The end of the 2012 season means that the wildness of free agency is just around the corner – tomorrow in fact. As has become a custom on this site, I will once again stick my neck out on the line and try to predict where the top free agents will sign. If the last two years are any indication, I will be incredibly wrong.
Last year I only guessed two out of ten correct (Jimmy Rollins to the Phillies! C.J. Wilson to the Angels!! Woo!!!). The year before I nailed four out of twelve – though two of those were no brainers (Jeter and Rivera to re-sign with the Yankees). So, that means that overall I am a dazzling 6 for 22, batting .273. Embarrassing.
But this year could be worse. As is my tradition, I will once again be using the free agents listed on MLB.com’s Free Agent Frenzy game, and this year there doesn’t appear to be any easy picks. There are a total of 10 players listed, though I will only be guessing on 9, since the White Sox jumped the gun and re-signed Jake Peavy earlier in the week.
So sit back relax, and get ready to be impressed…
The “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” Division
2012: Angels, 2013: Angels
Greinke came over to the Angels from Milwaukee just before the trade deadline last season. In his first five starts in LA he was mediocre, once again bringing up questions about his mental makeup and his ability to pitch in a bigger market. But then everything clicked. In his final eight starts of the season he went 5-0, with a 2.04 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 50 K in 57.1 IP. The Angels have already shipped out Ervin Santana and appear to be on the verge of dealing Dan Haren, meaning they are likely to throw themselves fully behind the re-signing of Greinke.
2012: Giants, 2013: Giants
If Scott Rolen had not booted that ball in the tenth inning of Game 3 of the NLDS allowing the Giant to stay alive, and if the Reds had gone on to close out that series, my guess here would be different. But there was something magical about San Fran in October, and a big part of that was Angel Pagan. He didn’t put up crazy numbers, but they were solid (.778 OPS, 8 HR, 15 3B, 4.0 bWAR). Plus he helped them win the World Series, and generally speaking teams are reluctant to let guys walk away afterwards. He stays put.
The “I Guess I’ll Stay” Division
2012: Rangers, 2013: Rangers
Not a lot of confidence in this guess to be honest. The Rangers might be in the mood to shake things up a bit considering how badly last season ended. But I think they will shake things up by letting Josh Hamilton walk (see below), meaning they’ll have money to spare. Napoli put up an .812 OPS last season and was an All-Star, and I think he sticks around the Lone Star state to give Texas another shot at finally winning the World Series.
The Logical Train of Thought Division
2012: Braves, 2013: Reds
Logic: Bourn bat leadoff for the Braves last season, and hit .274 with a .348 OBP and 42 SB. Cincinnati won the NL Central last season and came within a run from making NLCS, despite their leadoff hitters batting .208 with a .254 OBP. That was only mere percentage points better than their pitcher’s spot. Adding Bourn makes a LOT of sense.
2012: Cardinals, 2013: Dodgers
Logic: Lohse had a career year last year with St. Louis, a year that, in comparison to the rest of his career, appears to an outlier. His agent is Scott Boras who is a master at making teams overpay for one good year. The Dodgers have a ton of money and have shown recently that they love to overpay for guys. A match made in heaven.
The “I Have Absolutely No Idea” Division
2012: Rangers, 2013: Red Sox
The most interesting free agent to hit the market in years (if not ever) had an inglorious end with the Rangers in October as he was booed off the field in the Wild Card round. Hamilton’s power and natural ability is just as well documented as his injury problems and addiction history, so there’s no telling what his contract might look like. The Red Sox are coming off a year in which they finished dead last, fired their manager, and cleaned out a ton of terrible contracts. They just might go ahead and start signing guys all over again, starting wtih a guy who can conceivably wrap 50 HR around Pesky’s pole.
2012: Yankees, 2013: Cubs
Swisher shouldn’t get the $100-million deal he is after (at least I hope not), but he will make a good payday. The Cubs need a lot of help, and wouldn’t it just seem fitting to see his stupid grin out near the RF bleachers in Wrigley Field?
2012: Rays, 2013: Phillies
The Rays have stuck by Upton through thick and thin, so it just seems fitting that now that he appears to have finally figured things out, he jumps ship. The Phillies are saddled down by a lot of bad contracts, but have a thin outfield now that Victorino and Pence are gone. Adding Upton might be what they need to reclaim the NL East crown.
2012: Tigers, 2013: Astros
Using the same logic that I used with Pagan: if the Tigers had won the World Series over San Fran, I think Young stays in Detroit. After all, he was the ALCS MVP and the only guy who hit in the World Series. But with the loss, I think he goes. Where? I have no idea. The only thing for certain is that it will be an AL team where he can DH, as he looked terrifying playing LF in October. The Astros suck and can use all the help they can get, especially with next year being their first in the AL. Why not?