Predicting the Top 20 Free Agents

Where will Josh Hamilton call home in 2013?

Now that the World Series is over, everyone’s favorite guessing game has begun: Free Agency.

This year’s free agent class is different from years past in that there really only are 2 super stars (Greinke and Hamilton) in this class, and one of them (Hamilton) comes with quite a few question marks. Despite the obvious weakness at the top, this year’s class makes up for it with its incredible depth.

So, I’m going to try to conquer the task of predicting where the top 20 free agents will land. I know I’m probably not even likely to get 50% correct, but hey, it’s worth trying.

*For the purpose of this exercise, I am going to use Keith Law’s top 50 free agent list.*

1. Zack Greinke

Position: SP                    2012 Team: Brewers/Angels                                 

Predicted 2013 Team: Angels

Now that the Angels have traded Ervin Santana, and let Dan Haren walk, they appear to be all in on Greinke. With his strong second half in Anaheim, and a pile of cash waiting for him, the Angels look like the favorite right now. I still wouldn’t rule out teams like the Rangers and Red Sox, each of whom could use a starting pitcher, and have the finances to sign him.

2. BJ Upton

Position: CF                   2012 Team: Rays            

Predicted 2013 Team: Braves

Upton is pretty hard to predict, as this year’s free agent crop is flush with center fielders. The Nationals would be a good fit, but I see Bourn ending up there, so that’s out of the question. The Red Sox and Phillies could also fit, but I think Upton will end up taking over for Bourn in Atlanta.

3. Josh Hamilton

Position: OF                    2012 Team: Rangers                                 

Predicted 2013 Team: Mystery Team

Hamilton may be the most difficult player on the market this year to predict. He could end up in any number of outfields next year, it just depends on who is willing to pay. The Red Sox, Giants, Mariners, Brewers, and Rangers are probably the front-runners right now. But just like Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder last year, I’ll place my bet on the mystery team.

4. Michael Bourn

Position: CF                       2012 Team: Braves                                   

Predicted 2013 Team: Nationals

The Nationals have lacked an All-Star caliber center fielder since Marquis Grissom in their Montreal days.  Bourn’s combination of defense and speed is exactly what Washington could use at the top of their lineup. Other fits include the Braves, Phillies, Giants, and Rangers

5. Hiroki Kuroda

Position: SP                    2012 Team: Yankees                                

Predicted 2013 Team: Yankees

Kuroda’s pricetag and willingness to play in only a few selected markets, make him a fairly likely candidate to end up back with the Yankees. The Angels and Dodgers are also strong fits, but New York has the upper hand at the moment.

6. Kyle Lohse

Position: SP                    2012 Team: Cardinals                                   

Predicted 2013 Team: Dodgers

Wherever he goes, Lohse is likely to be overpaid. He is a fit for almost any team needing a starter, but his price tag may scare some teams off. I think the Dodgers, because of their willingness to overpay, are a strong candidate along with Kansas City, who is in need of rotation help and is in close proximity to St. Louis.

7. Dan Haren

Position: SP                    2012 Team: Angels                                   

Predicted 2013 Team: Red Sox

Considering his upside, Haren could be a great bargain this offseason. The Angels reluctance to keep him does make me worry about his medicals, but even if he repeats last years performance, he is a valuable rotation candidate. Quite a few teams will be in play on him.

8. Edwin Jackson

Position: SP                    2012 Team: Nationals                                

Predicted 2013 Team: Blue Jays

Jackson will likely get the first multiyear deal of his career this winter, the only matter is from who. As is the case with Haren, quite a few teams will likely be interested in him. After suffering many hits from the injury bug last season, the Blue Jays will be in the market for a starter such as Jackson, and they have the money to sign him.

9. Anibal Sanchez

Position: SP                   2012 Team: Marlins/Tigers                                   

Predicted 2013 Team: Tigers

Sanchez was pretty good in his run with Detroit, and the Tigers would likely want him back if they want to make a bid at the World Series again next year. I could also see him ending up with the Mariners, Angels, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays, or Rangers.

