Where the Top 10 MLB Free Agents Are Actually Going to Sign

GrahamContributor IIINovember 29, 2011

Where the Top 10 MLB Free Agents Are Actually Going to Sign

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    Everyone has an opinion about where the big-name free agents are going to sign, with most of them overlapping.

    We have all of the so-called insiders peddling their "insider" knowledge. They heard from an unnamed source close to the team, who was given anonymity because they don't have the authority to speak on behalf of the team. Really? This is the airtight way to throw a pseudo-informed opinion, making one seem like they are in the know.

    Bottom line: When cloaked in anonymity and sworn to secrecy, anyone can say anything—true or not.

    So here is my blatant abuse of this power, although I admit to having no sources, informed or not. 

Albert Pujols

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    The are three teams everyone is talking about as potential landing spots for Albert Pujols: the Cardinals, Marlins and Cubs. No one was talking about the Marlins until they decided to put on the their big-boy pants and throw contract offers out early and often.

    The Cardinals have the best chance of signing Pujols. If they wait, he won't sign; it's all about the respect thing. (I hate the term "disrespected," since it's thrown around way too much these days. Not everyone has a reputation so valuable it shouldn't ever be tainted or sullied.) 

    The Cubs have very little chance of signing Pujols. He doesn't have the "Stick it to the Cardinals" attitude, which is exactly what he would be doing if he signed with Chicago. Just not gonna happen.

    The Marlins are an interesting option. If he signs with them, he saves around $1.5 million a year from a $25 million deal because Florida has no state tax. That's a big chunk to simply ignore, but unless they sign Reyes first, he won't go. The Marlins aren't that good and he wants no part of mediocrity.

    So, the Pujols sweepstakes winner will be the Angels. They have money and a big market, not to mention the largest Hispanic population in the U.S. The amount that Pujols would make in endorsements would dwarf his salary.

Prince Fielder

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    I am a huge Fielder fan. He's a great hitter, durable and a fantastic teammate from all accounts—except for the unnamed anonymous source who said something about his trash cans.

    I would love to see Fielder in Cubbie blue. He's the size of a truck, but runs like a linebacker. Just think of London Fletcher with a bushier beard.

    The Cubs are hesitant to sign Fielder due to conditioning worries. He's a big boy, so how long until a knee gives out? Swinging from his shoelaces isn't helping his ankles any, either, and he isn't quite as good as Pujols on the defensive side of first. 

    With Aramis Ramirez gone, odds are good that we have a youngster manning third.  Add that to Starlin Castro's throwing woes and it's a recipe for disaster. The Cubs need a vacuum at first.

    Fielder would best fit in the AL, where he could DH along with playing first. He doesn't like this idea, but AL general managers will still try to sell him on it.

    Prince is going to Miami. He'll be a Marlin: The tax break and cold-weather break will get this done.

Jose Reyes

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    Speculation on where Reyes is going is rampant and varied, from Minnesota to Pittsburgh to the Giants out west.

    But no, with an ego like this, he would be a malcontent in the first two cites, and I don't see the Giants ponying up for him. 

    I can see Reyes visiting a grammar school to give a talk about staying in school and being all you can be, ending it with "I have decided to take my talents to South Beach."

    It's not quite the same platform as ESP or whatever, but he needs to tell someone, and the third graders—because they are a captive audience—will listen.

Jimmy Rollins

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    Jimmy Rollins is another egomaniac. In Philly, he's getting overshadowed by the pitching staff, Ryan Howard and—very soon by—Hunter Pence. This guy needs his adulation.

    The same teams looking at Reyes are looking at Rollins. Rollins is the cheaper option and the older one at 33. 

    Despite his ego, Rollins will land in Minnesota. He's going with the "nice guy" makeover, and where better to do that than with a team that boasts Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau?

    Upon arriving, Rollins will coin them the "J Crew" and have t-Shirts made. The backs will read "Nothin' but a J thing."

Yu Darvish

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    First and foremost, if know one has stamped this guy "Whirling Darvish," then it's mine.

    More of an unknown than the others, the big market teams, as usual, lead the way. The Yankees and Red Sox top the list, with Atlanta getting into the ring as well.

