MLB Rumors: Predictions for the Top 20 MLB Free Agents

Doug RushSenior Analyst INovember 4, 2010

MLB Rumors: Predictions for the Top 20 MLB Free Agents

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    Free agency for Major League Baseball is upon us.

    Up until this year, the waiting period was 15 days after the World Series was over. This year, it's only five days.

    Teams will be looking to retool and rebuild their rosters through free agency and trades. Sunday will start the period where all teams will have negotiating rights.

    Which players are available? What teams are interested?

    Lets take a look at the class of 2010-11 free agents.

1. Cliff Lee, SP

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    Teams Interested: Rangers, Yankees, Nationals, Mets, Red Sox

    Lee is the prize pitcher of the free-agent market. It's possible that Lee could command anywhere from $20-$28 million dollars per season and anywhere from 4-6 years for a contract.

    It's well known the Yankees want him and the Rangers want to try to keep him. The only question is, can Texas try to keep up with what the Yankees can offer?

    Prediction: Yankees

2. Carl Crawford, LF

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    Teams Interested: Red Sox, Giants, Angels, A's, Tigers

    Crawford is entering the prime of his career and will probably get around $100 million-plus from somewhere.

    The Yankees are said not to be interested him, which opens things up on the market for Crawford.

    He's got killer speed on the bases, hits for average and plays pretty good defense. Someone's going to be paying big for his services.

    Prediction: Angels

3. Jayson Werth, RF

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    Teams Interested: Red Sox, Giants, Phillies, Angels

    Jayson Werth has emerged as a great outfielder with some tremendous power and middle-of-the-lineup presence in any batting order.

    The Phillies want him back, but many feel that they won't be able to afford him—and with Dominic Brown coming up, the Phillies have the option to pass on Werth.

    I don't see a team being a major frontrunner early for Werth; this one could take a while to figure out.

    Prediction: Giants

4. Derek Jeter, SS

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    Teams Interested: Yankees

    Jeter will be a Yankee, we all know he will be a Yankee, the only question is, how many years and how much money will the Yankees and Jeter settle on.

    Jeter will be turning 37 next season, but he's also going after 3,000 hits next season.

    Derek Jeter has meant to the Yankees in this era what Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio meant in their eras. He's that iconic to the team and the sport.

    This will all get done, hopefully sooner rather than later.

    Prediction: Yankees

5. Mariano Rivera, RP

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    Teams Interested: Yankees

    Mariano Rivera wants to still pitch for the Yankees.

    The Yankees still want Mariano Rivera to close games.

    This shouldn't take too long to figure out.

    The Yankees will probably take it year-to-year with Rivera and as long as he wants to pitch, he'll be a Yankee. Plus, the Yankees still have yet to figure out the heir to Rivera's spot yet.

    Prediction: Yankees

6. Adam Dunn, 1B/OF

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    Teams Interested: Nationals, Rays, Red Sox, Cubs, Rangers, Angels

    This is one of the quiet boppers who is out there on the market.

    Rumor has it that he is not a fan of the American League, which is really surprising considering there's quite a few teams who could use him as a designated hitter.

    So if he stays in the National League, he'll likely be a first baseman.

    Prediction: Cubs

7. Rafael Soriano, RP

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    Teams Interested: Rays, Angels, White Sox

    Soriano was a major reason why the Rays were the best team in the American League and won the AL East.

    But with the Rays cutting payroll this offseason, many don't expect Tampa to retain Soriano.

    Soriano is a good closer who can give any bullpen some major depth with him at the end of it.

    Prediction: Angels

8. Carlos Pena, 1B

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Teams Interested: Rays, A's, Cubs, Orioles, Rangers

    Pena hits a ton of home runs and drives in a lot of runs, plus plays an outstanding first base.

    The problem is he strikes out a ton and hits around .200.

    Rumor has it that he wants to stay in Tampa Bay and would be willing to take less money. If that's true, he should stay in Tampa because he's very important to their lineup.

    Prediction: Rays

9. Adrian Beltre, 3B

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    Teams Interested: Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Giants

    Beltre went from being a major bust with the Mariners to having a great season with the Red Sox, which is going to get him another decent contract this offseason.

    He just declined the Red Sox option for 2011, which likely means he won't be back in Boston.

    Chances are they will move Kevin Youkilis to third base and possibly trade for a first baseman.

    Beltre will still find a home and a contract in 2011. It just probably won't be in Boston.

    Prediction: Angels

10. Andy Pettitte, SP

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    Teams Interested: Yankees

    It's once again either Yankees or retirement for the left-hander.

    Pettitte started out great in 2010, even making the American League All-Star Team, but then a groin injury sidelined him for two months.

    He came back in the playoffs and pitched well, which shows he isn't slowing up with age.

    But the question is, will he put off retirement one more time or will he hang up the spikes to be with his family?

    Nobody would ever blame him for retiring, though. My guess is he wants to give it one last shot at a sixth ring.

    Prediction: Yankees

11. Paul Konerko, 1B

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Teams Interested: White Sox, Nationals, Rays, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Braves

    It would be hard to imagine Konerko in any uniform other than a Chicago one, but lately the White Sox are going in a younger direction.

    Konerko is going to be 35 next season, but he can still be a useful first baseman or DH if needed.

    Konerko won't get top dollar on the market, but he'll have a starting job somewhere next season.

    Prediction: Diamondbacks

12. Carl Pavano, SP

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    Teams Interested: Twins, Orioles, Mets, Braves, Cardinals

    Pavano is still a thief in my heart and many other Yankee fans' hearts for stealing $40 million dollars and sitting on the disabled list for four years.

