MLB Rumors: 10 Top Free Agents and Where They Could Be Heading
Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants for winning the World Series, but that was last season. The offseason has begun and the trade rumors and free agency questions are flying all over the place.
This year, there will be plenty of money to throw around. With so many disappointing seasons from big-market teams such as the Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, teams will be throwing large sums of cash at both worthy, talented players and overrated bums.
Every team dreams of the free-agent acquisition that will put them over the top. For 22 teams every year that don't make the playoffs, those players just don't work out. Whether $100 million gets you your ace in Johan Santana or a guy who is left off the playoff roster in Barry Zito, is just one of the factors that makes baseball so interesting.
Here are the top 10 free agents and their possible destinations:
The 10-year veteran remains one of the biggest home run hitters in the game today. Dunn has hit 38 or more home runs every year since 2004 and has contributed 100 RBI in all of those years except one.
Dunn is turning 31 in the offseason and has plenty of gas left in the tank. While his defense leaves much to be desired, his ability to drive in runs and uncanny ability to knock the ball out of the park makes him one of the top middle of the order players in the game.
Trade rumors swirled around Dunn all season. The Nationals, who were not in contention at the time, contemplated trading the slugger to continue the youth movement in Washington. However, Dunn stayed in D.C., and the Nats have offered him a contract, but it remains uncertain whether Dunn will accept.
Dunn's suspect defense could lead him to move to the American League to play DH.
Possible Destinations: Washington Nationals, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs
After declining his $10 million option to stay with the Red Sox, Adrian Beltre officially became a free agent and will be looking for a long term deal.
Beltre was a bright spot on a dull season for the Red Sox. The 31-year-old hit .321 with 28 home runs and 102 RBI. It was Beltre's best season since 2004 when he belted 48 home runs for Los Angeles.
Agent Scott Boras will try to get a big deal for the third baseman who was not only one of the Red Sox's best hitters this year, but also a terrific fielder. Another contributing factor could be Beltre's desire to move back to the West Coast where he had spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Seattle Mariners.
Possible Destinations: Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Detroit Tigers
A struggling Lee was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the Atlanta Braves during the season. Lee's numbers demonstrated significant improvement as a member of the Atlanta Braves.
Still, Lee declined a bit last season perhaps due to his age. The first baseman will enter spring training at age 35 next year and although Lee is a traditionally durable player, naturally questions have been brought up about the deterioration of his skills.
Lee still has 100 RBI capability. The question is will some team be willing to give a 35-year-old slick fielder a long-term deal. With the Braves hoping that prospect Freddie Freeman will be able to make the leap to everyday starter, Lee's short tenure with the Braves could be finished.
Possible destinations: Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers
Martinez is another Red Sox free agent who is up in the air. David Ortiz will be back next season at a one-year $12.5 million deal filling the DH position.
The catcher/first baseman is unquestionably a talented hitter. His play behind the plate, however, leaves much to be desired. After the Red Sox gave up so much young talent to get Martinez, it would be considered a huge loss if he walks after just a season and a half with Boston.
The problem with Martinez is that at age 32, his years at catcher may be numbered. The Red Sox offered Martinez a two-year deal. Martinez balked and asked for more years. Likely, some team will give Martinez a three-year deal, perhaps with an option for a fourth.
Possible Destinations: Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, Detroit Tigers
The "Captain" had a terrible season by his standard. His average dropped a whopping 64 points and he declined in home runs and walks while striking out more.
Jeter is actually one of the oldest players on this list and at 36, one has to wonder how many years he has left in him. Since being drafted by the Yankees more than 18 years ago, Jeter has been a symbol of the Yankees, and in the process of winning multiple World Series for New York, has become one of the most beloved Yankees of all time.
At some point the Yankees will have to make a decision. Next season Jeter should remain with the team, but eventually New York will have to decide whether loyalty is more important than performance.
Possible destinations: New York Yankees
Sometimes the importance relief pitching can get lost because general managers are constantly looking for game changers. Wood provides an excellent option out of the bullpen with closer experience.
Wood, who struggled for the Indians to start the season, absolutely dominated for the Yankees in the second-half and playoffs. In 24 games Wood had an ERA of 0.69 and held batters to a .161 average.
The Yankees declined their option on Wood, but they still have interest in bringing him back. The Cubs, who have had their share of bullpen struggles, have expressed interest as well. One idea could be Wood as the next reclamation project at closer for the Florida Marlins.
Possible destinations: New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, nearly any team willing to spend on bullpen help
Guerrero may have struggled in the postseason, but it is still a little questionable that the Rangers allowed the DH to become a free agent. The option was never expected to be taken, and at $9 million it might have been a little pricey, but Guerrero did have a terrific season this year.
In the MLB, free agency can sometimes turn into a "what have you done for me lately" game. Since Vlad struggled in the World Series—going 1-for-14 with a walk—the Rangers might let him walk this offseason. It would be a mistake to let Guerrero and his 115 RBI production walk out the door.
Still, in reality Guerrero is a 35-year-old outfielder who is more of a DH at this point in his career. Whoever eventually signs him will either get a gem at low cost or merely an expensive bench player.
Possible destinations: Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays
Many have expected Werth to depart Philadelphia because the Phillies are unwilling to give him the long-term contract he desires. Wherever he lands, he will be a top middle of the order hitter.
Werth hit .296 this season and added 46 doubles and 27 home runs. However, some may question whether Werth's numbers are positively affected by playing in Citizens Bank Park for half the season.
Werth is another player who struggled in the postseason, hitting just .200 in nine games. It should be interesting to see if Werth is able to get big money as the second best outfield option in free agency.
Possible Destinations: Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets
Even Crawford has said that there is a "high possibility" that he does not end up back with the Rays next season. As the best position player available in free agency this year, Crawford will command a lot of money and a lot of years on his contract.
However, Crawford deserves the money that is coming to him.
For the second consecutive year Crawford hit over .300. He is one of the top base stealers in the game and has tremendous speed around the base paths. Crawford even added power to the mix, belting 19 home runs this past season.
While the Yankees will likely focus on pitching this offseason, there are several other teams lining up to pay big money for Crawford.
Possible destinations: Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Cliff Lee is unquestionably the gem of this year's free-agency market. His pitching ability is matched by few other top pitchers in the game.
While Lee's ERA was a mere mortal 3.98 for Texas during the season, his postseason play was outstanding and he was the biggest reason that Texas made it to the World Series. In his first three starts during the playoffs, Lee compiled 34 strikeouts and just one walk.
Lee rivals Roy Halladay as the best control pitcher in baseball. He rarely walks batters and his strikeout to walk ratios are unbelievable.
The Yankees have already made it a priority to get Lee this offseason. The Brewers, Rangers, Angels, Cubs and Phillies will try to make competitive bids, but eventually Lee will receive close to a record deal for a pitcher.
Possible Destinations: New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies