The Indians have signed Kerry Wood to a 2 year, 20 million dollar contract. This looks like a really nice signing to me. Woody can come in a be the great closer that the Indians need. It eats up 10 million of the 15 million they had available this offseason, but I think that it’s worth it. This guy was very good last year and has the stuff to be a completely dominant closer. This is a great move on the Indians part.
Now that there is only 5 million left to spend, it looks like the Tribe will look for an infielder. Mark Grudzielanek could make a lot of sense if he is convinced the Indians can compete. Orlando Hudson now looks like he’s out of their price range. Ray Durham would be an OK aquisition if Grudzielanek cannot be had. There’s not much left at second base past those two. Not many shortstops either unless the Tribe can afford Rafael Furcal or Orlando Cabrera, which is unlikely. Joe Crede or Ty Wiggington make a lot of sense for the third base hole, but those players might also be out of the Indians price range.
If no infielder can be aquired, the Tribe could look at a cheap starting pitching signing. There is not much depth in that rotation. Freddy Garcia, or maybe even a return of Paul Byrd could make a lot of sense. Brad Penny could be another option.
Kerry Wood was a good signing by the Indians as they attempt to compete for the AL Central crown next year. This division should be wide open.
I’m just upset that Wood didn’t return to my Cubbies.
The Indians have 3 big holes to fill this offseason, but limited resources. Can 15 million buy a quality player for the rotation, infield, and bullpen? The Indians will have to get creative with trades or free agent signings. It doesn’t seem like the Tribe’s way to spend big money on a starter, so expect most of the money to go toward the bullpen and/or infield. Instead of paying for a top notch closer like Francisco Rodriguez or Brian Fuentes, it would be smarter to give the job to a set-up man like Juan Cruz. Trevor Hoffman is the exception because he is a possible bargain. So, 4-7 million goes toward the ‘pen. A reclamation project could be imported on the cheap. Freddy Garcia could make sense for 5 million. With the remaining money, a guy like Mark Grudzielanek or Joe Crede could be added on a short-term deal. This could be the way it happens; they sign Hoffman, Grudzielanek, and Garcia all to short-term contracts. It seems like the thing Mark Shapiro would do: no risk, some upside.
A big free agent could be signed, however. Orlando Hudson finds himself in a bad market for second baseman, and could come at a below market price. Maybe for 8 million or so he could make sense. Then use 7 million on Hoffman and hope for the best with your starting pitching. Maybe even sign a guy like Jon Garland. Use the remaining money on Grudzielanek or Cruz and settle with internal options for the other positions.
The other possibility would be to make a trade. Kelly Shoppach could be moved to fill one of the holes. With so many teams interested in catching help, he could draw something nice. If they believe that Michael Bowden can make a good impression in his rookie year, he could be aquired for Shoppach. Ty Wiggington from the Astros is an option if other pieces are involved. Don’t bring up Jose Valverde; he will cost the same as Trevor Hoffman for the same amount of years, one. The Tribe would be much better off with Hoffman and Shoppach rather than Valverde and Ryan Garko. A deal could be worked out if the Tigers offered Placido Palonco, but that makes little sense for Detroit. So maybe it would be smarter to just keep Shoppach.
In that case, the other catcher could be moved. Victor Martinez has two years left on his contract and could be a very appealing option to many teams. He’ll earn only 5.2 million next year, so it wouldn’t clear much salary, but think about the possible return. I recently wrote about how Victor Martinez for Mike Lowell made sense.
So it looks like Indians’ GM Mark Shapiro will have a very busy offseason in front of him. He will have to get creative if he truly wants to fill all of his holes.
Most people think the White Sox will have a quiet offseason. They’ll sign a decent second baseman like Mark Grudzielanek or Ray Durham to a one year deal, and they’ll be done. There’s nothing wrong with this, but the White Sox would like to add speed. Maybe GM Kenny Williams would decide to buy-low on Luis Castillo. If the Mets ate 12 million of 18 million left on his deal, I could see it. Why wouldn’t he get three years, 6 million on the free agent market? He seems just like the player Willimas would like to aquire. He would be criticized by fans, but when isn’t he? I think Castillo makes a lot of sense for the White Sox. The Mets would also like to move him. They’ve had their eye on Orlando Hudson, and he would love to go to New York. If the Mets want him, they’ll get him. If they decide not to go after Hudson, they could just make a small signing like Grudzielanek or Durham. I think the smartest move would be to move Daniel Murphy from left field to second base. Then they would be able to go out and sign an every day left fielder instead of just getting one to platoon with Murphy. I really do like this trade a lot for both teams.
