Tag:MLB Free Agents
Posted on: November 2, 2011 8:06 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2011 9:15 pm
 

Diamondbacks sign McDonald to two-year deal

McDonaldBy Evan Brunell

The Diamondbacks have reached a two-year agreement with utility infielder John McDonald, the team announced on Wednesday. McDonald will recieve $3 million total, split evenly over the two seasons.

More Free Agency
Position rankings
McDonald's signing likely means Arizona will wave sayonara to Willie Bloomquist, who was a utility infielder last season for the Diamondbacks, but started at shortstop following Stephen Drew's season-ending injury. McDonald has 13 full seasons in the majors, and less than two of these seasons were spent not as a member of the Indians or Blue Jays. McDonald came over from Toronto, whom he had played for since 2005, in an August deal along with Aaron Hill to shore up the infield defense.

McDonald should play the next two seasons in a backup role. He is known for his defense and is far from being a decent hitter. In fact, for Arizona, McDonald hit .169/.222/.203 as he swiped playing time from Bloomquist thanks to his ability to pick it. If he gets pressured into a starting role for 'Zona, you know things aren't going according to plan. But as a backup middle infielder, McDonald's defense gives the Diamondbacks one of the better options in the majors for such a role.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 2, 2011 6:49 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2011 7:00 pm
 

Nationals re-sign Chien-Ming Wang

WangBy Evan Brunell

The Nationals have agreed to a deal in principle with starter Chien-Ming Wang, SI.com's Jon Heyman reports.

Wang has been with Washington for the last two seasons but only made his Nats debut in late July after recovering from shoulder problems that jettisoned him from the Yankees. The groundball artist made 11 starts and walked away with a 4.04 ERA in 62 1/3 innings. While his strikeout numbers have always been low, the fact he only punched out 25 is cause for concern. On the bright side, he allowed a skimpy 13 walks, which is a big reason for his success.

Now that the 31-year-old will presumably enter spring training healthy, he could enjoy a productive season. When right, Wang lets hitters beat themselves by either striking them out just enough to keep them honest or forcing batters to beat the ball in the ground. To that extent, he needs a strong infield defense behind him to get outs, and Washington's D is strong enough. What will be interesting to monitor is his fastball velocity. With a full offseason to rest and his shoulder problems finally behind him, can he tick his average fastball back up to 92 mph? That would be enough to address concerns about his long-term viability, even if he loses some control in ratcheting up the velocity. Many pitchers tend to need time to see their velocity recover after such major surgery and time away from the majors.

Wang figures to slot behind Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and John Lannan in the rotation, leaving just one spot available for competition. Wang won't just be handed a spot, though, even though he's the favorite to secure a spot in the rotation.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: November 2, 2011 2:40 pm
 

Song urges Fielder to stay in Milwaukee



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Among those rooting for the Brewers to reach the World Series may have been the band, the Baseball Project. While none of the members are Milwaukee fans (or Cardinals fans), they did have a gig lined up for the Milwaukee if the Brewers made the World Series -- but you know the rest of the baseball side of the story.

The group -- made up of indie rock veterans Steve Wynn (the Dream Syndicate), Linda Pitmon, Scott McCaughey (the Minus 5) and Peter Buck (R.E.M.) --  wrote some songs for the folks in Milwaukee that went unused. Still, the group did release a song from that planned set on its website. The song, well, the title speaks for itself: "C'mon Prince (Stay In MIlwaukee)."

Here it is:

C'mon Prince (Stay In Milwaukee) by The Baseball Project

You've got to give the guys credit, they're right when they point out to Fielder that he's "got nine more years of Ryan Braun hitting right in front of you/You think any other three and four hitters can do the damage you two will do" and "You'll have have money coming out of your ears/Even if you sign for just five years."

The band's website says its working on an alternate version: "C'mon Albert (Stay In St. Louis)."

H/T to Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.



For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 2, 2011 12:42 pm
 

Agent: Grady Sizemore 'open to anything'

Grady Sizemore

By C. Trent Rosecrans

One of the most interesting free agents out there is Grady Sizemore, the incredibly talented former center fielder for the Indians.

