Establishing Future Value for MLB's Top 25 Free Agent, Trade Targets

Zachary D. RymerMLB Lead WriterNovember 6, 2013

Establishing Future Value for MLB's Top 25 Free Agent, Trade Targets

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    For Major League Baseball general managers, winter is a time to be in roster-construction mode. That involves trying to see the future.

    Since that can't actually be done, it basically involves making educated guesses as to what the future holds for players.

    That also happens to be the name of our little game here.

    A few weeks back, I embarked on a little project called the "MLB 500." The idea was to round up the top players at each position, analyzing them according to how their skills projected toward 2014.

    What we're going to do now is look a little further into the future—say, three to five years down the line instead of just one. The question that needs answering is: What are the top players on both the free-agent and trade markets going to be like in the long run?

    Following is a list of 25 players, with 15 free agents and 10 trade candidates. Let's go ahead and ponder their futures by using the same criteria that was used in the MLB 500.

Value System and Sources

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    Trying to quantify what players' skills are going to be like in the future is tricky. Turning the ensuing scores into some sort of monetary projection is even trickier.

    But since a score that's, say, 10 out of 20 is deemed as "average" and a total score of 50 out of 100 also basically counts as "average," we'll pretend that scores in average territory are akin to an average WAR. According to FanGraphs, that's somewhere between a two-WAR player and a three-WAR player.

    So we're going to break the scores down as follows:

    • 50-60: 2-3 WAR
    • 60-70: 3-4 WAR
    • 70-80: 4-5 WAR
    • 80 and up: 5+ WAR

    As FanGraphs' Dave Cameron wrote last year, one win is worth about $5 million in open-market dollars. As an example, Mike Trout's 10.4 WAR in 2013 was worth $52.1 million. 

    In keeping with our theme, many of the links in this assessment will take you to FanGraphs, so you can look directly at the data that's being referenced. Others will take you to Baseball-Reference.comBrooks Baseball or Baseball Prospectus. Like the MLB 500, this project was backed by data from all of the above sites.

    Since players like Carlos Beltran, Hiroki Kuroda and A.J. Burnett don't have more than a couple seasons left in them, they've been barred from the discussion. And if any scores are tied, the nod goes to the player who's a better option for the long haul, according to the opinion of yours truly.

25. Free Agent: Omar Infante, 2B

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    Hitting

    17/25

    Making contact is something Omar Infante has been good at throughout his career, but it's not the best sign that his contact rate in 2013 was his lowest in several years. In looking forward, one wishes Infante had a stronger track record when it comes to plate discipline. With Infante set to turn 32, it's going to get harder and harder for him to keep the hits coming.

    Power

    9/25

    Infante does have some sneaky-good home run power, but not nearly enough of it to make him a dangerous home run hitter. Age won't do his home run power any favors, and his gap power is suspect enough as is. He's primarily a singles hitter now, and will be even more of one in a few years.

    Baserunning

    10/20

    Infante's 17 stolen bases in 2012 were a huge outlier. He's more of a station-to-station guy and is likely to fall even further into that niche as he ages and his legs get more beat up.

    Defense

    11/20

    Infante has quietly become one of the game's better fielders at second base. He's been prone to boots over the last two years, but has been good enough at making rangy plays and turning double plays to make up for it. But once Infante's range starts to go, his defense at second base will become pedestrian.

    Health

    7/10

    Infante has a fairly lengthy injury history that includes hand issues and, more recently, a sprained ankle that landed him on the DL for over a month in 2013. Things won't be any easier now that he is in his mid-30s.

    Overall

    54/100

    Infante's ability to make contact will help him remain relevant as he heads deeper into his 30s. But he doesn't bring much else to the table, and he'll be bringing even less to the table before long.

    All the same, a score such as this casts Infante as basically being a 2.5-WAR player, worth between $12 and $13 million annually. He's going to sign for less than that, so he could actually be a good value buy.

24. Trade Target: Andre Ethier, RF

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    The Rumor: Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com said in September that Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig could all be on the block this winter. Since dealing Ethier makes the most sense, I'm going to focus on him.

    Hitting

    20/30

    Ethier's inability to hit lefties isn't improving, as he mustered just a .275 OBP against southpaws in 2013 with a strikeout percentage over 20 percent. The good news is that he got his plate discipline back to where it needed to be after a rough year in 2012, and he's as much a line-drive merchant as ever. Ethier's not about to get better as a hitter, but he'll be able to avoid a sharp decline if he maintains the approach he has now.

    Power

    14/30

    What Ethier has at this stage is more doubles power than home run power, and that's likely to be par for the course from here on out. His power has regressed more toward the league average after peaking several years ago. He should continue on that path as he gets deeper into his 30s.

    Baserunning

    6/15

    Ethier can get going when he has to, but he's ordinarily not one to make things happen on the basepaths. He rarely tries for steals and he's generally not one to try to take extra bases either. I would expect him to become even more of a station-to-station guy going forward.

    Defense

    6/15

    Ethier was surprisingly decent in place of Matt Kemp in center field in 2013, but he's undoubtedly better suited to play right field. That may not last long, though, as he doesn't have much range as an outfielder about to turn 32 early in 2014. A move to first base could be in Ethier's future.

    Health

    8/10

    The ankle injury that slowed Ethier toward the end of the 2013 season was the latest in a line of nagging injuries that he's had to deal with over the last three seasons. He's only needed one DL stint, but the injuries are likely to keep coming as he gets older.

    Overall

    54/100

    Ethier's approach at the plate should coincide well with his advancing age, and he doesn't have a whole lot of power left to lose. He won't be anything special as he gets older, but he should remain solid enough to be a productive regular.

    A score like this one puts Ethier in the same discussion as Infante at around $12 million-$13 million of annual value. He's set to make more than that in each of the next four years.

23. Trade Target: Brandon Phillips, 2B

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Rumor: Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported in October that the Reds are serious about trading Brandon Phillips this winter.

    Hitting

    9/25

    Phillips posted the lowest season OBP of his career in 2013, and it didn't happen by accident. His lack of looking for walks requires him to hit, and his lack of a consistent line-drive approach can be rough on his BABIP. The biggest concern, though, is how much Phillips struggled to do damage against fastballs. That's not a good sign for a guy due to turn 33 next June.

    Power

    10/25

    Power is another department where the signs aren't good for Phillips. Another thing that doesn't bode well, in light of a possible trade, is that Phillips' .185 career ISO at Great American Ballpark dwarfs his .157 career ISO. A deal for him will mean a deal for a guy with declining power who traditionally hasn't hit for much power away from a launching pad. Good luck with that.

