This list of top 50 available free agents was determined by MLB Trade Rumors, found here. All credit for the ordering of that list goes to MLBTR. You can make your own predictions on that site. Free agency is extremely difficult to predict, but my predictions were based upon the needs of each team, gut feeling, and historical trend. Here they are.
1. Albert Pujols- St. Louis Cardinals- They have the best fan nation in all of baseball. And because of that they have been able to hold onto guys like Tony LaRussa, Mark McGwire, and Matt Holliday through free agency. Pujols won’t want to play anywhere else.
2. Prince Fielder- Florida Marlins- This one is a shocker, I know. The Marlins are apparently willing to make a large deal to Pujols. They have the finances to spend, they have a new manager, and a new stadium. I think after they fail on Pujols they will turn their attention to Fielder and land him. The combination of Fielder and Mike Stanton will be enough to turn that team around quickly and leapfrog them over Washington and possibly Atlanta. Those two long term could eventually overthrow Philadelphia.
3. Jose Reyes- New York Mets- Reyes loves being in New York. He asked not to be traded at the deadline because he loves it there. He will stay for a discount if he has to.
4. CJ Wilson- New York Yankees- Everytime the Yankees are in need of starting pitching they sign the #1 projected guy available. I could name 10 instances of this over the last decade including CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett. Wilson is the top guy so they will get him. It’s common sense.
5. Yu Darvish- Baltimore Orioles- Is this optimism? Yes. I’ll admit it. I’ve been a Darvish fan for a long time. But the Orioles did sign Koji Uehara a few years back just to strengthen their ties with Japan in preparation for Darvish. The O’s certainly need to fix their rotation and the new GM might as well make a splash by bringing in the best Japanese pitcher of all time. Yes I just said that. Any team has the chance to get these international guys. Did anyone predict Cincinnati to get Aroldis Chapman a few years back? Don’t be shocked if a smaller market team like Baltimore can land Darvish.
6. Edwin Jackson- Washington Nationals- I knew for a fact Mike Rizzo likes Edwin Jackson. He has been tied to the Nationals for a few years now in trade rumors. The Nationals will want to spend money on another big arm and Jackson will be their guy. Put him behind Strasburg and Zimmermann and the Nat’s have a very nice rotation.
7. Jimmy Rollins- Philadelphia Phillies- It’s the only team he wants to play for and they want him back. It’s a lock.
8. Aramis Ramirez- Los Angeles Angels- The Angles were interested in trading for Armais at the deadline, but Aramis didn’t want to be moved. The Angels are in need of a middle of the order bat, they are in need of a 3B, and they will offer him the multi year deal he seeks. It’s a perfect fit.
9. Carlos Beltran- San Francisco Giants- The Giants traded their top prospect Wheeler for Beltran. That’s how much they believe in him. I’m not sure too many other teams will believe in him that much. After paying such a hefty fee to acquire Beltran, San Fran has to bring him back. And they need him.
10. Jonathan Papelbon- Boston Red Sox- He fits perfectly in Boston. And the feelings are mutual. Daniel Bard is a great set up man, but he’s not a closer.
11. Michael Cuddyer- Minnesota Twins- Another case of a player loving his current city. The Twins want Cuddyer, and Cuddyer wants the Twins.
12. Mark Buehrle- Chicago White Sox- He’s played way too many years there for him to go elsewhere. I think ultimately it will be important to Buehrle that he plays his entire career with one team. Not too many guys can say that nowadays.
13. David Ortiz- Texas Rangers- Not too many teams have a DH opening, but Texas does. After not having enough to win it all for a second straight year they will look to add some more pieces. They need a pitcher and a bat. The bat will be Papi. They will pay him what he wants, they will put him in the heart of the order, and he will be happy in that hitters park.
14. Ryan Madson- Philadelphia Phillies- They had no issues with him in the 9th inning so they will bring him back. He wants to come back too.
15. Hiroki Kuroda- Los Angeles Dodgers- He’s already stated that he will either return to the Dodgers or he will return to Japan. He had a very solid year and LA can afford to bring him back.
16. Carlos Pena- Milwaukee Brewers- Their window to win is not closed. They will be losing Prince Fielder and will need another big bat to keep them in contention. Pena fills their hole at 1B. I can see them offering him more than one year and him jumping on it.
17. Francisco Rodriguez- Florida Marlins- They need a closer. He want’s to remain a closer. K-Rod also has a good relationship with Ozzie Guillen.
18. Roy Oswalt- Boston Red Sox- The Red Sox always land a big starter when they need one. This year they need one or two. Oswalt has plenty left in the tank and he seems like a Boston kind of guy to me. The fan base would really embrace him and he would succeed there. He is better in high pressure situations, and the AL East is very high pressure.
19. Javier Vazquez- Philadelphia Phillies- He is contemplating retirement. You know what will make him not want to retire? A contract offer from a team who wins 100 games every year, is losing Oswalt, and is smart enough to jump on his hot finish. The Phillies have a real need for him and he isn’t all that expensive.
20. Heath Bell- Texas Rangers- All signs point to him wanting to return to San Diego. But when he gets that big contract offer to play for a team who was just in the World Series he will take it. San Diego won’t be able to pay him what Texas can. He will also be back with his friend Adams who will once again be setting up for him. Neftali Feliz goes into the rotation.