Despite his talent, the 28-year-old is a risky signing because of his injury issues, having played just 210 games over the past three seasons. But when healthy, there are few players in the game that can match his array of talents.

More Free Agency
Position rankings

Already, he's been mentioned as a target for the Red Sox and Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes Sizemore could be a fit with the Nationals. Sizemore's agent, Joe Urbon, told Kilgore that "a number of clubs" have contacted him about Sizemore, who is "open" to just about any opportunity that comes his way before making a decision.

"He wants to have an opportunity that will allow him to show he's still the elite player he's been," Urbon said. "In a perfect world, he'd love to play center field. You can't ignore the fact that's where he won two Gold Gloves, where he's been a three-time all-star. When healthy, he's one of the best players in the game. But if he feels the best opportunity is for him to play in a corner spot, then he has the ability to do that."

Sizemore had a relatively minor surgery on his right knee after the season and missed 44 games from July to September with a sports hernia. He was on the disabled list a total of three times in 2011 after missing all but 33 games in 2010 after microfracture surgery on his left knee. He had two DL stints in 2009 for a left elbow injury.

Someone's going to pull the trigger on Sizemore, but the real gamble will be with the number of years on his contract, or he could go for the one-year show-me contract to set up a bigger payday in 2013 if he's healthy in 2012.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 2, 2011 8:39 am
Edited on: November 2, 2011 11:59 am
 

Buyer Beware: Soon-to-be overpaid free agents



By Matt Snyder


Another free agent crop means we have another group of players about to be woefully overpaid by some franchises trying to make a big splash. Here's a handful of players who will likely be paid more than they're going to be worth over the next year to half-decade.

C.J. Wilson, SP
He'll be 31 when next season starts and he's only been a big-league starter for two seasons. Considering the market for starting pitchers, some team is going to have to give him ace money. He has been good in long stretches over the course of the past two seasons, but it's still not a huge track record. Plus, he's been playing in front of one of the best defenses in baseball, especially strong at second, third and short. What if he signs to pitch for a team with range issues? Lots of those groundouts become base hits and he's a bust, that's what.
I would rather sign: Mark Buehrle. He's more consistent and he'll probably only need a two- or three-year deal for much cheaper. Sure, he doesn't have the upside, but you won't have to commit $75 million to him, either. And he's a workhorse, averaging 220 innings per season in the past 11 years.

More Free Agency
Position rankings
Jimmy Rollins, SS
The soon-to-be 33 year old hasn't been more than a major-league average offensive player for the past four seasons. His defense is on the decline, too. Yet because of playing in every postseason and being a one-time MVP, Rollins' name carries a ton of weight. He earned it, that's for sure, but he shouldn't get a lifetime pass. Some team that loses out on Jose Reyes will probably throw a four-year contract at Rollins and that's a mistake.
I would rather sign: I'd obviously rather have Jimmy Rollins than Clint Barmes if given the choice between the two for the 2012 season at the same price, but c'mon. Barmes could possibly be had for a one-year deal at a fraction of the cost of Rollins. I'd go Barmes and save the money to use elsewhere.

Jonathan Papelbon, Heath Bell, Ryan Madson, Francisco Cordero, Francisco Rodriguez, Joe Nathan, etc., closers
Paying big money for a closer to all of a sudden come in and solve late-inning problems rarely works. It does work at times, and someone will probably get lucky with one of the above names on the list, but the problem is that shelling out eight figures for one of these guys has a track record of crippling payroll, while new closers emerge every single year. I'm not just talking about young, elite arms like Craig Kimbrel and Neftali Feliz. I'm talking about Joel Hanrahan, Brandon League, Sergio Santos, Kyle Farnsworth, Jason Motte, Javy Guerra and more. This happens every single season. Knowing it's possible, there's no reason to try and solve the problem by throwing barrels of money at an aging veteran.
I would rather sign: Starting pitchers or position players

Roy Oswalt, SP
Let's see ... a 34-year-old pitcher who battled back issues during 2011 while allowing the highest hit rate and accruing the lowest strikeout rate of his career? I'd pass anyway, but keep in mind Oswalt has talked about an early retirement before and the rumors keep popping up. His name certainly has cache, but I'd let someone else pay.
I would rather sign: Edwin Jackson is six years younger. Easy choice.

