Finding 1 Ideal Remaining Free Agent for Every MLB Team
Several big-name free agents signed after Christmas Day last offseason, including Michael Bourn, Edwin Jackson and Nick Swisher, who eventually landed four-year deals, and Kyle Lohse, who signed a three-year deal in late March.
While the early part of this offseason was one of the busiest in recent memory, there is once again a good amount of impact players still available on the free-agent market. The hitters market, aside from Nelson Cruz, Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales, has thinned out considerably, but there is plenty of pitching left. The top three starting pitchers—Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana—remain unsigned.
The uncertainty of Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is likely the biggest reason why there's been a waiting game with Garza, Jimenez and Santana. But after Rakuten team president Yozo Tachibana announced the decision earlier in the week to post Tanaka, and now that the price tag ($20 million posting fee, more than $100 million, according to one general manager who spoke to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, on a major league contract) to acquire him is becoming clearer, it shouldn't be long before the next starting pitcher domino falls.
Trades are always a possibility as teams try to fill holes on their roster, but the free-agent market still has much to offer. I've matched up one ideal remaining free agent with each of the 30 teams based on their roster needs and likely payroll limitations.
The Diamondbacks have already added some power to the middle of their lineup (Mark Trumbo) and a closer (Addison Reed) this month. It sounds like phase three of their offseason plan to revamp their roster include a front-line starting pitcher.
General manager Kevin Towers told Jim Bowden on his SiriusXM radio show that they are in the mix for Matt Garza (pictured), Ervin Santana and Masahiro Tanaka. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported on December 11 that Tanaka was their top priority, while Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted the next day that Garza was close to signing and Arizona was one of two favorites.
For a team that's been as heavily linked with starting pitching as the D'backs, they might not want to wait much longer. Tanaka's posting process is expected to end on January 24, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
If they wait in order to try to land Tanaka, they'd risk losing out on Garza or Santana. Act now, while those teams that are focusing their attention on Tanaka aren't as aggressive on the free agents, and they could have a much easier time.
The 30-year-old Garza is cheaper than Tanaka. He also has a strong track record in the big leagues. While Tanaka might be really good, he also might not be very good, as has been the case with many Japanese stars who have come to play in the majors.
Garza is the safer investment for the Diamondbacks.
A quiet offseason for the Braves isn't unexpected. They're a young team that is coming off a 96-win season.
They've acquired Ryan Doumit to add bench depth and some catching experience to help offset the loss of Brian McCann. They've also taken a flier on starting pitcher Gavin Floyd, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery and may or may not be able to help in 2014.
If they're done adding pitching, it shows that they have great confidence in rookie left-hander Alex Wood and their pitching depth in the upper minors. Regardless, they should have a backup plan that isn't less than a year removed from a major elbow surgery. So how about one who is nearly two years removed from the surgery and made it back to the mound for three September starts?
That would be Scott Baker (pictured), who the Cubs wasted $5.5 million on in 2013 as multiple setbacks kept him from returning until late in the season. In 15 innings once he did return, he allowed six earned runs on nine hits with four walks and six strikeouts.
Prior to his injury, the 32-year-old Baker was having a career season with a 3.14 ERA in 134.2 innings pitched in 2011.
After trading away closer Jim Johnson in early December, the Baltimore Orioles appeared to have found his replacement when they agreed to a two-year deal with Grant Balfour. But concerns over his medical reports caused them to back out of the deal and move on to Plan B.
Roch Kubatko of MASN.com wrote that they'll likely go with in-house option Tommy Hunter or free agent Fernando Rodney (pictured), who is drawing "significant" interest from four teams, according to Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun.
Handing the job over to Hunter, who had a 2.68 ERA in his first full season in 2013, would likely create another hole and the team would then need to find another setup man to pair with Darren O'Day. Since reliable setup men might even be harder to find on the free-agent market, and the best available, Jesse Crain, is also likely to command a big contract, signing Rodney seems like a no-brainer.
Boston Red Sox
If there's a concern with the world champion Boston Red Sox, it's that they could go into the 2014 season with unproven prospects at shortstop (Xander Bogaerts) and center field (Jackie Bradley Jr.), as well as a young third baseman (Will Middlebrooks) who struggled early in the 2013 season before being demoted to the minors.
