Latest Landing Spot Odds for Top 8 MLB Free Agents on the Market

Jason MartinezContributor IJanuary 23, 2014

Latest Landing Spot Odds for Top 8 MLB Free Agents on the Market

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    Will Drew sign with the Mets, go back to Boston or will a "mystery team" emerge?
    Will Drew sign with the Mets, go back to Boston or will a "mystery team" emerge?Elsa/Getty Images

    Believe it or not, there are still eight free agents available who are capable of filling a vital role for some team. It's expected that most, if not all, will either find a new home, re-sign with the team they ended the 2013 season with or, at least in one case, announce their retirement prior to the start of spring training in late February.

    Here's a closer look at those eight free agents, potential landing spots and odds for each team in the mix.  

Ervin Santana, SP

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    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    If you were among those who thought the massive deal Masahiro Tanaka signed with the New York Yankees would boost Ervin Santana's asking price, you weren't alone. I was among those who were wrong on that thinking, too.

    Back in October, I predicted that the right-hander, who was coming off of a brilliant season with the Kansas City Royals, would land a five-year, $95 million deal. In my reaction piece to the Tanaka signing yesterday, I wrote that it wouldn't be a surprise if the 31-year-old Santana surpassed the $100 million mark.

    If today's report by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports that Santana was currently seeking a four-year, $60 million deal is correct, then some team could get a potential bargain for his age 31-34 seasons. 

    At this rate, it would be hard to eliminate any team that has been looking to upgrade their starting rotation this offseason. The Milwaukee Brewers weren't connected to any starting pitchers in offseason rumors before agreeing to terms with Matt Garza earlier today at a price that was much lower than had been anticipated. It's very likely that they weren't very interested until the price fell.

    That could very well happen with Santana, but the teams most interested in adding a pitcher could also feel a sense of urgency now that Tanaka and Garza are off the board.


    Toronto Blue Jays 2/1
    Arizona Diamondbacks 4/1
    Seattle Mariners 5/1
    Minnesota Twins 8/1
    Los Angeles Angels 12/1
    Baltimore Orioles 15/1
    Mystery Team 20/1

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP

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    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote that the Cleveland Indians believe they could re-sign Ubaldo Jimenez at "their price" if he's the last free-agent starter standing after Bronson Arroyo, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana sign. 

    Not only is it down to just Arroyo, Jimenez and Santana, but Garza's four-year, $52 million deal with the Brewers indicates that the price is probably already closer to where the Indians are comfortable. 

    Because the 30-year-old Jimenez is viewed as less reliable after two years of mediocrity, followed by an excellent 23-start run to end 2013, it's hard to see him getting more than Garza. Like Garza, a reduction in asking price could result in teams bidding that weren't otherwise interested. 

    Not only do the Indians have a much better chance to re-sign him now, but the New York Yankees, despite ESPN's Buster Olney's report that they don't expect to add any more pricey free agents, could also jump into the mix. No one can be sure what the Yankees think is "pricey," and adding Jimenez at three years and $39 million could be reasonable to fill out a rotation that had a gaping hole when the offseason started. 

     
    Cleveland Indians 3/1
    Toronto Blue Jays
    4/1
    Seattle Mariners 7/1
    New York Yankees 12/1
    Mystery Team 15/1

Nelson Cruz, OF

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    With a seemingly large number of teams looking to add starting pitching, Matt Garza's price still appeared to have dropped considerably when he agreed on a four-year, $52 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. So, what happens to free agent Nelson Cruz, who is looking for a big-money contract in a market that might not have one team in desperate need of his limited skill set?

    The Baltimore Orioles, who aren't set at either the left field or designated hitter spots, would appear to be a fit, though Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe thinks the signing of Delmon Young would make it less possible. 

    The Seattle Mariners make much less sense after they brought in Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, while the Texas Rangers aren't a match after Shin-Soo Choo was signed.

    One team that hasn't been connected with Cruz in rumors but may have the biggest need is the Detroit Tigers, who have a hole in the middle of their lineup after trading Prince Fielder. 

    The Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros could certainly use a right-handed power hitter and could likely afford the 33-year-old in their payrolls. If it doesn't interfere with their rebuilding process, he could fit in either spot on a one- or two-year deal.

     
    Detroit Tigers 2/1
    Baltimore Orioles
     4/1
    Seattle Mariners 10/1
    Houston Astros 12/1
    Chicago Cubs 15/1
    Mystery Team 12/1

Stephen Drew, SS

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    Eileen Blass-USA TODAY

    While only the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets have been strongly connected in rumors with free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, agent Scott Boras says he's talking to "a lot of teams" about his client, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Boras also says that some teams believe Drew can be an excellent second or third baseman, which would appear to open up the possibility of him signing with a number of teams who haven't been mentioned.