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The Chicago White Sox are in a dog fight for the AL central right now with the Twins. (Don’t forget, I will do my predictions on September first) But today I will look ahead to what they should do in the offseason. This team should be one of the most quietest teams, with only one need, second base. Their designated hitter Jim Thome’s option is likely to get picked up, because the White Sox have a lot of money coming off the books when Orlando Cabrera and Joe Crede leave. (I think both will) All they have to do is sign a second baseman on a 1 or 2 year deal. So, sign one of Mark Grudzielanek, Ray Durham, and David Eckstein. They can then shift Alexie Ramirez to shortstop. This is all they have to do, but with Kenny Williams you never know what they will do. It seems like Williams wants to move Jose Contreras. If they do, they would have to get a starter. Maybe sign a guy like Paul Byrd or trade for a guy like Jason Marquis if the Cubs eat salary. These are guys on one year deals that can be a stopgap to top pitching prospect Aaron Poreda. They have former top prospect Josh Fields ready to take over for Crede. However, Fields has struggled this year and could be traded. That would put the White Sox in the hunt for a third baseman. So the bottom line for the White Sox is: All they need to do is one little move, but they could end up being very active.
While the D’Backs look like they are going to make it to the postseason this year, you don’t know about next year. The Dodgers look like they’ll be big spenders in the offseason, but they also have many holes ot fill. The D’Backs, however, don’t. If you look at our Offseason Needs post, you’ll find out they only have three: second base, reliever, and starter. If they retain Randy Johnson, which I think the will, that sloidifies the rotation. The need to add a reliever or resign either Jaun Cruz or Brandon Lyon, most likely Cruz. They will have a hole at second base with Orlando Hudson reaching free agency. It is unlikely they will be able to afford him, but they need to sign a different in free agency. Mark Grudzielanek or Ray Durham make a lot of sense here. This team obviously won’t resign Adam Dunn, because he is looking for 100 million. They don’t need him, though, because they have Eric Byrnes returning from injury. The team has a solid trade chip in Chad Tracy. They don’t have a spot for him when Byrnes gets back. They could move him for a bullpen piece. I know this doesn’t help them for next year, but the D’Backs are going to have a draft bonanza next year when Dunn, Hudson, Lyon, and possibly Cruz all walk. This is a team that can stay pretty much the same as it was last year. It more depends on what kind of signings the Dodgers make witch will depend on who wins this division.
It’s finally time for free agency! Ever think on where the top 50 free agents will go? Well, I did and I wrote them down. Here they are. Ignore the bolded paragraphs. I tryed everything and it just won’t unbold. Sorry for the inconvenience.
1. Mark Teixera- Angels. This is a very close one between the Yankees and Angels. I will go with the Angels, though, because the Yankees primary target is CC Sabathia, not Mark Teixera. I think they will end up with Sabathia, leaving the Angels for a return of Tex.
2. CC Sabathia- Yankees. The Yankees are going to throw around a lot of money this offseason. Just like the Mark Teixera prediction, it is a 2 team battle between the Yankees and a different LA team: the Dodgers for Sabathia. The Yankees are very likely to sign at least one of them. I was going to put CC with the Dodgers, but I think Frank McCourt will not let GM Ned Coletti go out and waste his money on a signing that could end up looking like the Jason Schmidt one.
3. Manny Ramirez- Dodgers. Did you know that the Dodgers made an extra 7.6 million in revenue just from Manny. So, subtract 7.6 from his yearly salary and they have a bargain. There are no great fits for Manny, and the Dodgers might not bring him back because of the outfield surplus. They could look to trade an outfielder, though. Andrew Jones in unmoveable, but could be released. Jaun Pierre will be tough to move, but if they eat a lot of money it could happen. Andre Eithier and Matt Kemp would have a lot of value, but they shouldn’t trade them. I think it makes more sense to trade Pierre and release Jones.