And there aren't any solid backup plans in place in case one, two or all three struggle next season. Re-signing Stephen Drew (pictured) to a multi-year contract, moving Bogaerts to third base and trading Middlebrooks could be the easiest solution. But it's also an investment—signing Drew would likely take at least a four-year commitment—that the Sox might be unwilling to make.
In this market of very limited options, however, they might have to make an exception and give Drew the long-term deal he's seeking. And having Middlebrooks, a young third baseman with club control and upside, as a trade asset would put them in an enviable position around the league.
Last year, the Chicago Cubs signed sinker-baller Scott Feldman to a one-year, $6 million deal. After an impressive 15-start stint (3.46 ERA), the non-contending Cubs flipped him to the Baltimore Orioles for two pitchers that could help in 2014 and beyond.
If they went with the same formula in 2014, Jason Hammel (pictured) could be the target. The 31-year-old was having a breakout season for the Orioles in 2012 (2.61 ERA in first 14 starts) when a knee injury sidelined him. He never got back on track, posting a 4.97 ERA in 2013 and seeing his free-agent value decline drastically.
If he follows the path of Feldman, who benefited from his strong 2013 by landing a three-year, $30 million deal this offseason with the Houston Astros, Hammel could find himself at the back of the Cubs rotation for at least the first couple months of the upcoming season.
Chicago White Sox
General manager Rick Hahn has drawn praise for acquiring several young hitters to add to an aging lineup. In deals for his new starting center fielder, Adam Eaton, and potential third baseman Matt Davidson, he traded away his closer (Addison Reed) and another pitcher, Hector Santiago, who could've possibly played a key role in the 'pen.
While the Sox have added veteran relievers Ronald Belisario and Scott Downs on free-agent deals, the bullpen still has very little closing experience. Even if they believed in Nate Jones, they'd be better served to add one more arm who has shown the ability to handle the stress of the late innings.
So why not former White Sox setup man Jesse Crain (pictured), who was one of the top relievers in the first half of last season before a shoulder injury sidelined him for the year?
The 31-year-old was pitching well enough (0.74 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, 11.3 K/9) to earn a shot at a closing job in 2014, although missing the final three months of the season has likely hurt those chances. Whether the Sox guarantee him a shot at closing or not—I'm sure it would help their chances of signing him if they did—I'd feel much better with Jones and Crain in the eighth and ninth than Jones and any of their current options.
With the short-lived Shin-Soo Choo era officially over after he signed a $130 million deal with the Texas Rangers, general manager Walt Jocketty has continued to express confidence in rookie Billy Hamilton as his replacement as the leadoff hitter and center fielder from the start of the 2014 season.
With limited options remaining, there's not much else he can say at this point. But if there's an under-the-radar player that could be a solid Plan B, or possibly even Plan A, it's former Cleveland Indians star Grady Sizemore (pictured), who is planning on playing in 2014 after missing the past two seasons recovering from a knee injury.
If he bounces back to being 75 percent of the player he was when he posted an .868 OPS with 27 homers, 41 doubles and 29 stolen bases per season from 2005 to 2008, then the Reds might not miss Choo much at all. If not, then Hamilton is the guy, ready or not.
But at least they would have tried to fill Choo's spot before handing the job to a 23-year-old who had a .308 on-base percentage in Triple-A in 2013, which also happened to be his first year in the outfield.
Aside from Justin Masterson, the Cleveland Indians don't have a starting pitcher who has ever pitched more than 150 innings in a big league season. Corey Kluber pitched 147.1 innings in his first extended action in the big leagues in 2013, while Zach McAllister has 125.1 and 134.1 innings pitched over the past two seasons, respectively.
So in this day and age, when teams normally use up to nine and 10 starting pitchers to get through a 162-game season, the Tribe are putting themselves in a very risky position of uncertainty.
And if it's innings that they need, why not go after the guy who has never been on the disabled list and has averaged 33 starts and 207 innings per season over the past decade? That would be 36-year-old Bronson Arroyo (pictured), who had a 3.79 ERA for the Cincinnati Reds last season.