    Baserunning

    10/20

    Because Phillips was hitting in the middle of Cincinnati's order for the bulk of 2013, he didn't do much baserunning. This is probably a sign of things to come, though, as he was easing up on the base-stealing even before 2013. With his 33rd birthday due up, he has the right idea. He should save his legs, even if it means being a station-to-station guy.

    Defense

    17/20

    Though Phillips is getting up there in age, he's still fielding at a high level. Only Dustin Pedroia and Darwin Barney have racked up better UZRs over the last three seasons, and in 2013, Phillips ranked fourth in range runs above average. He can still cover ground, but a decline is bound to come, even if it only knocks Phillips down from "superb" to "great."

    Health

    9/10

    For a guy who plays a physically demanding position, Phillips is in outstanding shape. He's only been on the DL once and has been largely able to avoid nagging injuries. He only loses a point here for his age.

    Overall

    55/100

    Right now, Phillips is a guy who offers outstanding defense and an average bat. In the future, he's going to be a player who offers very good defense and not even an average bat.

    This score casts Phillips as a 2.5-WAR player who will be worth around $12.5 million annually. The contract extension he signed maxes out at $14 million.

22. Free Agent: Stephen Drew, SS

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    Hitting

    12/20

    Playing at a position where guys are known more for their gloves than their bats, Stephen Drew might have the most disciplined approach of any shortstop. This will help him survive as an offensive force going forward, and he definitely picked a good time to become a line-drive machine. What's not encouraging are Drew's rising strikeouts, as that's not something age is likely to magically correct.

    Power

    13/20

    Drew's .190 ISO (Isolated Power) in 2013 was his highest tally since 2008, which was also the last year he posted a HR/FB as high as 9.7. Those numbers, and Drew's line-drive renaissance, make him a solid bet for power in 2014, but age will inevitably start taking its toll as he gets deeper into his 30s. He'll still be a solid power-hitting shortstop, but that's not saying much in this day and age.

    Baserunning

    9/20

    Drew was a perfect 6-for-6 stealing bases in 2013, but I wouldn't call him fleet of foot. I'd say he's an average baserunning shortstop for now, and he's only going to get worse once he starts to lose some speed with age.

    Defense

    15/30

    Drew's glove kept him in the lineup during the postseason, and it was good even before October came around. Drew ranked ninth in UZR among qualifying shortstops this year. But his range isn't that far above average as things stand now. Once he starts losing a few steps, it will regress to average.

    Health

    6/10

    A severe ankle injury knocked Drew out for half of 2011 and half of the 2012 season. In 2013, he battled a concussion and a hamstring strain, both of which put him on the DL—not exactly ideal for a guy just entering his 30s.

    Overall

    55/100

    It wasn't his best season, but 2013 was as close to vintage Stephen Drew as it gets. He may be able to do it again in 2014, and his bat will keep him as a solid regular in the lineup as he gets into his 30s. But his fielding is bound to regress, and he does come with health concerns.

    This score casts Drew as a player who will be worth roughly $12.5 million annually. Since he could sign for less than that, he might actually end up being a decent bargain buy.

21. Free Agent: Mike Napoli, 1B

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    Hitting

    13/30

    Mike Napoli struck out in a career-high 32.4 percent of his plate appearances in 2013, and that had something to do with an inability to catch up to fastballs. The 32-year-old swung and missed at a third of the four-seamers he hacked at this season, which is obviously not good. He'll be able to maintain a strong OBP as long as he maintains his discerning eye, which allows him to keep his walk rates well over 10 percent each season. However, it's hard to fathom him having an easy time with the whole "hitting" thing a few years down the line.

    Power

    22/35

    He still has the power to destroy baseballs now, but Napoli's fly-ball percentage (FB%) has been headed nowhere but down for a few seasons now. That's not a good trend for a power hitter. His struggles with the fastball are also scary, as it's certainly a lot harder to hit offspeed stuff to the moon on a consistent basis. Those things, and his age (FanGraphs' Eno Sarris has done research that shows how dangerous a hitter's 30s are to his power) are a real threat to Napoli's power going forward.

    Baserunning

    3/10

    Napoli doesn't look like much of a baserunner, and he isn't one. He doesn't bother with stolen bases, and his 18 outs on the basepaths over the last four seasons are a few too many. Age won't make him better.

    Defense

    12/15

    Napoli's defense at first base in 2013 was a huge surprise. He led all first basemen in UZR and was one of only four who had 10 defensive runs saved (DRS). Because first base isn't a physically demanding position, it's fair to expect Napoli to carry on as a stud fielder for a few more years.

    Health

    6/10

    Napoli avoided the DL in 2013, but his health does come with question marks. His degenerative hip ailment is something to watch, and the plantar fasciitis that he battled late in the season was the latest in a line of problems he's had with his wheels. His health could be problematic as he gets older.

    Overall

    56/100

    Napoli had one of the best years of his career in 2013, but he doesn't have the look of a guy who's going to age particularly well. His best power days have passed him by, and his hitting in general showed some cracks this past season.

    A score like this puts Napoli more toward the 3-WAR discussion on my crude little scale, which translates to an annual value between $13 million and $15 million. Conveniently, that's where he should end up this winter.

20. Free Agent: Curtis Granderson, OF

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Hitting

    8/20

    Curtis Granderson's plate approach is centered around getting a pitch to drive, and therein lies both his major strength and his major weakness. His strength is that he has a discerning eye. His weakness is that he gets himself into too many pitchers' counts. His strikeout problem is very real, and it's doubtful that it will go away as he gets deeper into his 30s. His patience will save his hitting from oblivion as he starts to lose some bat speed, but only to a degree.

    Power

    20/25

    It's hard to know what to make of Granderson's power following a season in which he barely played because of injuries, but we know he has the typical trappings of a power hitter. He hits the ball in the air a ton, and it's as good as gone if he pulls it to right field. But since power doesn't age well and Granderson is pushing 33, his elite power won't be elite for much longer.

    Baserunning

    10/20

    Granderson has been successful in 18 of his last 23 steal attempts, which is a decent rate. If something good may come from all his time off in 2013, it's that his legs have been preserved. But given his age, it's still likely that his best days as a baserunner are in the past.

