Fantasy Baseball Rundown: Best/Worst Free Agent Landing Spots

The GooseCorrespondent IDecember 18, 2008

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It seems as if experts love to write about the effects of a free-agent signing after the deal has been done. But with constant access to rumors all over the Internet, I decided to figure out where would be the best and worst landing spots for three of the top remaining unsigned free agents: Mark Teixeira, Milton Bradley, and Brian Fuentes.


Mark Teixeira

Teixeira will be solid no matter where he ends up. There haven’t been too many first basemen who can switch hit, play everyday, and aren’t replaced for their lack of defense.  He is a consistent fantasy star.

Teams pursuing Teixeira to date include the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, L.A. Angels, and Washington Nationals.

Best Spot: Boston Red Sox—Aside from Teixeira having the ninth-best OPS in baseball, Fenway is a great place for a switch hitter.  Imagine if he were hitting somewhere between Pedroia, Ortiz, Bay, Youkilis, and Drew.

On top of that, he'd be hitting in a park that boasts both the Monster (315 very questionable feet) and Pesky’s Pole (302 feet). If I owned him, I would be hoping that the rumors of the Red Sox pining for Tex are true.

Worst Spot Washington Nationals—I think this is rather obvious. The wondrous possibilities of being in the Red Sox lineup turn into Ryan Zimmerman, Lastings Milledge, and Josh Willingham. I can’t think of anything else to say except, please Jim Bowden, don’t increase the offer to some crazy 10 year/$200M deal.


Milton Bradley

Bradley is coming off a great season for the Rangers. When healthy, which is rare, he tore it up with career highs in home runs and RBI (22-78) last season. The problem is, he is never healthy.

He has only topped 500 plate appearances twice in his career, and last season’s .396 BABIP (Batting Average of Balls In Play) is ridiculously high, even if you look at it compared to his 24.7 percent line drive rate. 

This guy is due for a major decline in 2009, so if you own him, trade him to anyone that will give you a decent return.  Teams pursuing Bradley to date include the Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays.

Best Spot: Tampa Bay Rays—This is easy. Due to his injury history, Milton Bradley will be much better off as a DH for the Rays.  The guy is made of balsa wood, he is going to miss games, there is no doubt about that.

But odds are he has less of a chance of hurting himself running around the bases as opposed to running around the outfield. Assuming 500 plate appearances in Tampa, expect a .270-20-70 line…in other words, take a pass.

Worst Spot: Chicago Cubs—Even though Bradley would be put into a lineup that includes Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and Mark DeRosa, Wrigley is the wrong place for Bradley.

Imagine the first fly ball in April that headed for the ivy…Bradley could slam into the wall and literally break himself in half. Chicago has a better offense than Tampa, despite the presence of the DH, but Bradley would likely have 100-150 less plate appearances if he has to play the outfield. 

While injuries are tough to predict, I foresee a .270-12-45 line in Chicago. At least he’s a good clubhouse guy...right?


Brian Fuentes

Fuentes had an up-and-down 2008, at one point setting up for Manny Corpas.  Still, he rebounded to post 30 saves and a 2.73 ERA in Colorado. I have always been shocked by his success, as I have expected hitters to figure out his delivery sooner or later.

Nevertheless, Fuentes posted a 1.10 WHIP despite suffering a .317 BABIP.  I expect these numbers can improve no matter where he ends up. Teams pursuing Fuentes to date include the Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, and the Angels.

Best Spot: St. Louis Cardinals—Who led the National League in save opportunities last season? It was the St. Louis Cardinals, who only converted 58 percent of those opportunities.

If the season started today the back of the St. Louis bullpen would feature the unproven Chris Perez, Jason Motte, and journeyman Ryan Franklin.  Fuentes would clearly be the closer and have the chance to pitch in a relatively weak division.   

Worst Spot: Angels—Who led the American League in save opportunities last season?  It was the Los Angeles Angels with 89, 16 more than the Cardinals.  An unbelievable amount, so unbelievable that it will not happen again. 

This, coupled with a move to the American League and a crowded bullpen, makes this the worst landing spot for Fuentes. While the Angels would love to have Fuentes at the back of their bullpen, Jose Arrendondo is the clear closer-in-waiting. After every blown save he would be looking over his shoulder, this is assuming he wins the job in the first place.