MLB Free Agents 2014: Ranking the Top 100 Players Available

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 29, 2013

MLB Free Agents 2014: Ranking the Top 100 Players Available

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    There are no more than two games left in the 2013 MLB season, as the Red Sox took a 3-2 series lead over the Cardinals in the World Series with a 3-1 victory Monday night.

    It's been a great series to this point, and will no doubt finish with a bang, but it's still never too early to turn our attention to the upcoming crop of free-agent talent.

    Last offseason, it was Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton who highlighted the crop of available talent, and this winter should have its fair share of impact talents changing teams.

    So looking ahead to the upcoming offseason, here is my take on the top 100 free agents set to become available.

Nos. 100-96

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    Kurt Suzuki
    Kurt Suzuki

    100. IF Placido Polanco

    Veteran infielder could opt to retire at 38, and at the very least will have to settle for a bench job after hitting .260/.315/.302 in 377 at-bats for the Marlins this season.


    99. OF Delmon Young

    Released by the Phillies in mid-August, Young returned to the Rays and hit well enough to earn a spot on the playoff roster and start at DH in three of their five games. Still, his .715 OPS in 334 at-bats may make it hard for him to find a guaranteed job.


    98. SS Brendan Ryan

    A slick fielder who can't hit a lick, Ryan batted .197/.255/.273 in 319 at-bats this season. His days as a starting shortstop are likely over.


    97. C Kurt Suzuki

    Suzuki returned to the A's, where he once was one of the more productive AL catchers, and hit .303/.343/.545 in 15 games. Only 30, he's a top backup option who still has some upside.


    96. SS Clint Barmes

    Another "defensive-minded" shortstop, Barmes won't see another two-year, $10.5 million deal this offseason after hitting .211/.249/.309 in 2012. Still, he's a solid veteran middle infielder and should land a big league job.

Nos. 95-91

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    Raul Ibanez
    Raul Ibanez

    95. C Jose Molina

    Despite his offensive limitations, Molina has served as the Rays' primary catcher the past two seasons thanks to his ability to handle a staff. He could return to Tampa if the team can't find an upgrade, but he should end up with a backup job regardless.


    94. RP Joba Chamberlain

    Chamberlain has a 4.74 ERA and 1.676 WHIP in 67 games over the past two seasons, but the 28-year-old will be one of the more attractive buy-low options on the market. The talent is still there.


    93. OF Raul Ibanez

    The 41-year-old shocked baseball in the first half (.267 BA, .892 OPS, 24 HR), then completely forgot how to hit after the All-Star break (.203 BA, .640 OPS, 5 HR). Retirement is certainly an option.


    92. SP Ted Lilly

    Lilly has made just 13 starts the past two seasons, and he was 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA this year. However, he's a veteran, left-handed starter with a good track record. If he's healthy he'll find work.


    91. SP Erik Bedard

    Looking past his 4-12 record, Bedard had a 4.59 ERA and 1.483 WHIP while pitching for a poor Astros team. His 6.1 no-hit innings and 10 strikeouts on July 20 showed he still has overpowering stuff when everything is right.

Nos. 90-86

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    Gavin Floyd
    Gavin Floyd

    90. 3B Kevin Youkilis

    Signed to a one-year, $12 million deal by the Yankees to serve as an insurance policy to Alex Rodriguez, Youkilis played just 28 games and hit .219/.305/.343. He'll make significantly less in 2014.


    89. RP Ryan Madson*

    Madson has not pitched since 2011, when he saved 32 games and posted a 2.37 ERA for the Phillies. He had a second elbow surgery last May, and he'll look to get his career back on track in 2014.


    88. 2B Brian Roberts

    The second-base market is incredibly thin, but seeing as he hasn't played more than 77 games the past four seasons, it's hard to trust Roberts with an everyday job. The Orioles could look to bring him back as a bridge to Jonathan Schoop.


    87. SP Gavin Floyd

    After going 62-56 with a 4.12 ERA over his first five seasons with the White Sox, Floyd was limited to just five starts in 2013 and went 0-4 with a 5.18 ERA. He likely won't see the field until July at the earliest after undergoing Tommy John surgery in May, but he could be a nice sign-and-stash for someone.


