2014 MLB Free Agency: Hitting: What’s Out There For Your Team

Another season has finished and with only ten teams having successful, playoff-bound seasons, it is time for the other 20 teams to look forward to the 2014 season. After 162 games, you probably have a pretty good idea of what your team needs. Below, you’ll find a list of upcoming free agents. Who would you like your team to sign? Comment away!!!

CanoTop Tier Talents

Robinson Cano, 2B, 31: Although ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that Cano wants a ten-year, $305 million deal, it would seem nearly impossible for the middle infielder to get anything close to that, even when considering all of the television money coming in for clubs. How far are the Dodgers willing to go over the luxury tax threshold? Are the Angels willing to shell out more money to 30-plus year olds after watching Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols not live up to expectations? Everyone knows that the Yankees are trying to slim down their payroll…it just doesn’t seem likely. After watching Cano hit like a corner outfielder while playing second base over the last nine years, he is clearly the top talent available in the entire free agency market.

Shin-Soo Choo, OF, 31: Choo showed his worth by getting on base exactly 300 times in the 2013 season (162 hits,  112 walks, and 26 HBP) while reaching the 20 home run/20 stolen base level for the third time in his career, helping solidify a Cincinnati lineup that had been seeking a strong leadoff hitter for what seems like decades. He proved that he was at least capable of handling center field in Cincinnati, but his defensive metrics have been pretty miserable over his entire career wherever he plays, although, Choo can make up for it at times with his strong arm. Shin-Soo Choo will be highly coveted by outfield-needy clubs this offseason and those clubs will likely get several solid seasons out of the South Korean-born, on-base machine.

Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, 30: Ellsbury had a fine season, leading MLB in stolen bases (52) while being a tremendous defensive center fielder. He will likely get paid huge dollars for his 2011 season (32 HR, 105 RBI, .928 OPS), even though his next best season was the 2013 season, when he hit nine home runs, drove in 53 runs, and posted a .781 OPS. More Michael Bourn than Matt Kemp, Ellsbury will be an asset due to his speed and defense as a strong outfield option, and while he doesn’t have the on-base skills that Choo possesses, he is a fine leadoff hitter.

Brian McCann, C, 30: McCann is going to be a rich, rich man. With the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Texas Rangers seeking help at catcher, he’ll have plenty of suitors. After reaching 20 home runs for the seventh time in eight full seasons despite playing in just 102 games, McCann has proven that his shoulder woes are behind him and that he can continue to be an offensive asset to a club going forward. Still pretty weak behind the dish (24-percent caught stealing this season and the same for his career), McCann’s bat will carry him and utilizing him in the American League at DH will do wonders for his career and whoever signs him.

McCannBest Available Catchers

McCann; John Buck, 33; Dioner Navarro, 30; A.J. Pierzynski, 37; Carlos Ruiz, 35; Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 29; Geovany Soto, 31;

There are some solid options available at catcher, here. McCann is obviously the top option with Saltalamacchia as the next best option. Navarro seems to have been around forever and the Cubs got a lot out of him this season while using him sparingly, posting an .856 OPS and 13 home runs over just 266 plate appearances, making him a somewhat attractive, cheaper option. The rest offer solid veteran depth, which has tremendous value with so many good young catchers in the league.

AbreuBest Available Corner Infielders

Jose Dariel Abreu, 27; Corey Hart, 32; Mike Napoli, 32; James Loney, 30; Kendrys Morales, 30; Justin Morneau, 33; Mike Morse, 32; Eric Chavez, 36; Mark Reynolds, 30; Michael Young, 37;

Abreu is the highly-coveted Cuban defector, full of power and mystique, who will likely get a Yasiel Puig-like contract, maybe better. Several solid veterans are available who can handle first base, many of them (Hart, Napoli, and Morneau, in particular) having some injury concerns. With the right type of deal, any of these players could provide tremendous value to a club seeking leadership, while having enough talent remaining to be productive as platoon options, starters, or multi-position use (1B/DH primarily).