It could take a three-year deal to land the right-hander for his ages 37-39 seasons, but it would be well worth it if he gives the team a stable force while it develops another workhorse or two among its young pitchers.
Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario is one of the top power-hitting catchers in the game, which makes him a fantasy baseball stud. But the problem is that he's not a very good defender and also has some holes in his swing that make him vulnerable against tough right-handed pitchers—he had eight walks and 85 strikeouts against right-handed pitchers in 2013.
Pairing him with a veteran who could not only tutor him defensively but provide the team with enough offense where it would feel comfortable taking the 24-year-old Rosario out of the lineup would seem like a logical thing to do.
While most of what was initially a very deep group of free-agent catchers are off the board, John Buck (pictured) would appear the best option available as well as a pretty good second option behind the plate for the Rockies
The 33-year-old might not be the best complement for Rosario with the bat—Buck's also a strikeout-prone right-handed hitter who walks very little but provides good power—but he's a solid defender with 973 career starts behind the plate as a major leaguer.
In trading away slugger Prince Fielder in exchange for second baseman Ian Kinsler earlier in the offseason, the Detroit Tigers freed up some payroll space down the road. They also left a gaping hole in the middle of their lineup, and they've just about run out of options to fill it.
If it's a legitimate power hitter they're seeking, though, Nelson Cruz (pictured) is the guy they'd be looking at to play every day in left field over Andy Dirks, who was a disappointment in 2013.
While they haven't been connected with the 33-year-old Cruz in any rumors, it's important to note that they seemingly came out of nowhere to sign Fielder prior to the 2012 season.
They have the financial resources and the need. That is, unless you think that Torii Hunter (17 HR in 2013), Kinsler (13 HR in 2013) or Austin Jackson (12 HR in 2013) are solid options behind Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez in the No. 5 spot in the batting order. Didn't think so.
Despite reports that had the Houston Astros capable of adding an estimated $40 million to their 2014 payroll, they've had a fairly quiet offseason.
They've given a three-year, $30 million deal to starting pitcher Scott Feldman and a two-year, $6 million deal to reliever Chad Qualls. But those aren't exactly the kinds of moves that are going to get them out of the AL West cellar anytime soon.
If owner Jim Crane is willing to go into 2014 with a $50-plus million payroll, the team still has a very good chance to add another front-line starter or an impact bat. Bringing Ervin Santana (pictured) back to the AL West could be the big move, pairing him with Feldman at the top of the rotation and taking some pressure off young starters Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer and Brad Peacock.
Even if it's a year or two until the team is expected to compete for a playoff spot again, adding Santana would show the fanbase that the club isn't interested in losing 100 games again. And his likely five-year asking price would ensure that the team is in contention for the majority of his contract.
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals took a major step forward in 2013, finishing over .500 for the first time since 2003. They've already made two solid additions, second baseman Omar Infante and right fielder Norichika Aoki, to two positions in need of an upgrade.
But if they think that free-agent signee Jason Vargas is enough to make up for the loss of Ervin Santana (pictured), who was one of the best starting pitchers in baseball last season, they're in for a letdown that could take the air out of a fanbase which is just starting to get excited about its team again.
Re-signing Santana would be costly, but not as costly as a losing season in 2014 would be.
Los Angeles Angels
Heading into the offseason, the Los Angeles Angels had several holes to fill and seemingly little resources—financial or in prospects with trade value—to fill them. General manager Jerry Dipoto has been up to the challenge thus far, trading for starting third baseman David Freese, starting pitchers Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs, and signing designated hitter Raul Ibanez and setup man Joe Smith.
On paper, the Angels are a team that could be very good. So should owner Arte Moreno reward the effort of his general manager by opening up the wallet to add one more piece to make them legitimate contenders in 2014? Sure, why not. He's rich!
Add Matt Garza (pictured) to fill the No. 3 slot in the rotation behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, and ahead of Garrett Richards and either Santiago or Skaggs, and it wouldn't be a surprise if the Halos went into 2014 as division favorites over Oakland and Texas.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Despite having one of the most talented rosters in baseball, it's hard to overlook the potential disasters that could occur for the Los Angeles Dodgers at two infield positions.