    Defense

    9/25

    Here's where things get tricky, as we really don't know for sure if Granderson's next job will be playing center field. It shouldn't be, as the metrics have long been lukewarm on his defense in center field, and he's at an age where his legs might not be able to take it anymore. Given the uncertainty, I'll give him a score that works for both a below-average center fielder and a slightly above-average corner outfielder.

    Health

    9/10

    The health problems Granderson experienced in 2013 were not of the concerning variety. It's not his fault that bones aren't indestructible. But since he is a 32-year-old who has spent his career at a demanding position, he loses a point by default.

    Overall

    56/100

    Even after Father Time collects his due, Granderson is still going to have power to offer, but not much. His hitting is already suspect, and his fielding and baserunning aren't legit strengths either.

    This score puts Granderson right there with Napoli in the high end of the 2-3 WAR discussion and $13 million to $15 million of annual value. That's probably what it will come to for him this winter.

19. Free Agent: Ubaldo Jimenez, SP

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    Stuff

    15/30

    Ubaldo Jimenez's fastball velocity is already on a clear downward slope, so it's a good thing that his sinker supplanted his four-seamer as his go-to fastball in 2013. He also upped the use of his slider, which proved to be effective against both righties and lefties. Jimenez is reinventing himself as a sinker-slider pitcher while he's losing velocity, which is a good way for him to go from here.

    Command

    10/20

    It's a good sign that Jimenez's walk rate dipped from 12.2 percent in the first half of 2013 to 7.9 percent in the second half. He was doing a better job of throwing his hard stuff for strikes. I don't want to buy into half a season's worth of work too much, but if Jimenez continues to throw strikes, it's easy enough to buy him as a pitcher capable of maintaining average command.

    Hittability 

    7/15

    Jimenez's second-half surge this season also came with a spike in his strikeout rate. However, in light of his declining velocity, that's not the kind of thing that's likely to last. If he's going to be a sinker-slider guy anyway, then his main emphasis is going to be on getting ground balls rather than punching guys out.

    Workhorse

    15/25

    Jimenez has been good for around 100 pitches per start over the last few years, but ever since 2011, he hasn't been able to go six innings consistently. Improved command should help him turn this around, but the decline of his stuff and hitters' ability to reach him will put a natural cap on his ability to eat innings.

    Health

    9/10

    Jimenez has been on the DL only once before in his career, for a laceration on his thumb back in 2011. The only thing holding his score back here is the knowledge that pitchers don't get healthier as they get older, and Jimenez is entering his 30s, a huge danger zone for pitchers. 

    Overall

    56/100

    This is a better score than the one I gave Jimenez in my original MLB 500. I'm banking on the notion that his ability to reinvent himself into less of a power pitcher and more of a control artist will be worth the trouble as the years pass and will help him become a better workhorse as a result. 

    This score puts Jimenez right there with Napoli and Granderson in the $13 million-$15 million annual value discussion. After his strong second half, it wouldn't be a surprise if Jimenez actually gets something like that.

18. Trade Target: Dexter Fowler, CF

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    Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

    The Rumor: Troy Renck of The Denver Post wrote in late October that the Rockies "seem ready to listen more realistically" to offers for Dexter Fowler, and that they even believe Carlos Gonzalez could handle center field.

    Hitting

    15/20

    Fowler is one of the more disciplined hitters you're going to come across, rarely going outside the zone and taking his share of walks. These skills have the potential to go well with his advancing age. While his .390 BABIP in 2012 is a clear outlier, Fowler does have BABIP-friendly contact habits. He'll lose some of his hitting prowess as he gets older, but he should have three or four more prime years left. He is only 27 after all.

    Power

    10/25

    Fowler's power naturally plays a lot better at Coors Field than it does on the road, so removing him from the premises will have an impact on his pop at the plate. This is to say nothing of the fact that 2013 was Fowler's worst power year since 2009, as far as ISO goes. Already a fringy power hitter, it's doubtful he will be getting any better—especially if he's traded away from Coors Field.

    Baserunning

    13/20

    Fowler has been caught stealing 42 times compared to the 83 times he's been successful. It's a good thing he gets around the bases well, as only a handful of players generated more baserunning runs in 2013. Age will impact his legs, but it's doubtful that he'll really start slowing down until he hits his early 30s. 

    Defense

    12/25

    The defensive metrics aren't particularly fond of Fowler's defense in center field, and he doesn't pass the eye test either. For a guy who's such a good athlete, there are times when he seems to be moving in slow motion. He passes for being a decent fielder now, but it's hard to imagine him getting any better.

    Health

    6/10

    Fowler has a history of wrist issues and has been dealing with nagging injuries on a near-nonstop basis since 2009. He plays a demanding position and he's not getting any younger, so his injury track record isn't ideal.

    Overall

    56/100

    There's much to like about Fowler's approach at the plate, and his baserunning is solid, but his power and defense are both shortcomings that aren't going to improve.

    A score like this puts Fowler in the same camp as the other 56s, meaning an annual worth between $13 million and $15 million. That's probably what will be waiting for him in free agency after his 2015 season.

17. Free Agent: Ricky Nolasco, SP

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Stuff

    15/30

    With his 31st birthday coming up in December, Ricky Nolasco is already sitting in the 90-91 mph range with both his four-seamer and his sinker. Since he's been hanging steady in that range for the last couple seasons, it's fair to expect him to hang on. Nolasco also has a slider, curveball and a splitter, with his slider rating as the best of the bunch. It's not an overpowering arsenal, but the depth of it is worth some consideration.

    Command

    10/20

    Nolasco owns a career walk percentage of 5.5. His walk percentage in 2013 was, naturally, 5.5. This doesn't mean he was pounding the strike zone, however, as both his first-pitch strike percentage and zone percentage took a tumble. What he was doing was more like pitching around the zone. While it worked for him in 2013, it won't work as well once the scouting report gets out and Nolasco's stuff becomes a little less crisp.

    Hittability 

    6/15

    Nolasco's strategy of toying with the strike zone in 2013 did pay off in more swings and misses on pitches out of the zone, which, in turn, helped him rescue his strikeouts from a sharp decline. He's still a guy who can be hit hard, however, and a one-year spike in strikeouts is hard to trust. 

    Workhorse

    17/25

    Nolasco's ability to eat innings has never really wavered over the years, as he's been good for six innings per start like clockwork ever since 2008. At the same time, he's never averaged more than 100 pitches per start in a season. Given that and what we're about to discuss next, it's not asking a lot for Nolasco to maintain his status as a solid workhorse in the future.