Best Available Middle Infielders

Cano; Stephen Drew, 31; Rafael Furcal, 36; Omar Infante, 32; Kelly Johnson, 32; Jhonny Peralta, 32; Brian Roberts, 36; Brendan Ryan, 32;

Cano is the true treat here, but former All-Star talents exist, although several of them have been and will continue to be risky due to injury histories. Like many of the corner infielders that are available this winter, there are several players who could provide solid production, but it could come with a limited role as a platoon player while providing the old phantom value that comes with being a strong veteran with clubhouse presence.

Choo3Best Available Outfielders

Carlos Beltran, 37; Marlon Byrd, 36; Choo; Nelson Cruz, 33; Rajai Davis, 33; Ellsbury; Jeff Francoeur, 30; Curtis Granderson, 33; Corey Hart, 32; Raul Ibanez, 42; Mike Morse, 32; Juan Pierre, 36; Grady Sizemore, 31; Delmon Young, 28;

There could be tremendous value in the outfield this winter, as teams will be able to get aging veterans like Ibanez (if he comes back), Beltran, or Byrd, all having excellent 2013 seasons, at an affordable, short-term deal. At the same time, Cruz, Granderson, Hart, and Young could post numbers that would make them equals to the top players available (Choo and Ellsbury) if everything breaks right.


Top Non-Tendered Talent

WilsonNovember 30 is the last day to offer a contract to arbitration-eligible players, and if team’s are uninterested in doing so, they are non-tendered, allowing those players to hit free agency. There are several names that hit free agency yesterday that could help out your favorite team. Let’s take a look at those top, new free agents.

Brian Wilson, RHP

Wilson is just 30 years old and was one of the top closers in baseball from 2008 to 2011, compiling 163 saves over four seasons. In late 2011, Wilson started having elbow issues, then he made just two appearances in 2012 due to Tommy John surgery. He is expected to be ready to go in spring training, but he may have to settle for a one-year deal, similar to Ryan Madson with the Angels, to show he is fully recovered and capable of regaining form.

Jair Jurrjens, RHP

Jurrjens will only be 27 years old on Opening Day in 2013 and he already has 53 wins and 750 innings under his belt; however, it’s the wins and innings he doesn’t have that are the concern with him. He made $5.5 million in 2012 in his second year of arbitration, and the Braves let him go after they were unable to trade him, and with good reason, his shoulder was a great concern. Jurrjens shoulder issues could be overblown, as they started in August of 2007, but then in 2008 and 2009, Jurrjens went 27-20 with a 3.10 ERA over 403.1 innings. He had issues with tightness and inflammation, once again, in February of 2010, but it was his knee issues, which needed surgery, that caused him to miss starts. Jurrjens rebounded to a 13-6 record and 2.96 ERA in 2011, only to miss more starts due to his knee. If Jurrjens can prove to teams that it is his knee that was of concern and not his shoulder, I don’t see why he shouldn’t have a line of teams knocking at his door while you’re reading this.

Rafael Perez, LHP

He’s breathing and he is left-handed, but more than that, Perez has been a very, very effective relief pitcher for a number of seasons. Perez had one really, really bad season, 2009, when he posted a 7.31 ERA over 54 games and 48 innings, but if you look at the rest of his career, Perez has a 3.01 ERA over 284 games and 281 innings. He missed 146 games due to a shoulder ailment, which he didn’t have surgery on until late September, so team’s may be hesitant to guarantee him much. An incentive-laden, one-year contract would be a good way for the lefty to get a job quickly.

reynoldsMark Reynolds, 1B/3B

Reynolds is an American League team’s dream. He can handle third base or first base, but not really play either well, while providing an incredible amount of right-handed power to the lineup. He also will frustrate teams with his tremendous number of strikeouts, while posting a batting average near the Mendoza-line every season. He is what he is, as Reynolds has been this player since 2007. Reynolds doesn’t even turn 30 years old unti August of 2013 and he has compiled 181 home runs and a career .807 OPS in his six seasons. He has also struck out in 32.6 percent of his career at-bats. With his ability to sit in the middle of an order to provide power as a first baseman, third baseman, or designated hitter, Reynolds will interest several clubs.