Cuban Alexander Guerrero is expected to be the starting second baseman after he was signed to a $28 million deal back in October. He didn't come with the rave reviews of fellow country-mates Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig. We know he has power potential, but there's no telling how good he'll be against major league pitching or how much of a defensive drop-off he'll be from veteran Mark Ellis, who signed with the St. Louis Cardinals for 2014.
There isn't much more certainty at third base, where playoff hero Juan Uribe returns after re-signing for two years and $15 million. Sure, he was very good in 2013. But what if the same guy who posted a .552 OPS the previous two seasons shows up?
I'm pretty sure that the backup plan in either scenario involves Dee Gordon, which is only good for stolen base-starved fantasy baseball owners. The best real-life solution could be Michael Young (pictured), who would give the team a solid right-handed bat off the bench and a halfway-decent backup plan should Guerrero or Uribe struggle.
Petco Park in San Diego is often mentioned as the ideal landing spot for a pitcher trying to rebuild value. But Marlins Park has also proven to be very pitcher-friendly in its brief existence.
And with little certainty in the back of the Marlins rotation, a pitcher like Tommy Hanson (pictured), who was once viewed as the Braves' ace of the future before injuries had an effect on his performance, would appear to be a perfect fit.
If it works out, they could either trade him to a contender or just hold on to him for another season—he's under club control through 2015. If not, it probably wouldn't be a big loss. Because his value has dipped so much, they could likely land him at a very affordable price with their selling point being a chance to pitch for an up-and-coming Marlins team in a ballpark that is going to work to his advantage as he tries to get his career back on track.
Kendrys Morales (pictured), because of the draft-pick compensation attached to his eventual signing, is being compared to Kyle Lohse, who didn't sign until March 25 of last offseason for the same reason. The team that signed Lohse was the Milwaukee Brewers, who appear to have gotten a relative bargain at three years and $33 million.
They could do the same with the switch-hitting Morales, who would fill their void at first base and give the team a capable middle-of-the-order bat in a very right-handed-heavy lineup behind Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez.
The 30-year-old may fit best as a designated hitter, but he should be adequate at first base for a year or two. Signing him for anything longer than two years would be a mistake for any National League team. Without many teams seeking first base help at this stage of the offseason, Morales may be happy to land a one- or two-year deal with Milwaukee.
After re-signing Mike Pelfrey and adding Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco on multi-year free-agent deals, it's still way too early to declare the Minnesota Twins as threats to any other team in the AL Central.
They are much improved and have a ton of young talent on the way from the minors, but their rotation, at least on paper, isn't one that would scare opponents during a three- or four-game series.
What they are capable of doing, however, is giving their team five or six solid innings. That's fine, if the bullpen is good enough to finish the job. They're not, though.
Bridging the gap to setup man Jared Burton and closer Glen Perkins will be difficult with the current group. Adding Francisco Rodriguez (pictured), who recorded his 300th career save in 2013 while posting a 2.70 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 10.4 K/9, on a one-year deal would help tremendously.
New York Mets
Signing Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon to free-agent deals should help a New York Mets team that is coming off of its fifth consecutive losing season. But it won't offset the loss of ace starter Matt Harvey, who will miss the season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
With Colon leading the way, the rotation isn't bad at all. The Mets are unlikely to add another starting pitcher at this point. They simply have to make up for Harvey's loss elsewhere. Replacing Ruben Tejada with Stephen Drew (pictured) at the shortstop position could have a significant impact and might be their last chance at improving the roster before the start of the season.
And Drew's agent, Scott Boras, apparently thinks the Mets are a good fit for his client. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN tweeted that Boras is trying to engage Mets ownership in talks. General manager Sandy Alderson could be sensing that the market isn't strong for Drew and is just waiting for his asking price to drop.
New York Yankees
A Yankees team that has added Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann to its lineup is much-improved offensively. But it's not nearly enough.
With a rotation that consists of CC Sabathia, who struggled badly last year and may be on the decline, Hiroki Kuroda, who will be 39 years old on Opening Day, and Ivan Nova, who has not yet come close to earning the "reliable" tag despite a strong 2013, the Yankees aren't quite good enough to compete in the AL East.
