Tag Archives: Prince Fielder

2014 AL West Preview

1) Texas Rangers

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Over the past two seasons, the Rangers have collected a great group of talented players, but failed to make the ALDS. Last season, the Rangers won 91 games, but did not beat the Indians in game 163 and were eliminated from the playoffs. The biggest deal the Rangers made this offseason was the acquisition of Prince Fielder. Although the Rangers were forced to part ways with Ian Kinsler, one of their best players over the past decade, Prince is a significant upgrade at first base and the Rangers had an excess of middle infielders on their team and in their minor league system. The Rangers have one of the best infields in baseball, offensively and defensively, because they have Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Jurickson Profar, when he returns from injury, and Prince Fielder. In the outfield, the Rangers signed Shin Soo Choo to a massive deal because they believe they are close to winning a major league championship. The outfield is deep with Leodys Martin, Alex Rios, and Choo. As long as the Rangers’ offense stays moderately healthy, they should record a lot of runs and win a lot of games in the process. Along with a balanced offense, many of the Rangers are quality defensive players, which is necessary in the Texas.

In terms of pitching, the Rangers should have enough talent and depth to win over 90 games this season and win the AL West. The staff will be led by ace Yu Darvish. Darvish proved last season that he is one of the best pitchers in baseball and the best strikeout pitcher in the game. The Rangers need Darvish to stay healthy and pitch at a high level because the ball can fly in the warm climate of Arlington. Behind Darvish, the Rangers have a solid 2-4 with Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando, and Martin Perez. Although Ogando and Harrison have been injury prone in the past, they have great talent and will be incredibly important for the Rangers moving forward. Martin Perez could be the X-Factor for the Rangers because he is a former top prospect with a lot of talent. As Perez gains more experience, he should propel to the number two starter in the rotation, if they do not acquire another starter during the deadline, like previous seasons. The fifth spot for the Rangers will be a question mark because Tommy Hanson has achieved great success in the past, but has struggled with his performance and health over the past few seasons. In the bullpen, the Rangers should pitch very well. Although Soria has not closed since his time with the Royals, he has a good arm and has the necessary experience. Before the ball goes to Soria, Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross, Jason Frasor, and Neal Cotts must hold leads in order to win games. Although the Rangers did not make the playoffs last season, they should win enough games and score enough runs to win over 90 games and reclaim the AL West Championship from the Oakland Athletics, who won the division the past two seasons.

Rangers Predicted Record: 92-70

2) Oakland Athletics

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Over the past two seasons, the A’s have made the playoffs and won the division. Although the A’s do not have the most talent or the highest payroll, Bob Melvin does a great job with the team and the team has exceeded expectations. This offseason, the A’s made a few minor moves, but their offense will predominantly remain the same next season. In the infield, the A’s will be starting Branden Moss, Eric Sogard, Jed Lowrie, and Josh Donaldson. Last season, Donaldson had a career year and bursted onto the scene because he hit and played great defense. Donaldson needs to repeat his performance as a hitter this season. Moss was impressive for the Athletics because he has a big bat and is a great power hitter. In the outfield, the A’s have Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, and Josh Reddick. Crisp has been great for the A’s the lsat few seasons because he is an experienced hitter and is a quality top of the order hitter. Since Cespedes came to the US, he has been one of the best hitters in the AL because he has great talent and has used his raw power to crush balls out of the ballpark.

Although Oakland has established hitters, their pitching will be a major question mark this season because the pitchers do not have experience and a lot of MLB success. The ace of the staff will be Sonny Gray. Although Sonny has a lot of talent and exceeded in the past, he has not achieved greatness at the major league level and it is unclear if he will be able to lead the staff to the playoffs. Behind Gray, the Athletics have Chavez, Staily, and Milone. The three pitchers have shown flashes of greatness over the past few seasons, but have not been able to break out. The trio will need to pitch deep into games and give the team quality outings if they are going to match their win total from the last few seasons. The pitchers will be able to allow few runs per game because the offense has a lot of talent and power. Also, the team plays in a massive ballpark, which will help their pitchers record extra outs and limit runs. In the bullpen, the A’s should have one of the best units in the league because they have established arms like Sean Doolittle, Luke Gregerson, and Jim Johnson. The trio should be the main pitchers in the bullpen and hold the leads for the teams.

Besides the three at the end of the bullpen, Oakland has Dan Otero, Fernando Abad, and Evan Scribner. If Oakland can receive positive contributions from the other arms, they will have an elite bullpen. Although the A’s have achieved success over the past few seasons with lack of talent, it is difficult to see that they will be able to win enough games in the competitive AL West and American League to make the playoffs as a division winner or a wild card team.

Athletics Predicted Record: 86-76

3) Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim

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In terms of talent and experience, the Angels should have won the division the last two seasons and competed for the pennant and the championship. However, the team has struggled and they have not even been close to making the playoffs. The team has suffered through injuries and funks and has greatly underachieved. This season, the Angels have a lot of talent and should be able to compete for a wild card position in the AL.

