Power Ranking the Top 25 MLB Free-Agent Signings

Christopher Benvie@CSBenvie81Correspondent IIDecember 26, 2012

Power Ranking the Top 25 MLB Free-Agent Signings

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    It's the Holiday season and several Major League Baseball teams have been busy shopping.

    Who made out the best?

    While Michael Bourn, Kyle Lohse and Rafael Soriano are some of the few lingering free agents on the market who could have a tremendous impact on whichever team they land with, they are all non-factors in this list.

    Here is a power ranking of players who have been signed so far this winter with a break down of what each team will be getting for their money.

    * All contracts are given with the buyout year configured in with no mention of any team options. For example, you'll see Hisashi Iwakuma signed for two years at $14 million, which represents two seasons at $6.5 million per with a $1 million buyout.

    **There is no mention of Mike Napoli and his deal with the Boston Red Sox because the deal has yet to be finalized; therefore, Napoli is still considered a free agent.

25. Russell Martin: Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Russell Martin signed a two-year, $17 million contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    The Pirates managed to get a three-time All-Star who has seen some increased offensive numbers during his tenure in New York.

    While his batting average has been lower than his career average while playing in the American League East (.224 versus .272 over five seasons with the Dodgers) his OPS has seen an increase from the .680 he put up during his last two seasons with the Dodgers.

    In 2012, the Pirates relied on Rod Barajas behind the plate for a majority of their games. He posted a .206 batting average and .625 OPS.

    Instantly, the Bucs have received a better, younger catcher who has previously feasted on NL Central opponents, posting a .304/.378/.433/.798 batting line in 120 career games.

24. Jonathan Broxton: Cincinnati Reds

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    Jonathan Broxton was traded to the Cincinnati Reds from the Kansas City Royals during the 2012 season, and the Reds liked what they saw.

    Upon becoming a free agent, Broxton opted to return to Cincinnati for three years and $21 million.

    While his ERA increased when he came to Cincy, climbing to 2.82 versus the 2.27 he posted in Kansas City, his WHIP dropped significantly from 1.40 to 1.03.

    Additionally, his H/9 dropped from 9.1 to 8.1, while his K/9 increased significantly from 6.3 to 8.1.

    In short, Broxton was mowing down the competition at a higher rate of success back in the NL than his brief furlough in the American League.

    Lastly, bringing Broxton back into the fold affords Cincinnati the flexibility to put Aroldis Chapman back in the starting rotation—a valuable option to have.

23. Marco Scutaro: San Francisco Giants

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    Marco Scutaro, the 36-year-old journeyman infielder, has finally found a place to call home.

    Let's face it, proving to be one of the most important pieces in the 2012 San Francisco Giants World Series run doesn't hurt his case all that much, either.

    After 11 years and six different teams, Scutaro managed to sign a promising three-year, $20 million deal with the Giants.

    When he came over to San Francisco from the Rockies last season, Scutaro transformed into arguably the game's best player, posting a .362/.385/.473/.859 batting line (through the last 61 games of the season).

    In the NLCS, he truly shined, posting a .500 batting average with a 1.140 OPS.

    San Fran is comfortable with Scutaro, and Scutaro is comfortable with them.

22. Cody Ross: Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Cody Ross brought his career back to life in Boston during the 2012 season.

    Ross posted an .807 OPS for the Red Sox while adding 22 home runs and 81 RBI. 

    The last time he had 20 or more home runs was in 2009 when he hit 24 for the Marlins, while the last time he had 80 or more RBI was also 2009 when he had 90.

    His .807 OPS was the highest full season OPS of his career.

    The Arizona Diamondbacks recognized this and gave Ross a three-year, $26 million deal.

    The addition of Ross allows the D-backs to trade either Justin Upton or Jason Kubel to help fill the team's other needs, as they will be dealing from a position of depth.

21. Jeremy Guthrie: Kansas City Royals

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    Jeremy Guthrie started the 2012 season terribly with the Colorado Rockies.

    He posted a 3-9 record with a 6.35 ERA and a 1.688 WHIP in 19 games. Upon being traded to the Royals, all of that changed.

    In his 14 starts in Kansas City, Guthrie posted a 5-3 record with a 3.16 ERA and a 1.132 WHIP.