    In a shocker, the Mariners will get him. Darvish will feel comfortable in Seattle, since Seattle has a very strong Japanese population—residents and tourists. They have the most successful Japanese transplant to play in the Major Leagues, future Hall of Famer, Ichiro. Ichiro's success in Seattle is global, and Seattle has seen their brand grow exponentially since they signed him in 2001.

C.J. Wilson

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    I wasn't sure I was going to add Wilson to the Top 10 list. I'm just not sure I get this guy, much less being sold on him. 

    He won 16 games this year and 15 in 2010. Those are nice numbers, but eight guys had more wins this year. Another eight had 16 wins as well, including Derek Holland, his bullpen mate. Another two Texas pitchers won 14 each. 

    I think Wilson's stats are more a function of the team he was playing for rather than the stuff he was throwing up there. Let's not forget: the guy is a brutal 1-5 in the postseason, but he's a lefty and that, in and of itself, turns GMs into giggling school girls.

    I will cater to the masses and include him. 

    Wilson is another one going everywhere from Miami to the Yankees or Red Sox to staying in Texas, with anonymous sources all citing these teams.

    Wilson will end up with the Cardinals. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. It looks like Dave Duncan is going to stay on, and who better to help you with your pitching than Duncan? 

    According to not one source I have, the Cardinals are losing on Pujols and have some cap space, so they go for pitching. If they go over three years, $36 million, they will get fleeced. The guy is 33 years old, but will give the Cards—if healthy—the best rotation in the National League.

Aramis Ramirez

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    This guy is not an overwhelming choice as a Top 10 free agent. How that is possible is beyond me—his average numbers over the last eight years are tremendous: .297 BA, 28 HRs and 96 RBIs. 

    This includes 2009, when he only played in 82 games and saw his average drop 60 points, his HR total in half and his RBI numbers by a third.

    Ramirez is clutch and plays a nice third base. Sadly, he will not be a Cub next year. We've heard everyone from the Tigers to the Angels. Both teams could use him and would improve dramatically if they got him.

    Ramirez, not one for the limelight (he truly doesn't care), will go for the small(er) market and the big money by signing with Baltimore.

Carlos Beltran

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    Carlos Beltran is another one I have a hard time putting on this list. I just keep hearing the song "The old grey mare, she ain't what she used to be, ain't what she used to be, ain't what she used to be." running through my head.

    He had a decent average with the Mets and Giants last year, but he has almost no power or speed left. He's a switch hitter and second only to be a southpaw in exciting the general manager population.

    This guy absolutely must go to the AL. His knees will cry uncle if he tries to play the field more than a 100 games. So, the Giants are out.

    The Red Sox are squawking, but they won't get Beltran. They are hesitant to overspend again, and if they re-sign Ortiz, the DH spot is suddenly taken.

    Beltran will go to Detroit where he can take over RF from the recently departed Magglio Ordonez and play DH every third day when Victor Martinez goes behind the plate. They also give him a great chance at a ring.

Michael Cuddyer

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    In a smaller ball park, this guy hits 35-40 HRs a year. He can play a few positions admirably enough and he's a pretty healthy 32. 

    We've all heard the interest of the Giants, Cleveland and the Red Sox.  By the way, seriously, someone needs to muzzle the anonymous source in the Red Sox clubhouse—they are seemingly attached to every free agent. At least be discerning.

    Cuddyer is used to the small market and doesn't mind it. In a shocker, he goes to Kansas City, a perfect park for him. Kansas City wasn't that bad last year and has some pieces in place, including Hosmer, Gordon and Moustakas.

Heath Bell

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    The only closer left on the market with Papelbon and Nathan gone. He's 34 but has averaged 44 saves over the last three years. The guy is a shut-down closer with at least a three-year contract left in him.

    We've heard that the Pads will make every effort to re-sign him. The Blue Jays have chimed in, and so have the Rockies. Any one of these places would be a good fit for him, but ultimately, Bell will spurn his home state and home team to sign with the Red Sox.

    You got it, the anonymous source didn't make so much as a peep about Bell, which ultimately means that they have actual interest in this free agent.