4. Pat Burrell- Mets. After missing out on the top-of-the-rotaion starting pitchers, they decide to add a big bat like Burrell. Not many teams are good fits for “Pat the Bat” so he may even come slightly cheaper than others. I know that people want to go with Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tatis, but they could trade Ryan Church for Edwin Jackson. That would fill the pitching void cheaply while adding offense. Murphy and Tatis would then move to right field. This idea could work.
5. Adam Dunn- Nationals. The Nationals have been after Adam Dunn for ever. I have a feeling that Jim Bowden is going to want to try to make a big free agent signing to save his job. Dunn would add a powerful punch to that lineup, but they still would be the worst team in the NL East.
6. Ben Sheets- Red Sox. If there is one team that can easily afford an injury to a starting pitcher, it’s the Red Sox. They have 30 million to toss around this winter and seem primed to sign either Mark Teixera or a high end starter. Because of the depth in the Red Sox rotaion, they can afford an injury to Sheets while many other teams can’t.
7. Milton Bradley- Rangers. Bradley likes the Rangers, and the Rangers showed confidence in resigning him by not trading him at the trade deadline. They have an open DH spot, so he wouldn’t get injured as much, and he likes Texas. The Rangers have to do this to keep their offense as it was this year.
8. Francisco Rodriguez- Mets. Billy Wagner is out for the 2009 season, so the Mets need a closer. Some have said it would make more sense to add a cheaper closer like Brian Fuentes and use the rest on starting pitching. I agree, but I doubt Omar Minaya does.
9. Ryan Dempster- Cubs. There will be a massive bidding war for him, but he loves Chicago and I’m sure the Cubs would like to keep their championship, type club intact. Their going to have to raise the payroll into the 140 million range, but I think the new ownership will, because The Cubs will be should for 1 billion dollars.
10. Derek Lowe- Braves. They want to add a starting pitcher this offseason. With 45 million to spend, they should easily be able to afford him. Heck, they could fit both Jake Peavy and Lowe into the budget and still have over 20 million to spend. They make the most sense.
11. AJ Burnett- Yankees. The Yanks would like to add two starters this offseason. With CC Sabathia headed to New York, Burnett would be that second guy. Just think about how nasty a rotation of CC Sabathia-Chein-Ming Wang-AJ Burnett-Andy Pettitte-Joba Chamberlian would be. I can’t see how they don’t make the playoffs with that kind of talent.
12. Mike Mussina- Retirement. It seems as though he is finally ready to hang it up. Rather than playing for the next three years and reach 300 wins, he’ll go out on a high note and retire. I think Mussina will delay it untill the Yankees are forced to move on. Then he’ll anounce it.
13. Orlando Hudson- Cardinals. They have a lot of money to spend and will need to sign Hudson in order to truly solidify their offense. He would look really nice batting in that #2 hole and playing some great defense.
14. Orlando Cabrera- Twins. They seem like the most reasonable team. They need a shortstop, and have money to spend. Also, he fits nicely into their grind-it-out style of play. There’s not a great fit here, but this one sure makes a lot of sense.
15. Joe Crede- Giants. Even though the Giants are suposed to be rebuilding, Brian Sebean won’t be able to resist and will sign Crede.
16. Bobby Abreu- Cubs. Now that they need a right fielder Abreu makes a lot of sense. It will be hard to squeeze him into their payroll, but there aren’t any better options. There aren’t many teams that need a right fielder and have the money to go out and get one. Plus, the Cubs would’ve gone after him if his option was declined.
17. Oliver Perez- Dodgers. With Derek Lowe, Greg Maddux, and Brad Penny all leaving, the Dodgers need to add at least one starter this offseason. I know they seem more focused on offensive players like Manny and Furcal, but you always need pitching. Look for the Mets to be serious contenders for a Perez reunion, but I think they’ll beaf up the offense instead.
18. Jon Garland- Tigers. They need reliable starting pitching. I know a lot of people think Garland will be overpayed because of a lack of strike-outs and an ERA in the 4.00 to 4.50 range. However, he’s one of the most consistent starters out there and he eats up a ton of innings. To me the Tigers make a lot of sense and they’ve shown a willingness to spend for mediocrity. Example: The Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis extensions.
