5 Thoughts From 2014’s Free Agent Crop

By Michael Jokinen             8/21/13

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(Robinson Cano will probably stay in New York.  But much more intrigue surrounds Jacoby Ellsbury … where will he end up?)

 

1.) Does anyone else think Jacoby Ellsbury is destined to end up with the Seattle Mariners?  It seems like all the conditions are perfect.  Boston will probably opt to let the 29 year old go, as they’ll feel comfortable enough with their outfield sans Ellsbury.  The Oregon native will be right at home in Seattle, and the Mariners are desperate for a center fielder and any offense they can get.  They’re a mid-market team with only around $34million in contract commitments for 2014.  With Felix Hernandez as their only player making over $6.5million, the M’s could easily afford to take on Ellsbury.  He’s a good fit for a Seattle organization that’s trying to hedge between win-now and rebuild for 2014.  I think Ellsbury will net around $100million/5 years on the open market, somewhere between the contracts B.J. Upton and Jayson Werth fetched their free agent years.  There will certainly be some other suitors for Ellsbury, but Seattle makes the most sense on the surface.

 

2.) Reports suggest the Dodgers brain-trust is planning to stay out of the Robinson Cano sweepstakes, and honestly, that’s probably the right call.  Cano will be 31 next year and the Dodgers don’t have a dire need at second-base.  It’s a given that Cano will command a monstrous contract.  The Dodgers may have seemingly bottomless pockets, but they need to exercise a little bit of financial discipline here.  They already have a payroll around $170million for 2014 – should be good for tops in the majors again – and much of that money is tied up in long-term contracts that aren’t coming off the books anytime soon.  The Dodgers need to keep their eyes on the prize, and realize that locking up Clayton Kershaw is priority number one.  I find it hard to believe that Cano will leave the Big Apple.  When it’s all said and done, the Yankees will relent and give Cano all the money in the world to stay put.

 

3.) With the starting pitching market looking terrible, expect teams to splurge on high-end relievers instead. There will be a few proven closers coming off strong campaigns – Balfour/Benoit/Mujica/Rodney – who figure to cash in during this off-season.  Expect all of them, expect possibly Rodney, to land sizeable contracts that compare favorably to Rafael Soriano’s from this past off-season.

 

4.) Did I mention the available starting pitching on this year’s free agent market will be terrible?  It’s a bad thing when the closest thing to star power is a poo-poo platter of guys like A.J. Burnett, Matt Garza, Bartolo Colon, Josh Johnson, and Phil Hughes.  No Cliff Lees out there this year.  I’m omitting Hiroki Kuroda because, like Cano, I can’t envision a scenario where the Yankees let him go elsewhere.  The Pirates look shrewd for tacking on an $8million team option for 2014 on the end of the paltry $1million they gave Francisco Liriano for this year.  Can you imagine what Liriano, and his 2.53 ERA, would’ve gotten on the open market given this year’s weak starting pitching free agent class?

 

5.) Ellsbury and Cano might be the only superstars to hit free agency this year, but there are a few other second-tier players to keep an eye on: Shin-Soo Choo, Hunter Pence, Curtis Granderson, Brian McCann, and Kendrys Morales will all be available.  Choo, with a triple-slash of .275/.412/.441 in 2013, should have no problem generating interest this off-season.  He’s having another strong offensive campaign and he’s only 30 years old.  I fully expect the Cincinnati Reds to end the Choo-centerfield experiment after one season, but will they try to retain him or let him walk?  Remains to be seen, but outside of Ellsbury/Cano, I expect Choo to land this off-season’s most lucrative contract.

 

What’s your favorite team going to do this off-season?  What should they really do?  And where do you see some of the big free agent fish landing this off-season?  As a Red Sox fan I’d love to see Ellsbury return, but I’m prepared for his departure.

 

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Posted on August 21, 2013, in 2013, MLB and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. The Red Sox should make every effort to hold onto Ellsbury.

  2. Michael Marashian

    My favorite team, the Tigers, need offensive help in left field and behind the plate. Brayan Pena has done a good job as their backup catcher, what with Alex Avila not only taking a physical beating behind the dish but taking a beating looking up at the Mendoza Line. Just when I thought the Tigers would put two men above .200 in the same game (Avila and Ramon Santiago), Avila showed an affinity for staying put at around .190. So, what will happen in Detroit in the off-season? I think bringing in a corner outfielder and a catcher from the farms will do them fine. Their starting pitching looks great, and I have to wonder if they’ll break open the pizza bank for Max Scherzer, who’ll be in line to clean up in a big way. They have some strong minor league arms as well as Drew Smyley, giving them the lefty in the starting five, but hey, Max is special and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him stay. I say they should bring in youngsters for those two previously mentioned positions, and bring up Perez as their full-time infield backup, and let Santiago go. Not much to do when you’re championship caliber and you’re not losing a lot of players to free agency.

    • Well said, you make some good points. And you’re right, the Tigers don’t need to think about an overhaul this off-season, as is often the case with elite teams. They’re elite by virtue of the fact they don’t need lots of changes, what they’ve got is working. I think both the mainstream media and casual fans alike, at least more so in the first half of the season, really overstated the need for the Tigers to acquire a “proven” closer. Benoit has been just fine, and I believe in the stable of relief arms behind him. Locking up Scherzer would be nice, as would Porcello – his peripherals suggest he’s been pitching better than his ERA indicates. Now would be a good time to strike while the iron is hot and lock up a young arm in Porcello; it’ll probably look smart in a year or two. I don’t love that they had to part ways with Avisail Garcia to land Jose Iglesias. That trade reeked of desperation. But big picture, things are looking good for MoTown and Tigers fans everywhere. Thanks for the feedback!

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