    86. C John Buck

    After a terrific April (.241 BA, .844 OPS, 9 HR, 25 RBI), Buck crashed back to earth the rest of the way (.213 BA, .592 OPS, 6 HR, 37 RBI) and will likely have to settle for a backup catcher/pinch-hitter role this coming year.


    *Player has a team option for 2014 that is likely to be declined.

Nos. 85-81

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    Johan Santana
    Johan Santana

    85. UT Willie Bloomquist

    Bloomquist started off 2013 with a bang by being named to the Team USA roster for the World Baseball Classic, and was solid once again in a utility role for the Diamondbacks with a .317/.360/.367 line in 139 at-bats. Used sparingly, he's a solid addition to any team's roster.


    84. RP Matt Albers

    Acquired by the Indians in the Shin-Soo Choo trade last offseason, Albers had a 3.14 ERA in 56 innings. He doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he's been solid the past two seasons and should be able to find a big league deal.

    83. RP Jamey Wright

    A below-average starter the first 11 seasons of his career, Wright moved to the bullpen full time in 2007 and has been a solid late-inning arm since. The 38-year-old had a 3.09 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 66 games for the Rays this season.


    82. UT Nick Punto

    The prototypical utility infielder, Punto hit .255/.328/.327 in 294 at-bats for the Dodgers in 2013 while seeing time at second base, shortstop and third base. The 35-year-old should be back in that role for someone next season.


    81. SP Johan Santana*

    The Mets are all but certain to pay their $5.5 million buyout on the $25 million team option they hold on Santana for next season, and he'll be one of the more intriguing options on the market. He's expected to be healthy by spring training after shoulder surgery this past year, but how much does he have left?


    *Player has a team option for 2014 that is likely to be declined.

Nos. 80-76

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    Rajai Davis
    Rajai Davis

    80. SP Shaun Marcum

    It's hard to see past the 1-10 record and 5.29 ERA that Marcum put up in 14 games (12 starts) for the Mets in 2013. However, a 3.64 FIP and .322 BABIP suggest he pitched at least marginally better than those numbers suggest.


    79. OF Rajai Davis

    While he doesn't hit quite enough to be an everyday player, posting a .260/.312/.375 line in 2013, Davis has some of the best wheels in baseball. He has at least 30 steals in each of the past five seasons, and went 45-of-51 on thefts this year.


    78. CF Franklin Gutierrez

    Gutierrez looked like a star in the making in 2009 when he hit .283/.339/.425 with 18 home runs and 70 RBI, but it's been all downhill since then due in large part to injuries. He managed 10 home runs in 145 at-bats this season and remains a plus defensive center fielder.


    77. RP Luis Ayala

    Ayala was traded to the Braves in April after resurrecting his career in Baltimore, and helped shore up their bullpen after early injuries. He had a 2.90 ERA in 31 innings, and will be looking to catch on somewhere as a setup man.


    76. RP Matt Thornton

    Thornton has appeared in at least 60 games in each of the past eight seasons. Even though he missed out on the Red Sox postseason run due to injury after being acquired in July, he should still have plenty of suitors this offseason. Proven left-handed relievers are always in demand.

Nos. 80-71

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    Chad Gaudin
    Chad Gaudin

    75. RP Matt Lindstrom**

    A hard-throwing right-hander, Lindstrom has some experience closing dating back to his time with the Astros, but has settled in as a plus setup man the past few seasons. He had a 3.12 ERA in 76 appearances out of the White Sox bullpen this season. He has a $500,000 buyout on a $4 million option, and the rebuilding Sox may very well cut ties.

    74. RP Mike Gonzalez

    Signed by the Brewers to a one-year, $2.25 million deal last offseason to help shore up their bullpen, Gonzalez had a 4.68 ERA and 10.8 K/9 in 75 appearances. He'll likely get a similar deal this offseason, as he continues to be a solid left-handed option with strikeout stuff.

    73. OF Jason Kubel*

    Kubel signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Diamondbacks prior to 2012, and he had an .833 OPS with 30 home runs and 90 RBI in his first season in Arizona. He struggled this past season though, hitting just .216/.293/.317 while battling injuries and being dealt to the Indians in August. He has a $1 million buyout on a $7.5 million option.

