out the money to re-sign him.

    The Cubs lineup is thin on left-handed bats, and with the flop of Brett Jackson, it does not have a clear-cut long-term option in center field. The 31-year-old Choo would be a fantastic addition atop the lineup and give the team another solid piece to build around.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Chicago Cubs

    Predicted Contract: four-year, $60 million

SP Bartolo Colon

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    2013 Salary: $3 million

    2013 Stats: 25 GS, 14-5, 2.94 ERA, 84 K, 159.1 IP

     

    Overview

    Out of baseball altogether in 2010, Bartolo Colon put together a solid comeback season with the Yankees in 2011 before joining the A's. He's gone a combined 24-14 with a 3.18 ERA in 49 starts in Oakland, and he's a legitimate Cy Young candidate this season.

    How long the 40-year-old can continue to defy Father Time remains to be seen, and that will likely mean he has to settle for a one-year deal. He'll earn a raise, though, and the A's would no doubt love to have him back as a veteran presence atop their young rotation.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Oakland Athletics

    Predicted Contract: one-year, $9 million ($9 million option for 2015)

RP Jesse Crain

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    2013 Salary: $4.5 million

    2013 Stats: 38 G, 2-3, 0.74 ERA, 46 K, 36.2 IP

     

    Overview

    A workhorse throughout his 10-year career, Jesse Crain has 532 appearances under his belt with a 3.05 ERA, but he has enjoyed the best season of his career by far this year.

    However, a shoulder injury has sidelined him since late June, and he has yet to pitch for the Rays after being acquired at the deadline. It's looking more and more like he may never pitch for the Rays, and if that's the case he'll likely have to settle for an incentive-laden, one-year deal in the offseason. He'd be worth the risk for a Rockies team in need of some veteran bullpen help.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Colorado Rockies

    Predicted Contract: one-year, $2 million deal (plus incentives)

RF Nelson Cruz

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    2013 Salary: $10.5 million

    2013 Stats: .269/.330/.511, 27 HR, 76 RBI, 49 R

     

    Overview

    Nelson Cruz has been one of the more consistent power threats in the league since becoming a full-time player back in 2009, and he was on his way to career bests in home runs and RBI before a PED suspension put him on the sidelines for 50 games.

    The market is thin on impact bats, but the suspension will still no doubt be a hit to Cruz's market value. The Rangers acquired Alex Rios at the deadline and will have him back next season, but they could still make a move to bring back Cruz as their DH moving forward. Accepting a qualifying offer and proving he can perform on the other side of the suspension would make sense for Cruz.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Texas Rangers

    Predicted Contract: ~$14 million (accepts qualifying offer)

     

RP Scott Downs

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    2013 Salary: $5 million

    2013 Stats: 59 G, 4-3, 1.99 ERA, 36 K, 40.2 IP

     

    Overview

    Since moving to the bullpen full-time in 2007, Scott Downs ranks ninth among all pitchers with 437 appearances, and with a 2.22 ERA he has been as steady as they come in the late innings.

    The 37-year-old is in the final year of a three-year, $15 million deal, and there is never a shortage of teams in the market for a veteran southpaw. The Red Sox acquired Matt Thornton at the deadline from the White Sox, but they may look to upgrade his spot by declining his $6 million option and signing Downs.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Boston Red Sox

    Predicted Contract: two-year, $11 million

SS Stephen Drew

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    2013 Salary: $9.5 million

    2013 Stats: .245/.328/.428, 11 HR, 54 RBI, 48 R

     

    Overview

    Stephen Drew cashed in on a thin free-agent market for shortstops last season, and he represents the top option available once again this season, though some may still prefer PED-user Jhonny Peralta over him.

    The 30-year-old Drew is putting up his best number since 2010, and one would imagine the Cardinals will explore the idea of signing him. Rookie Pete Kozma (.212/.268/.268) has seen the bulk of the playing time at shortstop this year, and with no real option in the farm system, Drew would be a welcome addition to the Cardinals' offensive attack.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: St. Louis Cardinals

    Predicted Contract: two-year, $16 million

CF Jacoby Ellsbury

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    2013 Salary: $9 million

    2013 Stats: .297/.355/.418, 7 HR, 50 RBI, 87 R, 51 SB

     

    Overview

    Jacoby Ellsbury seemed destined for a $100 million-plus contract after a breakout 2011 season in which he posted a .928 OPS with 32 home runs and 39 steals, but a shoulder injury limited him to just 74 games and an OPS of just .682 last year.