    2012 was shaping up to be the worst statistical season of Guthrie's career until the move to KC.

    From there, he proved that he could be a reliable starter for the Royals, averaging over six innings per outing.

    His three-year, $25 million deal seems like a perfect fit for both sides.

20. A.J. Pierzynski: Texas Rangers

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    The Texas Rangers lost out on bringing back Josh Hamilton.

    They were unable to sign Zack Greinke.

    They also sat idly by while their everyday catcher, Mike Napoli, was courted by the Boston Red Sox.

    However, they did finally make a move, signing free-agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski for one year and $7.5 million.

    The two-time All-Star did win a Silver Slugger award for the Chicago White Sox last season, batting .278 with a .827 OPS while leading all American League catchers with a .501 SLG.

    His 27 home runs was second most among all catchers as well.

    While he is older than Napoli, Pierzynski is also a more reliable presence behind the plate, having played 128 games or more for the last 11 consecutive seasons.

    The most Napoli gave Texas was 113 in 2011.

19. Hisashi Iwakuma: Seattle Mariners

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    The Seattle Mariners liked what they saw out of Hisashi Iwakuma in 2012 despite only seeing him start 16 games for the club.

    He posted a 9-5 record with two saves in 125.1 innings of service and maintained a 3.16 ERA and 1.277 WHIP.

    Seattle opted to bring back the right-handed hurler for two years and $14 million, a significant upgrade over the $1.5 million he played for in 2012.

    His ERA was sixth among all rookies last season and was second-best among all Mariners starting pitchers, behind only Felix Hernandez. 

18. Ryan Ludwick: Cincinnati Reds

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    Since 2010, Ryan Ludwick has found himself bouncing around from team to team. 

    He's been a member of the Cardinals, Padres, Pirates and finally the Reds all in a three-season span.

    Finally, he's found a comfort zone in Cincinnati.

    Last season, Ludwick saw his batting average increase to .275 from .232 upon arriving at Great American Ballpark, as did his OPS from .671 to .877.

    The Reds were very happy with his production, awarding him with a two-year, $15 million deal.

    In just 125 games for the Reds last season, Ludwick posted 80 RBI and 26 home runs

17. Angel Pagan: San Francisco Giants

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    Angel Pagan has proven to be an exceptional center fielder for the San Francisco Giants since coming on board for the 2012 season.

    He led the National League in triples last season with 15 while stealing 29 bases and posting 56 RBI.

    The Giants rewarded Pagan with a four-year deal worth $40 million, his richest contract to date.

    While he may not be on the same level defensively as a Michael Bourn, for example, Pagan has proven to be a valuable asset to the Giants.

16. Stephen Drew: Boston Red Sox

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    During the 2012 season, the Arizona Diamondbacks decided it was time to move on from Stephen Drew.

    He started off slow, batting just .193 through 40 games with the Snakes.

    Once in Oakland, though, and Drew found his stroke again.

    In 39 games for the A's, he posted a .250 average with a .707 OPS, over .100 points higher than the .601 he put up in Arizona.

    The Red Sox decided that his statistics were good enough to warrant a one-year deal worth $9.5 million.

    It fills a need for the Sox, considering the slow development of Jose Iglesias, a prospect the team had hoped would find his bat by now but who appears to be headed back to Triple-A for further development.

15. Kevin Youkilis: New York Yankees

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    Kevin Youkilis will once again be wearing pinstripes, only this time it won't be in Chicago.

    The New York Yankees signed the former Red Sox/White Sox first/third baseman to a one-year, $12 million contract.

    The Yankees are faced with the fact that their everyday third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, will be on the shelf for several months recovering from hip surgery.

    Youkilis started off the 2012 season incredibly slow for the Boston Red Sox, only posting a .233 batting average, a far cry from his three-year stretch of averaging .300 or better from 2008-10.

    Nicknamed the Greek God of Walks, Youk also saw his OBP drop in recent years, causing the Red Sox to ship him out.

    Upon arriving in Chicago, Youk was able to boost both his OBP and SLG, but still struggled with his batting average.

    Defensively, Youk is a Gold Glove first baseman and a three-time All-Star.

    The Yankees hope to get a taste of that old-school Youk.

14. Shane Victorino: Boston Red Sox

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    The Boston Red Sox decided to take a chance on Shane Victorino after a down season for the Flyin' Hawaiian. 