    Health

    9/10

    Nolasco had some serious trouble with his elbow back in 2007, but he managed to avoid surgery. The only real injury scare he's had since then involved knee surgery in 2010. I can't give him a perfect score here, given what we know about the ability of older pitchers to stay healthy, but Nolasco is definitely in good shape for a guy his age.

    Overall

    57/100

    Nolasco is nothing special as a pitcher now, and he's not going to be anything particularly special in the future, but he's in good health and has what he needs to continue to eat innings, and that's an invaluable skill.

    A score like this casts Nolasco close to a 3-WAR player worthy of close to $15 million annually. He won't actually get that much in free agency, so he could prove to be a solid bargain buy.

16. Free Agent: James Loney, 1B

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Hitting

    20/30

    James Loney settled into a nice niche in Tampa Bay in 2013, hitting .299, thanks to an approach geared toward making contact and hitting the ball on a line. He ended up hitting more line drives than anyone. While he might be able to do that again in 2014, he's eventually going to have to deal with a loss of bat speed that could make him wishing he was better at working the count for walks.

    Power

    12/35

    Here's where Loney has an advantage over most first basemen, as there's hardly any point in wondering how his power is going to age. He already has below-average power for a first baseman, as he's never hit more than 15 home runs and has never been much of a doubles machine either. He will lose power in his 30s, but the decline for him won't be too severe.

    Baserunning

    5/10

    The best thing to be said about Loney's baserunning is that he's good at playing it safe. He made only two outs on the bases in 2013 and has made a total of five outs on the bases over the last two seasons. Since there's no reason that his instincts for caution shouldn't decline with age, Loney should age fine in this department.

    Defense

    12/15

    Loney is one of the more sure-handed first basemen out there, as well as one of the rangier first basemen in the business. Only Adrian Gonzalez has more range runs above average over the last two seasons. The fact that Loney still has good range so close to 30 bodes well for him, so I'll give him the same score I initially gave.

    Health

    9/10

    Loney's next trip to the DL will be his first as a big leaguer. While age tends to wear players down, he plays a position that goes relatively easy on the wear and tear, so he only loses a point here because he's about to enter his 30s.

    Overall

    58/100

    After looking finished in 2012, Loney now has the look of a hitter who could age well. He doesn't have to worry so much about age sapping his power, and his ability to make contact and hit the ball on a line should allow him to remain consistent at the plate.

    This score puts Loney close to 3-WAR territory; thus, he should be worth $15 million in annual value. He'll sign for less, so could be a bargain buy for a team willing to sign him for multiple years.

15. Trade Target: Howie Kendrick, 2B

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    The Rumor: Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe wrote in early October that it looks "more and more" like the Angels will trade Howie Kendrick for pitching this winter.

    Hitting

    19/25

    The best part about the season Kendrick just had was that he posted a career-high 27.4 line-drive percentage. Repeating that mark in the future will be tough, but he's always had the kind of swing that was going to produce line drives at that rate eventually. Even though Kendrick is now 30, that's enough to err on the side of optimism with this score.

    Power

    12/25

    Kendrick's power has a natural cap on it due to his preference to hit the ball to right and right-center. He doesn't have the kind of raw pop to do much damage in either direction, and it's unlikely he'll develop any as he gets older, when generating power starts getting harder. However, escaping the Big A should help save his power from total ruin.

    Baserunning

    9/20

    Kendrick failed to steal double-digit bases in 2013 for the first time since 2007. On top of that, he made a career-high 10 outs on the basepaths. He's not actually that bad of a baserunner now, but it's likely a taste of what's to come.

    Defense

    10/20

    Kendrick's issues with errors over the last two seasons have hurt him in the eyes of the metrics, which view him as, at best, a solid second baseman. I'd say that's fair. I'd also say it's fair to expect Kendrick to either remain what he is defensively or get worse. The latter is a real possibility because second base is a position that beats players up.

    Health

    8/10

    Kendrick, who has been on the DL four times with leg injuries since 2008, is going to turn 31 next July. An already rickety lower half won't be getting any less rickety.

    Overall

    58/100

    Kendrick isn't going to have much to offer when it comes to power, baserunning or defense before long, but his bat should keep the hits coming as he ages.

    Like Loney, Kendrick could be a $15 million value annually as he gets older. It's doubtful anybody will actually give him a contract like that when he hits free agency after 2015, so he's a potential bargain player.

14. Free Agent: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Hitting

    13/20

    Jarrod Saltalamacchia still struck out a ton in 2013, but he was better about keeping his swings confined to the strike zone. It's therefore not such a huge surprise that he hit more balls on a line than ever before. At age 28, which is young for a free-agent hitter, he still has a couple of prime years left to play before Father Time comes calling.

    Power

    18/25

    Salty did lose some power as a result of his new-found approach due in large part to the fact that he just didn't hit the ball in the air as often. But since he still made enough hard contact to hit 40 doubles and was generally much more consistent, I doubt that Salty will be too keen on changing much in 2014. The power he showed in 2013 is likely to be what he's got.

    Baserunning

    5/10

    Salty actually generated more baserunning runs this season than Shane Victorino, which is a testament to the catcher's ability to pick his spots. That's as good as it's going to get, though, as a couple more years in the crouch will take their toll.

    Defense

    15/35

    Salty's gotten a lot better about keeping the ball in front of him, but he still struggles to control opponents' running game. That's an area where he is what he is, but he should be able to hang on as a passable defensive catcher going forward.

    Health

    8/10

    The last trip to the DL for Salty happened way back in 2010. He has had some issues with his back in the last couple of years, however, and you always have to worry about catchers by the time they get to their late 20s.

    Overall

    59/100

    Saltypy finally came into his own in 2013, enjoying consistency at the plate for the first time while still showing off some solid pop. While he's not Yadier Molina, he does enough behind the plate to earn his keep. Also, don't overlook the value of his relative youth in the context of this discussion.

    This score casts Salty as a player worth roughly $15 million annually going forward. Since he won't get that in free agency, he could be a good bargain.

13. Free Agent: Brian McCann, C

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    Hitting

    12/20

    Brian McCann enjoyed a nice bounce-back year at the plate after enduring a rocky 2012, with the main difference being a simply that he made better contact. Whereas it was all grounders and flies for McCann in 2012, he worked in more liners in 2013 to help rescue his BABIP. What I worry about is McCann's second-half slump, which saw him struggle mightily to hit hard stuff. He won't have any easier time doing so as he heads into his 30s.