    His power has still not returned to that level, but he is back to being a terrific table-setter and elite base stealer atop the Red Sox lineup. With Jackie Bradley waiting in the wings to take over, Boston likely won't pony up to re-sign him and the Mets have money to spend and a glaring need in the outfield.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: New York Mets

    Predicted Contract: five-year, $80 million

SP Scott Feldman

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    2013 Salary: $6 million

    2013 Stats: 25 GS, 11-10, 3.75 ERA, 112 K, 151.1 IP

     

    Overview

    After going 17-8 in 2009, Scott Feldman earned the Opening Day nod for the Rangers in 2010, but in his final three seasons in Texas he went just 15-23 with a 5.15 ERA, and he was relegated to the bullpen more than once.

    The Cubs signed him to a one-year deal in hopes he'd get back on track, and he went 7-6 with a 3.46 ERA in 15 starts before the team flipped him at the deadline. He's not going to get front-line starter money, but he's a solid veteran arm that would be a welcome addition to a thin and inexperienced Padres rotation.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: San Diego Padres

    Predicted Contract: two-year, $14 million

SP Matt Garza

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    2013 Salary: $10.25 million

    2013 Stats: 19 GS, 9-3, 3.55 ERA, 115 K, 126.2 IP

     

    Overview

    Matt Garza was the prize of the trade deadline, and all signs point to him being the most sought-after arm on the market this coming winter.

    How much he contributes to the Rangers' late-season push and any subsequent postseason run will greatly influence his value, but the five-year, $88 million deal that Anibal Sanchez signed last year is a reasonable expectation of what he'll get. The Rangers have a proven duo in Yu Darvish and Derek Holland, and adding Garza to the fold long term would be a wise investment.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Texas Rangers

    Predicted Contract: five-year, $85 million

CF Curtis Granderson

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    2013 Salary: $15 million

    2013 Stats: .270/.384/.426, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 20 R, 7 SB

     

    Overview

    Coming off of back-to-back 40-plus home runs seasons in 2011 and 2012, Curtis Granderson has been limited to just 36 games this season while dealing with forearm and wrist injuries.

    With the Yankees set to spend a ton to re-sign Robinson Cano and perhaps starters Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte as well, there appears to be a good chance they let Granderson walk. He'll likely receive a qualifying offer, and could be this year's Michael Bourn as he struggles to find a suitor. The Mariners need offense and outfield help badly, so they would seem to be a good fit.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Seattle Mariners

    Predicted Contract: three-year, $45 million

SP Roy Halladay

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    2013 Salary: $20 million

    2013 Stats: 9 GS, 3-4, 7.94 ERA, 38 K, 45.1 IP

     

    Overview

    Injuries have limited Roy Halladay to just 45.1 innings this season, and with that his $20 million option for 2014 will not vest and he'll become a free agent at season's end.

    The days of being one of the game's best are likely behind the 36-year-old, but a healthy Halladay should still be able to serve as a plus innings eater at the back of a contender's rotation with plenty of upside for more. The Angels rotation retooling this past offseason didn't work, so they'll be back to the drawing board this winter, and signing Halladay to a low-risk deal could be one option.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Los Angeles Angels

    Predicted Contract: one-year, $6 million (plus incentives)

SP Jason Hammel

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    2013 Salary: $6.75 million

    2013 Stats: 21 GS, 7-8, 5.20 ERA, 85 K, 123 IP

     

    Overview

    The Orioles acquired Jason Hammel from the Rockies prior to last season, and the move looked like a great one when the right-hander went 8-5 with a 3.47 ERA in the first half. Injuries limited him to just three second-half starts, though, and he has struggled to duplicate that performance this season.