Derrek Lee, 1B
So who are you going to get, the guy who was lackluster for 85 games in Baltimore or the guy who tore it up in 28 games for Pittsburgh? The smart money is on the former, as Lee is 36 and well past his prime. Some non-contender will likely add him as a patchwork, temporary "solution" at first base, when he's going to be overpriced and pretty much just an adequate bat. This is where teams would be better served to just save the money and play a kid.
I would rather sign: Casey Kotchman is 28 and just hit .306 with a .378 on-base percentage for Tampa Bay. Because he plays first base and doesn't have much power, he'll be overlooked, but he's a nice cheap option -- especially for teams with power at second or short.

Honorable mention: The "big three" of Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes all carry a certain amount of risk. Pujols likely lands at least a six-year deal, meaning he's going to be getting paid like the best player in baseball into his late-30s. Fielder's body type resembles Mo Vaughn, who was elite only until age 30, and then just good for three more seasons before being cooked. Fielder is 27, but he's also shorter and weighs more. Prince's father, Cecil Fielder, had his last big power year at age 32, also. And, of course, we know about Reyes' hamstring history.

Look, all three are going to get paid and they have earned it. And there's a good chance any of the three are still studs when their new contracts run out, just as there's a chance any of the above players pan out and prove to be good signings. But when you see contracts like Barry Zito, Vernon Wells and Alfonso Soriano, you have to keep in mind those guys were once elite players, too. There's risk everywhere.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 1, 2011 10:27 pm
 

2011 free agent diamonds in the rough

Carroll, Crisp, Lidge

By Evan Brunell


The baseball free-agent class is a bear. Once you get beyond the first couple of names at each position that are eligible for free agency, you quickly dissolve into reading a list of retreads, never-weres or aging All-Stars. That will make it difficult for teams to fill holes via free agency, but at the same time, there are some names that are poised for bounceback seasons and are being overlooked. That's what this list is all about -- what players could contribute in 2012 given the chance, that are being overlooked right now?

Some of these names are true diamonds in the rough, while others are a product of choosing between bad or worse. But hitting right on one of these names could mean the difference between playing golf in October or getting a ring.

C: Chris Snyder

SnyderBack problems are never a good thing when it comes to catchers. If Snyder can recover from a herniated disc, however, he could give a team strong production as a backstop for minimal price. It wasn't all that long ago that Snyder had a long-term deal in hand from the Diamondbacks and was blocking Miguel Montero, but injuries sapped his production and he was shipped to Pittsburgh in 2010. Before the injury, Snyder showed signs of coming out of his slump. His plate discipline was still there, but he was driving balls with more authority. He didn't get enough playing time to accurately draw conclusions, but quality catchers are rare in baseball and Snyder should get another chance to show he belongs.

1B: Lyle Overbay

OverbayWhile age has caught up to Overbay, he still has something to offer as a first baseman. While one wouldn't have ever called him one of the better first baseman in the league in recent years, he did finish his Blue Jays career as a respectable first baseman. Problem is, he was anything but respectable with the Pirates and needed a late-season rejuvenation in Arizona to feel better about himself. At this point in Overbay's career, it would be a surprise if he found a full-time job at first somewhere, but Overbay is still capable of cracking doubles and providing solid (albeit unspectacular) defense. In a platoon role playing against just righties, Overbay could deliver.

2B: Aaron Hill

HillHill once hit 36 home runs, doing so in his breakout 2009 campaign as a 27-year-old. That bode well for the future, giving Toronto a beast in the middle of the order that played second, no less. Unfortunately for Hill, things took a turn for the worse in 2010 as he tried too hard to drive the ball over the fence. This season, Hill stopped trying to swing for the fences so much, but his offense was completely disastrous in every possibility, hitting .225/.270/.313 before the Jays gave up. Arizona saw what Hill could be like at his best, as the 29-year-old hit .315/.386/.492 down the stretch. That offers a lot of optimism moving forward, even if 2009 remains his high-water point. The mere fact he rebounded as well as he did with the Diamondbacks puts Hill in the category of low risk, high reward.