The Angels will be led by their offense. In the lineup, the Angels have Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and David Freese. Although Albert Pujols or Josh Hamilton have not played well since they arrived in Los Angeles, they should be able to produce quality numbers if they stay healthy for an entire season. While Pujols and Hamilton have underachieved, Trout has positioned himself as the best overall player in the league and will compete for the MVP award. Besides the big three, the Angels will need to rely on role players like Freese, Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, and Raul Ibanez. If the offense reaches its potential, the team should be one of the highest scoring teams in the league because they may have more talent and potential than any other team.

The Angels have a lot of question marks in their pitching staff, which may keep them from the playoffs for another season. The top of the pitching staff will be held by Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson. Both are constant and reliable pitchers. The Angels need the duo to have great seasons because the rest of the rotation does not have a lot of experience of success at the major league level. The back of the rotation has Hector Santiago, Garett Richards, and Tyler Skaggs. This offseason, the Angels were able to remake their pitching staff by trading Trumbo for Skagss and Santiago, two young lefty arms. The Angels did not have many options for their rotation so they hope that the young starters can learn on the job and succeed at the highest level. If the Angels make the playoffs, it will be because the back of the rotation did not implode and lose games for the offense.

In the bullpen, the Angels have the potential to have a nice unit. At the back of the bullpen, the Angels have Joe Smith and Ernesto Frieri. The two have experienced success over the past few seasons and the team should feel confident if they can hold a lead into the eighth inning. The middle of the bullpen may have a lot of problems because they do not have a lot of innings in the majors, which has been a problem in the past. Although the Angels have the talent to make the playoffs and win the division, they have suffered many injuries in the past and it is likely that they will continue to underachieve and finish third in the division.

Angels Predicted Record: 85-77

4) Seattle Mariners

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The Mariners made the biggest offseason move this offseason when they signed Robinson Cano to a monster deal worth $240 million over 10 years. The Mariners have had a lot of money to spend over the past few seasons, but have been unable to lure a free agent to the team. Over the past few seasons, the Mariners’ offense has been atrocious and mediocre, but they believe they will take a step forward this season. Along with Cano, the lineup has former top prospects like Justin Smoak, Mike Zunino, Kyle Seager, and Dustin Ackley. Although they have a lot of talent and potential, they have been unable to transform their potential into performance, which has held them back as a team. If they can take a step forward, the team, will drastically improve their win total because they do not allow many runs. Last season, the Mariners won only 71 games, but it is likely that the enhanced offense will allow them to win more games.

While the lineup is one of the worst in the AL, the pitching staff may be the best in the league. Although Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijun Walker are on the disabled list, they should be able to return soon and greatly improve the staff. The ace of the staff is Felix Hernandez, who is one of the best pitchers in the league and is building a hall of fame caliber career. Last season, Iwakuma was great and should be able to continue his success and compete for the CY Young, like Hernandez. Walker has been one of the most hyped prospects over the past few season and is ready to display his potential this season. Walker should be a great number 3 while he learns how to pitch at the major league level. Along with Walker, Paxton should be able to succeed at the major league level. Paxton does not have the same talent as Walker, but should be quality middle of the rotation starter in the future.

The rotation needs to excel in order for the Cano deal to be worthwhile and the team to win games. The Mariners totally rebuilt their bullpen this offseason. The new closer will be Fernando Rodney and will be set up by Charlie Ferbush and Tom Wilhelmsen. The bullpen should be consistent and hold the leads that they are given because they have a lot of experience and success in the league.

Predicted Mariners Record: 84-78

5) Houston Astros

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The Houston Astros’ past few seasons have been disastrous and this season should be no different. However, the team does not care about their current record because they are building for the future. The Astros have one of the best farm systems of all time because they have numerous players that should be stars in the future. The Astros should have the number one overall pick which should enable them to add to their depth. The Astros hope that they can be like the Rays and use their young talent to start a dynasty and make a lot of playoffs. However, the Astros are in a bigger market, which will allow them to keep their young stars, unlike other teams that have rebuilt in the past.

On their current team, the offense is led by Jose Altuve, Jesus Guzman, Matt Dominguez, LJ Hoes, Jason Castro, and Dexter Fowler. Although the team does not have a lot of talent, they will be better than last season because Fowler is an improvement and the extra year should help a few of their young players. The team will go through a lot of struggles and losing streaks, but the future of the team is very bright and the fans should stay confident about the future of their team. The team should be excited because they will play with enthusiasm and a few of their players have a lot of talent.

On the pitching staff, the team does not have a lot of talent. The rotation includes Scott Feldman, Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer, Lucas Harrell, and Dallas Keuchel. Besides Feldman, the pitching staff does not have many innings pitched or experience. Although the pitchers are young, only Jarred Cosart is in the future plans for the Astros because he has a lot of talent and should pitch high in the rotation in the future. Last season, Cosart showed flashes of greatness and shut down some offenses in the major league.