    Still just 31 and with only 973 career innings under his belt, there will likely be a number of teams that kick the tires on Hammel this offseason. The Twins signed a pair of low-cost starters last offseason in Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey, and Hammel could be a similar target for them this coming winter.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Minnesota Twins

    Predicted Contract: two-year, $9 million

SP Dan Haren

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    2013 Salary: $13 million

    2013 Stats: 26 G, 25 GS, 8-12, 5.02 ERA, 124 K, 141.2 IP

     

    Overview

    Not long ago Dan Haren was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, but a poor 2012 season left him hard-pressed to find a job this past offseason, with the Nationals eventually giving him a one-year deal to replace Edwin Jackson in their rotation.

    He was 4-1 with a 2.74 ERA in eight games since the All-Star break before giving up nine hits and seven earned runs in 2.2 innings his last time out against the Mets. If he can bounce back and finish strong, there should be plenty of teams interested in the offseason, but if not, he'll have to settle for a substantial pay cut and a chance at competing for a rotation spot. Adding him on a one-year deal makes sense for a Padres team with an inexperienced rotation that lacks a true front-line starter.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: San Diego Padres

    Predicted Contract: one-year, $6 million ($10 million team option for 2015)

1B/OF Corey Hart

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    2013 Salary: $10 million

    2013 Stats: Injured, has not played

     

    Overview

    From 2010-2012, Corey Hart posted an .857 OPS while averaging 29 home runs and 83 RBI, and he looked destined for a big payday once he finally hit the free-agent market. Instead, offseason knee surgery landed him on the DL to start the season and surgery on the other knee ended his contract year before he ever took the field.

    Hart is still only 31, and given his track record and the fact that the market is thin on impact bats, he should be able to get a decent incentive-laden deal from someone this offseason. Re-signing on a one-year deal with the Brewers would give Milwaukee a stopgap to prospect Hunter Morris, and at the same time allow Hart to prove he's healthy for a potential multiyear deal heading into 2015.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Milwaukee Brewers

    Predicted Contract: one-year, $4 million (plus $6 million in incentives)

SP Tim Hudson

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    2013 Salary: $9 million

    2013 Stats: 21 GS, 8-7, 3.97 ERA, 95 K, 131.1 IP

     

    Overview

    In the final year of a four-year, $36 million deal, Tim Hudson was putting together a solid year and showing he still had something left in the tank before his season was abruptly ended with a broken ankle when he was stepped on covering first base.

    Retirement is certainly a possibility for the 38-year-old, but he'd likely prefer to go out on his own terms. The Braves have a deep, young crop of starting pitching talent but bringing Hudson back on a one-year, incentive-heavy deal could be a wise move and would allow Hudson to finish up his stellar career in Atlanta.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Atlanta Braves

    Predicted Contract: one-year, $3 million (plus $6 million in performance incentives)

SP Phil Hughes

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    2013 Salary: $7.15 million

    2013 Stats: 26 GS, 4-13, 4.86 ERA, 114 K, 137 IP

     

    Overview

    Once one of the top prospects in all of baseball, Phil Hughes looked well on his way to stardom when he went 18-8 with a 4.19 ERA as a 24-year-old back in 2010. After a poor 2011 campaign, he bounced back to go 16-13 with a 4.23 ERA last season, but he's fallen off again this year.

    His 58 home runs allowed since the start of the 2012 season are tied for second most in all of baseball, and he's a prime candidate to benefit from a fresh start and a change of scenery. The Giants have a pair of rotation spots expected to be vacant, and a move to spacious AT&T Park and to the National League could be exactly what he needs to turn things around.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: San Francisco Giants

    Predicted Contract: two-year, $16 million (plus 2016 team option)

2B Omar Infante

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    2013 Salary: $4 million

    2013 Stats: .317/.344/.453, 9 HR, 38 RBI, 47 R

     

    Overview

    The acquisition of Anibal Sanchez dominated the headlines in Detroit last July, but they also shored up their infield by picking up Omar Infante in that deal, and the 31-year-old has been terrific once again this season.