3B: Jamey Carroll

CarrollCarroll is actually one of the better names on the free-agent market, although that's mostly by default given the thin crop of free agents. Some may overlook Carroll for a third-base job given he has played second and short almost exclusively the last two seasons.  Yet, he's played more career games at third than shortstop (by one game), so he can handle the hot corner. In a market devoid of third basemen, teams would be well-served to look at Carroll to plug the hot corner and a fill-in across the diamond. The utility player has really emerged over the last two years with the Dodgers and is an above-average player. He won't excite you, but he won't give games away. Any team hoping to wins needs a Jamey Carroll as a complementary piece.

SS: Clint Barmes

BarmesBarmes is a criminally underrated shortstop who could solve a lot of problems for many teams -- the Brewers are one that springs to mind. The now-32-year-old was popular back in 2005 when he busted out in Colorado and fast becoming a darling of fans and media alike when he broke his left shoulder falling down a flight of stairs after carrying deer meat. Since then, Barmes has become a slick fielder who can't quite hit with the bat. But in the depressed scoring of the last two years, Barmes' bat has started looking better in comparison and hit .244/.312/.386 for Houston last year, numbers not that far off an average shortstop these days. And his fielding. Oh, his fielding. Bottom line, he can flat pick it and will come cheap enough that whatever production he gives will outstrip what he is being paid. Barmes is an average- to below-average hitter with superior defense and is head and shoulders better than, say, Yuniesky Betancourt.

LF: Felix Pie

PiePie was once supposed to solve the Cubs' problems in center field and usher in a new era of baseball in the Windy City. Instead, he got drummed out to Baltimore and for a while there, it looked as if he was yet another in a line of players that got away from Chicago. Except that Pie hit .220/.264/.280 in 175 at-bats after finally being primed to take over a starting role after slashing .274/.305/.413 in 308 PA in 2010. There's no getting around how bad Pie's 2011 was, but he will turn 27 at the beginning of February and his talent didn't just disappear overnight. Pie will struggle to find playing time on even rebuilding clubs, but it's too early to give up on the lefty.

CF: Coco Crisp

CrispIn a thin crop of free agents, it's easy to scan by Crisp's name and think he's just another name in a motley crew of unappetizing players. But Crisp could be a dynamic center fielder finally getting back in the groove for the first time since receiving the tall task of replacing Johnny Damon in Boston. Prior to linking up with Oakland for 2010, Crisp had never stolen more than 28 bases in a season (2007 Red Sox). He swiped 32 in 2010, and anted that all the way up to 49, leading the league and being caught just nine times. In addition, playing in his cavernous home stadium doesn't do justice to his bat, which has been the best over the last two seasons since 2004-05 with the Indians. Don't look past this guy.

RF: Magglio Ordonez

OrdonezOrdonez may opt for retirement after breaking his right ankle for a second time, but if he tries to give it another go next season, Ordonez could be the perfect salve for a team looking to plug a gap in the outfield or DH.  Ordonez's final season line of .255/.303/.331 in 357 plate appearances looks horribly weak, but he hit .354 from Aug. 12 on, and was 5-for-11 in the ALDS. The 37-year-old reported that his surgically-repaired right ankle, which hadn't been feeling right after breaking it in June 2010, was finally starting to come around. Then he broke it again in the ALCS. If he can bounce back, it appears as if Ordonez has enough left in his bat to hit over .300. However, if he chooses to play again, he may be forced to sign late and prove to teams he's fully healthy.

SP: Hisashi Iwakuma

IwakumaDon't forget about Iwakuma, who could have been pitching for the Athletics in 2011 had negotiations between Oakland and Iwakuma's agent, Don Nelson, not broken down. This season, the lefty is free to negotiate with any team as he is now an unrestricted international free agent. He appears likely to jump stateside, and will draw quite a bit of interest from teams. Once the top names on the starting pitching market sign, Iwakuma could quickly rise to the top of the list. He's known for his control and walking just 19 in 17 games in Japan ball in 2011. The 30-year-old finished with a 2.42 ERA in 119 innings after spending two years as a reliever. Teams may be concerned about his ability to handle the demands of a MLB rotation as opposed to Japan, where starters take their turns once a week.