    The Yankees, for one, could use help at second and third base with the oft-injured Brian Roberts and utility man Kelly Johnson currently slated to handle the majority of duties at those two spots, respectively. A long-term deal, in which Drew takes over regular shortstop duties in 2015, could also work.

    Several other teams, including the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies and Toronto Blue Jays, could use the offensive boost at second base, while the Astros could certainly use him at either shortstop or third base.


    New York Mets 
    2/1
    Boston Red Sox
     5/1
    New York Yankees 6/1
    Houston Astros 10/1
    Colorado Rockies 12/1
    Mystery Team 12/1

Bronson Arroyo, SP

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    Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

    If the price tags are dropping on starting pitchers, then Bronson Arroyo could have a tough time getting the three-year deal he's been asking for. He'd be a bargain, however, on what could end up being a two-year deal in the $18-20 million range.

    The Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles AngelsMinnesota Twins, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates have all been connected to the 36-year-old in rumors at some point or another this offseason, while the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays, who are each in need of a reliable starting pitcher, also make a lot of sense. 

    He's also on the Los Angeles Dodgers' short list of pitching candidates, as was reported by Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports. They certainly have the resources to outbid any other team, although their need might not be as great.

     
    Los Angeles Angels 2/1
    Toronto Blue Jays 3/1
    Baltimore Orioles 4/1

    Los Angeles Dodgers 6/1
    Cleveland Indians 8/1
    Minnesota Twins 12/1
    Mystery Team 20/1

A.J. Burnett, SP

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Pittsburgh Pirates team president Frank Coonelly told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com that he'd be surprised if A.J. Burnett called and told them he wanted to pitch again. He also said they'd love to have him back if he wasn't ready to call it quits. For now, they're preparing to move ahead without the 37-year-old, who had 26 wins and a 3.41 ERA in his two seasons with the team. 

    A bigger surprise would be if he continues to pitch and opts to sign elsewhere, which is unlikely to happen unless he decides much later in the offseason that he wants to return and the Pirates are no longer willing to bring him back. 

    The Baltimore Orioles were interested in Burnett, according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, though they're likely focusing on the free-agent pitchers they know will be pitching in 2014.

     
    Retirement 2/1
    Pittsburgh Pirates 5/1
    Baltimore Orioles 10/1
    Mystery Team 25/1

Kendrys Morales, 1B

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    Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

    Just as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote that it was likely the case with Nelson Cruz, Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore believes that the Baltimore Orioles' signing of Delmon Young rules out Kendrys Morales as an option. 

    Unless a National League team like the Milwaukee Brewers or Pittsburgh Pirates thinks that the 30-year-old Morales, who posted a .785 OPS with 23 homers for the Seattle Mariners last season, would be a good fit as their regular first baseman, the O's are still easily the most logical choice.

    The O's could be sensing this and are just waiting until his price drops. 

    It's also possible that a team like the Detroit Tigers, if they don't feel as though Nick Castellanos is ready to take over the regular third base job, could leave Miguel Cabrera at the hot corner and allow Morales and Victor Martinez to split the first base/designated hitter duties.  

     
    Baltimore Orioles 2/1
    Pittsburgh Pirates 5/1
    Detroit Tigers 7/1
    Milwaukee Brewers 10/1
    Mystery Team 15/1

Fernando Rodney, RP

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Conflicting reports surfaced earlier in the day with Jonah Keri of Grantland.com reporting that the Baltimore Orioles and closer Fernando Rodney were "making progress" on a deal, according to a source, before Dan Connolly of the Batlimore Sun reported he was told by a source that the O's hadn't had dialogue with Rodney's camp in weeks.

    After trading away closer Jim Johnson and backing out on a two-year agreement with free agent Grant Balfour, however, it would make sense that the O's are pursuing the only closer remaining on the free-agent market. But because Rodney is the last free-agent closer standing, the O's could have competition. 

    Even if the New York Yankees are comfortable with David Robertson stepping into the closer's role, they'd have a hard time filling Robertson's eighth inning role internally. Adding Rodney, whether it be as the closer or setup man, would be the logical thing to do after spending so much money to fill out their lineup and starting rotation.

    The Mariners' interest, which was reported by Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports early in the offseason, could also be reignited if Rodney's asking price drops. At the time, the 36-year-old was asking for $10 million per season, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. But on the heels of Grant Balfour's two-year, $12 million deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, Rodney's price could be dropping.

     
    Baltimore Orioles 2/1
    New York Yankees 6/1
    Seattle Mariners 8/1
    Mystery Team 12/1