    The team does have Hernan Perez waiting in the wings, but with Jose Iglesias set for his first full season in Detroit next year and top prospect Nick Castellanos expected to compete for the everyday left field job, the team may not want to go too young too fast. Bringing Infante back on a two-year deal would be a low-risk move and would allow the 22-year-old Perez to gain some more experience before being thrust into the everyday lineup.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Detroit Tigers

    Predicted Contract: two-year, $16 million

SP Josh Johnson

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    2013 Salary: $13.75 million

    2013 Stats: 16 GS, 2-8, 6.20 ERA, 83 K, 81.1 IP

     

    Overview

    Billed by some as a potential Cy Young candidate when he was acquired by the Blue Jays this offseason, Josh Johnson has been nothing short of a disaster in Toronto. Not long ago the right-hander was one of the best pitchers in the game, but he's shown none of that prior dominance this season.

    Still only 29 years old and just three years removed from winning the NL ERA title and finishing fifth in Cy Young voting, Johnson is still a candidate to receive a qualifying offer from the Blue Jays, but my guess is they let him walk and he signs a one-year deal somewhere in an attempt to boost his stock. The Nationals took a chance on Dan Haren this season with mixed results, and as long as they acquire Johnson as simply another option and don't rely on him to occupy a rotation spot he could be a good buy-low candidate.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Washington Nationals

    Predicted Contract: one-year, $8 million (plus incentives for games started)

1B Paul Konerko

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    2013 Salary: $13.5 million

    2013 Stats: .246/.314/.361, 10 HR, 46 RBI, 34 R

     

    Overview

    Paul Konerko has been the heart and soul of the White Sox lineup for 15 seasons now, but the 37-year-old is suffering though his worst season as a full-time player and dealing with lower back issues.

    With 431 home runs and 1,381 RBI, he has put together a fantastic career without much fan fare outside of Chicago, and as Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald reported, he won't stick around to "chase a number," so my guess is he hangs it up at the end of the season.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Retirement

    Predicted Contract: N/A

SP Hiroki Kuroda

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    2013 Salary: $15 million

    2013 Stats: 27 GS, 11-10, 2.89 ERA, 123 K, 171.1 IP

     

    Overview

    After originally indicating he would only re-sign with the Dodgers or return to Japan, Hiroki Kuroda joined the Yankees prior to 2012 on a one-year, $10 million deal and he wound up being their most consistent starter in going 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA over a career-high 219.2 innings.

    The 38-year-old has been even better this season, and given how thin the starting pitching market will be, there's no reason to think the Yankees won't re-sign Kuroda unless he retires. Bringing him back on a one-year deal with a slight raise would seem to make sense for both sides.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: New York Yankees

    Predicted Contract: one-year, $16 million

SP Tim Lincecum

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    2013 Salary: $22 million

    2013 Stats: 27 GS, 8-13, 4.38 ERA, 167 K, 164.1 IP

     

    Overview

    He's not the dominant, perennial Cy Young candidate he once was, but Tim Lincecum has shown flashes of being the pitcher he once was at times this season, including throwing a no-hitter against the Padres back in July.

    The $200 million deal he likely would have received a few years ago is no longer in play, but he still represents one of the better arms on the market his season. The Giants will no doubt make him a qualifying offer, and he may be inclined to accept the one-year deal and look to further boost his stock with a strong 2014 season.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: San Francisco Giants

    Predicted Contract: ~$14 million (accepts qualifying offer)

1B James Loney

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    2013 Salary: $2 million

    2013 Stats: .304/.356/.432, 11 HR, 60 RBI, 44 R

     

    Overview

    James Loney was never able to live up to expectations in Los Angeles, and he has benefited greatly from the move to Tampa Bay this season, ranking as one of the better offseason bargains around.

    The Rays tend to buy low on players and then let someone else overpay to sign them the following season, but with little in the way of alternative options on the market, they could actually look to re-sign Loney, who is still in his prime at 29 years old.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Tampa Bay Rays

    Predicted Contract: two-year, $15 million

RP Javier Lopez

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    2013 Salary: $4.25 million

    2013 Stats: 58 GS, 2-2, 1.87 ERA, 32 K, 33.2 IP

     

    Overview

    Few left-handed relievers have been better than Javier Lopez since he joined the Giants at the deadline in 2010, as he's posted a 2.29 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 225 appearances during his time in San Francisco.