RP: Mike Gonzalez

GonzalezIt seems as if Gonzalez's luster has diminished in recent years not just because of injury problems, but thanks to pitching in Baltimore. You'd do well not to overlook Gonzalez, however, who throws hard. From the left side, that's rare to see, and when healthy, the 33-year-old can be one of the most dominant relievers in the league. Gonzalez pitched a total of 53 1/3 innings in 2011, split between the Orioles and Rangers. His strikeout rate, while not as high as recent years, still remains high and he displayed some of the best control of his career this past season as well and a subsequent dip in fastball velocity was not recorded. In Texas, he took on the role of a lefty specialist which was the best way to use him in '11, but this is a guy who can function as a top-notch setup man for any team in the league.

CL: Brad Lidge

LidgeLidge was supposed to spend the entire year as the Phillies' closer, but that changed when injuries struck yet again. Fortunately, Lidge was able to recover to pitch 19 1/3 innings down the stretch and proved he could still strike out batters despite a fastball that couldn't reach over 90 and relying too often on his slider. With an entire offseason to rest, it's possible Lidge could reclaim some of his lost fastball velocity, which would reduce his reliance on a slider. Control is a problem, as evidenced by his 13 unintentional walks (against 23 strikeouts), but he showed improved control in September, walking just four and punching out 11 in 9 1/3 innings. That was a major step forward from August, when he walked seven in 7 1/3 innings. There are a lot of closers on the free agent market, so Lidge will struggle to find a team that could give him a shot to close, but could end up as baseball's comeback player of the year in 2012 if all breaks right.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: November 1, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 10:20 pm
 

Team-by-team NL free agency outlooks



By C. Trent Rosecrans

With open free agency set to hit us at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, it's worth taking a quick look at what every single team is going to be looking for. We've already done detailed breakdowns in the R.I.P. series, so here are some quick hitters for the National League:

East
Atlanta Braves | R.I.P.
Needs: shortstop, corner outfielder, relief pitching
Money to spend?: Not much. The Braves' biggest need was getting rid of Derrek Lowe, and they did that and have saved $5 million to boot. The team has good, young starters, but put too many innings on their bullpen. They'll need more bullpen arms and also a bat in left field and a shortstop. With Tyler Pastronicky just about ready, the team could use a veteran backup just in case he doesn't work out.

Miami Marlins | R.I.P.
Needs: starting pitching, center field
Money to spend? Oh yeah… with the team preparing to move into a new stadium, owner Jeffrey Loria is expected to make a splash in free agency and could raise payroll to the $100 million range. South Florida will be a favorite of baseball agents in the offseason who will use the Marlins as leverage -- they may even be more popular than the "mystery team" of the past off seasons. The Marlins will be rumored as a possible landing point for nearly every big free agent. The question is, which ones -- if any -- will actually take their talents to South Beach.

New York Mets | R.I.P.
Needs: starting pitching, closer, relief pitching, middle infield
Money to spend? There are plenty of questions about the Mets ownership group, so nobody outside GM Sandy Alderson really knows what's going on and how much money he has to play with. It doesn't look like the team will go crazy in trying to re-sign Jose Reyes. The team will instead hope to improve its bullpen and rotation.

More Free Agency
Position rankings

Philadelphia Phillies | R.I.P.
Needs: shortstop, corner outfielder, closer, relief pitching, first base
Money to spend? It seems like they always find it when they need it, so there's no real concern about the budget. Even with Roy Oswalt likely to leave Philadelphia, there are few worries about the team's rotation. The bullpen, however, will need to be addressed. Ryan Madson may be re-signed and used as the closer, but the Phillies need middle-innings guys, as well. Left field is still an issue and the team could look to upgrade there, but will also need to address first base while Ryan Howard recovers from his Achilles injury. John Mayberry Jr. can play first, but moving him there creates a spot in the outfield.

Washington Nationals | R.I.P.
Needs: center field, starting pitching, relief pitching
Money to spend? Oh yeah. Like the Marlins, the Nationals have money to spend and unlike the Marlins, they have shown a willingness to actually use it. Last year the team overspent on Jayson Werth, something that certainly caught the eyes of free-agents-to-be. Several top names will certainly be courted by the Nationals, including Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and C.J. Wilson. The Nationals really can't be counted out on anyone.

