I know that it’s really early to start talking about this, but I started to wonder where Matt Holliday will sign next offseason.
Yankees (frontrunners) If my estimation is correct, the Yankees will have 158 million committed on their 2010 team unless they sign a free agent to a multiyear deal this offseason. Lets say that they’ll put their payroll in the 200 – 210 million dollar range. That would leave 42 – 52 million left to spend. The outfield corners and designated hitter look like the only holes. Holliday is the best player available in the outfield, and I’m sure that the Yanks will go all-in to try to lock up this great slugger.
Red Sox (frontrunners) They’ll pursue him partly because the Yankees are in on him, but also because they would love to add Holliday to their ball club. The BoSox inquired on him while he was with the Rockies, because they thought he would be the perfect Red Sox player. Jason Bay is a free agent, opening up a hole in left field. I’m not sure if the Red Sox would like to make record breaking contracts back-to-back years, so I don’t think the BoSox will go all-out in order to sign Holliday if they already have Mark Teixeira. If Tex goes elsewhere, look for Boston to go hard after Holliday.
Angels (frontrunners) This is pretty much the same thing as with the Red Sox. If the Angels sign Tex this offseason, they’re less likely to sign Matt Holliday next offseason. If Holliday goes somewhere else, the Angels are a big player for Matt. A lot of money should be opened up when John Lackey’s, Kelvim Escobar’s and Vladimir Guerrero contracts end. With “Vlad the Bad” not so “bad” anymore, the Halos could always look at the younger Holliday. Matt makes a lot of sense for their club if Teixeira isn’t signed first.
Dodgers (possible) If Manny Ramirez doesn’t resign in Dodger Blue, the other LA team could decide to go after Matt Holliday. I don’t know if they’ll be willing to go past the limits for Holliday the way the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels probably will. This remains a possibility, however.
Cardinals (slim chance) I named them because I think they have a chance to sign Holliday, even if it is a slim chance. They aggressively pursued him in trade talks with the Rockies, and were reportedly close to an agreement. If they did aquire Holliday, they would like to talk extension with him. So that could possibly mean that they would be willing to fork over the 200 million+ that would be necessary to sign Matt. I just don’t think that a mid-market team like the Cards would be willing to pay at least a fifth of their payroll on one player. The above mentioned teams are much more likely.
Nationals (dark horse) They’re aggressively pursuing Mark Teixeira this year, and that leads me to believe that they could do the same with Holliday if Tex signs elsewhere. Remember, they were in trade talks with the Rockies if a window for an extension would be granted. I think that means that they would be willing to offer the 200 million+ it would take to sign him. They might be outbid by the larger market clubs like the Yanks and Red Sox, but I think that they’ll throw a pretty high number in front of Holliday’s face.
I haven’t done a player market in a while. Bobby Abreu seems like a pretty popular name so far. Let’s take a look at where he might end up.
Cubs (frontrunners) Now that Ryan Dempster is resigned and Kerry Wood won’t be back, the remainder of the Cubs’ money will go toward a left handed bat for right field. The Cubs are in a financial predicament, however. 130 million is already tied up in contracts, and arbitration raises could push them another 5 million or so. If it’s true that payroll won’t go past 140 million, then salary must be moved in order to aquire Abreu. Marquis could be traded. I think they’ll do that to clear at least 7 million, and then with the 12 million made available, they’ll sign Abreu. But that’s just my prediction.
Braves (frontrunners) If they miss out on other outfield possibilities, Abreu could make a lot of sense. It would give them the flexibility of demoting or trading Jeff Francoeur without having to put someone in right field that shouldn’t be there. He had very good stats last year, and would be an all around a great aquisition for any team to make.
Reds (frontrunners) He could solve their left field problems. Great American Ballpark should attract Abreu, and the Reds could use a high OBP player to replace Adam Dunn. If they can get a few big years from various young players, this team could compete for the Wild Card and maybe even the NL Central.
Mets (possible) The Mets have been saying all along that they view pitching as their offseason priorty. They would still be upgrading their pitching by signing Abreu, though. For example: The Mets trade Ryan Church to the Rays for Edwin Jackson, sign Francisco Rodriguez or Brian Fuentes, and sign Bobby Abreu. That all can fit into their payroll, and they improve the bullpen and offense while keeping the rotation the same. Abreu would take over in right field, replacing Ryan Church. I think this idea could work.