    Even after they fell out of the race, the team's asking price on Lopez was high, and he wound up staying put as a result. However, with Jeremy Affeldt back next year and Jose Mijares giving the team another southpaw option, they may let Lopez walk. Adding the left-hander would allow the Tigers to explore the idea of moving Drew Smyly back to the starting rotation at some point.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Detroit Tigers

    Predicted Contract: two-year, $9 million

SP Paul Maholm

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    2013 Salary: $6.5 million

    2013 Stats: 23 GS, 10-10, 4.41 ERA, 91 K, 134.2 IP

     

    Overview

    Acquired from the Cubs at the deadline last season, Maholm enjoyed his best season of his career in 2012, going 13-11 with a 3.67 ERA, and that was more than enough for the Braves to exercise their $6.5 million option on him.

    He's not been nearly as good this season, though, and given the Braves depth at starting pitcher and the possibility that they bring back Tim Hudson, his time in Atlanta is likely over at the end of the year. The Phillies will be looking for someone to replace Roy Halladay in the rotation, but likely won't be looking to spend much this offseason, so Maholm could be a good mid-level target for them.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Philadelphia Phillies

    Predicted Contract: two-year, $12 million

C Brian McCann

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    2013 Salary: $12 million

    2013 Stats: .274/.348/.495, 19 HR, 52 RBI, 38 R

     

    Overview

    Despite missing the first 30 games of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery, Brian McCann once again ranks among the most productive offensive catchers in the game this season.

    The 29-year-old not only represents the best catcher on the market, but he's also one of the top bats overall that will be available. With 21-year-old Christian Bethancourt still at least a year away from being big league ready, the Braves will make a push to re-sign McCann. They likely won't be willing to give him more than three years, though, and a sizable five-year deal by the Red Sox would be enough for them to add him as their catcher and eventual DH replacement for David Ortiz.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Boston Red Sox 

    Predicted Contract: five-year, $70 million

LF Nate McLouth

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    2013 Salary: $2 million

    2013 Stats: .267/.337/.407, 10 HR, 30 RBI, 72 R, 29 SB

     

    Overview

    Nate McLouth was a forgotten man when the Orioles took a flier on him following his release from the Pirates in his second go-around with Pittsburgh. He got the call after Nolan Reimold went down with an injury and gave the Orioles a spark out of the leadoff spot during their postseason run last year.

    He's been even better this season, and while his track record is an inconsistent and injury-plagued one, he is still just 31 and should be able to put up similar numbers for the next couple seasons. The Orioles need pitching, but re-signing McLouth should be part of their postseason plans as well.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Baltimore Orioles

    Predicted Contract: two-year, $13 million

1B/DH Kendrys Morales

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    2013 Salary: $5.25 million

    2013 Stats: .276/.335/.435, 17 HR, 69 RBI, 55 R

     

    Overview

    Seattle acquired Kendrys Morales from the Angels for left-hander Jason Vargas this past offseason in an effort to bolster their offensive attack, and he has put together a nice offensive season in the middle of the Mariners order.

    He seems like a prime candidate to receive a qualifying offer, and that should benefit the Mariners as he is the type of player whose free-agent stock would take a hit by having draft pick compensation tied to him. In the end, an extension in Seattle seems to be the most likely outcome for the 30-year-old

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Seattle Mariners

    Predicted Contract: three-year, $27 million

1B Justin Morneau

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    2013 Salary: $14 million

    2013 Stats: .257/.316/.423, 17 HR, 74 RBI, 56 R

     

    Overview

    A member of the Twins organization since being selected in the third round of the 1999 draft, fan-favorite Justin Morneau was moved to the Pirates in a deal just before the August waiver-trade deadline, and he'll likely get a chance to play in the postseason as a result.

