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Top Five Remaining Free Agents And Their Likely Destinations
Posted By Shawn Ferris On December 6, 2013 @ 1:18 PM In MLB | No Comments
If you saw Thursday night’s Texans-Jaguars game (although you most likely had something better to do), you might have seen the Texans rookie defensive back D.J. Swearinger making a fool of himself.
The third-round pick out of South Carolina–on one drive no less–committed a taunting penalty after a stop on 3rd down, then a defensive holding penalty on the Jaguars next 3rd down, lengthening their drive and single-handedly giving them three points.
When Swearinger finally lumbered over to the sideline, he predictably had (now former) head coach Gary Kubiak waiting for him. Kubiak had this to say, which the NFL Network cameras were nice enough to capture for us.
“What the #@&% are you doing?”
Well said, Gary.
That’s how I feel about the majority of the MLB signings this offseason.
Money talks, but so far this offseason, it’s said some questionable things. There’s been multiple big trades and free agent signings already, and it should only pick up during the MLB winter meetings that are set to start Monday in Orlando, FL.
Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Joe Nathan, Curtis Granderson, and Brian McCann among others have already found new homes, but there are plenty of team changing free agents left.
Let’s get to it.
1. Shin-Soo Choo OF
Choo has been a hot commodity this offseason and rightfully so, he was the game’s best lead-off hitter last season. Choo scored 107 runs, hit 21 homers, stole 20 bases, and posted an absurd .423 on-base percentage for the Reds in 2013 and has been linked to the Yankees, Rangers, Mariners, Tigers, and Red Sox.
The 31-year-old outfielder was reportedly looking for a deal in excess of $100 million, and factoring in the fact he’s a Scott Boras client and the deal that Jacoby Ellsbury received, there’s no reason to think he won’t get it.
Choo is limited defensively, and is best suited for a corner outfield spot, but his bat, speed, and ability to get on base make him a big time value.
As for likely destinations, I think we can safely assume the Mariners are out after spending close to a quarter billion dollars on Cano, and the Yankees seem like an unlikely fit after signing Ellsbury.
It’s only a matter of time before the Rangers, Tigers, or Red Sox step up, but the Tigers opened up a lot of financial space after trading Prince Fielder.
Likely destination: Detroit Tigers
2. Bronson Arroyo SP
Arroyo doesn’t have ace-like stuff. Never has, never will. But there’s something to be said about a guy who has thrown 200 innings in nine straight seasons and won at least 14 games in six of those seasons. Even at age-36, Arroyo has plenty of value as a consistent, middle-to-back end starter in MLB and is being treated as such.
The right-hander could be useful for a lot of teams, but has been linked recently to the Orioles, Phillies, Twins, Giants, Dodgers, Angels, and Mets. As for his price range, if Scott Feldman can get three-years, $30 million, there’s no reason to think Arroyo won’t get at least that from a starting pitcher hungry team.
As for his likely landing spot, I think we can safely count the Twins, Dodgers, and Angels out at this point unless something else surfaces. Look for the Orioles and Phillies to make a strong push during this upcoming week’s winter meetings, but my money is on a Dodgers team looking for a reliable guy in the wake of Ricky Nolasco’s departure.
Likely destination: Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Stephen Drew SS
After predictably declining the Red Sox’ qualifying offer, Drew was seemingly drawing interest from everywhere and it seemed it would be just a matter of time before he signed. Then Scott Boras labeled him a top-five shortstop, asked for a ridiculous amount of money (weird I know) and everyone seemed to scatter away like cockroaches and it’s been quiet ever since.
Don’t get me wrong, Drew is a good player–his 162 game averages are near 16HR and 72RBI and he plays great defense–but he’s not an elite player in the way Boras has presented him.
As far as potential suitors, Drew has been linked to the Yankees, Mets, Diamondbacks, and Red Sox, but I just can’t see the Yankees making him a priority with all their other signing and Derek Jeter there.
The Red Sox have had a continuing dialogue with Drew, he doesn’t make much sense with Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks already on the left side of the infield so it would take a very team-friendly deal to sign there.
It looks like the Mets would be a nice fit, they have money to spend and a need for a shortstop, but there’s still plenty of time for a dark horse team to step up.
Likely destination: New York Mets
4. Nelson Cruz OF
There is still a lot of big-name outfielders available, and Cruz is no exception. Cruz has been linked to the Mets, Yankees, Orioles, and A’s. The 33-year-old hit 27 HR and drove in 76 RBI in just 109 games in a suspension-shortened season and is currently looking for a deal in the ballpark of four years, $75 million.
However, he is a liability in the OF, has a recent PED suspension, and at 33-years-old a two or three year deal is a much more likely scenario.
So where does he end up? My thinking is he’ll be one of the last guys to sign, and will be a last resort for teams that missed out on Beltran and Choo.
Likely destination: Baltimore Orioles
5. Masahiro Tanaka SP
There isn’t a certainty among MLB officials that Tanaka will even become available this offseason because of a breakdown in the posting system, but if he is, he’s the number one arm left on the market with reportedly a Yu Darvish-type impact.
Equipped with a lively fastball and a plus split-finger reminiscent of Kuroda and Iwakuma, the 25-year-old has received interest from the Cubs, Yankees, Tigers, and Phillies. Now it’s just the matter of the posting fees and an overall investment of over $125 million for the talented right-hander.
No big deal right?
Likely destination: Chicago Cubs (if available)
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