    Power

    17/25

    McCann posted his highest ISO since 2009 in 2013, which was largely a gift of his best ever HR/FB rate. But as he turns 30 in February, he's entering that dark territory where power tends to go missing. And catchers, of course, have been known to see their power drop off even more dramatically.

    Baserunning

    2/10

    McCann went first to third on a single once in 2013. He didn't go second to home on a single, or from first to home on any double. "Slow of foot" is a good way to describe him, and he's not going to be better in his 30s than he is now at 29.

    Defense

    23/35

    McCann's never been great at controlling the running game, but he does hold his own. He also has good catching and game-calling skills. Age shouldn't take too big a toll on those abilities, but it likely will take a bite out of McCann's throwing ability. It wouldn't be a shock if he's playing first base or DHing a few years from now.

    Health

    6/10

    McCann's right shoulder bothered him pretty much all throughout 2012, and offseason surgery on it kept him out until May this past season. Besides that, he has about as many nagging injuries as you'd expect to see with a catcher who's been in the crouch on an everyday basis since he was 22. If his body is this banged-up now, it's easy to worry about his future.

    Overall

    60/100

    The fact that McCann enjoyed a nice rebound in 2013 bodes well for his immediate future. However, it's hard to be excited about his more long-term future, as his bat has clearly lost some luster and he doesn't have a clean injury history working for him.

    McCann is probably going to get a contract worth $16 million to $17 million annually. This score says he'll be worth more like $15 million annually.

12. Free Agent: Ervin Santana, SP

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Stuff

    14/30

    Ervin Santana is something of a standard for the term "fastball-slider guy." Fastballs and sliders made up more than 90 percent of his pitches in 2013. What worries me about that is that Santana's velocity is already far from what it used to be. The slight comeback his velocity experienced in 2013 isn't likely to last, as he is about to turn 31. It's good that he started using a sinker again this past season, but the shallowness of his arsenal could soon be a serious problem.

    Command

    15/20

    Santana's 5.9 walk percentage in 2013 was his lowest in years, and he earned it. He was among the elites at getting strike one, and his zone percentage was none too shabby either. While we're only talking about one year, Santana did pick a darn good time to become an easily above-average command artist. This transformation will serve him well once he starts bleeding velocity.

    Hittability 

    6/15

    Santana is now only a decent strikeout artist with a fastball-slider combination that still has some oomph to it. He's not going to get any better once that oomph is gone in a few years, but if he comes to rely more on his sinker, he could become a solid ground-ball artist. He'll need to be that in order to keep his longstanding problem with his "gopheritis" at bay.

    Workhorse

    17/25

    Santana topped 200 innings for the third time in four years in 2013 and averaged 6.6 innings per start with an average of only 100 pitches. That was his new-found efficiency at work. It's going to be harder for him to eat innings once his stuff starts to go, but he'll be able to maintain his durability OK so long as he's still commanding the ball well.

    Health

    8/10

    Santana's arm was a mess back in 2009, but he was able to avoid any surgeries and has been injury-free since then. He is on the wrong side of 30, however, and his history of eating innings may catch up with him eventually.

    Overall

    60/100

    Santana will be forced to re-think his repertoire once age takes away what's left of his once-excellent velocity, but command and the ability to eat innings are two very valuable things.

    This score casts Santana as a $15 million-per-year player. It wouldn't be the least bit surprising if he actually ends up with a deal like that.

11. Free Agent: Shin-Soo Choo, OF

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    Hitting

    19/20

    Not only is Shin-Soo Choo's hitting eye great, it's getting better. The number of pitches outside the strike zone at which Choo swings (O-Swing%) has declined in each of the last three years, so the career-best 15.7 walk percentage he earned in 2013 was no joke. He'll be able to maintain his status as an on-base machine as long as he keeps his discerning eye operational. But given that he'll be 32 in July, he's bound to find hits harder to come by soon enough.

    Power

    16/25

    Choo probably doesn't get enough credit for the power he has, as it goes to all fields and was just as good away from Great American Ballpark in 2013. But we know that power starts to fade quickly when hitters get to their 30s, and that's where Choo is now. In particular, it's hard to imagine his power to the opposite field aging well.

    Baserunning

    9/20

    Choo stole 20 bases in 2013, but was caught 11 times. He also made 16 outs on the basepaths over the last two seasons, which is a few too many. He's not a downright bad baserunner, but he's close enough to average and presumably won't be getting better.

    Defense

    7/25

    According to the metrics, Choo's defense in center field was about as disastrous as everyone expected it to be. Both his UZR and DRS were well below zero. It's doubtful that he'll be playing center field for his next team, but it's worth mentioning that he wasn't too sharp the last time he played right field in 2012. If he's that bad now, he certainly won't be betting better.

    Health

    9/10

    Choo's 2011 season was undone by injuries, but he's been largely healthy throughout his career. The non-perfect score here is due to my "He's old!" alarm.

    Overall

    60/100

    Choo's power and what speed he has will soon be subject to the perils of age, but getting older shouldn't stop him from being an on-base machine, and thus, a valuable player.

    This score puts Choo right at the 3-WAR threshold at $15 million in annual value. That's probably what he'll end up getting.

10. Trade Target: Lance Lynn, SP

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    Pool/Getty Images

    The Rumor: Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently wondered if the Cardinals' wealth of pitching could lead to either Lance Lynn or Shelby Miller being traded. Dealing Miller, who is 23 and has five years of club control left, seems extremely unlikely, so I tabbed Lynn as the guy to include in this discussion.

    Stuff

    16/30

    Lynn is one of the league's harder-throwing starters with a four-seamer that averages 93-94 miles per hour. However, we know from research done by Bill Petti of FanGraphs that a starter's late 20s are a dangerous time for his velocity, and Lynn will be 27 next season. Since fastballs account for over 70 percent of his pitches these days, he's going to need a deeper arsenal before long. It's easy to imagine him struggling to adapt.

    Command

    11/20

    Lynn has seen his walk ratio rise in each of the last three seasons, but it's not all bad. He did post a strong first-pitch strike percentage in 2013 and found the strike zone more often than he did in 2012. These are good signs, as his basically average command now should get better.

    Hittability 

    7/15

    Lynn's strikeout rate took a step down from where it was in 2012, and that trend isn't going to reverse itself if he does indeed lose some velocity as he gets deeper into his 20s. I expect Lynn will eventually start working in his sinker more as part of an effort to get ground balls, but it wouldn't be at all surprising if his best days as a strikeout artist have already passed him by.