    The 32-year-old battled concussion issues and missed significant time in 2010 and 2011, but he has bounced back with a pair of solid seasons the past two years, as he is still a plus run producer. The definition of a rental player, expect the Twins to make a play to re-sign him in the offseason so he can finish his career in Minnesota.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Minnesota Twins

    Predicted Contract: two-year, $12 million

1B/OF Michael Morse

37 of 51

    2013 Salary: $6.75 million

    2013 Stats: .230/.286/.411, 13 HR, 27 RBI, 32 R

     

    Overview

    Michael Morse put it all together for one season in 2011, posting a .910 OPS with 31 home runs and 95 RBI in what was his first season as an everyday player at the age of 29. Injuries derailed his 2012 campaign, and he was traded to the Mariners in the offseason.

    Less than impressive numbers in Seattle did little to boost his free-agent stock, and he was traded to the Orioles through waivers in August. The power is still there, but it's hard to ignore his .286 on-base percentage, and he may have a hard time finding anyone willing to pay him this offseason. Seems like exactly the kind of player the Rays like to buy low on.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Tampa Bay Rays

    Predicted Contract: one-year, $5 million

RP Edward Mujica

38 of 51

    2013 Salary: $3.2 million

    2013 Stats: 56 G, 35-of-37 SV, 1.85 ERA, 6.6 K/9

     

    Overview

    After Jason Motte went down with a season-ending injury before the season even started, and Mitchell Boggs proved incapable of locking down the closer role, the Cardinals bullpen was among the worst in baseball early on. Enter veteran setup man Edward Mujica, who has been nothing short of amazing in his first season as a closer.

    As good as he's been, the Cardinals are stocked with live arms in their bullpen, and with Motte expected back and rookie Trevor Rosenthal looking like a future closer himself, it's doubtful the Cards pay Mujica what he'll be able to get on the open market. The Diamondbacks have Heath Bell and J.J. Putz signed through 2014, but neither is a reliable closer option at this point, and adding Mujica would shore up what has been a shaky bullpen all season.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Arizona Diamondbacks

    Predicted Contract: three-year, $18 million

1B/DH Mike Napoli

39 of 51

    2013 Salary: $5 million (up to $8 million extra in incentives)

    2013 Stats: .248/.340/.445, 17 HR, 76 RBI, 65 R

     

    Overview

    The Red Sox originally agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal with Napoli this past offseason, but a failed physical pulled that deal off the table and he wound up having to settle for a one-year, $5 million deal that could earn him up to $13 million with incentives.

    He'll likely never duplicate his 2011 triple slash of .320/.414/.631, but he's been a solid run producer in the middle of the Red Sox lineup while staying healthy. No reason to think the Red Sox won't bring him back, and giving him the remaining $26 million and two years he originally signed for seems like an easy way to handle negotiations.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Boston Red Sox

    Predicted Contract: two-year, $26 million

SP Ricky Nolasco

40 of 51

    2013 Salary: $11.5 million

    2013 Stats: 28 GS, 11-9, 3.26 ERA, 141 K, 173.2 IP

     

    Overview

    No player was more of a sure thing to be traded at the deadline than Ricky Nolasco, and he quickly found a new home when he was traded to the Dodgers in early July. The 30-year-old has been great in Los Angeles, going 6-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 10 starts, helping fuel their second-half surge.

    Much like Anibal Sanchez last season, Nolasco can continue to boost his stock with a strong finish to the regular season and solid postseason performance. He likely won't get Sanchez money (five-year, $88 million), but he may very well re-up with the team that acquired him like Sanchez did.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

    Predicted Contract: four-year, $52 million

RF Hunter Pence

41 of 51

    2013 Salary: $13.8 million

    2013 Stats: .284/.332/.457, 17 HR, 69 RBI, 71 R, 21 SB

     

    Overview

    The Giants acquired Hunter Pence at the deadline in 2012, and he has already made it known that he would prefer to sign a multiyear extension with the Giants than test the free-agent waters, according to a tweet from Jim Bowden of ESPN.

