Kirby Puckett

Kirby Puckett

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Look at Free Agency

The Cream of the Crop
Pablo Sandoval
In basketball, you always hear about big guys like Joel Embiid or Hakeem Olajuwon who play like they're smaller than they are, but you never hear about that for baseball, despite it being really applicable. Kennys Vargas and Panda are to two of first guys that pop into my head when I think of that. Both of them are excellent fielders with better range than people give them credit for who spray the ball all over the place despite the reputation of being pull hitters, 32% of Sandoval's hits going to other way.
Nick Markakis
Right now, it's looking like Markakis will resign with the O's, who have offered him a new contract for six years, worth about 66 million dollars. Even if someone else gives him an offer in that area, the Orioles are the only team he's ever played for and it's hard to picture him playing anywhere else.
Melky Cabrera
I have no opinion of Cabrera. He's a decent player, but has an inconsistent history. I bet he gets 2-3 years for about 20-25 million.
Russell Martin
Lots of people are predicting Martin to the Dodgers because he's played there before, they have the money to sign him, A.J. Ellis is their current catcher and when the Dodgers don't have the best a position they go get it damnit! Even with Los Angeles making the push, the Pirates are going to go hard to resign him. He put up pretty good numbers last year and was their clubhouse leader. I bet he stays in Pittsburgh.
High Risk, High Reward
Victor Martinez
It may seem weird saying this about someone coming off of a career season, but I wouldn't touch Martinez with a ten foot pole. He's probably going to want around four years, On top of that, he can't field so he clogs up your bench in the late innings, he blew out his ACL in 2012, and have I mentioned he'll 36 by the time the season starts? Call me pessimistic, but there's no chance in hell that he's going to repeat last year's season at this age. His body's had too much wear and tear throughout his career, and players naturally decline in their late 30s. In other words, he'd be a perfect fit for the Yankees.
Hanley Ramirez
Hanley's one of those guys who I always forget how good he is until I watch him play. Of course, part of the reason for that is because I don't see him play very often. Since 2011, he's only averaged 116 games per season. He also desperately needs a switch from short. At his best, he was a slightly above average fielder, and last year he had a UZR of -10 and a revised zone rating of .765.* He'd be a good fit with the Yankees. Unlike last paragraph, I'm serious about this one. They need a third baseman, and if Ramirez can switch, they have the funds to take the risk.
*That means that he made a play on 76% of the balls hit to his area. 76% is very below average.
Nelson Cruz
I like how Cruz was suspended for PEDs in 2013, then put up career numbers the next year at the age of 35. I wouldn't be surprised if he resigns with Baltimore for a lot more money than he made last year, but if I were Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, I'd make a pretty big push for him. Seattle still needs a big bat to go with Robinson Cano, and sorry, M's fans, Kendrys Morales isn't that guy.
The Aces
Max Scherzer
Scherzer turning down a 144 million dollar deal might turn into a blessing in disguise for the Tigers. As the GMs who signed Johan Santana, C.C. Sabathia and Barry Zito will tell you, giving pitchers big money is a huge risk. It's often guaranteeing you a few dominant years, but the great unknown is after that. Sometimes he'll stay healthy and effective the entire time, other times, the guys I listed above happen. In the case of Scherzer specifically, I'd put the odds of him resigning with Detroit somewhere between little and no chance. He didn't decline that extension because he wanted more money, he's not interested in returning. I bet he goes to one of the typical big market teams, (Los Angeles, New York, Boston) with the Cardinals looming as a possible sleeper.
Jon Lester
The Red Sox are the clear favorites to retain Lester, it's not the A's style to spend like that, and he seems to have quite a bit of loyalty to Boston.
James Shields
After his postseason implosion can we strip him of nickname "Big Game"? Not that any teams will be looking at that, he'll be receiving 100 million from a team not in Kansas City. Obviously the Red Sox and Yankees will be players, but the Marlins could emerge as a dark horse candidate like the Mariners with Cano last year.
The Veterans
Michael Cuddyer
Yeah, he's 35, and yeah, his numbers have been ballooned by Coors Field the last few years, but Cuddy's leadership and versatility will get him a decent one year deal.
UPDATE: Cuddyer's signed a two year deal with the Mets. Decent move by New York. They seem to be stockpiling veterans to try to sneak into the playoffs and get on a Royals like hot streak with their starting pitching.
Nori Aoki
Billy Butler
Dayton Moore's first priority should be resigning these two guys. I'm a big believer in the, "keep as many guys on a good team together" idea, and Shields is gone no matter what, so there's no point in focusing too hard on him.
Torii Hunter
Just like Cuddyer, Hunter's a former Twin who someone could sign because of his intangibles for as much of a reason as his skills. There have been a lot of discussions about him possibly returning to the Twins, but I just don't see it. All he'd do is take up room that they could be giving to Hicks. On top of that, last year we saw Ryan's "sign as many former twins as possible" strategy failed miserably. I'll pass.

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