Now that the MLB season is over we can focus on the Winter Meetings and free agent signings. This is the first time in recent memory that the free agent pool is this deep and there are plenty of teams ready to open their wallets for these guys. I am just going to go with the top-tier free agents; otherwise we would be here all day. So with that said, here we go.
Jason Varitek-Boston Red Sox
The Captain became a free agent and I cannot see him in any other uniform. Tek is a Scott Boras guy and that means he will get top-dollar. Boras said that he wants a contract somewhere in the range of what Jorge Posada got from the Yankees last year, four years $60 million. While I highly doubt that a .220 hitter is worth $15 million per season, I think that the two sides will work something out.
Ivan Rodriguez-New York Mets
Pudge had the worst season of his career splitting time between the Tigers and Yankees. At 37 years old, he is clearly on the decline but will still be looking for substantial playing time no matter where he goes. The Mets have some good young pitching and could use a guy like Pudge to help them develop. The Mets used Brian Schneider and Ramon Castro behind the plate last year, neither of which is the future at that position.
Mark Teixeira-New York Yankees
While watching the ALDS between the Angels and Red Sox I could have sworn I saw Teixeira take a calculator out of his back pocket and add up all the money he is going to make. After hitting .467 against the Sox, Teixeira is going to sign one of the biggest contracts in sports history, and who better to pay it than the Yankees? With Jason Giambi gone, the Yankees are going to need a big bat in their lineup and to fill a hole at first.
Tex is going to get a contract somewhere in the range of $22-25 million per season. There are very few teams that can afford that and with the way last season ended, expect the Yanks to go all out.
Sean Casey-Florida Marlins
"The Mayor" had an interesting season with the Sox this year. He hit .322, his highest since 2004, in 69 games for the Sox. Casey was used mainly as a left-handed bat off the bench and occasionally a defensive replacement. He is still a .302 career hitter and still capable of playing every day. The Marlins have a young team and could use a leader in the clubhouse like Casey. Florida just traded first baseman Mike Jacobs and will need someone to take over.
Jason Giambi-Oakland Athletics
After signing with the Yankees in 2002, there were reports coming out that Giambi was unhappy in New York and wanted to go back to Oakland. Well, here is his chance. The A's could use power bat in their lineup and why not welcome back one of the best players in their franchises history?
While he did get booed as a member of the Yankees in Oakland, I am sure he will be welcomed back with open arms. Oakland allows him to express himself as the "rock star" type with the long-hair. This could be just the place where he could end his career.
Nomar Garciaparra-Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
"Nomah" pretty much ruined any chance of getting into the Hall of Fame the day that he gave up on the Red Sox. He failed with the Cubs and Dodgers and is looking to resurrect his career. The Angels are going to need someone to replace Teixeira and Nomar may be that guy. While he is for the most part limited to first base, he could occasionally play third to give Figgins a day off and would fit perfectly with the Angels.
Orlando Hudson-Arizona Diamondbacks
The "O-Dawg" will return to the D'backs. Hudson has established himself as one of the best second basemen in the NL and the D'backs cannot afford to lose him. He is a Gold Glove caliber second baseman and will get a long-term contract that is rightly deserved. Hudson will be coveted by many teams but will most likely return to the environment that he is familiar with.
Jeff Kent-Cleveland Indians
After a terrible season which saw the reigning AL Central champs finish at .500, the Indians saw that they need an answer at second base. Asdrubal Cabrera and Josh Barfield struggle the whole season, the Indians may look for some more power in their lineup.
This will allow Cabrera to pinch run and become a defensive replacement. Kent is not going to be around for much longer but if the Indians want to win now, it could not hurt to have one of the greatest hitting second basemen of all-time on their roster.
Tadahito Iguchi-Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are coming off a very successful season and will look to improve from last year. Kent is a free agent and will look to find a replacement that will be around for a few years. Iguchi would be a nice fit because of the environment he would be going into. The Dodgers have several Asian players on their team and this would make it an easy transition for Iguchi.
Joe Crede-San Francisco Giants
Most people would agree that Joe Crede is out and Josh Fields is in. The Giants need some offense and Crede can still provide it. Crede is known for his defense but is still very capable of hitting. The Giants have some money to dish out and Crede could cash in. San Fran has possibly the worst offense in the Majors and Crede could finally help them put some runs on the board.
Hank Blalock-Texas Rangers
The 2003 All-Star Game hero has a team option and will most likely return to the Rangers. When healthy, Blalock is one of the best hitting third basemen in the game. The problem is, he is never healthy. The Rangers are going to want to bring back the fan favorite if they want to keep their offense as potent as ever.