The Astros have a cheap bullpen with many pitchers who are hoping to revive their career like Chad Qualls, Matt Albers, Anthony Bass, Kevin Chapman, and Jerome Williams. The pitchers throw hard, which gives them a chance to succeed and overwhelm opposing hitters. The Astros will likely lose over 100 games this season, but they hope that they can improve their record from last season and allow their players to grow. The Astros will consider this season a success if their young players gain experience, improve, and succeed at the major league and minor league level.

Predicted Astros Record: 59-103

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Pics and Stats from ESPN.com

2014 AL Central Preview

By: Jon

The AL Central has experienced a lot of change in the past few years and this offseason was no different. The division leader from a season ago, the Detroit Tigers, were able to make the American League Championship Series before losing to the eventual Champions in the Boston Red Sox.

 

1) Detroit Tigers

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The Tigers were one of the busiest teams during the offseason. Over the last few seasons, the Tigers have been one of the most successful teams, but have not won the World Series. This season, the Tigers have a great chance of winning the title as they may have the best team on paper.

Like other seasons, the Tigers offense should be incredibly effective and dangerous. The leader of the offense is their star third baseman, Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera is the best all-around hitter in baseball and is rising on the all-time list. If Cabrera can remain healthy for at least 140 games, he will hit over .320 with 40 home runs, 100 runs, and 125 RBI. Although Cabrera was protected by Fielder the past two seasons, the Tigers traded Prince to the Texas Rangers in return for star second baseman Ian Kinsler. Although Kinsler does not have the same power potential, he is a proven run scorer and should get on base at a high level in front of Cabrera. Although Cabrera will not have Prince to protect him, the Tigers must rely on the skill of Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter. The Tigers should be able to continue their excellence on offense and score enough runs to win a lot of games. In terms of defense, the team will have more problems with the loss of Jose Iglesias. Although Jose is young, he showed last season that he is one of the best fielders in the league because he has great range, hands, and a fantastic throwing arm. The Tigers do not have a great defense, which could ultimately lead to their downfall.

Along with the Tigers’ great offense, the Tigers’ pitching staff is one of the best in the league. The staff will be led by two Cy Young Award winners, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. Along with the two stars, the Tigers have Anibal Sanchez, Drew Smyly, and Rick Porcello. Although the trio do not have the star power like Max and Justin, they have great potential and skill. The trio must continue their success from last season if they are going to compete for the best record in the AL and claim home field advantage throughout the postseason. During last postseason, the Tigers showed how dominant their starting pitching would become because of their power and ability to strike out opposing batters. The Tigers would have advanced to the WS and possibly won the championship if they had a better bullpen. During the offseason, the Tigers improved their bullpen by signing Joba Chamberlain and star closer Joe Nathan. Along with Bruce Rondon, the new and enhanced bullpen should make the Tigers an improved ball club.

The Tigers won 93 games last season and should be able to win a similar amount of games this season. The Tigers are by far the best team in the AL Central and should win the division by at least 5 games. Without Doug Fister and Fielder, the Tigers will probably lose more games during the regular season without the power bat and quality pitcher.

Predicted Tigers Record: 91-71

2) Kansas City Royals

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The Royals were one of the surprise teams in baseball last season and almost made the playoffs last year. The young Royals’ offense has an incredible amount of talent and should propel the Royals to success this season in the AL Central.

The Royals will be led on offense by Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez, Omar Infante, Billy Butler, and Mike Moustakas. The leader of the Royals’ offense is certainly Eric Hosmer. Hosmer took great strides toward the end of last season and became the best player on the team. The Royals are hoping that Mike Moustakas will take the next step forward like Hosmer and become a dominant part of their offense. If Mike and Salvador Perez can become stars and Hosmer a superstar, the team will have a chance to compete in the AL Central with the Indians and the Tigers. The Royals have a lot of good complementary players, but need a superstar to strike fear into opponents and win more games. On defense, the team should be very good and the outfield should be the rock of the team. The combination of Gordon, Aoki, and Cain should produce a great defensive unit because they are quick, have good instincts, and good arms in the outfield. In the infield, the team has a few good defensive players, which will make the team stable.

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In terms of pitching, the Royals have a few questions that must be answered in order to win enough games. The starting staff will be led by “Big Game” James Shields who pitches like an ace and is a good pitcher to build around. If the Royals do not stay competitive throughout the season, the Royals will look to trade Shields because it is unlikely that they will be able to sign him to a long term deal next offseason. Behind James, the team has Jason Vargas, Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, and Jeremy Guthrie. The biggest X-Factor of the pitching staff will be Yordano Ventura. Yordano has excelled during the spring season because he can throw heat. Yordano has averaged around 98 MPH during the innings he has pitched this spring. Along with Ventura, Duffy and Vargas will be important for the Royals. Vargas is a consistent pitcher and should be a quality pitcher for the Royals. Duffy has extreme talent and the Royals hope that he can harness his potential and succeed with the club.

