Free agents should start flying off the board and we’re all anxious to see how our favorite teams maneuver their way through the hot stove months.
The MLB rumor mill will be simmering as the winter meetings approach us on December 3rd. Take a look at some players on the market that could bring back satisfactory value for the dollar.
Note: All stats are according to Fangraphs.com
Jeff Keppinger: Maybe he gets a 3-4 year deal after his unsustainable 2012 campaign? He batted .325-367-439. Probably best suited in a utility role, but someone may give him a starting gig. He played first base, second base, third base for the Rays last year. Playing his best defense at third according to the metrics. He also raked left handed pitching. (.372-402-521 in 117 AB’s)
If 2 years at around $10 million is in his wheelhouse, he a great sign for a contending club.
Best Fit: Atlanta -Keppinger and Juan Fransisco could platoon at 3B. Fransisco is a switch hitter that has shown to be more productive from the left side. Martin Prado played a great left field last year and it makes sense to leave him there.
Ichiro Suzuki: His prime is long gone, but he could still have enough in the tank to bring value to a club. He’s coming off a season posting a 2.6 WAR. Still proving to be a quality on the bases and with his glove in right field. If he can get his OBP back to above .330, he is still worthy of playing every day.
He may not come as a bargain because of the career numbers he’s piled up. May not be willing to take a huge pay cut? By looking at his numbers the last couple of seasons he may have to give in and take a moderate one year deal late into the offseason.
1 yr $6 million would be worth the risk for teams with a huge hole in RF. He was middle of the pack among every day RF in WAR. (13th)
Best Fit: NY Yankees – He'd be a nice fit in a few veteran clubhouses, but New York makes the most sense. He's an affordable stop-gap option until they find a long term solution next year. It's quite possible he could even punch out double digit home runs with the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium.
Lance Berkman: Only makes sense for him to wind up in the american league where he can DH to help limit the wear and tear and his sub par range. He’ll be on Rice University’s coaching staff if he doesn’t find a deal to his liking.
A one year deal with a base salary of 4 million with incentives. Still a lot of questions about his knee.
Best Fit: Tampa Bay - Finishing his career where it all started In Houston would be glorious, don’t get me wrong! Even a smidgen of a boost to attendance would be welcomed with a team lacking star power amidst the franchise’s complete overhaul.
While he may be tempted to stay close to home, Tampa is a playoff caliber team that would likely entice him if he was to accept a healthy salary cut.
Stephen Drew: Durability and consistency has been an issue during his career. (He had ankle surgery in 2011) His .223 BA last season may pose as a problem as well. Drew is just 30 years old and could be a bounce back candidate due to his unlucky BABIP that played a part in his sinking BA.
Without a better SS option on the FA market he may wind up with some leverage, even with his lackluster season. If he regains his health he should the productivity to be at least an average every day player at his position. He’s a career .265-328-433 hitter and proved to be a solid defender his last few seasons with the Diamondbacks. From 2009 to 2011 he had a 9.2 total WAR. (He had a 5.1 in 2010, furthermore proving his inconsistency from year to year)
Jimmy Rollins posting a total war 0f 9.4 in the same span as Drew was rewarded with a 3 year $33 million extension with an option year. While Drew has his flaws, he could be overlooked.
He becomes a worthy gamble at 2 years $12 million for a team in desperate need.
Best Fit: Tampa Bay - Elliot Johnson and Reid Brignac are not the answer. While it’s a long shot he winds up here, the Rays would maybe come in on a one year deal.
Brandon McCarthy: If the unfortunate line drive that hit him in the head didn’t happen, he was likely in line for a 3-4 year deal this offseason. Landing on the DL costed him any possible momentum in building up his stock. I’m skeptical of him in a long term deal because he’s never pitched more than 170 innings since his debut with the White Sox in 2005. He doesn't miss a lot of bats and leaning on him to be a front of the rotation horse is a huge stretch. (If he can match his 4.8 WAR total of 2011, I’ll be eating my words)
2 years $22 million sounds about right. That may not sound like a bargain, but based on some other signings so far this offseason I couldn't imagine him coming any cheaper.
Best Fit: Milwaukee - A ground ball pitcher like McCarthy fits well in a home run haven of a ballpark like Miller Park.
Joe Blanton: He should post a WAR around 2 in the right ballpark. You know what you’re going to get with him. His FIP/XFIP over the past few seasons says he’s a much better pitcher than his ERA dictates. But maybe his strand rate and BABIP will keep him from having a sub 4.00 ERA. On the plus side, he’s been durable enough that you should be able to count on 170-190 IP for a couple more seasons.
With the right breaks in the right park he could post some solid enough numbers for your team as a back end starter. Plenty of teams will become buyers at 2 years $14 million? (Jeremy Guthrie did just sign with KC for 3 years $25 million)
Best Fit: Pittsburg - He would provide innings and it's a pitcher friendly ball park where if he has luck on his side could post a sub 4.00 ERA.