Central
Chicago Cubs | R.I.P.
Needs: first base, third base, closer, relief pitching, right field
Money to spend? The Ricketts opened the pocketbooks for their general manager, so it's unlikely they'll close 'em for players. Epstein says he wants to build a team from the bottom up, but that takes time and there will be pressure to win right away, and free agency will be part of that. Expect the Cubs to at least talk to the likes of Pujols and Fielder, even if they don't sign them. With Epstein in the fold, it'll certainly be interesting to see what route the Cubs take.

Cincinnati Reds | R.I.P.
Needs: closer, relief pitcher, corner outfielder, shortstop
Money to spend? Not much. It looks like the team will stand pat in the rotation, but after not picking up the option on Francisco Cordero, Cincinnati will need someone to finish out games. Last year Walt Jocketty stayed quiet during the offseason, but this winter that may not happen. However, the team is more likely to use the trade market than spend big in free agency.

Houston Astros | R.I.P.
Needs: shortstop, relief pitching
Money to spend? The Astros are in full-on rebuilding mode, as evidenced by their July fire sale. There's also the holdup of the sale of the team and the possible switch to the American League. If Jim Crane is approved by MLB, he may want to find his own general manager. The Astros won't be much of a player in the free agent market, looking for low-priced.

Milwaukee Brewers | R.I.P.
Needs: first baseman, shortstop, third baseman, relief pitching
Money to spend? Some -- for the right people. The team will try to make a pitch to retain Fielder and possibly Jerry Hairston Jr., but are likely celebrating to be free of Yuniesky Betancourt. The team probably won't be in the race for Reyes or even Jimmy Rollins, but could be in the market for a second-tier shortstop like Clint Barmes. They'll also need to add some arms in the bullpen, but could try to re-sign the likes of Takashi Saito and LaTroy Hawkins.

Pittsburgh Pirates | R.I.P.
Needs: catcher, first base, shortstop, corner outfielder, starting pitching
Money to spend? Yes, as much as $25 million or even a little more, but they also have plenty of holes. The Pirates took some steps forward in 2011, but will need to fill out their roster and will likely be going for the second-tier players to fill out a lineup around Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Jeff Karstens, Kevin Correia, Charlie Morton and James McDonald.

St. Louis Cardinals | R.I.P.
Needs: First base, shortstop, relief pitching
Money to spend? Some for the right player. The Cardinals have nearly $60 million tied up for 2012 in six players -- Matt Holliday, Kyle Lohse, Lance Berkman, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Jake Westbrook. There's also the little matter of Pujols -- who will listen to offers from the Cardinals, but is unlikely to give much (or any) of a hometown discount. The team also needs a shortstop and could use another left-handed reliever.

West
Arizona Diamondbacks | R.I.P.
Needs: second base, middle infield, relief pitching
Money to spend? There's not much tinkering expected of a team that surprised everyone by winning the NL West in 2011 -- the rotation is looking good and most of the positions are already manned. The team declined its option on second baseman Aaron Hill, but could also look at former Diamondback second baseman Kelly Johnson. The bullpen was radically rebuilt last season, but could use some tweaking.

Colorado Rockies | R.I.P.
Needs: starting pitching, second base, third base
Money to spend? The team needs a starter and also two infield spots -- all without spending much money. They could be looking to trade to find their infielders and a lefty reliever. But they also need a pitcher that can throw 200 innings in a season, but those don't come cheap on the open market. They'd also like a right-handed bat.

Los Angeles Dodgers | R.I.P.
Needs:catcher, second base, third base, starting pitching, relief pitching
Money to spend? Who knows? With the Frank McCourt mess, nobody knows what the future holds for the Dodgers. If they are sold, the timing may still be off for any big additions to the budget. In a perfect world, the Dodgers are looking at the big names like Fielder, Reyes and Wilson, but it doesn't seem like that will happen.

San Diego Padres | R.I.P.
Needs: closer, relief pitching, corner outfield, middle infield
Money to spend? The Padres have money to spend and spots to fill -- but don't expect them to be wooing the big names. Big money in San Diego is still small money to the likes of the Phillies and Cubs. The highest-priced free agent likely to sign with San Diego is closer Heath Bell.