19. Kerry Wood- Rangers. The Cubs have moved on, so count them out. The field will be wide open, but I think he returns home to Texas to close games for the Rangers. The Red Sox could also be possible if he’s willing to be a set-up man. Last year Boston made the highest offer, but Woody wanted to stay in Chicago.
20. Brian Fuentes- Brewers. They could have up to 20 million to spend if they are willing to raise payroll to 100 million. That’s more than enough to lock up Fuentes with. You migth think they don’t want to spend big on closers, but they were among the top bidders for Francisco Cordero last year. If the price is crazy they won’t make the move, but if it’s decent, he could end up a Brewer.
21. Trevor Hoffman- Indians. He won’t be back with the Padres. The field is wide open on where he’ll go, and I think the Indians are the best fit. They can sign him cheaply to fill their hole at closer. Plus, they almost signed him when he was last a free agent. I think they go get him.
22. Rafeal Furcal- Dodgers. He wants to be back and the Dodgers want him back. They might have a hard time craming all of his salary in because of the other holes, but I think they can sqeeze him in. There will be a very large market for him, so don’t be surprised to see him bolt for more money elsewhere.
23. Greg Maddux- Retirement. The Mad Dog looks like he’s finally ready to end his Hall Of Fame career. The only teams he’d play for would be the Padres, Dodgers, Braves, or Cubs. The Cubs have a ton of pitching depth; count them out. The Dodgers would probably rather go with younger pitchers. The Braves seem more likely to bring back Maddux’s friends: John Smoltz and Tom Glavine. The Padres make sense if they move Jake Peavy to clear salary. If they don’t, there will be no fit and he will retire.
24. Andy Pettitte- Yankees. I was going to predict him to retire, but now that I think about it, the Yankees might not want to give Phil Hughes a free spot in spring training. They could resign Pettitte and use Hughes in the minors untill someone gets hurt, which is likely with Joba Chamberlain and Chien-Ming Wang last year and Burnett has a history of injuries.
25. Randy Johnson- Angels. With Jon Garland leaving, the Angels will need a starter because of Kelvim Escobar’s injury. Johnson can come in and fill the void untill Escobar gets beack; creating a surplus. This isn’t a great fit, but there are none now that his D’Back career is over.
26. Jason Giambi- A’s. A think Giambi will end up ending his career in the same place he started it: Oakland. The A’s have a lot of money to spend, and I think they’d be very interested on a 1 or 2 year deal. This is even more likely now that they have Matt Holliday on their team.
27. Pudge Rodriguez- Mets. They need a catcher and Pudge is the best one available. There aren’t many teams in need of a catcher other than them. I know they view pitching as a more urgent need than hitting, but for the expected price, you can’t pass it up.
28. Casey Blake- Indians. The Indians want Blake back, and Blake would like to return to the Indians. Despite there being a rather large market for him, Blake will take a small discount to return home to the Tribe. They don’t add one of their main two targets: Brian Fuentes or Orlando Hudson, but they get a solid closer and one of the best third basemen available.
29. Raul Ibanez- Braves. This team has a boatload of money to spend. They can more than afford Ibanez and probably view this smarter than overpaying for Pat Burrell, Manny Ramirez, or Adam Dunn.
30. Jamie Moyer- Phillies. He is having a great year, and said he wants to play untill he’s 50. The Phils need to bring him back just to have a respectable rotation. They could use a second starter as well if they are open to trading Kyle Kendrick.
31. Braden Looper- Pirates. With the Cardinals probably moving on, Looper should be open to all teams. He is a solid back-of-the-rotaion option and should be affordable on a one year deal. Plus, the team can always switch him back to relieving if they desire to. The Pirates would like to add a veteran starter, and Looper comes cheap with tons of experience.
32. Mark Grudzielanek- White Sox. Their looking for a second basemen after losing Orlando Cabrera. The want to move Alexie Ramirez to shortstop, but want to sign a free agent that won’t block Gordon Beckham. Grudzielanek is the perfect fit.
33. Ray Durham- D’Backs. They clearly need a second baseman after losing Orlando Hudson. They can’t afford to bring him back, but have no one to play sencond base. Durham seems like a very good and affordable option.
