Predicting the Top-50 Free Agents: 11-50
I had grandiose plans of posting each of these ten at a time for all of last week. And well, sometimes the best laid plans…..nonetheless, here are the remainder of my top-50 picks for the MLBTradeRumors contest.
You can still get
your own picks in between now and midnight, too.
Note: I have changed my Brian McCann pick from Texas to Boston, with the Geovany Soto signing.
Anyhow, here are my remaining picks, with brief reasoning:
11. Jimenez, Ubaldo – Yankees: Their depth chart on MLB.com lists Ivan Nova, and I think they’ll have a little dough to spend. Why not on one of the best starters on the market?
12. Beltran, Carlos- Tigers: I think Illitch and co. will do whatever it takes to win in the next few years. They need a left fielder, and on a team that’s already not exactly young, why not?
13. Granderson, Curtis – White Sox: He’s from Chicago, and this team needs a centerfielder. The Pale Hose are also somewhere between rebuilding and contention, and at least in my view will choose contention. Their farm isn’t good, either.
14. Drew, Stephen – Cardinals: I had originally pegged Jhonny Peralta to go to St. Louis, but I think Drew is such a good fit that it’s scary. The Cardinals had some of the very worst offensive production from short last year, and Drew can both hit and field quite well.
15. Saltalamacchia, Jarrod – White Sox: The White Sox have nobody at catcher. Nobody.
16. Kazmir, Scott – Astros: I think the Astros will spend a bit this offseason, and it’ll make sense to go for guys who may be buy-low candidates who are under-30. It’s weird to consider Kazmir a buy-low, but teams are still probably a bit worried about him not pitching well — or at all — in the years leading up to 2013.
17. Cruz, Nelson – Astros: I’m not convinced this is a great fit, but I don’t have a good read on where he’ll be wanted, and I don’t know what his market will look like either.
18. Infante, Omar – White Sox: Simply put, I think the Sox will trade Gordon Beckham. Infante is an adept defender with a solid enough bat. I’m now also realizing that I’m predicting a lot of players to the South Side. Oh well.
19. Nathan, Joe – Tigers: I’m not sure many teams will give him the two years he wants, but Illitch and Dave Dombrowski might be those guys. Related: I really hope he doesn’t go to the Yankees.
20. Nolasco, Ricky – Phillies: The Phillies had a surprisingly poor rotation last year, and only have Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee penned into the rotation at this exact second. Nolasco is a reliable innings eater who won’t cost a team a pick no matter where he signs.
21. Peralta, Jhonny – Mets: The Mets got nothing out of their collection of shortstops last year, and it remains to be seen what his market will look like after his Biogenesis suspension. I think he could end up in St. Louis if Drew falls through there, but nonetheless I don’t think Peralta’s market will be all that soft, either.
22. Colon, Bartolo – Yankees: I think this is a perfect marriage between a player and a team who both have narrow windows to deal with here. The Indians could be in play as well, with numerous starters leaving Cleveland this winter.
23. Arroyo, Bronson – Giants: It sounds as though the market for Arroyo will be robust this year, and that makes sense in a number of ways. Arroyo’s age (37 next Opening Day) should keep his pricetag relatively reasonable. His durability (nearly 2100 innings in the last decade) make him one of the more safe choices on the free agent market, too. He’s also coming out of a homer-happy stadium in Cincinatti, and a move to a more spacious stadium could prove beneficial for the grizzled veteran. All-told, it sounds like he could have a third of the league in on him at some point as he tries to decide. Don’t sleep on the Twins here, either.
24. Byrd, Marlon – Pirates: Byrd has experienced a career rejuvenation in the past year, and it sounds as though the Pirates would really like to have him back. But the budget is apparently limited in the Steel City — possibly not enough money to re-sign A.J. Burnett — so the club may be better suited to fill different holes with free agent money than right field — especially with the expectation that Gregory Polanco will hopefully be ready sooner rather than later.
25. Balfour, Grant – Yankees: Just logical deduction here; the Yankees need a closer and Balfour is a good one.
26. Benoit, Joaquin – Phillies: At his age, Benoit may do best to take a set-up job and just find the most money possible. If he holds out for a closer job AND money, he won’t find it in Philly, however. The Yankees or a re-up with the Tigers could be in the cards, then.
27. Feldman, Scott – Twins: Wholly uninspiring groundballer seems to fit the Twins’ MO over the past few years. They should aim higher, but may not. Lots of pitching-starved teams out there, so he’ll be in demand.
28. Morales, Kendrys – Angels: A reuninon could make sense if the Angels trade Mark Trumbo and make Albert Pujols a full-time DH. Those could be tough pills to swallow. Not a terribly high number of teams need first basemen/DH-types. The Twins or Rays come to mind, but he’d have to lower his financial demands for either of those clubs to jump into the fray.
29. Ruiz, Carlos – Rays: I think Chooch makes a ton of sense as a buy-low, and what team does better with defensive-minded players or buy-low types? A Phillies return makes sense, and there are also some rumblings about the Rockies for him to mentor the Baby Bull. I think I like the Rays best of those choices.