Brandon Snyder, 1B/OF

Snyder was non-tendered by the Texas Rangers and the 26-year-old could be very valuable for the right team. He just turned 26 and Snyder only has 98 career at-bats, but he posted a .275/.331/.431 line over six seasons in the minors. He has more doubles power than home run power, having hit 14 in 2011 in Triple-A as a career high, but he would be a solid, affordable platoon partner for a club.

Geovany Soto, Catcher

Soto will be turning 30 in January and he will be very popular in coming days. After hitting .264/.370/.466 with 73 doubles and 51 home runs from 2008 to 2010, Soto has hit just .214/.297/.381 with 38 doubles and 28 home runs the last two seasons. Soto had shoulder surgery in September of 2010, so the fall in productivity could be related. Soto wasn’t ever above average behind the plate, but teams seem to be picking on his arm the last two seasons, stealing 150 bases while getting caught just 57 times (28 percent, which is league average). He’ll have plenty of suitors as a young, power hitting catcher.

Mike Pelfrey, RHP

Pelfrey will be 29 years old in January and he is about as average as it gets as a starting pitcher. He’s had a couple of seasons with an ERA around 3.70 and a few hovering around 5.00. Pelfrey has statistical averages that put him at around 200 innings per season with an ERA of 4.36, so he would be a solid filler in the back-end of a rotation. The 6’7″ right-hander had Tommy John surgery in May of 2012, so he will probably be getting an incentive-based, one-year contract to show that he has recovered. He may not be ready for the start of the season due to the 12 to 18 month recovery time for the elbow surgery.

Tom Gorzelanny, LHP

After posting a 2.88 ERA for the Nationals in 2012, it was surprising to see Gorzelanny’s name on the non-tender list. It is possible that his experience as a starter in his career would drive up his arbitration costs, although he made just one start in 2012, after making $3 million for Washington last season. Gorzelanny has proven himself as a valuable left-handed reliever, posting a 3.32 ERA over 82 games and 114 innings, with a 1.25 WHIP. When you look at those numbers, you can see why teams would jump at the opportunity to sign the 30-year-old southpaw; however, if a team is looking at him as a starter, they may want to look at his 4.61 ERA over 111 starts and 621 innings, with a 1.48 WHIP. Gorzelanny would do better for himself if he locks himself in as a solid, left-handed relief pitcher, and teams should only view him as such.

Ben Francisco, OF

Francisco is a platoon outfielder, and he has been that player for his entire career to every team that he has played for, outside of the Cleveland Indians. Unfortunately, he really isn’t a platoon player. Francisco has a career .260/.324/.430 line against right-handers and a .252/.329/.414 line against left-handers. Francisco, at 31, is nothing more than a 25th man. He can play left and right field and he can provide a little bit of pop, a little bit of speed, and a little bit of patience at the plate. He keeps getting chances and he keeps getting platoon roles, but I’m not sure that he is any better than what some minor league free agent types could do if given around 200 at-bats per season. Teams may still be interested in him, though, for whatever reason.

StewartIan Stewart, 3B

Stewart turns just 28 in April, which is shocking considering it feels like he has been around forever, having received his first taste of the majors in 2007. Stewart was once one of the most promising, having been rated as high as No. 4 by Baseball America, prior to the 2005 season. That sort of thing happens when a guy hits 30 home runs as a 19-year-old in Low-A. Stewart has even had some success at the big league level, as he hit 53 home runs and drove in 172 runs between 2008 and 2010. Stewart’s .246/.346/.454 line over that time wasn’t fantastic, but the Rockies gave up on him in 2011 after he posted a .156/.243/.221 line. He didn’t do much better for the Chicago Cubs in 2012, but he had wrist issues, which he had surgery on in July of 2012, which dated back to August of 2011, when Stewart was in Triple-A with the Rockies. Still very young, a healthy Stewart deserves another opportunity. He has proven capable of hitting major league pitching in the past and he will be very affordable. It’s unfortunate that he may become a career backup due to one miserable season and some injuries.

Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Catchers

I’ll be compiling lists of the top players at each position for 2012 Fantasy Baseball in the coming weeks.  Overall rankings will consist of their value in a points format, earning points for each H, R, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, basically a formula of Total Bases + RBI + Runs = Total Value.  I’ll begin with catchers.  You’ll see their stats for 2011 below their names with 2012 Projections in ITALICS

1. Mike Napoli, Texas

.320/.414/.631, 25 2B, 30 HR, 75 RBI, 85/58 K/BB in 369 AB

.295/.389/.560, 30 2B, 27 HR, 81 RBI, 101/68 K/BB in 446 AB

Napoli has always had power but he sat so often for the AMAZING Jeff Mathis on the Angels that he never got a chance to truly breakout.  He finally got a chance and became a near-MVP talent in Texas in 2011.  He may not repeat the AVG, but the power is real, especially in that lineup and ballpark.

2. Carlos Santana, Cleveland

.239/.351/.457, 35 2B, 27 HR, 79 RBI, 133/97 K/BB in 552 AB

.279/.401/.531, 31 2B, 33 HR, 91 RBI, 123/101 K/BB in 549 AB

I may be higher on Santana than most, but he’ll make more contact in 2012 and he posted these numbers in his first full season.  The sky is the limit and the value in Santana is that he plays 1B and DH when he isn’t behind the plate.

3. Alex Avila, Detroit

.295/.389/.506, 33 2B, 19 HR, 82 RBI, 131/73 K/BB in 464 AB

.286/.391/.511, 35 2B, 21 HR, 86 RBI, 124/76 K/BB in 471 AB

4. Yadier Molina, St. Louis

.305/.349/.465, 32 2B, 16 HR, 65 RBI, 44/33 K/BB in 475 AB

.301/.342/.437, 29 2B, 14 HR, 63 RBI, 46/36 K/BB in 461 AB

5. Buster Posey, San Francisco

.311/.374/.521, 31 2B, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 83/65 K/BB in 476 AB

We all know about his injury last year, but reports show he is ready.  His 2010 stats were: .305/.357/.505, 23 2B, 18 HR, 67 RBI, 55/30 K/BB in 406 AB.  Expect the same, maybe more.

6. Miguel Montero, Arizona

.282/.351/.469, 36 2B, 18 HR, 86 RBI, 97/47 K/BB in 493 AB

.276/.349/.471, 33 2B, 20 HR, 84 RBI, 101/56 K/BB in 489 AB

7. Brian McCann, Atlanta

.270/.351/466, 19 2B, 24 HR, 71 RBI, 89/57 K/BB in 466 AB

.281/.363/.485, 21 2B, 22 HR, 79 RBI, 81/71 K/BB in 483 AB

8. Matt Wieters, Baltimore

.262/.328/.450, 28 2B, 22 HR, 68 RBI, 84/48 K/BB in 500 AB

.276/.339/.490, 29 2B, 27 HR, 84 RBI, 97/61 K/BB in 506 AB

9. Joe Mauer, Minnesota

.287/.360/.368, 15 2B, 3 HR, 30 RBI, 38/32 K/BB in 296 AB

.313/.394/.411, 31 2B, 8 HR, 71 RBI, 79/76 K/BB in 496 AB

It’s well documented about Mauer’s knee issues last season.  I can see him taking a Carlos Santana/Victor Martinez approach to stay in the lineup.  He won’t ever come close to his 2009 power outburst, but he can have value due to the ability to drive the ball in the gaps of Target Field.

10. Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati

.180/.226/.360, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 10/3 K/BB in 50 AB

.265/.329/.449, 18 2B, 14 HR, 59 RBI, 72/21 K/BB in 374 AB

Mesoraco will be a top catcher once he isn’t sharing the position.  He’s capable of hitting 15 homers in about 350 AB, and will settle into the Cincinnati lineup near Votto and Bruce to see plenty of good pitches.  He’s someone to watch in Keeper Leagues, but he’ll have value right away.

11. Geovany Soto, Chicago (N.L.)

.228/.310/.411, 26 2B, 17 HR, 54 RBI, 124/45 K/BB in 421 AB

.268/.335/.445, 28 2B, 23 HR, 73 RBI, 147/56 K/BB in 447 AB

Shoulder woes have sapped Soto’s value and possibly led to some offensive struggles, particularly with strikeouts, in 2011.  He may become a trade chip for the rebuilding Cubs in 2012, but he needs to build his value and show that he is healthy.  He can still hit, but can he do it consistently?

12. Jonathan LuCroy, Milwaukee

.265/.313/.391, 16 2B, 12 HR, 59 RBI, 99/29 K/BB in 430 AB

.269/.318/.401, 21 2B, 13 HR, 54 RBI, 112/41 K/BB in 456 AB

13. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston

.235/.288/.450, 23 2B, 16 HR, 56 RBI, 119/24 K/BB in 358 AB

.251/.301/.450, 27 2B, 19 HR, 62 RBI, 126/38 K/BB in 438 AB

It wasn’t always pretty last year for “Salty,” but he shows enough power and plays in the right lineup, so he has value.  He has always been huge and awkward behind the plate, but the Red Sox only have Ryan Lavarnway ready, and he isn’t ready defensively, and may never be ready defensively, to steal time from him.

14. J.P. Arencibia, Toronto

.219/.282/.438, 20 2B, 23 HR, 78 RBI, 133/36 K/BB in 443 AB

.231/.313/.479, 25 2B, 24 HR, 83 RBI, 145/31 K/BB in 471 AB

Arencibia doesn’t have a whole lot of time to hold down this job.  If he doesn’t show that he can make consistent contact in 2012, he may lose time to Travis d’Arnaud really soon.  Even being young, he may find himself as trade bait or moved off of the position.  We’ll see if that is enough motivation for him.

15. Russell Martin, New York (A.L.)

.237/.324/.408, 17 2B, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 81/50 K/BB in 417 AB

.249/.337/.415, 19 2B, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 80/61 K/BB in 443 AB

16. Wilson Ramos, Washington

.267/.334/.445, 22 2B, 15 HR, 52 RBI, 76/38 K/BB in 389 AB

.271/.339/.456, 24 2B, 19 HR, 68 RBI, 91/49 K/BB in 467 AB

17. Chris Ianetta, Los Angeles (A.L.)

.238/.370/.414, 17 2B, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 89/70 K/BB in 345 AB

.242/.359/.408, 19 2B, 12 HR, 57 RBI, 91/76 K/BB in 453 AB

18. Kurt Suzuki, Oakland

.237/.301/.385, 26 2B, 14 HR, 44 RBI, 64/38 K/BB in 460 AB

.229/.291/.376, 21 2B, 10 HR, 38 RBI, 71/31 K/BB in 398 AB

19. Miguel Olivo, Seattle

.224/.253/.388, 19 2B, 19 HR, 62 RBI, 140/20 K/BB in 477 AB

.212/.239/.371, 17 2B, 12 HR, 39 RBI, 131/16 K/BB in 348 AB

20. John Buck, Miami

.227/.316/.367, 16 2B, 15 HR, 57 RBI, 115/54 K/BB in 466 AB

.234/.327/.381, 18 2B, 16 HR, 54 RBI, 111/58 K/BB in 439 AB


Travis d’Arnaud – TOR

Wilin Rosario – COL

Jesus Monter0 – SEA: He’d be a top 10 talent “IF” he gets Catcher Eligibility

Yasmani Grandal – SD

Christian Bethancourt – ATL

Sebastian Valle – PHI

Gary Sanchez – NY (A.L.)

Derek Norris – OAK

Andrew Susac – SF