    Victorino is a three-time Gold Glove award recipient and a two-time All-Star.

    The longtime member of the Philadelphia Phillies was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers last season before becoming a free agent.

    The Red Sox gave Victorino a three-year, $39 million contract in hopes that 2012 was an aberration for him.

    While the on-field product is extremely important, the Red Sox shelled out the money to bring in Victorino for his clubhouse demeanor as well. 

    The team is in need of a major culture shift, and solid clubhouse guys like Victorino will certainly aid in that transformation. 

13. Andy Pettitte: New York Yankees

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    After taking a season hiatus from baseball in 2011, Andy Pettitte returned to the mound for the New York Yankees during the 2012 season.

    It was evident that Pettitte just needed a little rest.

    Upon returning to the Bronx, he started 12 games for the Yankees, posting a 5-4 record with an impressive 2.87 ERA and 1.142 WHIP.

    In addition, Pettitte owned a 8.2 K/9 ratio, his best dating back to 2004 when he posted an 8.6 K/9.

    The Yankees managed to get Pettitte to come back for one more season at $12 million.

    Not bad considering how good he's looked since returning from his retirement.

12. Torii Hunter: Detroit Tigers

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    The Detroit Tigers didn't really have a lot to improve upon this winter.

    One area in which they felt they could was the outfield. What they did was acquire one of the game's best defensive outfielders.

    Hunter is a four-time All-Star, nine-time Gold Glove award winner and a Silver Slugger award winner as well.

    Adding him to the mix for two years and $26 million may be a bargain.

    It also helps to give the Tigers one of the scariest lineups in baseball, keeping in mind that Victor Martinez will be back this season as well.

    Hunter batted .313 last season for the Angels with an .817 OPS while driving in 92 RBI.

11. Ryan Dempster: Boston Red Sox

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    The Boston Red Sox needed pitching.

    Not just that, but the Red Sox needed to add stability to their pitching staff as well.

    In signing Ryan Dempster for two years and $26.5 million, they've managed to address both of those needs.

    Dempster has thrown for 200 or more innings seven times in his career, something that the Sox have needed for quite some time.

    In addition, despite his elevated 5.09 ERA in his brief stint with the Rangers last season, he did manage to go 7-3 in 12 games, averaging 5.2 innings per outing.

    This move does not come without risk for the Sox. Dempster has spent most of his 15 seasons in the National League and just 12 games in the American League.

10. Dan Haren: Washington Nationals

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    The possibility exists that this could be the steal of the winter.

    Dan Haren signed a one-year deal worth $13 million to pitch for the Washington Nationals.

    He is looking to boost his value for a multi-year deal, while the Nats are looking to fill the hole left by the departed Edwin Jackson.

    Win-win, right?

    Haren had a tough season last year for the Angels, posting a 12-13 record with a 4.33 ERA and a 1.291 WHIP in 30 games for the Halos.

    However, during the course of his career, he owns a lifetime 3.78 ERA pitching for NL teams with a 1.180 WHIP.

    The man has something to prove and wants a big contract. That is never a bad thing when you have the stuff that Haren has.

9. Mariano Rivera: New York Yankees

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    The Yankees appear to be trying to get the band back together.

    Hence, they've brought back Mariano Rivera for one year and $10 million.

    Clearly, 2012 was not the way Rivera wanted to end his career—injured. It makes sense for both parties to have him come back.

    Rivera is arguably the greatest closer of all time, looking to go out on a high note and the Yankees needed a closer.

    It's as simple as that.

8. Hiroki Kuroda: New York Yankees

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    The New York Yankees struck gold in 2012 when they signed Hiroki Kuroda.

    In 33 games for the Bombers, Kuroda posted a 16-11 record with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.165 WHIP, not bad for a 37-year-old.

    In fact, his 16 wins tied him for sixth most among American League pitchers.

    His one-year, $15 million deal just seems to make sense for both sides.

    Kuroda has proven his capability to pitch in the AL, and the Yanks are in need of that pitching depth.

7. David Ortiz: Boston Red Sox

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    Sometimes the biggest moves a team makes are the most obvious ones.

    In this instance, the Boston Red Sox needed to bring back David Ortiz.