If the Royals’ pitchers can meet their expectations, the team will be competing for the second wild card position and win over 85 games. Like last season, the Royals’ bullpen should be consistent and dominant throughout the regular season. Last season, Greg Holland was one of the most dominating teams because he has the ability to throw hard and strike out opposing hitters at an amazing rate. Along with Holland, they have a lot of quality arms in the bullpen that should keep leads. Although the Royals may not outlast the Tigers for a the division championship, they will be in a tight battle with the Cleveland Indians.

Predicted Royals Record: 87-75

3) Cleveland Indians

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The Indians were the biggest surprise last season because manager Terry Francona was able to lead them to the second wild card position. Although they did not have great talent, they came together as a team and went on a great streak toward the end of the season. However, the Indians lost a few players that were important to their late season run and failed to sign people to replace their starters.

Although the Indians do not have any superstars in their lineup, they recorded the fifth most runs in the league. The key contributors for the Indians are Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Michael Brantley. Since the Indians do not have a player that can carry an offense for a month, each player must play at a high consistent level and exceed expectations if they are going to score enough runs to win games. In terms of defense, the Indians have quality defensive players such as Cabrera, Kipnis, Bourn, and Brantley, which will help them stop opposing teams from scoring.

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The Indians’ pitching staff is extremely interesting because they do not have a legitimate ace. The Indians need to replace Ubaldo Jimenez, who had a great stretch toward the end of last season and pitched like an ace. The leader of the pitching staff this season must be Justin Masterson. Masterson pitched well last season, but needs to make the next step and pitch like an ace if the Indians are going to make a run next season. Behind Masterson, the Indian’s have Zach McAllister, Danny Salazar, Cory Kluber, and Shaun Marcum filling out the other four spots in the rotation. The quartet has not achieved much success at the major league level during their careers; however, they must stay healthy and pitch well throughout the season. It is unlikely that they will be able to meet expectations and stay healthy because Marcum was a disaster last year and the other three did not pitch many innings last season. Although the trio had ERAs in the 3s last year, they each pitched under 150 innings and it is unknown if they can achieve the same success over an entire season or the 175 innings each that the Indians are expecting from the three starters.

While the starting rotation may present questions, the relief staff should be the most consistent part of their squad. Although they lost former closer Chris Perez, they replaced him with closer John Axford. Although Axford has not experienced success in the last few seasons, he has experience and should be able to obtain success. The Indians have retained the rest of their bullpen, which includes Cody Allen, Marc Rzepczynski, Vinnie Pestano, and Josh Outman. Each reliever has experienced success in the past and should be able to succeed next season for the Indians. The Indians’ bullpen needs to pitch well because they cannot afford to lose leads. Although they won 92 games last season, it is unlikely they will achieve similar success this season. The Indians are a quality team with many solid players but do not have any stars.

Predicted Indians Record: 81-81

4) Chicago White Sox

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The Chicago White Sox had a horrible season last year as many players had the worst seasons of their careers. The White Sox are in full rebuilding mode and traded a few of their elder, more expensive players last season before the trade deadline. The White Sox have a lot of young talent on their roster and will be starting these young players this season. Although these players have talent, they will go through their struggles and face a few losing streaks during the season.

The White Sox made a big signing this offseason when they signed Jose Abreu, a young Cuban, to a long term deal. The White Sox hope they can build a strong lineup with Abreu, Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia, Matt Davidson, Tyler Flowers, and Gordon Beckham. The White Sox feel that they have a strong core so they can eventually become a playoff team in a few years. Unless the White Sox are a major surprise, they will probably trade away Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, or Alexei Ramirez at the trade deadline because it is unlikely that they are part of the White Sox’s future.

On the pitching staff, the White Sox have Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, John Danks, Felipe Paulino, and Erik Johnson. The White Sox are led by Chris Sale, a legitimate ace and one of the ten best pitchers in the league. Sale is a young pitcher with great skill and has the ability to strike out over 200 batters in a single season. Outside of Sale, the rest of the staff pose many questions. Danks and Quintana are solid pitchers, but they can be inconsistent and occasionally perform very poorly. The back of the rotation Paulino and Johnson are young starters with little experience. Although they will go through their struggles, the White Sox hope Paulino and Johnson will improve with more experience and exposure and eventually become reliable starters in the rotation.

Like the other parts of their team, the bullpen has a few questions. First, the Sox must find a new closer because they traded Addison Reed to the Diamondbacks this offseason. The White Sox hope Matt Lindstrom can become a consistent closer and achieve success again. Before Robin Ventura will give the ball to Lindstrom, the ball will likely go through Ronald Belisario, Nate Jones, Donnie Veal, Scott Downs, and Dylan Axelrod. Many of these pitchers are unknowns for the White Sox. If the relievers are able to exceed expectations, the White Sox may be able to win a few more games than expected. The White Sox may not win many games, but they will be fun and exciting to watch because they have a lot of young talented players that will be relied on to play a lot this season.

Predicted White Sox Record: 70-92

5) Minnesota Twins

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At the start of the offseason, the Twins were one of the most active teams and signed a few starting pitchers. The Twins, like the White Sox, are in full rebuilding mode and do not have much talent on their roster, especially on offense. Besides Joe Mauer, the Twins do not have many players that the average fan has heard of in the past.