    It's hard imagine the offensively challenged Giants not wanting to bring him back, so an extension seems like the most likely outcome. The question is how much he's worth in a season where he'd likely be one of the top three or four bats on the open market if he did look to sign elsewhere.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: San Francisco Giants

    Predicted Contract: four-year, $56 million

SS Jhonny Peralta

42 of 51

    2013 Salary: $6 million

    2013 Stats: .305/.361/.461, 11 HR, 54 RBI, 50 R

     

    Overview

    The Tigers kicked around the idea of making a change at shortstop last offseason, before inevitably picking up their $6 million option on Jhonny Peralta. However, following their deadline acquisition of Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox and the PED suspension of Peralta, a departure is all but a certainty this time around.

    How much of his production can be attributed to PEDs remains to be seen, but Peralta was among the top offensive shortstops in baseball at the time of the suspension. For a Pirates team that has dealt with the light-hitting Clint Barmes at shortstop the past two seasons, Peralta could be a nice upgrade and a solid bridge to prospect Alen Hanson.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Pittsburgh Pirates

    Predicted Contract: one-year, $6 million ($6 million option for 2015)

SP Andy Pettitte

43 of 51

    2013 Salary: $12 million

    2013 Stats: 25 GS, 10-9, 4.01 ERA, 101 K, 150.1 

     

    Overview

    Even at 41 years old, Andy Pettitte has been one of the Yankees' most consistent starters this season, and there is no reason to think the Yankees won't extend another one-year offer to the veteran left-hander this coming offseason.

    He's not going to sign anywhere else, so it's a question of whether he re-ups with the Yankees or retires, and with solid numbers this season he certainly still has the stuff to pitch in the big leagues. A repeat of last year's one-year, $12 million deal seems like a reasonable expectation.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: New York Yankees

    Predicted Contract: one-year, $12 million

C A.J. Pierzynski

44 of 51

    2013 Salary: $7.5 million

    2013 Stats: .280/.306/.447, 16 HR, 58 RBI, 41 R

     

    Overview

    Despite hitting .278/.326/.501 with career bests of 27 home runs and 77 RBI in 2012, A.J. Pierzynski was unable to find a multiyear deal last offseason, with the Rangers bringing him aboard on a one-year deal to help replace some of their lost offense.

    His numbers have expectedly fallen off a bit this year, but not as much as some expected, and even at 36 he remains one of the better offensive backstops in the game. With top catching prospect Jorge Alfaro still a couple years away from sniffing the big leagues, bringing Pierzynski back on a one-year deal with an option for a second seems like a good move for the Rangers. Expect them to make a push for Brian McCann first, though.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Texas Rangers

    Predicted Contract: one-year, $7.5 million ($7.5 million option for 2015)

RP Fernando Rodney

45 of 51

    2013 Salary: $2.5 million

    2013 Stats: 58 G, 31-of-39 SV, 3.72 ERA, 11.6 K/9

     

    Overview

    In a classic Rays scrapheap bullpen signing, the team inked Fernando Rodney to a two-year, $4.25 million deal prior to last season, and after Kyle Farnsworth went down with an injury, he assumed closer duties and proceeded to put together a career year. The right-hander saved 48 games and posted a 0.60 ERA, winning AL Comeback Player of the Year honors.

    Things have not gone quite as smoothly this season, as he ranks second in baseball with eight blown saves and has seen his ERA spike by over three runs. Despite that, he's likely to receive a substantial raise over what he made this season, and the Rays will likely let him walk. The late innings have been a question mark all season for the Indians, and with Joe Smith potentially gone in free agency, adding Rodney could help the bullpen.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Cleveland Indians

    Predicted Contract: two-year, $14 million

C Carlos Ruiz

46 of 51

    2013 Salary: $5 million

    2013 Stats: .283/.330/.393, 5 HR, 24 RBI, 24 R

     

    Overview

    Last season, Carlos Ruiz put together the best season of his career by a long shot, hitting .325/.394/.540 with 16 home runs and 68 RBI in just 372 at-bats. The 34-year-old has failed to match those numbers this season but remains a plus offensive option and a veteran leader for the pitching staff.