And they know it. Expect one of the top three free-agent starters or Masahiro Tanaka to be in Yankee pinstripes in 2014.
My pick would be Ubaldo Jimenez (pictured), who returned to his top-of-the-rotation form over his last 23 starts of 2013 (10-6, 2.41 ERA) after struggling through the previous two years. The 29-year-old could also serve as a mentor to fellow Dominicans Nova and Michael Pineda, who will be vying for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.
One of, if not the most active teams this offseason, the Oakland Athletics, believe it or not, could still stand to add another bat to the middle of the lineup.
While they aren't likely to fork over a big-money deal to Nelson Cruz, they could do much worse than adding Kendrys Morales (pictured) as their regular designated hitter.
The 30-year-old might be willing to accept a one-year deal if he's unable to land a multi-year contract, and a talented A's team that he's very familiar with, having spent his entire career in the AL West, could be the ideal landing spot.
With Craig Gentry slated to get a lot of at-bats in the outfield and Yoenis Cespedes likely headed for more designated hitter duty than in the past, reversing that in order to accommodate Morales wouldn't be a major decision. Gentry's best fit is as a fourth outfielder and Cespedes is perfectly capable as an outfielder.
The front of the Phillies rotation is set with Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. That's a better one-two punch than most teams in baseball. And Kyle Kendrick is a solid mid-rotation starter. After that, no one knows quite what to expect.
Cuban Miguel Gonzalez, who signed a major league deal with the team in August, is expected to fill one of the remaining spots. Reports have been mixed on the 27-year-old, but it's safe to say that he could be very good from the get-go, in need of some minor league seasoning, a solid reliever or a complete bust. Yes, he's an enigma.
Jonathan Pettibone had a solid rookie campaign but his peripherals (1.465 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, 5.9 K/9) leave much to be desired. Adding one more starting pitcher, preferably one with a track record of success, seems like a very good idea.
While they might not be willing to go after one of the top starters, there are still some good options that could capably fill the No. 4 or 5 spot in the rotation for at least a few months. Jake Westbrook (pictured) is in that group, despite falling off the radar after struggling in the second half of last season with the St. Louis Cardinals and then missing time with a back injury.
Through his first 14 starts, however, the right-hander had a 2.95 ERA. If he's healthy, the Phillies could have themselves a bargain, which is what they'll need more of if they want to reverse the "aging, overpaid roster" label they've taken on.
After the team's best season in two decades, the Pittsburgh Pirates have stood pat this offseason with only a handful of minor additions. They've maintained their stance all along, however, that they wanted to bring back veteran starter A.J. Burnett (pictured) as long as he wanted to continue pitching.
The 36-year-old is still undecided on whether he'll retire or not, and the Bucs haven't turned their attention elsewhere. If Burnett does retire or sign elsewhere, though, they'll have a hard time explaining why they didn't do more to replace a guy who was 26-21 with a 3.41 ERA over 61 starts in two seasons with the team.
Signing the inconsistent Edinson Volquez to a $5 million deal doesn't seem like much of an effort.
San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres acquired the left-handed bat they were seeking (Seth Smith) and replaced the setup man (Luke Gregerson) they traded him for with free agent Joaquin Benoit.
There wasn't much left to do for a roster with most of the pieces already in place. A left-handed reliever was also on their shopping list, however, and they've added one candidate to fill that role in Patrick Schuster, a Rule 5 pick that the Padres acquired from Houston.
Since Schuster has yet to throw a pitch above High-A, however, and the Padres are entering 2014 as playoff hopefuls, don't expect them to be fully content with Schuster as their top option.
Oliver Perez (pictured), who dazzled as 20-year-old starter when he broke into the league with the Padres back in 2002, could come full circle if the team were to sign him to a free-agent contract to be its primary lefty out of the bullpen.
The now 32-year-old has revitalized his career with a 3.16 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 10.7 K/9 out of the Mariners bullpen over the past two seasons.
San Francisco Giants
After utilizing the free-agent market to fill the major holes on their roster, the San Francisco Giants don't have much left to do. But as they say, you can never have enough pitching.