30. Johnson, Josh – Mets: Johnson works as a buy-low for pretty much everyone. I’m still of the opinion that teams will shy from him due to injury potential. Well, the Mets signed Marcum last year — didn’t work out — and seem to be willing to take those chances. He could literally have 20 teams interested, though.
31. Hudson, Tim – Red Sox: I think this boils down to the Sox trading John Lackey, or maybe even a younger guy like Clay Buchholz or Felix Doubront. Hudson — if healthy — is a pretty clear upgrade on two of those three, in my view.
32. Rodney, Fernando – Rockies: According to a recent Troy Renck column, it sounds as though the Rockies will look to the free agent market — even if they have to overpay — to shore up a bullpen that had the third-worst ERA among all teams last year. Rodney would be a good start, though his shaky proclivities might not endear him to as many teams as his skillset would otherwise draw.
33. Pierzynski, A.J. – Yankees: The catching carousel continues, as I think Pierzynski signs with the Bombers to be a bridge to Gary Sanchez. Chooch Ruiz would make sense here too. Pierzynski can still hit — somewhat — and has shown incredible durability over his career. Those things alone should secure him a one- or two-year deal with some decent coin.
34. Haren, Dan – Padres: Haren’s from California, and reportedly didn’t want to leave the West Coast when he and the Angels parted ways last year. In fact, Ken Rosenthal was told by a rival executive that he expected Haren to sign with the Friars last offseason. So why not?
35. Vargas, Jason – Astros: For some reason I’m just getting an Erik Bedard vibe here, and I don’t really know why. Vargas is a soft-tossing lefty, but he hasn’t been terrible and should have a few suitors. Don’t sleep on Baltimore.
36. Yoon, Suk-min – Japan: I fully admit I don’t have a good read on this situation. I know the Twins have interest, and that’d be my No. 1 pick among teams stateside.
37. Loney, James – Marlins: Very few teams will be in the market for a first baseman this year. To that end, I really have no idea where Loney will end up. I don’t think it’ll be with the Twins, as MLBTR predicted.
38. Hughes, Phil – Twins: Hughes’ flyball tendencies didn’t play well at new Yankee Stadium, but that should endear him to the spacious confines of Target Field. Hughes was an entirely different pitcher on the road. If not Minnesota, San Diego makes a lot of sense.
39. Hart, Corey – Brewers: Hart didn’t play all last year, and by all accounts it sounds like he desperately wants to return to the Crew. If that doesn’t happen, he should have a lot of offers. A lot of offers with incentives, though.
40. Mujica, Edward – Mets: The Mets bullpen was abysmal last year, and Mujica was an unheralded member of an amazingly good Cardinals unit. The Mets — or anyone not the Cards, Marlins, Padres, or Indians — would be Mujica’s sixth team in his eight-year career.
41. McLouth, Nate – Pirates: As you’ll see with a lot of these lower guys, I don’t really have a good reason. So hey, a reunion with the Pirates. Yah!
42. Uribe, Juan – Marlins: Uribe’s OPS+ in 2013 (117) is higher than the previous two years combined (56+50=106). He’s a pretty good third baseman, but I just don’t see a strong market for him. I think the best-case here is that he plays well and gets traded midseason.
43. Maholm, Paul – Orioles: The O’s had one of the worst rotation ERAs in all of baseball last year, and don’t really have any strong candidates returning to next year’s rotation — with the possible exception of Chris Tillman. The Twins could be an option here, too.
44. Smith, Joe – Rays: A soft-ish tossing sidearmer seems to be the perfect fit in Joe Maddon’s bullpen of misfit toys. Smith is solid, but shouldn’t require an insane deal to bring in.
45. Morneau, Justin – Rays: Morneau seems like the perfect reclamation project for the Rays. Other than that, not many teams need first basemen.
46. Crain, Jesse – Rockies: The Rockies are hot on the trail of just about every reliever, so why not Crain? Crain also makes sense in Texas (where he went to college, so maybe the Astros?) or who knows, maybe even back with the White Sox? It’ll be interesting to see what his price is after not pitching at all with the Rays after coming over at the trade deadline.
47. Wilson, Brian – Angels: Wilson is the perfect guy to push Frieri and stabilize an otherwise disappointing bullpen. Also: He’s a pitched a lot in California. (That probably isn’t all that relevant, though.)
48. Hammel, Jason – Mets: I truly don’t have a good read here. The Mets will certainly need back-end help this year.
49. Halladay, Roy – Blue Jays: It could make for a nice reunion/retirement tour. Same for the Phillies. I’d be stunned if he pitches for any non-contender in 2014.
50. Young, Chris – Cubs: He’ll need to get his career back on track, though he’s never really been much more than a decent offensive player. The Cubs can offer him that opportunity, with the trio of Brian Bogusevic, Junior Lake, and Nate Schierholtz currently penciled into the MLB.com depth chart for the club.
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