    72. SP/RP Chad Gaudin

    One of the better swingmen in baseball this past season, Gaudin was 5-2 with a 3.06 ERA in 30 games (12 starts) for the Giants. He was 5-1 with a 3.53 ERA as a starter, so he has value in both roles, and it will be interesting to see where he ends up this winter. Can he can duplicate his 2013 success?


    71. 1B Mark Reynolds

    After signing a one-year, $6 million deal with the Indians in the offseason, Reynolds looked like an absolute steal after posting a 1.019 OPS and hitting eight home runs in the first month of the season. He hit just .202/.291/.334 over his next 362 at-bats though, and anyone signing him will be doing it solely for his power.


    *Player has a team option for 2014 that is likely to be declined.

    **Not a free agent, White Sox exercised club option.

Nos. 70-66

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    Mark Ellis
    Mark Ellis

    70. RP Manny Parra

    A former starter for the Brewers, Parra had a 5.06 ERA in 62 games for Milwaukee in 2012 in what was his first full season in the bullpen. The Reds picked him up last offseason, in need of another left-handed arm, and he proved to be a fantastic pickup, posting a 3.33 ERA with 11.0 K/9 in 57 appearances.


    69. RP Kevin Gregg

    Released by the Dodgers on April 3, Gregg was scooped up by the Cubs and quickly became their closer when Carlos Marmol faltered. He threw 14 straight scoreless innings to begin and converted his first 12 save chances. Even with a late-season falloff, he was 33-of-38 on save chances with a 3.48 ERA on the year.


    67. 2B Mark Ellis*

    With the Dodgers signing Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero, the Mark Ellis era in Los Angeles has likely come to an end. He was solid this season, hitting .270/.323/.351, and should be able to find another starting job, but the Dodgers will likely pay $1 million to buy out his $5.75 million option. 


    66. RP LaTroy Hawkins

    The 40-year-old Hawkins keeps plugging away, as he played for his 10th different team in the Mets this season, and had a 2.93 ERA to go along with 13 saves in 72 appearances. That should be enough to win him another big league job for 2014.


    65. SP Roberto Hernandez

    The man formerly known as Fausto Carmona enjoyed a solid return to the big leagues in 2013, appearing in 32 games (24 starts) for the Rays and going 6-13 with a 4.89 ERA and 1.338 WHIP. He's not the same guy who won 19 games back in 2007, but he can be a serviceable back-of-the-rotation starter.


    *Player has a team option for 2014 that is likely to be declined.

Nos. 65-61

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    Rafael Furcal
    Rafael Furcal

    65. SS Rafael Furcal

    An All-Star for the Cardinals in 2012, Furcal missed all of 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in spring training. The 36-year-old is a plus defender with some speed, and given how thin the shortstop position is, that will likely be enough for him to find a starting job somewhere.

    64. RP J.P. Howell

    After a terrible 2011 season (46 G, 6.16 ERA), Howell bounced back in 2012 (55 G, 3.04 ERA) but still managed only a one-year, $2.85 million deal out of the Dodgers last winter. That proved to be a steal, as he had a great 2013, posting a 2.03 ERA over 67 games. That may be enough to get him a multiyear deal.


    63. SP Edinson Volquez

    The Padres' Opening Day starter, Volquez went 9-10 with a 6.01 ERA and 1.665 WHIP in 27 starts with San Diego before being released in August. The Dodgers scooped him up a day later, and he had a 4.18 ERA in 28 innings with them. The stuff is still there for him to be a plus starter, but until he shows some results he'll likely have to settle for a one-year deal.

    62. OF David Murphy

    Murphy hit .304/.380/.479 over 457 at-bats in 2012, and looked poised for a breakout season after being handed the everyday left-field job after the departure of Josh Hamilton in Texas. He flopped though, hitting just .220/.282/.374, and chances are he's headed back to being an oft-used fourth outfielder.


    61. SP/RP Bruce Chen

    After going 36-43 with a 4.71 ERA over the first 12 seasons of his career, Chen is 44-33 with a 4.17 ERA over the past four. He was bumped to the bullpen this year, and wound up serving as a swingman, going 9-4 with a 3.27 ERA in 34 games (15 starts). The 36-year-old won't get a huge deal, but could have a ton of suitors given the market for low-cost, left-handed veteran starters.