    Ever since leaving the Bronx, Pavano has pitched very well for the Indians and Twins and may get another contract out of his last two seasons.

    Personally, I think he would be crazy to leave the Twins, but I'm sure other teams will show interest because of their need for starting pitching.

    Prediction: Twins

13. Vladimir Guerrero, DH

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    Teams Interested: Rangers, White Sox, A's, Mariners

    After watching him in the outfield during the World Series, it's pretty clear that Guerrero can not play the field anymore, which will relegate him to being a DH for the rest of his career.

    Which is just fine, because as long as he can swing that bat, he'll still have full use as a regular DH in a lineup.

    After seeming washed up with the Angels, he got rejuvenated with the Rangers this year and did well, at least until the World Series where his bat seemed to disappear.

    Even though Texas declined his option, I'm sure they would probably want to re-sign him for less money.

    Prediction: Rangers

14. Johnny Damon, LF/DH

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    Teams Interested: Tigers, Yankees, Rays, A's, Royals, White Sox

    He's not the top center fielder he used to be and he's not even a top left fielder anymore, but he's still a decent bat and can still provide some pop with the bat.

    To show how important he is, the Red Sox put in a waiver claim on him because Boston wanted to block him from going to the Yankees or Rays for the playoffs. His bat in their lineup would have been scary.

    The Yankees made a mistake in letting Damon go, especially for guys like Nick Johnson and Randy Winn last winter.

    The Yankee fans showed they still love him, and if Jorge Posada is still the starting catcher, there will be an opening at DH with Lance Berkman leaving.

    Damon would still fit into pinstripes.

    Prediction: Yankees

15. Manny Ramirez, OF/DH

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Teams Interested: Rays, Blue Jays, White Sox, A's, Indians, Royals, Mariners, Orioles

    He got himself thrown out of Boston.

    Then he got himself thrown out of Los Angeles.

    Manny Being Manny isn't the same anymore, mostly because Manny has gotten older, slower and sloppier at the plate.

    Because he's still Manny Ramirez, though, some team will take him to be their DH and only the DH. His left field days are long gone.

    Prediction: Indians

16. Jim Thome, DH

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    Teams Interested: Twins, Rays, Yankees, A's, Mariners

    Thome was inserted in the Minnesota lineup and had a really good year.

    Ever since he left the Phillies, Thome has strictly been a DH with the White Sox, pinch hitter with the Dodgers and then DH again with the Twins.

    At age 40, he'll still be a DH, but because he can still hit the ball out and also because he is one of the most likable guys in all of baseball, he'll get a job somewhere.

    Minnesota would be crazy to let him go. He liked it there; I don't see him leaving either.

    Prediction: Twins

17. Orlando Hudson, 2B

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    Teams Interested: Twins, Mets

    Ever since leaving Arizona, he's been on two one-year deals: two years ago with the Dodgers and last year with the Twins.

    He's played well under both of those deals, but has yet to get a long-term deal.

    Hudson will be 33 next year and should get a long-term deal. He's good on offense, very good on defense and is a good clubhouse guy.

    For the last two years, I have said the Mets should get Hudson. He'd be perfect for that team. Hudson has said he would like to play for the Mets and they may be willing to finally get rid of Luis Castillo's contract, even if it means releasing him.

    If Minnesota isn't willing to lock up Hudson long-term, the Mets should be able to.

    Prediction: Mets

18. Lance Berkman, 1B

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Teams Interested: Astros, Rangers

    Back in July, I thought the Yankees getting Berkman was going to be a great move, but turns out, it wasn't.

    Berkman showed virtually no power in the Yankees lineup and was relegated to being a pinch hitter and part-time player, which he really didn't care for.

    The Yankees declined his option, which all but ended the three-month commitment.

    Many feel that Berkman wants to go back to the Astros, since he lives in Texas, and may do so for less money.

    If Houston doesn't move on him, many feel the Rangers could be another spot for him.

    Prediction: Astros

19. Victor Martinez, C/1B

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    Teams Interested: Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays, White Sox, Tigers, Rangers, Rockies, Mets, Dodgers

    Martinez is the best catcher on the market and Boston will try like hell to keep him. But they will have a ton of competition.

    Martinez and Boston didn't agree on a contract extension and Boston does have Jarrod Saltalamacchia in waiting, so maybe Boston won't aggressively work to keep Martinez, like they didn't with Jason Bay last winter.

    He's not the best defensive catcher on the market, but his bat makes up for a lot of what he can't do defensively.

    Martinez will be 32 next year, so any team will have to remember that once he breaks down defensively, he'll have to go to first base to continue playing every day.

    If he keeps up his offense, whoever pays him will be fine with that.

    I have a funny feeling one team might be willing to spend to get him.

    Prediction: Mets

20. Brandon Webb, SP

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    Teams Interested: Orioles, Mets, Cardinals, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Dodgers

    If he wasn't injured over the last two years, Webb would be right up with Cliff Lee as a top free-agent pitcher, but because of his arm and elbow problems, he's almost forgotten.

    If he can stay healthy, he can be a potentially cheap bargain and resurrect a career in which he has won a Cy Young.

    He's a heavy sinker-baller who is trying to get back his arm strength, so whoever signs him has to be very patient with Webb.

    You also have to be cautious because he is still a health risk, given that he barely pitched in 2009 and 2010—so buyer beware.

    Even so, if teams took chances on Rich Harden and Ben Sheets, someone will take a chance on Brandon Webb for 2011.

    Prediction: Nationals