    Workhorse

    17/25

    This is an area where Lynn took a notable step forward in 2013, averaging over 100 pitches and six innings per start in topping 200 innings for the first time. He's never likely to be the kind of guy who's good for seven innings every time out, but what appears to be improving command should help his maintain as a solid workhorse heading into the future.

    Health

    10/10

    A problem with his left oblique in 2011 landed Lynn on the DL for the final two months of the season. Before, and after that, his health has been good. Since he has a few years to go before hitting 30, he escapes the automatic point deduction that the 30-and-up crowd has been getting.

    Overall

    61/100

    The fact that Lynn's stuff is likely due for a decline and that will force him to alter his pitching style is a real concern. What will save him is his improved command, his good medical track record and his ability to eat innings.

    This score puts Lynn as a pitcher worth between $15 million and $16 million annually. That's actually less than what he was worth in 2013.

9. Trade Target: Mark Trumbo, 1B

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    The Rumor: ESPN's Buster Olney reported in late October that the Angels might be willing to trade Mark Trumbo for pitching this winter.

    Hitting

    9/30

    Trumbo's strikeout totals are getting worse rather than better, as his strikeout percentage has risen in each of the last two years after starting off at a modest 20.9 in 2011. He is becoming somewhat less aggressive, but he's still expanding the zone a lot and whiffing a lot. Because there's no real progress being made, the safest bet is that Trumbo will continue to be who he is as a hitter. 

    Power

    28/35

    Trumbo's raw power is gigantic, but his tendency toward ground balls puts a natural cap on it. While Trumbo's power is more likely to decline than it is to get better as he advances into his late 20s, the fact that he's still only in his late 20s is a saving grace in the context of this discussion. He has several more 30-homer seasons in him, which is something that can't be said about too many other right-handed hitters out there.

    Baserunning

    4/10

    Trumbo has 18 career stolen bases, but has also been caught stealing 11 times. He only attempted seven steals in 2013, which was the right call. He should continue to ease off in the future, as he'll need to preserve his legs, so look for him to be content just playing it safe on the basepaths.

    Defense

    11/15

    He's known for his power, but Trumbo's darn good at first base, too. I wouldn't put him among the best in terms of his glove, but he ranked second behind Mike Napoli in UZR this year, largely because of his range. Since he still has a couple years to go until he turns 30, that range shouldn't go anywhere anytime soon. I'd put good money on Trumbo getting better at the little things, too.

    Health

    10/10

    Trumbo has yet to go on the DL as a big leaguer and hasn't had many nagging injuries either. His body is in good shape, and his status as a first baseman should help keep it preserved.

    Overall

    62/100

    Hitting is always going to be a struggle for Trumbo, but right-handed power is a rare commodity and Trumbo has a lot of it to go along with a good glove to stash at first base. He's not to be underestimated as a trade chip.

    This score puts Trumbo in the low-3-WAR range for an annual value around $16 million. If he keeps the power coming and improves at first base, that sounds about right.

8. Trade Target: Chase Headley, 3B

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The Rumor: Joel Sherman of the New York Post has reported that the Padres anticipate hanging on to Chase Headley, but that they will listen to offers.

    Hitting

    18/30

    Chase Headley's approach at the plate is fine, and I'm of the mind that he deserved better than a .319 BABIP, given how BABIP-friendly his contact habits were in 2013. It was all line drives and ground balls. He's certainly closer to the .290/.375 hitter he was in 2011 and 2012 than to the .250/.347 hitter he was in 2013, and should have a couple more good years left in him.

    Power

    15/30

    This was where Headley really disappointed in 2013, but it wasn't a huge surprise. His 21.4 HR/FB in 2012 was nearly twice as high as his previous career best, and he's not much for hitting fly balls anyway. What he has is more like doubles power, which he should be able to maintain for a while longer.

    Baserunning

    5/10

    Headley's the rare corner infielder who can steal double-digit bases, but he didn't do so in 2013. He also ended the season as San Diego's worst baserunner in the eyes of baserunning runs. Some of that had to do with a bad knee, however, so I'll shy away from forecasting total doom here.

    Defense

    15/20

    Only a handful of third basemen have better UZRs than Headley over the last two seasons. One is David Wright, who is a year older than Headley. Another guy who was still playing premium defense in his early 30s is Adrian Beltre. They're good examples of how third base doesn't beat players up as much as other positions, which bodes well for Headley.

    Health

    9/10

    Word came out in late September that Headley was due for surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee—an injury that he had played through all season. This is the first surgery of Headley's career, but suffice it to say that it's not a good way for him to enter his 30s.

    Overall

    62/100

    The power may never be there like it was in 2012, but Headley should have a few more prime years left in him. He'll hit well enough and play a very good third base.

    This score casts him as a low-3-WAR player worth around $16 million annually. That's close enough to what he's worth right now.

7. Free Agent: Matt Garza, SP

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Stuff

    19/30

    Matt Garza has always been a fastball-slider pitcher, but never more so than in 2013. His four-seamer and slider accounted for roughly 75 percent of his pitches. But while Garza's approaching 30th birthday would appear to make him a candidate for a loss in velocity, there's something to be said about how consistent his velocity has been over the last few years. That makes one wonder if the decline won't be too severe.

    Command

    14/20

    Garza's 6.4 walk percentage this past season marked a new personal best for him, and he didn't get it by accident. He was good getting first-pitch strikes, and his PITCHf/x says he's never pounded the zone better than he did in 2013. One also appreciates how well he stayed away from left-handed batters. His command was legitimately good enough to a point where I feel comfortable projecting more of the same.

    Hittability 

    7/15

    Garza has never been an elite strikeout artist, and his 20.9 K% in 2013 was his lowest since 2010. A sharp decline as a strikeout artist won't be in the cards if he's able to maintain some of his velocity, but an improvement certainly won't be in the cards either. If Garza stays at his current level, this is a department where he'll basically be average.

    Workhorse

    17/25

    It's been several years since Garza's last season of 200 innings, but he has been good for an average of six innings and 100 pitches per start in two of the last three seasons. Put it this way: It's not a lack of ability that's standing in his way. If his repertoire, command and hitters' ability against age like I think they could, it won't be a lack of ability standing in Garza's way in the future either.