Nos. 60-56

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    Jesse Crain
    Jesse Crain

    60. 1B Paul Konerko

    It's almost silly to even include Konerko here, as the chances are remote he'll do anything but re-sign with the White Sox or retire this offseason. It was a rough season for the 37-year-old team captain, as he hit just .244/.313/.355 with 12 home runs and 54 RBI.


    59. RP Jesse Crain

    Crain was an absolute stud for the White Sox in the first half this season, posting a 0.74 ERA over 38 appearances and earning a spot on the AL All-Star team. However, a shoulder strain sidelined him on July 2 and he would not pitch again. Those health concerns no doubt hurt his stock this winter, and almost certainly cost him a multiyear deal.


    58. 2B/OF Kelly Johnson

    One of a handful of low-cost additions that helped improve the Rays offense, Johnson signed a one-year, $2.65 million deal last offseason and hit .235/.305/.410 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI in 366 at-bats. He can play second, third and left field, so there is value in his versatility to go along with the pop in his bat.


    57. OF David DeJesus*

    Traded twice in the second half, DeJesus ended the season with the Rays and helped them secure a playoff spot by hitting .260/.328/.413 in 104 at-bats. While that likely won't be enough for the team to exercise his $6.5 million option, he'll get plenty of interest in free agency thanks to his plus on-base skills.


    56. C Dioner Navarro

    An All-Star with the Rays back in 2008, Navarro had seen just 369 at-bats in three seasons heading into 2013 and hit just .211/.279/.325 with eight home runs. Signed by the Cubs to serve as backup to Welington Castillo, he hit .300/.365/.492 with 13 home runs in 240 at-bats. That may be enough for someone to give him a look as a starter.


    *Player has a team option for 2014 that is likely to be declined.

Nos. 55-51

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    Lyle Overbay
    Lyle Overbay

    55. OF Chris Young*

    A legitimate 30/30 threat during his time with the Diamondbacks, Young was acquired by the A's last offseason, and he hit just .200/.280/.379 with 12 home runs and 10 steals. He's certainly a bounce-back candidate, but there's no way the A's exercise their $11 million option on him.


    54. RP Oliver Perez

    Perez has reinvented himself as a reliever the past two seasons in Seattle, posting a 3.16 ERA in 94 games with a solid 10.7 K/9 mark. A 7.56 ERA in the second half certainly hurts his value, but he was good enough in the first half (1.98 ERA) that someone will be willing to take a chance on the left-hander.


    53. 1B Lyle Overbay

    One of a handful of Band-Aids the Yankees were forced to slap on their ailing offense, Overbay did his best to replace Mark Teixeira at first base, hitting .240/.295/.393 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI in 445 at-bats. He may not find a starting job, but he's a solid left-handed bat capable of seeing extended playing time.


    52. SP Mike Pelfrey

    After missing most of 2012 with Tommy John surgery, Pelfrey signed a one-year, $4 million deal with a Twins team desperate for starting pitching. His 5-13 record and 5.19 ERA was not pretty, but he looked much better in the second half and looks like a good buy-low option now a full year removed from surgery.


    51. RP Eric O'Flaherty

    One of the best left-handed relievers in baseball since joining the Braves in 2009, O'Flaherty has a 1.99 ERA and 1.155 WHIP in 295 games over that span. Off to another good start this season, he was forced to the DL on May 18 and wound up needing Tommy John surgery. A one-year deal to prove he's healthy is in order.


    *Player has a team option for 2014 that is likely to be declined.

50. SP Josh Johnson

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    2013 Stats

    16/16 2-86.201.660105308381.1


    Player Overview

    Not long ago, Josh Johnson was one of the best pitchers in baseball. Seeing as he is still just 29 years old, there will no doubt be someone willing to take a chance on him this winter. 

    He's dealt with injuries throughout his career, but from 2008-11 few were better than Johnson when he was on the field, as he went 36-13 with a 2.80 ERA and 8.5 K/9 over 84 starts.