10. Nick Swisher

Position: OF                    2012 Team: Yankees                                  

Predicted 2013 Team: Red Sox

Any team with a hole in the outfield should be in on him. The Red Sox, Giants, Mariners, and Orioles are among his best fits, and with Boston’s financial surplus, he could end up there.

11. Ryan Dempster

Position: SP                    2012 Team: Cubs/Rangers                                  

Predicted 2013 Team: Brewers

Milwaukee is losing Shaun Marcum, and will be in the market for a veteran starter to replace him. Aside from this year’s half season detour to Texas, Dempster has played every year since 2002 in the NL Central, and family will almost certainly be a factor here.

12. Mariano Rivera

Position: RP                    2012 Team: Yankees                                   

Predicted 2013 Team: Yankees

This one isn’t that hard to predict, as Rivera has only ever played for the Yankees, and they will welcome him back in a heart beat.

13. Mike Napoli

Position: C/1B/DH         2012 Team: Rangers                                   

Predicted 2013 Team: Rangers

His value is down after a somewhat disappointing 2012, and there aren’t many teams in the market for catching, especially at Napoli’s price tag. That leads me to believe he may be back with Texas on a one year deal if he can’t find a long-term fit.

14. Rafael Soriano

Position: RP                    2012 Team: Yankees                                 

Predicted 2013 Team: Tigers

Soriano’s high pricetag and questionable makeup are bound to scare off some teams. Any team that signs him also has to give up their 1st round pick, making his choices limited. The Tigers and Yankees are probably the only 2 teams who can afford him that actually might want him. With Rivera back in New York and Valverde gone in Detroit, the Tigers seem to be the optimal destination.

15. A.J. Pierzynski

Position: C                     2012 Team: White Sox                               

Predicted 2013 Team: White Sox

Pierzynski is a lot like Rivera, in that it is a near lock he stays in Chicago. Hard to imagine them not taking him back.

16. Adam Laroche

Position: 1B                    2012 Team: Nationals                                   

Predicted 2013 Team: Mariners

It’s hard to tell if Laroche can maintain his strong 2012 season, but either way there will be a strong market for the first baseman. The Red Sox, Orioles and Nationals are among the teams that will likely be in play, but I think he ends up in Seattle. The Mariners are moving their fences in to attract more free agent hitters, and with this years weak market and Justin Smoak’s incumbency at first base, Laroche could be an ideal guinea pig candidate for them.

 17. Melky Cabrera

Position: LF                     2012 Team: Giants                                   

Predicted 2013 Team: Red Sox

Due to his positive drug test, Cabrera is likely to be receiving a much lesser contract than what he was in line for before the suspension. There is a good chance he takes a one year deal to prove that 2012 was not a fluke, and Boston would be a good fit for that as they try to bridge the gap to their younger players such as Jackie Bradley jr. I could also see the Rays, among other teams, taking a chance on him.

18. Torii Hunter

Position: RF                    2012 Team: Angels                                  

Predicted 2013 Team: Yankees

Jerry Dipoto has shown little interest in bringing back the aging right fielder, leaving the Yankees, Rangers, and Dodgers as the only other teams he has said he is willing to play for. The Yankees in particular are likely losing Ichiro and Nick Swisher, creating a hole in their outfield. And with their pool of money, they could easily sign him to the high salaried 1 or 2 year deal he is looking for.

19. Angel Pagan

Position: CF                    2012 Team: Giants                                  

Predicted 2013 Team: Giants

Pagan’s October showcase has likely upped his value, and put him on the radar for every team in need of an outfielder. I’m not really sure how to judge his market right now, so I’ll say he stays with the team that knows him best: the Giants.

20. Ryan Madson

Position: RP                    2012 Team: Reds                                   

Predicted 2013 Team: Angels

Coming off a lost year, Madson is going to be a strong value candidate for any team looking for a late innings reliever. The Angels especially will be in need of bullpen help, and will likely take a flyer on Madson, even if it’s just a one year deal to regain value.

You can follow Justin Millar on twitter at @justinmillar1, or email him at Comment below to join the discussion.

Posted on November 8, 2012, in featured. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Spot on with this write-up, I actually believe this website needs much more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the information!

  1. Pingback: Free Agent Fit: Ryan Madson

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