Some of these players include Josmil Pinto at catcher (Mauer has moved to first base), Pedro Florimon at third base, Alex Presley in center field, and Oswaldo Arcia in right field. Although these players have talent, especially Oswaldo Arcia, none of the players are expected to be All-Stars in the future. The Twins’ two best prospects Michael Sano and Bryan Buxton, the best prospect in baseball, are not expected to play with the Twins this season, but should be stars for the next 2 decades. Like the White Sox, the Twins will probably be auctioning some of their elder players during the trade deadline such as Josh Willingham, Jason Kubel, and possibly Brian Dozier or Trevor Plouffe.

In terms of the Twins’ pitching, their pitching staff should be dramatically improved because they signed a few starters to long term deals, Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. The Twins have an improved staff, but they do not have an ace or a very deep rotation. Nolasco pitched well last season, but he is not a true number one pitcher. Hughes had trouble in New York, but he should be able to improve because he will not allow as many home runs in the spacious Target Field. Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey are quality, experienced pitchers and should pitch a lot of quality innings. At the fifth spot, the Twins have Vance Worley. Worley is a young pitcher with potential and the Twins hope that he will be part of the rotation for another decade. Worley has been injured since being traded from the Phillies, but he will not be asked to pitch an exorbitant amount of innings. The Twins have some nice pieces in the rotation, but will need to pitch well because the offense will not score many runs.

In the bullpen, the Twins have a few good options like Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, and Anthony Swarzak. Although these pieces may not be on the team the entire season because other teams will trade for them at the deadline, they should pitch well and allow the Twins to hold the leads they are able to gain. The Twins’ fans need to have patience because in a few years the team should be good once their prospect gain experience and mature their bodies and game.

Predicted Twins Record: 69-93

All pics and stats from ESPN

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2014 MLB Top Free Agents and Predictions

By: Jon

1) Robinson Cano

Cano is looking to be paid for his success
Cano is looking to be paid for his success

The top free agent this offseason is one of the best baseball players in the league, which should allow him to net one of the largest deals in MLB history. Earlier this offseason, Cano and his free agent, Jay-Z, made a request for a $310 million contract over ten years, which would make him the highest paid player in the history of baseball. However, the Yankees countered with a 7 year $160 million deal, which would make him one of the highest paid players in the league and the highest paid second baseman of all time. The 31 year old has been one of the most consistent and valuable players over the last few seasons. In the last four years, Cano has averaged 160 games per season, 195 hits, 28 home runs, .310 average, 105 RBI, and .530 slugging percentage. Cano has finished inside the top six in MVP voting the last four seasons, won five silver sluggers, earned two gold gloves, and has went to 5 All-Star Games. Although people are afraid about giving major deals to free agents past the age of 30 because of past history, Fielder, Rodriguez, Pujols, and Teixeira, Cano will be given a huge money deal by some team. During the first 3-4 years of the deal, Cano will probably play like a player that will earn $25 million per season. However, teams should be wary of giving him more than 7 years because eventually he will be unable to continue his production. Cano has been a great hitter because of his strong quick wrists, but eventually Father Time will slow his speed and diminish his results. Cano needs another team, besides the Yankees, to bid for his services, if he is going to garner a $200 million deal, like Fielder and Votto. However, it is unlikely that another team will be able to pay his contract. Teams, such as the Tigers, Mets, Mariners and Nationals, will attempt to increase the Yankees offer, but the teams do not have the resources or need to give $25+ million to one player. Before the Kinsler deal, the Tigers had a need at second base, but they will need to save money for Cabrera and Scherzer. The Nationals may be the dark horse, but it is unlikely that they will sign another 100 million dollar deal after the Jayson Werth experiment. The Mets and Mariners have already dictated that they do not want to spend a lot of money on one play, but rather buy a few players to fill their holes.

Prediction: Cano signs with Yankees for 7 years and $180 million

2) Jacoby Ellsbury

Jacoby Ellsbury has the speed and talent to be a 100 million dollar player
Jacoby Ellsbury has the speed and talent to be a 100 million dollar player

The speedy outfielder has probably played his last game for the Boston Red Sox. Ellsbury wants a big money deal and the Red Sox want to give their young stars a chance to play at the ned level. Although talented, Ellsbury will not be able to net a deal over $120 million because their are too many questions about his health. During Ellsbury 7 year career, the center fielder has played in 145 games only three times. Also many teams are wondering if his speed will deteriorate as he ages and loses his legs. However, Ellsbury has top flight agent, Scott Boras, who will sell him as a player similar to Carl Crawford, who was given a $142 million deal from the Red Sox. Ellsbury will be demand this offseason because he is one of the best lead off hitters in a league, which has a few quality lead off hitters. Also, Ellsbury has shown that he can hit for power. During his best season in 2011, Ellsbury hit 32 home runs and drove in 105 RBI. However, Ellsbury has not hit more than 10 home runs in any other season so the 2011 campaign seems like a fluke. However, Ellsbury’s stolen base numbers have been consistent during his healthy seasons. In the four seasons where he played in more than 13o games, Ellsbury has averaged 55 steals, .295 average, 8 triples, 100 runs, and .350 on base percentage. Along with his ability to hit and run, his speed enables him to become one of the best outfielders in the league. Ellsbury has the ability to cover a lot of ground, which he has shown in one of the biggest center fields in baseball. This offseason, Ellsbury will be pursued by the Mariners, Mets, Cubs, Astros, and Yankees. However, Ellsbury would best fit in Seattle. Ellsbury is originally from Seattle and has noted that he would love to play for his home town team. Also, the Mariners desperately need outfield help and some offensive fire power on the team.