San Francisco Giants | R.I.P.
Needs: shortstop, corner outfielder
Money to spend? The Giants will spend for the right player, and Reyes may just be that player. Or Rollins. The team may also try to retain Carlos Beltran, but at his age and injury history, the Giants are unlikely to gamble with a multiyear contract.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: November 1, 2011 4:35 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 10:20 pm
 

Team-by-team AL free agency outlooks



By Matt Snyder


With open free agency set to hit us at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, it's worth taking a quick look at what every single team is going to be looking for. We've already done detailed breakdowns in the R.I.P. series, so here are some quick hitters for the American League:

Baltimore Orioles | R.I.P.
Needs: Could use a corner infielder, depending upon where they want to play Mark Reynolds (including DH). Pitching, starting and in relief.
Money to spend? They should have a decent amount. Between Derrek Lee, Vladimir Guerrero, Mike Gonzalez, Koji Uehara and Cesar Izturis, that's roughly $25 million coming off the books from the beginning of last season. Some arbitration raises are coming, but we'll see how much owner Peter Angelos wants to spend. The Orioles have already raised payroll about $20 million since 2008. Don't count out a run at Prince Fielder or some other big name.

Boston Red Sox | R.I.P.
Needs: Pitching, right field.
Money to spend? Will new GM Ben Cherington be more careful on big free agent deals after seeing some colossal failures in recent years? It's hard to tell, but if the Red Sox let both David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon walk, they'll be able to spend. The two combined to make over $24 million last year. J.D. Drew's $14 million is gone just as Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield are free agents. A few arbitration raises should still leave the Red Sox about $30 million short of last season's payroll. So there's room to play.

New York Yankees | R.I.P.
Needs: Pitching, pitching, pitching
Money to spend? With Jorge Posada's hefty contract coming off the books, yes, you can expect the Yankees have money to spend. Do they go large and land C.J. Wilson? I'd guess there are serious discussions about doing so. He's left-handed, which is a great fit for Yankee Stadium. Maybe Mark Buehrle is a fall back and posting for Yu Darvish is entirely possible. One thing is for sure: Getting CC Sabathia nailed down before free agency began was huge.

More Free Agency
Position rankings
Tampa Bay Rays | R.I.P.
Needs: Catcher, first baseman, shortstop, bullpen help
Money to spend? Not much. The situation in Tampa Bay is dire, so if the Rays are really looking to shore up that many positions via free agency, it's going to have to be on the cheap. And they might even have to trade James Shields to do so. Trading B.J. Upton is a no-brainer in order to save money. In dealing those two, they could plug Desmond Jennings in center and Matt Moore in the rotation and then fill the holes cheaply with guys like Johnny Damon and Casey Kotchman (which they did last season).

Toronto Blue Jays | R.I.P.
Needs: All kinds of pitching, second base.
Money to spend? The belief is they have a lot of money to spend between this offseason and next. Do they make a big splash now or wait? They could make a run at Prince Fielder or David Ortiz, but the offense doesn't need near as much help as the pitching -- plus, with Edwin Encarnacion coming back 1B and DH seem to be filled. They will probably hit on a closer like Jonathan Papelbon or Ryan Madson. As for the second base crop, it's pretty thin. Maybe Ramon Santiago or Jamey Carroll? If they really wanted to go for it, they could move Brett Lawrie back to second base and go after Aramis Ramirez, but that's not happening.

Chicago White Sox | R.I.P.
Needs: To get younger
Money to spend? Not much. The White Sox had a huge payroll last season and got nothing to show for it. Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Jake Peavy will make over $55 million combined and there don't appear to be any areas where a quick fix would make the White Sox a ton better than last year. Instead, they should stay away from free agency and instead start trading veterans to stock a barren farm system.