49. C Carlos Ruiz

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    2013 Stats

    92.268/.320/.3688316 0 5 3730 1


    Player Overview

    After a breakout season in 2012 saw him hit .325/.394/.540 with 16 home runs in 372 at-bats, Carlos Ruiz saw his offensive production drop off substantially this season.

    He handles a staff well, and seeing as the Phillies have no real in-house options, he looks like a prime candidate to be re-signed. Still, catching is always at a premium and someone else could make a run at Ruiz. He's still a capable starter at this point in his career.

48. 1B/LF Michael Morse

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    2013 Stats

    88.215/.270/.3816713 013 2734 0


    Player Overview

    Michael Morse did not quite provide the offensive boost the Mariners were hoping for when they acquired him in the offseason. After a late-season stop in Baltimore, he'll try to catch on with someone looking to add a power bat on a low-cost deal.

    A late-bloomer, Morse essentially came out of nowhere to post a .910 OPS and hit 31 home runs in 2011 at age 29. If he can put his terrible 2013 behind him and get back on track, he could wind up being one of the better bargains of this year's class.

47. SP Roy Halladay

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    2013 Stats

    13/13 4-56.821.46855365162


    Player Overview

    Just two seasons removed from a second-place Cy Young finish, when he went 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA in 2011, Roy Halladay has fallen off abruptly and enters free agency looking for someone to give him a chance to prove he still has something to offer.

    Injuries limited him to just 13 starts last season, and his average fastball velocity was down to just 88.7 mph, according to FanGraphs, so chances are an incentive-laden, one-year deal is the best he can hope for. Still, if the 36-year-old can prove healthy, he could be a solid veteran arm to fill out someone's rotation.

46. UT Michael Young

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    2013 Stats

    147.279/.335/.39514526 5 8 4652 1


    Player Overview

    After spending the first 13 seasons of his major league career with Texas, and piling up 2,230 hits and a .301 batting average over that span, the Rangers shipped Michael Young to the Phillies last offseason for a pair of relievers.

    He was moved again to the Dodgers in August, and went on to hit .314/.321/.392 in 21 games during their playoff push. His versatility gives him added value. While he may still find someone willing to give him everyday at-bats, it's more likely he's headed for a super utility spot on a contender if he's willing to accept such a role.

45. SP Jason Hammel

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    2013 Stats

    26/23 7-84.971.4571554896139.1


    Player Overview

    A middling starter who was 34-45 with a 4.99 ERA when the Orioles acquired him prior to the 2012 season, Jason Hammel was one of the biggest surprises of the first half in 2012, as he went 8-5 with a 3.47 ERA and quickly emerged as the ace of the Orioles staff.

    Though he was limited to just three second-half starts because of injury, he still earned the Opening Day nod for the team this season. The results were not nearly as impressive though, and the 31-year-old now hits the open market as a decent middle-of-the-rotation option with some upside.

44. RP Boone Logan

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    2013 Stats

     61/0 5-2 03.231.17933135039


    Player Overview

    Good left-handed relief pitching is always at a premium, and Boone Logan has been one of the best in the business while pitching for the Yankees the past four seasons.

    He's made 256 appearances in those four years, posting a 3.38 ERA and 10.3 K/9. After Javier Lopez and Scott Downs, he's the best left-handed bullpen arm on the market this year. That should mean a multiyear deal and something around at least a $4 million annual salary.

43. RP Joe Smith

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    2013 Stats

     70/0 6-2 32.291.22254235463


    Player Overview

    Joe Smith has quietly been one of the best and most frequently used setup relievers in baseball over the past five seasons with the Indians. He's made 303 appearances during that span, posting a 2.76 ERA, 1.199 WHIP and 7.1 K/9.

    Still just 29, he should continue to serve in the eighth-inning role moving forward, though he did spend time in the closer spot this season and recorded the first three saves of his career. He made $3.15 million this season, and will likely see more in free agency. The Indians will have a hard time letting him go, as he was one of the few reliable arms in their 'pen.

42. RP Scott Downs

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    2013 Stats

     68/0 4-4 02.491.47745193743.1


    Player Overview

    Scott Downs earned a three-year, $15 million contract from the Angels last time he tested the free-agent waters, and the 37-year-old southpaw is in position to receive a multiyear