The starting rotation depth still isn't great, although the group of pitching prospects that could reach Double-A in 2014 is strong. Adding another relief pitcher certainly wouldn't hurt—I currently have Jean Machi, George Kontos and Yusmeiro Petit in the projected bullpen over at MLBDepthCharts.com.
How about taking a flier on Roy Oswalt, who is open to the possibility of moving to the bullpen at this stage of his career, according to Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors?
At the least, he could be a middle-relief option who could start, if necessary. Best-case scenario, he regains his velocity—his average fastball was 90.9 in 2013, according to FanGraphs; he had been averaging over 93 mph for his career—working in shorter stints and ends up pitching very well in a setup role.
Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (pictured) wouldn't technically count as a free-agent signing, but the new posting system that will allow any team who bids the maximum $20 million the right to negotiate makes his acquisition a very similar process.
While it's unlikely that all 30 teams would make the $20 million bid, it wouldn't be because that price is too high. It would be because they are absolutely positive that his asking price for his actual contract will be out of their range.
That shouldn't be the case for the Seattle Mariners, who have made one major signing in Robinson Cano but are still short on talent as they enter the 2014 season. Adding Tanaka to team with Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker would potentially give the M's the best rotation in all of baseball.
St. Louis Cardinals
Grant Balfour (pictured) was one of the best closers in baseball the past two seasons. He deserves to close for some team in 2014. He deserves to be paid like one. But after his two-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles fell through because of the team's concerns over his medical records, he might have to settle for a return to a setup role.
The St. Louis Cardinals, who have several young, inexpensive pitchers in their bullpen, might be willing to give the soon-to-be 36-year-old closer's money to be their primary setup man.
With rookie Carlos Martinez, who took on that role in the 2013 playoffs, expected to come to spring training as a starting pitcher, Balfour's presence would allow him to continue starting (and developing) in the minors if he doesn't win a spot.
Tampa Bay Rays
Mark Reynolds (pictured) has been a productive hitter throughout his career with over 200 homers in seven seasons as big leaguer. As an everyday player, however, the many holes in his game are exposed, and he eventually goes into long droughts without doing much good for his team.
But given the opportunity to be a part-time player with a defined role, which he hasn't really had during his career, he could flourish. That role could be as a part-time designated hitter and first baseman, playing primarily against left-handed pitchers—he has a career .834 OPS versus left-handed pitchers.
And the Rays just so happen to have that job available with only Jerry Sands and Brandon Guyer as current options to fill a similar role with the club.
On paper, this Texas Rangers roster already appears ready to go. That is, until you realize that two of the projected rotation spots are filled by Matt Harrison, who is returning from back surgery that limited him to two starts last season, and Alexi Ogando, who was on the disabled list three different times in 2013.
They did bring back Colby Lewis on a minor league deal, although his health is also in question after elbow and hip surgeries kept him out for all of 2013.
Adding depth to the starting rotation, preferably a pitcher without injury concerns, would give the team a much better shot at staying atop the division throughout the entire 162-game schedule.
They may not want to get involved in the bidding for Masahiro Tanaka, who could cost over $100 million. But Ubaldo Jimenez (pictured), who has averaged 32 starts and 198 innings per season since 2008, should come at a much lower and much more reasonable price.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays' top three starters are impressive on paper. But in reality, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Brandon Morrow weren't all that great in 2013, and no one can pretend like they know what to expect next season.
Bronson Arroyo (pictured), although he's entering his age 37 season, hasn't shown signs of a decline and has never had injury concerns. Penciling him in to the Blue Jays rotation would at least give the team a chance to know what to expect one out of every five days.
After a breakout rookie season in 2012, Tyler Moore struggled through most of last season before finishing strong. That would make him a question mark, at best, for 2014. For a team expected to be a World Series contender in 2014, it's important that its 25-man roster is filled with as few question marks as possible.
Filling Moore's role as a right-handed bat off the bench and occasional starter at first base and left field with the best possible option seems like a no-brainer, especially when the best possible solution is still available on the free-agent market.
That would be Jeff Baker (pictured), who posted a .905 OPS with 11 homers in 154 at-bats for the Rangers last season. Most of that damage was done against left-handed pitching. The Nats had a .674 OPS versus left-handed pitching last season. Good match? I think so.