Thursday, December 30, 2010

Free Agents: The Best of the Rest

A bunch of good free agents have already been signed so far this offseason, but for teams that need help there are still some good names available.  Here are the top free agents remaining on the market and the teams they have been linked to...

According to MLB Trade Rumors here are the top 10 free agents remaining:
1. Adrian Beltre: Angels, A's, Rangers
2. Rafael Soriano: Angel's, Orioles, Yankees
3. Carl Pavano: Twins, Nationals, Mariners, Rangers
4. Jim Thome: Twins, Orioles, Rays, Blue Jays, Rangers
5. Vladimir Guerrero: Rangers, Orioles, Blue Jays, Rays
6. Manny Ramirez: Rays, Rangers
7. Derrek Lee: Orioles, Nationals
8. Andy Pettitte: Yankees, Retirement
9. Brian Fuentes: Eleven teams, Yankees and Red Sox included
10. Adam LaRoche: Orioles, Nationals

Now, more on the top three.  Beltre (and his agent Scott Boras) are asking for a long contract in the 5 year, $80 million range.  Considering his inconsistent performance in the past teams should be wary of paying him that much.  The Angels, considered the front runner for Beltre's services, have already balked at his demands and withdrawn their first offer.  However, the Halos weren't able to get Carl Crawford and could use some a bat to bolster their offense, so expect Beltre to find his way to Anaheim before the season starts.

Rafael Soriano was the best reliever on the free agent market not named Mariano Rivera (who wasn't really a free agent. Does anyone think he was going to sign somewhere other than New York?).  However, while other free agent relievers, such as Joaquin Benoit and Jesse Cain, are already signed, Soriano is still on the market.  In 2010, Soriano led the AL in saves with 45 and finished with a 1.73 ERA, so why is he still available?  Well, he wants a long contract (at least three year, but more likely a BJ Ryan-esque five years), but more and more teams have shied away from giving relievers long deals.  There is just too great a risk that a great season was an exception, not the norm.  Soriano was great in 2010, but he does have a long injury history.  He will most likely have to settle for a shorter contract.

Now that Cliff Lee is off the market, the best starting pitcher available is Carl Pavano, who has been linked to the Twins, Nationals, Mariners, and Rangers.  The Yankees need starting pitching, but we all know how Pavano's last go around in the Bronx went: it was a disaster.  The Rangers need pitching, but just signed Brandon Webb.  Pavano liked Minnesota and pitched well there last season, recording a 3.75 ERA to go with a 17-11 record.  The Twins liked having him and without him their rotation is much more suspect.  Expect Pavano to end up in the Twin Cities again in 2011.

Also, check out this article by ESPN's Jim Caple: Don't Blame Larry Walker for Ballpark.  He argues that Larry Walker should be highly considered for the Hall of Fame.

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