    Health

    6/10

    This is where things get really dicey. Garza has lost a couple of months to the DL in each of the last two seasons, first battling an elbow injury and then a shoulder injury. It doesn't look good that he now has a history of elbow problems, and it can't be taken for granted that they're going to go away.

    Overall

    63/100

    Health concerns aside, Garza looks like a guy who could age pretty well. He could be one of the rare pitchers who maintains good velocity into his 30s. The improved command he flashed in 2013 will be an asset that will help make up for what is currently a pedestrian ability to overpower hitters.

    A score like this one paints Garza as being worth a little more than $16 million annually. That's about where he should end up with his free-agent deal.

6. Trade Target: Jeff Samardzija, SP

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    The Rumor: Jeff Samardzija's long-term future in Chicago is up in the air. So much so that ESPN's Buster Olney expects the Cubs to re-open trade talks over him with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    Stuff

    22/30

    Samardzija throws a four-seamer and a sinker that have both velocity and movement, and he rounds things out with a cutter, slider and splitter that's one of the nastiest in the business. Since Samardzija is almost 29 years old, a loss in velocity is likely at some point. He averaged 95 miles per hour with his hard stuff in 2013, but will likely find himself in the low 90s before long. But because that's still solid velocity for a starter and he'll still have his collection of nasty secondaries, he'll be alright.

    Command

    7/20

    Samardzija was wild as a reliever and can be wild as a starter as well. Both his first-pitch strike percentage and his walk percentage took a step back in 2013 from where they were in 2012. A primary problem for him was fewer swings outside the zone, which likely had something to do with hitters adjusting to the scouting report. Samardzija's command will have to be better, but I can't definitively say that it will be.

    Hittability 

    10/15

    Samardzija didn't get as many swings outside the zone this season for part of the reason why he didn't get as many whiffs. Once his stuff starts to go, that issue isn't going to correct itself. A future as a lesser strikeout artist is in the cards. The good news, however, is that Samardzija's increased usage of his sinker in 2013 led to an increase in ground balls. That's something to be optimistic about.

    Workhorse

    15/25

    Samardzija earned his first 200-innings season in 2013, making 33 starts and easily averaging over 100 pitches and six innings per start. But with lesser stuff and hittability in his future, and no real indication that his command is due for improvement, it's going to be harder for Samardzija to top 200 innings year in and year out.

    Health

    10/10

    Samardzija's next injury as a pro will be his first. Both that and the fact that he's still on the good side of 30 bodes well for him.

    Overall

    64/100

    There are reasons to be worried about what the future holds for Samardzija, but he has the look of a guy who should continue to be a good pitcher as he ages. He'll still have good stuff, even when his velocity goes, and that will help make up for the command that may not be there.

    This score puts Samardzija near the halfway point of the 3-4 WAR spectrum. That's $17 million-per-year territory, which could well be what he signs for when an extension or free-agent contract comes his way.

5. Free Agent: Jacoby Ellsbury, CF

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Hitting

    15/20

    Jacoby Ellsbury is a bit of a throwback as a leadoff-type hitter. He's the kind of guy who goes up looking to make contact rather than make the pitcher work. That's something he's fortunately very good at. The trouble is that he hits a ton of ground balls. That works fine now, but it won't once his speed starts to go. He'll start missing out on a few hits throughout the course of the season.

    Power

    9/25

    It's hard to hit for power when you have a tendency for ground balls like Ellsbury, and goodness knows that what he did in 2011 is an outlier. He had a 16.7 HR/FB that year, but he's not doing that again. Another thing to keep in mind is that he won't be able to leg out as many triples once his speed starts to dwindle. His solid power now will become less solid.

    Baserunning

    16/20

    Ellsbury was the best baserunner in the majors in 2013, stealing 52 bases while only getting caught four times. But with his 30th birthday now behind him, it's doubtful that will happen again. In the last decade, only two players 31 years old or older have stolen as many as 50 bags in a season. Ellsbury should still be useful on the basepaths a few years from now, but will not be the burner he once was.

    Defense

    18/25

    Only two qualified center fielders beat Ellsbury in range runs above average in 2013. That confirms what the eye test says about his ability to cover ground in center field. But his range will pay the same price that his baserunning will pay when his legs go, resulting in non-elite defense from Ellsbury in center field.

    Health

    6/10

    I'm as torn as anyone when it comes to evaluating Ellsbury's health, as the injuries he's dealt with in recent years have been fluky ones. All the same, it doesn't look good that he seems to get hurt easily, and he's at an age where his body won't be getting any more solid.

    Overall

    64/100

    With this score, I'm clearly banking on the notion that Ellsbury's speed isn't going to age like fine wine. For what it's worth, I've written before that there's a decent chance it actually will, given how much time his legs have had off in recent years.

    Even if Ellsbury's speed does go, this score puts him in the $17 million-18 million annual value range. He'll sign for more than that, but it shouldn't end up being a huge overpay.

4. Free Agent: Robinson Cano, 2B

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Hitting

    22/25

    How do you hit .300 every year like clockwork? In Robinson Cano's case, it involves rarely missing either inside or outside the strike zone and making BABIP-friendly contact.

    He basically only hits the ball in the air when he's looking to drive something. While one wishes he had a more consistent eye for walks to make up for the bat speed that he's inevitably going to lose as he gets deeper into his 30s, it's a good thing that his two best walk rates have come in the last two years.

    Power

    20/25

    Going by isolated power, Cano's 2013 season was his worst power year since 2009. He is at an age where power starts to fade, so what happened can't be written off as nothing. In all likelihood, it's going to continue. The good news is that a less-powerful Cano is still a darn good power-hitting second baseman.

    Baserunning

    9/20

    Cano's never been a big-time base stealer, but he has been successful in 18 of his last 23 attempts over the last three years. More concerning are the 21 outs that he has made on the basepaths over the last two seasons. If he's not a great baserunner now, he won't be one later.

    Defense

    12/20

    Cano makes rangy plays look easy at second base, and the error problems that plagued him earlier in his career are long gone. But his range is bound to start leaving him before long, in which case he'll have to be more sure-handed than ever to earn his keep at second base. 

    Health

    9/10

    Cano last went on the DL in 2006 and hasn't dealt with many nagging injuries since then. His lost point here is due to him being on the wrong side of 30.

    Overall

    72/100

    Cano's bat is bound to start losing some punch as he gets deeper into his 30s, but it should still be darn good. The same goes for his defense. Basically, it's hard to see a huge drop-off coming his way.