Prediction: Ellsbury signs with Mariners for 6 years $105 million

3) Shin Soo Choo

Choo's ability to reach base should make him a rich man this season
Choo’s ability to reach base should make him a rich man this season

Choo is another leadoff hitter that will be paid handsomely this offseason because of his ability to hit at the top of the order. After playing in Cleveland for seven seasons, Choo was traded to the Reds and had one of the best seasons of his career. Since Choo has become a regular starter midway through the 2008 season, he has been extremely durable and consistent, besides for one season. Choo has displayed the ability to bat for average as well as power from the top of the order, which is unique in today’s game. Over the past few seasons, Choo has averaged 20 home runs, .295 average, 20 steals, 75 RBI, and 95 runs. However, Choo’s biggest asset is his ability to reach base. Over the past few seasons, Choo has averaged an on base percentage of .400, which is extraordinarily high for a player, who does not strike out frequently. Choo is a versatile player that can play any position in the outfield. Choo does not have great speed, but is a smart defender and has a great arm in the outfield. Choo’s arm enables him to gun down base runners and play center and right field. During the offseason, Boras will display Choo as a player similar to Jayson Werth. Choo and Werth are similar players, but as the Nationals have realized, Werth is not worth a $126 million deal. Luckily for Choo, he expects to have a lot of interest from different teams, such as the Rangers, Yankees, Mariners, Tigers, Mets, and White Sox. Choo will probably end up with the Texas Rangers. The Rangers have recently traded for Prince Fielder and want to win in the American League. Also, the Rangers must replace the production of Nelson Cruz, who is leaving this offseason in free agency. Choo will fit nicely into the number one hole for the Rangers because they just traded their lead off hitter, Ian Kinsler, to the Tigers for Prince Fielder. Choo’s ability to reach base will give Fielder and Beltre more opportunities to collect RBI. Although other teams will make a run at Choo, Texas is willing to spend a lot of money for his services and will probably out bid the other competitors

Prediction: Choo signs with Rangers for 6 year $100 million

4) Masahiro Tanaka

The Japanese phenom hopes to have the success like Yu Darvish
The Japanese phenom hopes to have the success like Yu Darvish

The Japanese superstar and ace has received a lot of hype this offseason because of his past success. Over the past few seasons, Tanaka has risen in the ranks in Japan because of his recent success and progression. Last season, Tanaka had one of the best seasons in Japanese history. Last season, Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA and 183 strikeouts. Many believe that Tanaka is one of the best Japanese pitchers in history and feel that his stuff will translate to success in Major League Baseball. Tanaka’s stock has risen because of the success to Yu Darvish. Although Tanaka does not have the stuff and talent like Darvish, Tanaka should be a possible number one or a very good number two in a pitching staff. Tanaka has success because he has a good fastball, slider, and splitter. The closest MLB resemblance to Tanaka is Hiroki Kuroda. Besides for their Japanese decent, they both love to throw fastballs, sliders, and splitters. The Japanese pitchers have experienced success recently because they are one of the few pitchers that throw splitters and sliders. Tanaka is similar to Kuroda because they both throw in the low to mid 90s with their fastballs and occasionally throw into the high 90s. This offseason, Major League teams must pay a posting fee before talking with Tanaka. Many believe that the posting fee for Tanaka could reach $75 million, but it will probably be closer to $65 million. Since the posting fee does not affect a team’s luxury tax situation, teams, such as the Yankees and Dodgers, will be more encouraged to pay for Tanaka’s posting privileges. After paying the posting fee, teams must pay Tanaka’s contract, which will be around $50-60 million. Since the fee will cost around $120-130 million, Tanaka’s services will be limited to the big market clubs. Since most of Tanaka’s money will not count against the luxury tax, the Yankees will sign Tanaka. The Yankees are desperate for top end young pitching and Tanaka will fill these needs for the Yankees. After the Haren signing, the Dodgers have six starting pitchers and will be reluctant to sign another expensive starting pitcher.