Rays (dark horse) I know that they’re running low on money, but if they want to stretch the payroll a tad, Bobby Abreu could make sense. He is a middle of the order bat that plays right field; Abreu would fill all of their holes in just one aquisition. This one is a dark horse only because of the possible salary it would take to lock him up.
Francisco Rodriguez seems destined to sign a record breaking contract. The only question is who will pay it. Let’s look at some possibilities.
Mets (frontrunners) The loss to Billy Wagner coupled with the awful bullpen leads me to believe that K-Rod will probably be in a Mets uniform next year. I know there have been some reports that the Mets won’t pay his price, but I think he’ll eventually have to settle with a deal in the 5 year, 60 million range. Still a record breaker, just not the insane 15 million per year asking price. I explained why the Mets should pursue him here.
Cardinals (frontrunners) If the Mets get cold feet or decide to go in a different direction, you could see the Cardinals make an agressive offer to K-Rod. They do have 20 million to spend. For only 12 million per year, they could afford K-Rod plus a middle infielder. Look for the Cardinals to be active on the closer front.
Angels (possible) They could easily afford Rodriguez, but it might not be the best idea to spend so much money on him. It would be much smarter to sign Mark Teixera or CC Sabathia instead. If they miss out on both, don’t be surprised to see the Halos attempt to resign Franky Rodriguez, however. This one is possible.
Tigers (not likely) This team has got the money to spend since they won’t be cutting payroll. However, this would be the only signing they would be able to make. I know they would be filling a huge hole with a great pitcher, but this wouldn’t allow them to fill their remaining holes: shortstop, starting pitcher, catcher. It might make more sense for them to fill all positions on the cheap.
Indians (not likely) They have labled closer as their offseason priority. Most expect them to pursue Brian Fuentes instead; he will be cheaper. However, if the Tribe misses out on different starting pitching and infield options, it’s possible they spend big money on K-Rod.
Brewers (not likely) The Brewers showed they were not afraid to pay top dollar for a closer last year when they almost signed Francisco Cordero. They could decide to do the same this year and spend a lot of money on K-Rod. However, it might be a smarter idea to use the Rodriguez money to extend some of their young stars such as Prince Fielder, Corey Hart, JJ Hardy, and Yovani Gallardo. If those players would rather go year to year, Franky could become an option.
Will Manny Ramirez get his crazy demands? I don’t think so, but lets look at some teams that might give in.
Dodgers (frontrunners) There is no great fit for Manny, but the Dodgers make the most sense because of the familarity. They have a boatload of outfielders, but because of what he did for their team and how popular he is, they have to at least try to keep him. I think he’ll get 4 years, 80 million. I explained why he shouldn’t get the 6 years he wants here.
Angels (possible) Could Manny be going to the team on the other side of LA? If they miss out on Mark Teixera, they might even become the frontrunner. Manny could DH most of the time and he knows LA. This team seems to be the best fit, if Tex doesn’t return to the Angels.
Mets (possible) There have been conflicting reports on whether they’re interested or not. So I will label them as “possible.” They do have an open left field spot. Ya, I know they have Daniel Murphy, but I think of him more as depth in case of a Luis Castillo or Ryan Church injury. Manny would make a lot of sense here, but they probably view starting pitching as their #1 need.
Braves (not likely) I just put them because they have the money. Not many other teams can afford a 20+ million dollar contract and still have money to spend. Bobby Cox might be able to keep Manny in line, but they, like many other teams, view starting pitching as a more pressing need.
Yankees (not likely) They might do it solely to antagonize the Red Sox. However, with the pitching problems and such a bad defense it might not be a great idea to add Manny. If I were them, I’d use the money on pitching. If they have the urge to add a bat, bring in Teixera.
Blue Jays (dark horse) He has always destroyed the Yankees, as well as the rest of the AL East. He would probably be extremely motivated to play so many games against the Red Sox. If the Jays want to compete, they have to get a big bat. Ramirez would be a perfect fit, the only problem is the salary. With about 15 million to spend, they’d have to either backload his contract or make a trade. This team makes a lot of sense, but are a long shot because of the money.
