Doesn't it seem like this year, more than any other, teams are going to be conservative when it comes to handing out big contracts?
We have seen what has happened the last two years with players like Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Prince Fielder signing monster deals only to see their production fall off in a hurry.
Fielder is the most productive player in the group, yet just had the fewest home runs (25) and OPS (.819) since 2005.
This year's top free agents include Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo. Cano figures to get the biggest deal, though it's unclear how many years or dollars teams would be willing to throw at a 31-year-old second baseman.
I don't see a scenario where Cano leaves the Yankees. They still desperately need him and are capable of beating any potential offer if they so choose. Brian Cashman won't go overboard like he has in the past with Alex Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira, but a six-year deal in the $160-170 million range might be enough to keep Cano.
It also doesn't help Cano's cause that the Dodgers reportedly aren't interested in him, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. Of course, that's what they say now. Let's see what happens at the winter meetings in December.
Ellsbury has a long injury history, including missing 144 games in 2010 and 88 in 2012, to overcome. He is also a player whose best tool is his speed. At 30 years old, that can be a dangerous combination.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports lists a number of teams as having "interest" in Ellsbury, though that can be a misleading term because once bidding starts and prices go up, interest could wane quickly.
One team that makes sense, both from a need and financial perspective, is Washington. The Nationals need an offensive boost, especially at the top of the order. Denard Span was a disappointment in his first season with the team.
Ellsbury could solidify the top of Washington's order, getting on base ahead of Bryce Harper, and bring his stellar defense to the National League.
Choo, 31, is a glorified platoon player. He had an OPS of .885 with Cincinnati in 2013, but just .612 against left-handed pitching. His defense has been declining for years and got progressively worse this season when the Reds asked him to play center field.
I honestly don't know what to predict with Choo because his market won't become clear until Ellsbury signs. If I had to guess, I would say keep an eye on the Tigers even though they already have a crowded outfield.
We know Detroit's ownership and front office are not shy about handing out money if it helps the team win now, which this franchise is geared to do.
McCann is a great hitter (.823 career OPS, .461 slugging in 2013) who shouldn't stay behind the plate for much longer, complicating the value any interested teams have in him. If someone believes in his ability to keep hitting and/or as a catcher, he could get close to $100 million.
If not, I wouldn't be surprised to see McCann turn into one of the better bargains of the offseason.
Santana would scare me. He's never been consistent and is coming off a strong year (3.24 ERA in 211 innings) playing in a spacious park with a great defense behind him.
Starting pitching will always get paid, but I wouldn't trust Santana on anything more than a three-year deal.
Despite my feelings that teams will be conservative, we have seen in the past what happens when desperate clubs get in a bidding war. All it takes is one ridiculous deal to a second-tier free agent to change the market.