90 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report
137 – Number of days until Opening Day
The first signs of movement in the free agent market have begun this offseason. Nick Punto signed a one-year contract with the Oakland Athletics and Marlon Byrd signed a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies this week. Neither of those players made it onto my top 15 free agent list, but they are the most recognizable names to come offer the board. Yesterday, Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli, and Matt Garza were highlighted as #7, #8, and #9 on my list of top 15 free agents. Today, we look at the next three on my list.
10. Masahiro Tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka is viewed by many to be the top avaliable pitcher on the free agent market this year. I know all about his devastating splitter and understand why the expectations are high for him. However, Tanaka does not have the power fastball like Yu Darvish and with no experience at the Major League level he fell in my rankings. I'm not going to punt Tanaka out of my top 10, but I am also not going to rank a player that I have not seen him throw one pitch to the best hitters in the world. Will he make me look bad - maybe - but I'm sure to be in minority that I need to see it. The auction bid for Tanaka is going to set a record and one has to wonder if anyone will outbid the Los Angeles Dodgers. Lets not forget that the Dodgers bid for Hyun-Jin Ryu was three times that of the next team. Every team has interest in Tanaka, but the Los Angeles Angels, Chicago Cubs, and New York Yankees will be the favorites.
PREDICTION: Los Angeles Dodgers
11. Ervin Santana
When I read that Ervin Santana was asking for a contract worth a $100 million, I could not help myself but laugh at loud. Ervin Santana and $100 million dollars in the same sentence? When he's on, Santana looks like a strong middle of the rotation starter. When he is off, the ball is flying out of the ballpark at a ridiculous rate. Santana struggled mightily in 2012, but 2013 was much better and he was able to stay healthy. He has started at least 30 games over the past four seasons. So given that improvement, Santana looks like a solid option in a bad market. Last year, Anibal Sanchez received $16 million a season from the Detroit Tigers, which seems high for Santana. That said, he could get a contract with an annual salary of $13 to $14 million a year in this market. The Kansas City Royals made Santana a qualifying offer, which he declined. The Royals are not going to stay in the bidding if Santana has multiple suitors, but I think general managers around the league don't have alot of confidence in him. I think interest is going to be very light for the right-hander. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays may kick the tires a little bit, but I think Santana remains in Kansas City.
PREDICTION: Kansas City Royals
12. Ubaldo Jimenez
After two years of inconsistent performances, Jimenez had a solid campaign in 2013 for the Cleveland Indians. Jimenez does not have the dominating fastball like he once did, but he has gained the off speed stuff - mostly sliders. I have very little confidence in Jimenez maintaining his resurgence after how mightily he struggled in 2011 and 2012. Edwin Jackson's four-year $52 million deal is a decent baseline for Jimenez to use in his negotiations with teams. Jimenez has expressed how much he enjoys Cleveland and that he would like to stay. The Los Angeles Dodgers and The Toronto Blue Jays may be a fit, but like Ervin Santana I think both these teams are just kicking the tires and won't make a legitimate offer to Jimenez. Jimenez will probably take less to stay in Cleveland.
PREDICTION: Cleveland Indians