I haven’t done a player market in a while. There have been some rumors that the Padres could shop Jake Peavy around this winter. A lot of teams will be interested. Lets break it down.
Padres. (frontrunners) Even though the Pads will likely shop him around, I don’t think they’ll get the offer they want. I doubt they trade the face-of-the-franchise unless their blown out of the water.
Braves. (possible) They seem to be very interested, despite the possibility of redestroying their farm system the same way they did during the Mark Teixera trade. Also, since they have so much money to spend it might be smarter to sign a guy like Derek Lowe instead of trading the farm for Peavy. They could offer any group from this package: Tommy Hanson, Jason Heyward, Jordon Schafer, Brent Lillibridge, Brandon Jones, and others. Yunel Escobar and Khalil Greene could be part of a deal, too. So you can see they have the stuff. Peavy wants to go there on top of it. This one could work out.
Rays (possible) There is no frontrunner to aquire Peavy because he’ll probably stay. The Rays do make some sense, however. How about a package of Matt Gaza, Wade Davis, Reid Brignac, Desmond Jennings and Edwin Jackson. The Padres add two established starters, a high upside one, and get their future replacements for Brian Giles and Khalil Greene. The Padres would be at least tempted to take this offer. I don’t know if the Rays would offer it, however. With the Yankees possibly getting CC Sabathia, and the Red Sox possibly getting Ben Sheets, the Rays could jump in and add an ace for a second playoff push. And with those three aces, watch out if they do get in. Plus, Peavy wouldn’t just be a rent-a-player, since he’s signed for four more years with a club option for a fifth. Very cheap, too. It is possible that both teams say no, but both could also say yes.
Dodgers (not likely) I know they are in the same division as the Padres, so they’d have to pay a higher price than other teams. It would be risky for the Dodgers, but there could be a huge benefit. The Dodgers would have the pieces by offering someone out of the Matt Kemp, Clayton Kersaw, James McDonald, Chin-Lung Hu range. Who knows, it might take all of them. They have a chance.
Cardinals (not likely) They have been named as a possibility because they have Colby Rasmus to offer. They’d have to give up their best prospect, other prospects, and all of their money to get Peavy. With all of the other holes the Cards have, I don’t know if they would want to do that.
Red Sox (not likely) I don’t know if they have the pieces, but they’ll have to at least check in. It might be smarter for them to sign CC Sabathia or Ben Sheets, anyway. Why give out top prospects when you could just sign a starter for big money. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for them.
Yankees (not likely) They’ll at least try aquiring Jake, but I don’t know if they have the pieces to get it done. Even if they do, wouldn’t it just be smarter to overpay and sign Sabathia than to sell the farm for Peavy. I could only see this if they miss out on CC. I would be surprised to see him go there, even with Sabathia not in the Bronx.
Rangers (not likely) They would love to have him, and also have the pieces to aquire him. The only problem is Peavy’s no-trade-clause. Why would he waive it to go from Petcoe Park to Arlington. He has set himself up for another big contract after this one ends. He could lose millions by playing at Arlington over Petcoe. If one of the teams would pay him 20 million, he might waive it. But then the contract turns from what is an affordable 60 million to 80 million for 4 years. That isn’t much of a bargain anymore. So if Peavy didn’t have a NTC, then he could be a Ranger, but the problem is that he does.
Casey Blake leads the third base free agent market. There will be tons of suitors for him. Not only because he is the best third baseman available, but also because of his versatility. Let’s take a look.
Dodgers (frontrunners) You can’t trade one of the best third base prospects in the game and then just take a pass on his replacement. I know it will be hard locking up Blake, but you’d have to think the Dodgers would have to go all in to get him. Casey is more of a small-town guy, but with the Dodgers possibly offering 3 years, 24 million, he might take the money over the geography. I think he stays in Dodger Blue.