34. Edgar Renteria- Cardinals. Edgar is coming off a bad year, but has high upside. If he can do 3 4ths of his 2007 performance, he’ll be a great bargain. He has played for the Cardinals before, and they need a shortstop. I think they sign Edgar to fix there middle infield problems.
35. David Eckstein- Oriols. They had a interest in him at the trade-deadline and could sign him this offseason as a stopgap option. This won’t stop them from looking for shortstops via trade, however.
36. Brad Penny- Blue Jays. The Jays had interest in Penny through trade in the past and they seem to make a lot of sense for Penny. He could be great starter for them if he remains helthy.
37. Russ Springer- Cardinals. They could use some bullpen help, so that means they have to at least bring back their old relievers. Springer reportably still wants to play and wants to play for the Cardinals.
38. Mark Kotsay- Reds. I was going to put him back with the Braves, but they recently traded him to the Red Sox, so I will put him with another team in need of a center fielder: the Reds.
39. Jim Edmonds- Braves. The Cubs don’t want him back. The Braves are in need of a center fielder, and they would probably be very interested in Edmonds. If he can do what he did with the Cubs last year, he’ll be a very useful piece.
40. Will Ohman- Cardinals. It seems as though they are willing to spend some money on a lefty reliever. Ohman is the best one available. Bringing him in will help reshape their bullpen. It will help a lot.
41. Jason Varitek- Red Sox. There is no better alternative for the Red Sox since the market for catchers is so bad. The Captian, Jason Varitek seems destined to return to the Red Sox. I don’t think this would stop them from going after his predecessor, however. They coudl trade for a young catcher to start in 2010. If Boras demands Varitek for a 2 or more year deal, don’t be surprised to see them decline and agressivly pursue Bengie Molina.
42. Nomar Garciaparra- Dodgers. Because the Dodgers will be out of money after making all of these singings, they will have to go back to Nomar at third base next year. This will be risky because of his injury risk, but it is their only option.
43. Darren Oliver- Angels. I have said that relief signings are very tough to predict, but I will guess that Darren Oliver resigns with the Halos. They need a lefty reliever if they plan on using Brian Fuentes at closer, and if the don’t, he won’t sign there. So Oliver is needed back in Anaheim. Plus, since he’s a probable type A free agent, he might decide to accept arbitration. There won’t be many teams wanting to give up big money plus a draft pick for Oliver.
44. Juan Cruz- Tigers. The Tigers can offer him almost no other team can: a closing job. While some big-money teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets will be in on him, I think in the end he hooks on in Detroit.
45. Brandon Lyon- Red Sox. They’d like to add a ground ball pitcher and Lyon is one. The way he ended the year will take his “closer” tag away, but he should get some reasonable money anyway.
46. Juan Rivera- Phillies. The Phillies make a lot of sense for Jaun Rivera; Rivera makes a lot of sense for the Phillies. The Phils get their cheap replacement for Pat the bat Burrell, and Rivera gets to go to a hitters haven: Citizens Bank Park. He could go there on a 1 year deal, play every day, have a career year, and then hit free agency again and sign for some big money.
47. Randy Wolf- Astros. He enjoyed his time in Houston and the ‘Stros have the money to sign him. There should be a rather large market for him since he will be affordable and not that much worse than other free agent options. I think the Astros win the sweepstakes.
48. Paul Byrd- Brewers. Byrd will be a hot commodity once better free agent options leave. He’ll give you league average production on a one year deal. I think the team that ends up signing him is the Brewers. They seem smart enough to go after him instead of a pitcher like Perez or Garland on a multiyear deal. The Brew-Crew have 20 million to spend, so they can afford him for one year. He will stabilize their rotaion as their fifth starter.
49. Jeremy Affeldt- Reds. The Reds want him back and with the amount of money they have, they’ll get him back. If the Reds can bring back their relievers and some young players break out, they could contend.
50. Freddy Garcia- Giants. They have a lot of money to spend and have their heart set on trading Jonathan Sanchez. Garcia, if healthy, would be able to step in and eat up some innings at a cheap price. Plus, if the Giants are out of the race in July they could always flip Garcia into some nice prospects.
There we go, thats it. The top 50 free agents. I know I left out a few teams, but it is hard to predict that every team will make a splash. I try to predict what teams will do, not what they should do.