The World Series is over. The 2011 season is over. But now it’s time for the craziest time in baseball – the silly season.
Free agency gets under way tomorrow. It is a time of year when every GM, every team, and every fan can dream. Maybe we can get Pujols! Maybe we can get Fielder! Yay! World Series 2012!
Well, things are a little bit different this year, as the top name in the free agent class has already come off the board. I’m not talking about Pujols. I’m not talking about Sabathia. I’m not talking about Fielder, Wilson, or Reyes.
No – I’m talking about the one and only…
The 3B / 1B / LF / DH / Bench player had his option picked up by the Jays, meaning him and his “30 HR potential” will back in Toronto. Get ready for another season of 500 Level Fan love and hate Eddie!
For real though – with the free agency period set to begin tomorrow I thought I’d rekindle last year’s free agent prediction column and take a look at the top 10 MLB free agents (as determined by MLB.com’s Free Agent Frenzy game) and tell my loyal readers where they’ll sign.
As an aside, last year I was right about 4 of the 12 FA’s, so please don’t lay down any money on these picks…
The “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” Division
2011: Cardinals, 2012: Cardinals
The greatest hitter of his generation might be interested in testing the market, but let’s be honest – he’ll be staying put. He is on the verge of setting all kinds of Cardinals franchise records, loves the city, is loved by the fans, has his foundation in St. Louis, and is fresh of his second World Series title with the Cards. Somebody will have to offer him 10 years and $300-million to persuade him to leave, and since Albert will be 32 in January, I can’t see any team biting. It’ll still cost them a ton, but St. Louis keeps him.
2011: Padres, 2012: Padres
It doesn’t really seem to make any sense for a rebuilding team with a small payroll to commit upwards of $8-million + on a 34-year old closer, but I think that is exactly what San Diego will do. Not only does Bell love the city, but odds are that he will take a bit of a hometown discount to stay with San Diego. If the Padres can sign him to a multi-year deal then it just might end up making the most sense in the world – come the trading deadline they will be armed with a reasonably cheap, three time All-Star closer with one year left on his deal. That could be worth a boatload of prospects.
The “I Guess I’ll Stay” Division
2011: Red Sox, 2012: Red Sox
If Theo Epstein and Terry Francona were still around, I think that Jonathan “The Self Cleaning Anus” Papelbon would be gone. But those guys are gone, and I would expect the new front office to try and keep as much of the 2011 foundation intact as possible. Which means that even though Daniel Bard might be able to step in and take over the closers chair, SCA stays.
2011: Mets / Giants, 2011: Giants
He’s aging, he’s injury prone, and
his defense isn’t as great as it once was. All of that screams a move to the AL to become a DH. But one thing – Beltran wants no part of that, and we all saw how much success Adam Dunn had with that transition last year. Instead, I see him staying put in San Fran. The Giants are desperate for offense, and he performed well there in his 42 game tryout at the end of last season (.920 OPS).
2011: Phillies, 2012: Phillies
He’ll be 33 in a few weeks, he’s being going downhill both offensively and defensively in recent years, and he wants a 5-year deal. I don’t think he gets that. But I also don’t think he goes anywhere. At the end of the day, Rollins is a career Phillie, and still considered part of the dangerous (albeit aging) Philadelphia core who want to win another title together. He stays.
The Logical Train of Thought Division
2011: Red Sox, 2012: Blue Jays
Logic: I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’m buying the media hype about Ortiz joining the Jays. Why? Because it actually makes sense. The Jays could use a better, more permanent DH, especially now that Encarnacion is going to more of a utility player. Ortiz has hinted he wants out of Boston. He is also very close with Jose Bautista. Maybe a fit? (Then again, Manny Ramirez to Toronto made sense as well last year…oops).
2011: Rangers, 2012: Angels
Logic: Wilson is the strongest pitcher on the market, but proved that he is clearly not an ace with his disastrous post-season. He will be asking for ace type money however, which puts him out of range of many teams. Though many might think the Yankees make the most sense, they really need a number two type starter, not an A.J. Burnett clone. The Angels were widely grilled for their terrible offseason last year, and having Wilson slot in behind Haren and Weaver would take the pressure off him a bit. Angels win.
The “I Have Absolutely No Idea” Division
2011: Cubs, 2012: Marlins
Ramirez declined his side of a mutual option, meaning he is available to test the open market. Though the 3B is aging (he’ll turn 34 in 2012), he is still a powerful and productive third baseman, which is good news for him in a thin market. So why the Marlins? Two reasons really: 1) they are moving to a new stadium and have some money to spend, and 2) they don’t have a third baseman. Match made in heaven.
2011: Mets, 2012: Nationals
Washington is a team on the rise, with Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper, and Drew Storen. They are a team that has shown they are not afraid to spend, no matter how wise or unwise the amount (see Werth, Jayson). And they are a team with a starting shortstop that hit .253 with 8 HR. Reyes would likely get overpaid and get to stay in the NL East. Why not?
2011: Brewers, 2012: Cubs
To be honest I have absolutely no idea where Prince will end up. The Dodgers? The Mariners? Florida? Toronto? With a new GM with a history of winning, with (likely) Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena coming off the books, and with lots of money to spend in a large market, the Cubs seem like as good a guess as any…