Some of this offseason’s biggest prizes have been claimed. Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Jonathan Papelbon, etc, have all moved on to new cities and with large, lucrative contracts in their pockets. However, there are still some big names looking for big money this holiday season. Here are my top 10 ten remaining free agents…
1. Prince Fielder – Prince and his agent, Mr. Boras, have to be pleased as punch over the contract the Angels dished out to Albert Pujols. Prince is younger and in his prime (27) while Pujols turns 32 in about a month. Back in October I wrote “make no mistake about it, this Scott Boras client will likely get what he wants.” While Pujols’s track record was elite, Prince’s isn’t too shabby. Originally, Prince was seeking to exceed Mark Teixeira’s eight-year, $180 million dollar deal. I wouldn’t be surprised if Prince does just that.
2. Yoenis Cespedes – Everything seems to be in line for Cespedes to become free agent eligible soon, but he’s not there just yet. Nonetheless, I’ll put him on this list because he will almost certainly be on a big-league roster come spring training. Maybe you’ve seen the video, but even if you haven’t you’ve most likely heard the hype. Cespedes has the skills to hit at the big league level. His raw power could translate to 20 home runs on the low side and 30-plus on the high side. If he can stick in center, as some think he can, his potential value would be even higher. At age 26, the team landing the slugging Cuban will get him for his prime seasons.
3. Carlos Beltran – Beltran’s age (35) and injury history have kept interest levels to a quiet simmer so far this offseason, but he showed last season that he still has the skills to be big asset to any team. The Cardinals have been linked often to Beltran and given the three-year deals handed out to Josh Willingham and Michael Cuddyer (each only two years younger than Beltran), a three-year deal for the former $119M man would not surprise me. Three years at an average annual value of $12-13M is my bet.
4. Roy Oswalt – At first, Oswalt’s asking price was reportedly in the three-year range, however, probably due to a lack of interest from most clubs, Oswalt is said to now be seeking a one-year deal. Given his back problems last year, teams should be much more willing to go down that road. One year $9-10M, book it.
5. Hiroki Kuroda – Kuroda didn’t seem to want to leave the west coast, but the Dodgers’ financial woes don’t line up with his contract expectations. Given his age, a one or two-year deal might be the length, but a team should definitely be willing to pay around $12M per for his consistency.
6. Carlos Pena – Unfortunately for Pena, this offseason featured two elite first base free agents. Still, there is certain to be a market for a power-hitting 1B with good on-base skills. The Indians, Pirates, Rays and Cubs could be looking to steal Pena for a bargain price should he remain on the market well into January.
7. Ryan Madson – The closer market has settled a bit with Papelbon taking over Madson’s former role in Philly. Madson could still try for something in the three-year, $30M range, but there are only a few teams with the need and the cash. Because of his age and consistency, he should find the deal that he wants.
8. Edwin Jackson – Despite being a posting between three and four WAR over the last three seasons, there has been very little buzz surrounding Jackson so far this offseason. His career has been filled with ups-and-downs, but 3 WAR starters don’t grow on trees.
9. Coco Crisp – Injuries have haunted Crisp throughout his career, but when healthy he has speed, some pop and the ability to post a league average or better OBP. A one-year deal worth $6-7M would make sense.
10. Javier Vazquez – While Vazquez has hinted at retirement, a one-year deal topping $10M might be enticing enough to bring the 35-year-old back to the mound. The 2.15 ERA Vazquez posted in the second half of 2011 might be enticing enough for a national league team to buy in as well.