With the slow trickle of free agent signings likely to increase to a torrent within the next couple of weeks, it’s lots of fun to play the “what if” game and guess who’s going where; who one’s favourite team might add to their clubhouse to make next year the one fans have been waiting for.
That in mind, here’s my list of hunches for twenty top free agents and where I think they’ll land this off-season. The team after their name and position is the one I think most likely to sign them, the two numbers in brackets the estimated number of years and millions of dollars the contract will be, and the other team listed my second choice as a likely destination. Come on back in spring training to check how I did- and score your own list.
Heath Bell, RP: Rangers (4/$40); Cardinals …Feliz didn’t look upto the job in post season; texas try to make third time the charm
Carlos Beltran, OF: Orioles (2/$18); Royals … an aging, slowing star now five years past his glory years. A perfect fit for the Oriole way of doing things
Mark Buerhle, P: White Sox (2/$28); Yankees … a career Sox guy, likely to retire in their black cap. Had talked about it being sooner than later
Michael Cuddyer, OF: Phillies (4/$55); Angels … two teams with pitching coming out the yin-yang but short on hitting. Phils rumoured to be close to deal already
Johnny Damon, OF : Rays (2/$20); Blue Jays … two year deal will let him clip 3000th hit with the signing club
Yu Darvish, P: Yankees (5/$110); Mets … money including massive buy out to his Japanese team; Yanks desperate enough and rich enough to forget the Igawa fiasco of theirs- especially if they don’t sign CJ Wilson
Prince Fielder, 1B: Cubs (8/$175); Cardinals …will grumble about being underpaid until he’s reminded that his dad never made that much. Then he’ll be all smiles
Aaron Hill, 2B: Diamondbacks (3/$19); blue Jays … seemed to be a perfect fit and refind hitting form in Phoenix; Jays may remember his value to the team though
Paul Maholm, P: Tigers (3/$30); Giants … why SF as possibility? Because they just might shed a Freak or a Cain to get more hitting and need some sort of low rent fill in as a number two.
Ryan Madson, RP: Phillies (4/$40); red Sox … alledgedly close to re-upping with Phils; Red sox will need someone if Papelbon flies the coop
Joe Nathan, RP: Blue Jays (2/$16); Red Sox … toronto Star seconded my opinion on this today; a sensible fit for Toronto who let 25 saves go this season
David Ortiz, DH: red Sox (2/$23); blue jays … threats to leave for pinstripes just a bargaining tool for Big Papi? I believe so
Roy Oswalt , P: Yankees (3/$40); Marlins … the Yankees can’t sign every pitcher… but it won’t stop them from trying! And they’ll succeed with a couple, why not Roy O?
Jon Papelbon, RP: Red sox (4/$45); Rangers … the september melt down will be forgotten in New England and no one’s going to value him as highly as his lifelong team
Jorge Posada, DH: retirement ; Orioles … time for Jorge to fade out and not worry about how he looks in a new cap. But see above statement of Oriole way of doing things…
Albert Pujols, 1B: Yankees (10/$300); Cubs … a great player and a great big ego. He wants the biggest contract and the biggest spotlight; Yankees won’t worry about too many star first baggers
Aramis Ramirez, 3B: Marlins (4/$58); brewers … a Latin American player to hit homers will be a good fit for new Miami look and stadium. Brew crew might cuddle up if/when Fielder leaves
Jose Reyes, SS: Marlins (6/$95); Phillies … a Latin American player who can snag balls and steal would be a good fit for new Miami look- and allow Hanley to try to butcher a different position
Frank Rodriguez, RP: Rangers (3/$35); Cubs … decent season enough to make teams overlook his spotty personal off field record
CJ Wilson, P: Yankees (6/$105); Red Sox … the Bronx bombers number one target if rumours are correct; post season perhaps diminished his chances of re-upping in Arlington