Cleveland Indians | R.I.P.
Needs: catcher or first base (depending on where they play Carlos Santana), left field (Michael Brantley likely moves to center with Grady Sizemore gone)
Money to spend? The Indians have a lot of good, young talent but it's all already arrived at the big-league level (or been traded away). So they're ready to make a move in the Central, as evidenced by trading for veteran Derek Lowe. There's some extra revenue from the increased attendance in 2011, but they still can't come close to affording Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols. Maybe Carlos Pena? He's a good defensive first baseman and hit 28 homers with 74 RBI and an .879 OPS if you lop off his dreadful start in 2011 (that listed stat line began May 3). If not Pena, Casey Kotchman is a decent fall back.

Detroit Tigers | R.I.P.
Needs: Second base and third base (or shortstop, with Jhonny Peralta shifting positions).
Money to spend? With some big contracts (like Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen) coming off the books and a revenue stream from a season that saw the Tigers hit the ALCS, you can bet they'll be spending. Jose Reyes or Aramis Ramirez would work well, but it seems like a top-of-the-order guy makes more sense, considering Jim Leyland was forced to keep trotting strikeout machine Austin Jackson out in the leadoff spot and the Tigers already have Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez in the middle. Also, the Tigers could also go cheap in the infield and grab someone like Michael Cuddyer for right field. We'll see.

Kansas City Royals | R.I.P.
Needs: Starting pitching, relief pitching, bench depth
Money to spend? The Royals haven't yet made their move in the AL Central, so revenues haven't greatly increased just yet. They'll be able to spend some money, but mostly the type that can land spare parts while the Royals wait on the young wave to thrive. Reports have indicated general manager Dayton Moore wants to trade some of the Royals' many coveted prospects for a good starting pitcher, so expect K.C. to be more active in hot stove trade talk than in major free agency signings.

Minnesota Twins | R.I.P.
Needs: Closer, setup men, corner outfielders and to stay healthy
Money to spend? If the Twins bring back both Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer, they'll be a bit strapped for cash. If not, they'll have plenty to spend, as those two leaving along with Joe Nathan and Matt Capps frees up lots of money. Expect the Twins to be aggressive in seeking relief pitching help, even possibly willing to trade other pieces to shore up the back-end of the bullpen.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | R.I.P.
Needs: Catcher (hmm, if only they didn't trade a certain postseason star), pitching depth
Money to spend? Nope, they're pretty much on lockdown, as owner Arte Moreno has said the payroll will decrease -- and they're already saddled with lots of huge veteran contracts. Even if they could find takers for some of the overpaid veterans, they'd have to give significant salary relief. As things stand, the Angels in 2012 probably greatly resemble the Angels of 2011.

Oakland Athletics | R.I.P.
Needs: An entire outfield and third base.
Money to spend? The A's have over $23 million in salary coming off the books, but the question is if Billy Beane attacks things in a similar manner to how he did last year with the offense. Several modest one-year contracts were handed out. Why not instead go young with Michael Taylor, Chris Carter and Brandon Allen while using the free agent money on one bigger bat (Aramis Ramirez? Carlos Beltran?)? The problem there lies in convincing a major free agent to play in Oakland, so the guess is Beane again signs a few cheaper guys like Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui last season.

Seattle Mariners | R.I.P.
Needs: Pitching depth, offensive firepower.
Money to spend? There's a modest amount of money leaving the payroll while Ichiro is signed for $18 million in 2012 before he's done. So the Mariners could actually backload deals if they want to make a huge splash. Could they get crazy and go after two big offensive names? They've done so in the past (the Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson signings). Expect to hear the Mariners in rumors for Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes, and probably trickling on down to the likes of Carlos Beltran and Jimmy Rollins. Now, whether or not they can convince any of those guys to sign, we'll see.

Texas Rangers | R.I.P.
Needs: Bullpen depth
Money to spend? A modest amount. It's likely the Rangers let C.J. Wilson walk and fill in the rotation either in-house (Neftali Feliz, Alexi Ogando, Scott Feldman) or by signing Japanese phenom Yu Darvish. From there, the Rangers could make Mike Adams the new closer and focus on setup men, or go after a free agent closer like Jonathan Papelbon or Ryan Madson. Keep in mind, the Rangers don't have to change much, considering they were one strike away from a World Series title twice and the overwhelming majority of the team is returning intact. Plus, the revenues from going to two consecutive World Series will give them the ability to increase the payroll should they wish.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com