Prediction: Tanaka signs with the Yankees for 4 years $60 million with a posting price of $70 million

5) Matt Garza

Garza hopes to be paid like a number 2 starter, although his injury history
Garza hopes to be paid like a number 2 starter, although his injury history

The free agent right hander is in line for a big pay day this offseason. Most people believe that Garza is the best American pitcher in free agency because of his past success a few seasons ago. When healthy, Garza has been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball. Although Garza is not a number one or two on a championship team, he can be a reliable number three. Since his first full season in 2008, Garza has not pitched over a 4.00 ERA and was an innings eater during his healthy seasons. During the middle of his career with the Rays and first year with the Cubs, Garza average 200 innings, 175 strikeout, and 3.70 ERA. However, the past two seasons have been a nightmare for Garza because of his injury history. If Garza did not have an injury history, he probably could command a contract, like the AJ Burnett and Anibal Sanchez deal. However, teams will be wary, which will take years and money off of his contract. Also, American League teams may worry because of trouble he experienced with the Rangers during the latter part of last season, 4.37 ERA. This offseason, Garza will attempt to earn a deal similar to Anibal Sanchez, but it is unlikely that he will obtain success. Although Garza will not have the same contract, he should attract a lot of suitors this offseason, especially if Tanaka cannot come to America. Teams, such as the Royals, Astros, Phillies, Blue Jays, Twins, Nationals, and Yankees, will be competing for his services. However, the Blue Jays are probably most likely to land the right hander. Garza was originally a Twin before he was traded to the Rays and has shown a desire to return to the AL East. Also, the Blue Jays have stated that they would like to sign a big name free agent pitcher because their pitching was atrocious last season. Although the AL East is a difficult division to pitch in, Garza has achieved success with the Rays and has the confidence to succeed once again. Garza will probably sign a contract for around 75-80 million dollars over 5-6 seasons. Also, Garza is not connect to a draft pick so the team that signs him will not have to lose a pick

Prediction: Garza signs with the Blue Jays for 5 years $75 million

6) Ervin Santana

Santana wants to turn his big year into a hefty contract
Santana wants to turn his big year into a hefty contract

The 30 year old right hander is coming off the best season of his career and will be paid handsomely because of his success. Although Santana did not post a winning season, he recorded an outstanding 3.24 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 211 innings, and 161 strikeouts. Santana is similar to Garza because they both have the ability to pitch 200+ effective innings, but are occasionally injured or ineffective. Like Garza, Santana projects to be a number three on a playoff team or a number two on an average team. Over his career, Santana’s biggest asset has been his ability to log innings. In four of his last six seasons, Santana has pitched over 210 innings with an ERA under 4.oo and a WHIP under 1.33, which are quality numbers. However, in the other two seasons Santana was absolutely awful, allowing an ERA of over 5.00 and pitching under 180 innings. If Santana can translate his success from this season to his new club, his club will be receiving a steal. Like Garza, Santana will be attempting to receive a $100 million deal, but it is unlikely that he will obtain that figure. The teams, Yankees, Marlins, Phillies, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Astros, and Nationals that are going after Garza will be looking at Santana as well because of the strikingly close similarities. However, the Nationals will probably be the winners of the Santana sweepstakes. After winning the NL East two seasons ago, the Nationals had a horrible season because they could not hit or pitch well enough to win games. However, they have the finances and desire to make the playoffs again this season. The addition of Santana will relieve some of the pressure on Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, who moderately underperformed last year. Santana should be able to net a deal close to Garza and Sanchez.

Prediction: Santana signs the Nationals for 5 years and $82.5 million

7) Hiroki Kuroda

Kuroda looks like he will return with the Yanks this season
Kuroda looks like he will return with the Yanks this season

The veteran right handed pitcher has been the best pitcher for the Yankees over the past two seasons. The 38 year old Japanese pitcher has been more than the Yankees could have expected, when he signed with them two seasons ago. Over the past two seasons, Kuroda has averaged a 3.32 ERA, 210 innings, 1.16 WHIP, and 160 strikeouts. Although Kuroda has been consistent and very good, he did not pitch well toward the end of last season. Unfortunately, Kuroda may have a dead arm, which could affect his performance this season. Although it is uncertain if Kuroda will re-sign with the Yankees or retire from MLB, it has been reported that Kuroda is leaning toward returning for another season in pinstripes. If the Yankees are able to monitor his innings closer, Kuroda should have the arm strength to pitch consistently and effectively for the entire season. Kuroda is a ground ball pitcher with a good fastball and slider combination. Even during his troubles, Kuroda was able to pitch in the low to mid 90s with his fastball. The Yankees will attempt to sign Kuroda by offering a large one year contract, similar to the last two seasons. Kuroda will be asking for about $18-20 million, but it is unlikely that the Yankees will oblige because of the struggles he experienced toward the end of the season. However, Kuroda may have some leverage because the Yankees are desperate for starting pitching. Currently the Yankees have only two starting pitchers, but CC and Ivan Nova both have questions that must be answered, if the Yankees are going to return to the playoffs. Eventually Kuroda will probably re-sign with the Yankees for a one year deal around $15-18 million. Besides the Yankees, it is unlikely that Kuroda will pitch for another MLB team because he has expressed discontent in moving. If their is a dark horse for Kuroda, it will be the Angels because he has pitched in California and they have the money to spend on starting pitching, which they desperately desire.