    The Phillies have nothing in the way of an in-house option to step in, but expect them to make a play for a younger catcher like Jarrod Saltalamacchia in free agency. Ruiz won't have trouble finding an everyday job somewhere else, though, and he'd certainly be an upgrade offensively over Jose Molina in Tampa Bay.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Tampa Bay Rays

    Predicted Contract: one-year, $5 million

C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

47 of 51

    2013 Salary: $4.5 million

    2013 Stats: .263/.334/.442, 11 HR, 52 RBI, 56 R

     

    Overview

    Since taking over as the Red Sox starting catcher in 2011, Jarrod Saltalamacchia ranks seventh among catchers with 52 home runs, though he has hit just .240/.303/.449 over that span.

    Re-signing him will likely be Plan B for the Red Sox this offseason as they look to make a play for Brian McCann, and my guess is Boston lands the veteran slugger from Atlanta and Salty is out the door. The 28-year-old should be able to find an everyday job, and if Carlos Ruiz departs from Philadelphia, that could be where he ends up landing.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Philadelphia Phillies

    Predicted Contract: three-year, $16 million

SP Ervin Santana

48 of 51

    2013 Salary: $13 million

    2013 Stats: 27 GS, 8-8, 3.19 ERA, 143 K, 180.2 IP

     

    Overview

    In what amounted to a cost-cutting move, the Angels shipped Ervin Santana and $1 million to the Royals for minor league reliever Brandon Sisk this offseason. After winning 28 games and posting a 3.65 ERA in 2010 and 2011 combined, Santana went just 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA in 2012 and the Angels had seen enough of his inconsistency.

    The move has proven to be a great one for the Royals, and alongside James Shields, Santana has helped turn around a Royals rotation that was among the worst in baseball just a year ago. The team opted against shopping the right-hander at the deadline, and according to a report from Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, the Royals are interested in re-signing him.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Kansas City Royals

    Predicted Contract: three-year, $40 million

RP Joe Smith

49 of 51

    2013 Salary: $3.15 million

    2013 Stats: 58 G, 6-2, 2.56 ERA, 43 K, 52.2 IP

     

    Overview

    One of the more overlooked names on the market this coming winter, Joe Smith has made 254 appearances since locking down a bullpen job with the Indians in 2010 and posted a 2.74 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over that span of time.

    He doesn't have overpowering stuff, but uses a deceiving sidearm delivery to keep hitters off balance, and he's no doubt among the top setup arms available this offseason. Smith began his career in the Mets organization, and he would certainly help shore up what has been an inconsistent group the past several seasons.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: New York Mets

    Predicted Contract: two-year, $9 million

SP Jason Vargas

50 of 51

    2013 Salary: $8.5 million

    2013 Stats: 18 GS, 8-5, 3.54 ERA, 80 K, 114.1 IP

     

    Overview

    Acquired from the Mariners as part of the Angels' offseason rotation overhaul, Jason Vargas was arguably the team's best starter before landing on the DL with a blood clot in his left armpit. That injury cost him nearly two months and also kept him from being moved at the trade deadline.

    He's gone 2-1 with a 3.13 ERA in four starts since returning, including 2-0 with a 0.68 ERA in his last two outings, so there does not appear to be any lingering concerns over the injury. A workhorse who averaged 204 innings over the three seasons leading up to this year, Vargas would bring some much-needed consistency to an Orioles rotation that has been a major question mark the past two seasons.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Baltimore Orioles

    Predicted Contract: three-year, $36 million

3B Michael Young

51 of 51

    2013 Salary: $16 million

    2013 Stats: .275/.335/.394, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 49 R

     

    Overview

    After spending 13 seasons with the Rangers, Michael Young was dealt to the Phillies this past offseason in a cost-cutting deal that saw the Rangers take on $10 million of the $16 million remaining on his deal.

    He was traded again at the waiver deadline, going to the contending Dodgers for a chance at a World Series ring, and he could see time all over the infield for them down the stretch. He's still a decent hitter but is no longer the impact bat he once was, and he may have a hard time finding an everyday job next season. If that is in fact the case, my guess is the 36-year-old hangs it up rather than accepting a lesser role.

     

    Predicted 2014 Team: Retirement

    Predicted Contract: N/A

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