    Despite being plagued by injuries for the last half of the season, in the 90 games he did play in, Ortiz posted his best statistics since 2007.

    His batting line was .318/.415/.611/1.026 with 23 home runs and 60 RBI. To put that in perspective, had he remained healthy and played his typical 145 or so games, Ortiz would likely have finished with 32 home runs and 83 RBI (my projections).

    Furthermore, bringing back Ortiz for two years and $26 million helps the Red Sox rebuild this franchise with one of the most beloved members of the team in place to act as a guiding voice for the younger players.

    Ortiz is, after all, the epitome of a good clubhouse guy.

6. Edwin Jackson: Chicago Cubs

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    Edwin Jackson helped the Washington Nationals last season as part of arguably the most dominant pitching staff in the league.

    The team had the most wins in baseball with 98, the second lowest team ERA with a 3.33 and a 1.22 team WHIP, the second best in all of baseball as well.

    For his part, Jackson posted a 10-11 record with a 4.03 ERA and a 1.218 WHIP in 189.2 innings of work.

    While he isn't coveted as an ace, Jackson will provide a solid presence in the middle of the Cubs rotation for the next four years with an investment of $52 million.

5. Nick Swisher: Cleveland Indians

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    While he wasn't able to land a spot with any of his preferred teams—the Dodgers, Angels or Yankees—Nick Swisher managed to find a pretty good landing spot.

    Swisher was born in Columbus, Ohio, and will essentially be coming home to play for the Cleveland Indians.

    While the deal has not been made official yet, Swisher has agreed to terms with the Indians for the next four years and $56 million.

    When the Indians traded away Shin-Soo Choo to the Cincinnati Reds, they knew they would have a gap to fill.

    In Swisher, the Tribe have a lifetime .256 batter with a .828 OPS. He is more than capable of providing 20 or more home runs with 80 or more RBI per season.

4. B.J. Upton: Atlanta Braves

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    The Atlanta Braves knew that they would not be bringing back Michael Bourn.

    Obviously, they needed a quality replacement; hence, they went out and signed B.J. Upton to a five-year, $75.2 million contract.

    Upton is actually a year younger than Bourn, 28 versus 29, and is a significant offensive upgrade in terms of slugging.

    He owns a lifetime .422 SLG versus Bourn's .365 with the capability of hitting 25 home runs per season coupled with 30 or more doubles.

    In terms of speed, Upton can swipe 36 bags per season to Bourn's 39 or so.

    Effectively, the only area the Braves may see a drop-off is in terms of defense. Upton owns a 18.8 UZR lifetime, while Bourn has put up a 54.7.

    Nevertheless, the Braves should be just fine with Upton in place.

3. Anibal Sanchez: Detroit Tigers

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    Anibal Sanchez was considered the silver medal in terms of pitching this winter.

    However, when a team like the Detroit Tigers brings him back to the fold, it is somewhat of a game changer.

    That said, when Sanchez re-signed with the Tigers for five years and $80 million, it instantly made their rotation incredibly strong once again headed into the 2013 season.

    While he only posted a 4-6 record with Detroit, Sanchez did put up a 3.74 ERA in 12 games and 74.2 innings.

2. Josh Hamilton: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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    There isn't a whole lot of explanation necessary for this one.

    Josh Hamilton is a five-time All-Star, former American League MVP and three-time Silver Slugger award winner.

    On average, he'll drive in 35 home runs and 122 RBI.

    That type of production was just added to a batting lineup that already consists of Albert Pujols and Mike Trout.

    Realistically, the five-year, $133 million contract may seem a bit steep, but considering what the lineup is going to be, and the need for the Angels to make a splash after losing Zack Greinke, it is well worth it.

1. Zack Greinke: Los Angeles Dodgers

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    2013 is beginning to look like the battle for Los Angeles.

    The Dodgers went out and added Zack Greinke with a six-year, $147 million contract.

    That puts Greinke in the same rotation as Clayton Kershaw and has him backed up by arguably the most pitching depth in the majors.

    While yes, Greinke will only toe the rubber every fifth day, a pitcher can have a significant impact on the postseason hopes of a team.

    Looking at Greinke's lights-out style of play and considering the fact that he is a former American League Cy Young award winner pitching behind a former National League Cy Young award winner makes the Dodgers downright dangerous.


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