21. Coco Crisp- Chicago White Sox- They need a top of the order guy and an outfielder. Coco is a good fit for them.
22. Hisashi Iwakuma- Texas Rangers- They want to add another arm. Why not take a chance on a Japanese arm? Texas likes Japanese arms having already had Tateyama and Uehara last season. Iwakuma could virtually go anywhere though.
23. Kelly Johnson- Toronto Blue Jays- I think he liked playing in Toronto at the end of the season. A return seems likely to me.
24. Josh Willingham- Cleveland Indians- Cleveland needs a lot of consistent outfield help. They also need a little more power and some consistency around the middle of the order. Willingham fits all those categories.
25. Paul Maholm- Toronto Blue Jays- The Jays also want to add some rotation depth. They will miss out on all the big names because of the Yankees and Red Sox signing power. Maholm would fill out their rotation nicely.
26. Grady Sizemore- Boston Red Sox- Boston likes to jump on those post hype high upside guys. (Andrew Miller, Jeremy Hermida, Erik Bedard, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, etc…) They have a hole in the outfield, they are willing to spend foolishly, and Sizemore has the upside they will be looking for. Unfortunately they will probably find lightning in a bottle and Sizemore will return to all-star form with them.
27. Bartolo Colon- Cleveland Indians- Why not return to the place where he won his Cy Young award? That would be a nice place for him to finish his career. He would solidify the end of the Indians’ rotation and really put an exclamation point on their new staff that also has Jimenez and Lowe. Plus Masterson is a work horse.
28. Erik Bedard- New York Yankees- The Yanks need 2 pitchers this year. CJ Wilson and Erik Bedard would be a fine two. The Yankees have always had their eye on Bedard since his Orioles days. We know he pitches well in the AL East.
29. David DeJesus- Boston Red Sox– A solid, high average, bat that completely replaces JD Drew. DeJesus and Sizemore make a nice platoon/DH situation.
30. Jason Kubel- Oakland Athletics- He really seems like an Oakland kinda guy to me. He reminds me of Frank Thomas late in his career/Hideki Matsui late in his career. He is one of those scrappy “money ball” guys that Billy Beane likes that can play multiple positions.
31. Ramon Hernandez- Pittsburgh Pirates- There actually aren’t very many catcher openings. He won’t be returning to Cincinnati because they have a stud rookie Mesoraco who is ready now. The Pirates need a catcher, especially a veteran who can keep that pitching staff consistent.
32. Jeff Francis- Seattle Mariners- He seems like a cheap Doug Fister replacement to fill out the staff.
33. Chris Capuano- Houston Astros- Sure why not? The Astros need one more guy and Capuano didn’t blow any big teams away last year.
34. Tsuyoshi Wada- Baltimore Orioles- I’m sure Wada will be willing to play in Baltimore after the O’s re-sign Koji and get Darvish. Japan does always win the World Baseball Classic.
35. Clint Barmes- Kansas City Royals- KC could use help up the middle and Barmes plays both 2B and SS. He’s a cheap solution.
36. Casey Kotchman- Tampa Bay Rays- What he did in Tampa last year is something he can’t do for another team. He earned another contract there.
37. Freddy Garcia- Minnesota Twins- Seems like another Carl Pavano-like good move for them. Veteran pitchers seem to do fine in that big ball park.
38. Aaron Hill- Arizona Diamondbacks- They made a late season trade to acquire Hill because the is the guy they want long term. Now they will get him long term.
39. Johnny Damon- Tampa Bay Rays- His leadership led their team to the biggest comeback ever…over his old team. He fits in Tampa Bay, will get playing time, and both sides will probably want a reunion.
40. Aaron Harang- Colorado Rockies- The Rockies need a veteran starter. Harang should still be around for the taking when pitchers finally fall into their price range.
41. Jamey Carroll- Los Angeles Dodgers- He fit nicely there. No reason why they wouldn’t want to bring him back. He certainly is cheap.
42. Rafael Furcal- St. Louis Cardinals- As I said about Pujols, the Cardinals can keep anyone they want. Players love playing there.
43. Juan Pierre- Cleveland Indians- Cleveland needs to add 2 outfielders and some speed.
44. Frank Francisco- San Diego Padres- The father’s will need a closer once Bell turns them down. Francisco is a cheap stop gap.
45. Jason Marquis- New York Mets- He’s wanted to play for the Mets his entire career. I’m not sure that they really have room for him though.
46. Joel Pineiro- Kansas City Royals- KC needs a couple stop gap guys until Lamb, Montgomery, and Duffy are ready.
47. Jonathan Broxton- Baltimore Orioles- The birds will want some bullpen help with high upside. Broxton would compete with Gregg and Johnson for the closers role. Combine those 3 with the re-sign of Uehara and the O’s bullpen is looking better than it has been.
48. Joe Nathan- Minnesota Twins- He’s done a lot for them. Both sides will want him to stay in Minnesota.
49. Kerry Wood- Chicago Cubs- It’s retirement or the Cubs. So it will be the Cubs.
50. Bruce Chen- Chicago Cubs- Theo tried to get Chen for one day at the end of the season so you know he likes him. The Cubs need an end of the rotation guy that barely costs anything.
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