Braves (frontrunners) His versatility would make him a very valueable asset to the Braves. He could play either outfield corner, so they’d have flexibility if Jeff Francoeur continued struggling. The’d also be able to move Blake to third base in the event of a Chipper Jones injury. They also have the money to get a deal done. Don’t be surprised if he goes here.
Twins (frontrunners) They need a third baseman, and Blake makes a lot of sense here. They will go hard to try and trade for Adrian Beltre, but if they miss out Blake is a great fall-back option. He would also be nice to help out in the outfield if Michael Cuddyer reinjures himself.
Mets (possible) He could sign on in New York with the Mets and see a lot of time in the outfield. The only problem is that they’ll have to outbid the Dodgers and give Blake possibly up to 30 million over three years. That’s way to much. It would be far smarter to add a few million and sign Raul Ibanez. They get a far superior bat for only a little more money. Or Jaun Rivera could make sense for a lot less on a one year deal.
Giants (possible) There will always be the Giants – Dodgers rivalry. It is both on an off the field. The Giants could decide to spend a lot on Casey Blake to improve the infield and keep him from the Dodgers. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see them aggressively pursue him.
Reds (not likely) They will probably have interest because of his good bat for left field, but he will be grossly overpayed for an outfielder. Especially with all the better ones available via free agency. The only thing that might cause a discount from Casey Blake is Great American Ballpark.
Rays (not likely) The Rays had interest in him at last year’s trade deadline. They probably will pursue him to an extent this year, too. But instead I find it more likely they go with cheaper options.
Phillies (not likely) They’ll want him as a left fielder to replace Pat Burrell, but they don’t have a lot of money to spend. It might be smarter to use Citizens Bank Park as a lure for Jaun Rivera to sign on the cheap.
Indians (dark horse) The Indians are a dark horse candidate to resign Casey Blake. He still makes a lot of sense for their team. Although there might be a little bad-blood, a deal could still get done.
It is possible the Royals decide to shop Zack Greinke. If he is available, there will be lots of suitors. Lets take a look at some.
Royals (frontrunners) Unless there is a knock-out offer, he’ll stay. The Royals think they can contend within the next two years, and know they’ll need Greinke. They’d also have to exhaust all contract negotiations. I think Zack will be in Royal blue next season.
Rangers (possible) I don’t think there is any frontrunner to aquire this guy; he’s too good. If he is available, look for the Rangers to be very interested. They have a huge catcher surplus and the need at starting pitching. They could offer Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a pitching prospect like Michael Main. Engel Beltre could also be included in the deal if need be. These two teams match up very well if Greinke becomes available.
Braves (possible) If the Braves strike-out on some of the top free agent starters, don’t be surprised to see them go hard after Greinke. It’s possible the Royals would have interest in Jeff Francoeur because of Dayton Moore. He’d be a throw-in, however. You’d think a package would have to be headed by Jordon Schafer. The Royals would definatly like to add a center fielder and then move David DeJesus to a corner. In fact, DeJesus could be part of the deal if the Royals could get a great prospect like Jason Heyward or Tommy Hanson in return. This is definatlty a deal that could happen if both sides are willing to trade.
Cardinals (unlikely) Because the Cards have such a great catching prospect, I had to name them. They could package a deal around Bryan Anderson. The only problem is other parts. Maybe they add Jamie Garcia, but he’s going to have Tommy John surgery. I don’t think the Royals would want Chris Perez since they have so many good relievers. I don’t know if the Cardinals would give him up, anyway. I guess they could attemp a quantity over quality deal, but it’s not likely the Royals accept. If the Cards had more prospects than just Anderson and the untouchable Colby Rasmus, a deal could get done. Too bad they don’t.
Dodgers (unlikely) They have a couple of guys that could appeal Kansas City, but I don’t think the Royals would trade Zack Greinke for Chin-Lung Hu and James McDonald. They’d get a shorstop and a pitcher, but these are not the type of guys you trade Greinke for. I don’t find this trade very likely.
Rockies (dark horse) How about this for a blockbuster. Zack Greinke traded straight up for Matt Holliday. The Rox want to add a top-of-the-rotation starter, and Greinke fits the bill. The Royals have been stated before as a possible dark horse suitor for Holliday. I know it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it’s something you can think about for fun this afternoon.