Prediction: Kuroda signs with the Yankees for 1 year $17 million

8) AJ Burnett

Burnett hopes his worse days are behind him
Burnett hopes his worse days are behind him

After three disastrous years with the Yankees, Burnett was traded to the Pirates and has experienced great success over the last two seasons. The 15 year veteran has been able to resurrect his career in Pittsburgh, which will enable him to score a good deal. Over the past two seasons, Burnett has been the ace of the staff, recorded averaged a 3.40 ERA, 195 innings, 200 strikeouts, and 1.22 WHIP. Even though he was unable to pitch in the media intense environment of New York, the small media market of Pittsburgh was great for Burnett’s mental health and confidence. Although the Pirates would love to re-sign Burnett this offseason, he has expressed interest in retiring. However, it seems unlikely that the Pirates will be unable to convince Burnett to return because of the money they can offer him. Also, the Bucs have a good chance at having another good season. The Pirates need Burnett because of the leadership and innings that he can provide for a young pitching staff. The Bucs will be putting young players into their rotation and the young players will have innings limits. Burnett seems very content with Pittsburgh, but a few dark horse teams that may attempt to sign Burnett are the Astros, Royals, or Brewers. However, Burnett will ultimately re-sign with the Bucs and lead their young, talented staff. If Burnett wants to sign a long term deal, he could probably get a 3 year 40 million dollar deal, but he probably wants to take it one or two seasons at a time until he retires.

Prediction: Burnett signs with Pirates for 2 years and $30 million

9) Carlos Beltran

The greatest postseason hitter of all time hopes to reach his second WS
The greatest postseason hitter of all time hopes to reach his second WS

The veteran free agent is likely to join his sixth team of his career. Over his career, Beltran has been one of the best players of his generation and has  chance of making the Hall of Fame. Although Beltran has never won a World Series championship, he is arguably the best postseason hitter of all time because he has hit for power and a high average. Although he is known for his postseason success, Beltran is still playing at an All-Star level in the outfielder. Over the past two seasons with the Cardinals, Beltran has averaged .285 average, 81 Runs, 28 Home Runs, 90 RBI, and .493 slugging percentage. Even though Beltran is 36, he still has the ability to play quality defense in right field. Although Beltran can still play the outfield, it would behoove him and his future team, if he goes to the American League and plays some DH. The DH could save Beltran’s legs and enable him to continue hitting for a few more seasons at a high level. Although it is unlikely, Beltran has been asking teams for a four year deal, which would allow him to play until he is forty years old. However, recent reporters have reported that teams are only willing to offer Beltran a two year deal. Currently, teams such as the Yankees, Red Sox, Royals, Rangers, Orioles, Pirates, and Cardinals, are bidding for his services. However, it is most likely that the Yankees will be signing Beltran this offseason. The Yankees have made Beltran their number one priority, since they are waiting on Cano and Tanaka. The Yankees need another outfielder/DH and Beltran would definitely fit the mold. Also, Beltran has the ability to hit in the postseason, which would make him an instant favorite among Yankee fans. Beltran has stated that he would like o play with the Yankees.

Prediction: Beltran signs with Yankees for 2 years and $33 million

10) Mike Napoli

Napoli wants to keep his beard in Bean town
Napoli wants to keep his beard in Bean town

The power hitting first baseman was a great addition for the Red Sox, last season. If the Red Sox did not find Napoli’s medical problems, he would have signed a 3 year $39 million deal, during the past offseason. Instead, Napoli signed a one year five million dollar deal, which was an absolute bargain for the Sox. Although Napoli has posted quality numbers, he has missed a lot of games during every season of his career. Napoli has played over 115 games only twice in his career, but has recorded over 20 home runs for the past six seasons. Although Napoli is a good power hitter, he does not hit for average. Besides for his 2011 season where he hit .320, Napoli has never hit over .273 in a season. Last season, Napoli posted his second best season of his career, which should enable him to net a multiyear deal this offseason. Napoli hit .259, 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 79 runs, and .360 on base percentage. Although Napoli does not play great defenses, he is a clutch player and racked up numerous big hits while leading the Red Sox to the World Series title. However, last season, Napoli had his best defensive campaign of his career at first base. This offseason, Napoli will be wanting a deal similar to the deal he received last season, before failing the physical. Besides the Red Sox, the Orioles, Royals, Rangers, Mariners, and Twins have expressed interest in Napoli because of the offense he can provide to a team. However, it is likely that Napoli will remain with the Red Sox because he fits their needs. Since the Red Sox will be losing Jacoby Ellsbury, they need to find and retain offense, in order to repeat next season. Napoli’s right handed bat is perfect for Fenway Park, so they should be able to repeat his numbers from last season. Others will try to pry Napoli, but he loved his season with the Red Sox and his beard will perfectly with the other players.

Prediction: Napoli signs with the Red Sox for 3 years and $45 million

Info from MLBtraderumor, mlbbaseballreference, and espn.