    This score makes Cano roughly a 4-WAR player going forward, which carries a value of $20 million per year. He'll sign for more than that per year, but it will be money decently spent.

3. Trade Target: David Price, SP

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    The Rumor: David Price understands his situation, telling Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune a few weeks back that he expects to be traded. Given that he's under club control for two more years and getting expensive, he has the right idea.

    Stuff

    20/30

    Price doesn't throw much besides hard stuff, as fastballs and cutters accounted for over 70 percent of his pitches in 2013. What's concerning is that his velocity took a dive after climbing over several years, and his stay on the DL didn't really clear things up. Price would appear to be falling prey to an early loss in velocity. What's troubling is that he doesn't have the goods to deal with any more lost velocity. Outside of his hard stuff, his arsenal is pretty thin.

    Command

    18/20

    Price threw strikes at an absurd rate following his return from the DL, as 70 percent of his pitches went for strikes. He ended the year with one of the best strike zone percentages (Zone%) of his career, and a measly 3.7 walk percentage. In light of all this, the only thing that doesn't bode well is that Price may find it harder to live in the strike zone as consistently once he has to start incorporating his secondary pitches more often.

    Hittability 

    8/15

    Price's velocity loss didn't help his ability to miss bats with his fastball, which continued on a downward trend that actually began last year. It's no surprise he only managed a 20.4 strikeout percentage. With his velocity no sure thing going forward, it should only become easier to hit Price.

    Workhorse

    22/25

    Price was good for just about seven innings per start in 2013 despite the fact he only averaged 100 pitches per outing. That was his efficiency at work. That will be key for his ability to maintain as a workhorse. Increased hittability will cost him, but likely not too much if he's still an outstanding command artist.

    Health

    8/10

    The tricep strain that landed Price on the DL for roughly six weeks was the first real injury scare of his major league career, but he did have elbow issues as a minor leaguer in 2008. With his 30s just around the corner, I'm going to play it safe with this score.

    Overall

    76/100

    After a rough start, Price ended up pitching like a Cy Young Award-caliber pitcher down the stretch. But the not-too-distant future looks a little murky in light of the velocity loss Price experienced in 2013. Velocity is a huge part of his game, so the loss of it will have consequences.

    All the same, Price should still be good enough to qualify as a pitcher worth around $23 million to $25 million annually. That's about the going rate for a top-of-the-rotation starter these days.

2. Trade Target: Max Scherzer, SP

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    The Rumor: Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com first mentioned Max Scherzer as a possible trade chip. Joel Sherman of the New York Post is the most recent to do so.

    Stuff

    24/30

    Scherzer's stuff is pure filth now. He throws a four-seamer, slider and changeup that are plus pitches and a curveball that rates as a solid show-me pitch. Scherzer's velocity wasn't as good in 2013 as it was in 2012, however, and it's in danger of taking a further dive as he nears 30. Rather than being in the mid 90s with his pitches, it's a good bet that he'll soon be living in the low 90s. It's a good thing that his fastball should still have good movement and his secondary offerings should still be filthy.

    Command

    15/20

    Scherzer threw more first-pitch strikes than ever in 2013 and ultimately walked away with a respectable 6.7 walk percentage. A big key for him was the best fastball command of his career. PITCHf/x says he put more heaters in the zone than ever before, and he did a great job in particular of hitting the outside corner against righty batters. If he can keep this up, whatever he loses in stuff will be made up in command.

    Hittability 

    11/15

    Scherzer is one of the league's most unhittable starters now because of his blistering fastball and Loony Toons secondary pitches. He will become more hittable once his velocity begins to fade, and his tendency to induce fly balls could become a bigger problem. But while he'll be more hittable, he'll still be tougher to hit than the average pitcher.

    Workhorse

    22/25

    Scherzer topped 200 innings for the first time in 2013, where he averaged close to seven innings per start. It's hard to imagine him getting any better than that, but one thing decreased hittability could mean is increased efficiency. That trade-off could could allow him to carry on as a top-notch workhorse.

    Health

    8/10

    Scherzer does have a history of shoulder woes, most recently battling fatigue at the end of the 2012 season. This doesn't bode particularly well for him with his 30s drawing near, nor does the fact that his pitching motion doesn't exactly make it easy on his shoulder. He could be in for some issues.

    Overall

    80/100

    It all came together for Scherzer in 2013, where his command was never better at a time when his stuff was still fantastic. Father Time will impact his stuff before long, but he's become a good enough pitcher to deal with it.

    This score puts Scherzer in 5-WAR territory, which comes out to about $25 million a year. He'll be up for at least that much if he actually hits the free-agent waters after 2014.

1. Trade Target: Giancarlo Stanton, RF

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    Steve Mitchell/Getty Images

    The Rumor: ESPN's Jim Bowden heard from Marlins general manager Dan Jennings that Giancarlo Stanton is not available. But because he's Giancarlo Stanton and they're the Marlins, he has to be treated as a possible trade candidate at all times.

    Hitting

    25/30

    Check out Stanton's plate discipline numbers from 2013, and you notice two things. One is that he didn't see many pitches in the zone, and the other is that he didn't expand the zone that often. That helps explain his 14.7 walk percentage, and it's something that bodes well for him as a hitter. It's unlikely that he'll ever tone down his strikeout act, but he stands a much better chance of being consistent if he makes pitchers beat him in the strike zone. Optimism is allowed here because walks are good and anything off Stanton's bat is a missile.

    Power

    30/30

    He's Giancarlo Stanton and he's only going to be 24 in November. Next, please.

    Baserunning

    8/15

    He's no base-stealer, but Stanton's not too shabby at running the bases. He has made a total of eight outs on the basepaths during his career and he's not incapable of getting on his horse when he has to. Because he's still so young, he should be able to continue to do so for a few more years.

    Defense

    10/15

    Stanton failed to post a positive range runs above average for the first time in his career in 2013. It's the latter part of that sentence that's important, as Stanton has typically rated as a very good defensive right fielder. He should have a few more good years left in the outfield before first base comes calling.

    Health

    7/10

    Stanton lost a month to the DL in 2012 with a knee injury and more than a month in 2013 with a bad hamstring. Given his sheer enormity, these things do set off flashing red lights.

    Overall

    80/100

    Stanton's one of the few players on this countdown who still has room to grow. In his case, that means honing his approach at the plate and continuing to show off his immense power while playing solid defense in right field.

    This score puts him in $25 million-per-year territory. When he finally signs a big contract, I assume it will be worth at least that much per year.