Orlando Cabrera-Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are going to do a complete overhaul of their middle infield this offseason. After watching Furcal make error after error during the playoff, I have a feeling that the Dodgers are going to want a better defensive player at shortstop. Cabrera is still a very good hitter and can get on base for the big bats in the lineup. OC will be switching leagues as he will be going from the Angels to the Dodgers.
Rafael Furcal-Chicago Cubs
Furcal had an interesting three seasons with the Dodgers. He hit .300, .270, and .357. When healthy, Furcal is one of the best shortstops in the game and can change a game with his speed. The Cubs are coming off a disappointing end to last year will look to add to their offense and Furcal could be the answer.
The Cubs don't have much confidence in Theriot to be their everyday shortstop so they may have to go outside the organization to fill that void.
Maybe the Cubs will finally win a World Series! Just kidding.
Edgar Renteria-Baltimore Orioles
I know this seems like kind of a random pick but hear me out. The O's have a history of throwing big money at guys (Javy Lopez and Rafael Palmeiro) who just don't seem to work out. They need a shortstop desperately and possibly a guy who can help coach the prospects. Even though the whole American League thing really has not worked out for Renteria (2005 and 2008) the Orioles are just desperate enough that this could happen.
Manny Ramirez- Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have already offered Manny a two-year deal worth $45 million with an option for the third year. The Dodgers owe their playoff run to Manny and need him back if they plan on contending next year.
Manny was not a distraction, but more like a blessing for the Dodgers. He hit, he ran, he fielded, he led, he did basically everything that the Sox tried to get him to do before they traded him. Whether or not he will go back to his old Manny ways is another question.
Garret Anderson-Toronto Blue Jays
The long-time Angel had his contract bought out and it looks like his tenure with LA is over. He is one of the greatest hitters to ever wear an Angels uniform, but it looks like he will be suiting up for someone else.
I think the Jays could be in the market for a left handed bat, especially with rumors going around that Lyle Overbay will be traded to the Mariners. He can DH and occasionally play the field when Adam Lind needs a day off.
Pat Burrell-Atlanta Braves
The Braves have been in sort of a rebuilding stage the last couple seasons. The Braves have two huge gaps in left field and center field. They could use another bat in the lineup to compliment Chipper Jones. Burrell is still relatively young and the Braves could sign him before he starts his decline. Pat "The Bat" has eight straight years of at least 21 home runs and that is exactly what the Braves could use.
Adam Dunn-Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
With the loss of Garrett Anderson the Angels will need a new DH. If you watched the Angels play the Sox in the ALDS, you noticed the same thing I did: no one could drive in runs!
Adam Dunn is not a great fielder and with the Angels plethora of outfielders this would allow Dunn to take over as the DH. Dunn is going to be looking for contract probably somewhere in the $15-17 million per season range. There are not many teams that can afford this, the Angels happen to be one of the teams that can.
Raul Ibanez-Seattle Mariners
Ibanez has been one of the few good hitters for the Mariners over the last couple years. Seattle needs as much offense as they can get which means they need to hang onto Ibanez. He is an above average fielder with good power and hits for a decent average. At 37 years old he is definitely getting close to the end of his career but is still a very productive player.
Milton Bradley-Texas Rangers
See what can happen when you play a full season? Well, kind of. Bradley played in 126 games, the second most of his career and put together a nice little season for himself. He hit .321, with 22 home runs, and had 77 RBI. The Rangers are going to want to bring back Bradley if they want a chance to win some games next year. They have no pitching and need all the offense they can get.
Rocco Baldelli-Tampa Bay Rays
Baldelli had quite a story last year. He was diagnosed with Mitochondrial Disease that made him feel tired much quicker than others. This forced him to DH most of the time. He is still able to play the field but not on a daily basis so not many teams will be knocking on his door. I think Rocco will stay with the Rays as they will try and bring back the team that almost won them the World Series.
Bobby Abreu-St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals got some unexpected help from Ryan Ludwick last year but they could use some more help. There are rumors of Rick Ankiel being traded and the Cardinals could use a guy like Abreu to get on base for Pujols. I cannot see the Yankees bringing Abreu back because they have other needs to address. Abreu adds a new dimension with his speed and high on-base percentage.
Ken Griffey Jr.-Seattle Mariners
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back, Ken Griffey Jr. The Mariners need to bring in fans and what better way to bring back the greatest player in their history. Griffey is still a productive player and I am sure would love to go back to where he became one of the best hitters of all-time. He would return as the DH which would allow him to focus just on hitting and continue to build his legacy.
There you have it, my free agent predictions. There is a lot of money that will be spent, some wisely, some not so wisely. As always there will be some busts (Julio Lugo), and some players will surprise us all.
I will have my pitching predictions out within the next few days. Feel free to comment and tell me what you think. Thank you!