5 Thoughts From 2014’s Free Agent Crop
By Michael Jokinen 8/21/13
(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.
Posted on August 21, 2013, in 2013, MLB and tagged a.j. burnett, Bartolo Colon, brian mccann, Curtis Granderson, Edward Mujica, fernando rodney, Grant Balfour, Hunter Pence, jacoby ellsbury, joaquin benoit, Josh Johnson, Kendrys Morales, matt garza, Phil Hughes, Robinson Cano, shin-soo choo. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.