89 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report
136 – Number of days until Opening Day
General Managers and Owners have completed their meetings in Florida and at BEONDECK, we're wrapping up the top 15 free agent list for this offseason. On Thursday, we learned that MLB was withdrawing its proposal for a new bidding system with Japan, making it uncertain whether prized pitcher Masahiro Tanaka will be on the market this offseason. Uncertainty was one of the reasons I lowered my ranking for Tanaka on this top 15 free agent list. There are several unknown factors that come along with Japanese players and it will be interesting to see if this situation is resolved and Tanaka will be made available by his current team in Japan. Here are the last three players in my top 15 free agent list.
13. Joe Nathan
Joe Nathan is coming off his best season since 2009 after he had struggled with arm issues the past two years. He reasserted himself as a dominant ninth-inning closer in his second season removed from Tommy John surgery. In 2013, Nathan had 43 saves, a 6-2 record, a 1.39 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings with the Texas Rangers. he will be pursued by multiple teams this offseason. One of those teams will not be the Rangers as Neftali Feliz will be given every opportunity to win back the closer role for them. The Detroit Tigers appear to be interested in Nathan and he is interested in the Tigers. It makes sense as Nathan is familiar with the American League Central after his time in Minnesota. The Cleveland Indians may be in the mix as well.
PREDICTION: Detroit Tigers
This 40-year-old right hander is coming off a solid 2013 campaign with the Oakland Athletics. His two-seam fastball has tremendous movement and all his does is throw strikes. He relied on strong Athletics defense and he will need to find a team that provides that same type of strong defense if he is going to continue to have success in 2014. Since his shoulder surgery in 2010, Colon has proven that he is durable and can give a team a complete season. It's doubtful the Oakland Athletics will pursue Colon with the asking price expected to be out of their range. There will be a few suitors, but the team that makes a lot of sense is the Pittsburgh Pirates. Their pitching and defense philosophy fit Colon. Signing a 40-year-old is dangerous, but you can be sure a 2.65 ERA will not be ignored. The Cleveland Indians will be in the mix along with Pittsburgh and possible the Los Angeles Angels.
PREDICTION: Pittsburgh Pirates
15. Tim Hudson
Tim Hudson is 38-years-old, but like Bartolo Colon, he has figured out more ways to pitch late in his career. Hudson was throwing the ball really well before he broke his ankle this past season. Hudson finished the 2013 regular season with an 8-7 record, 3.97 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 131 1/3 innings. Hudson is a staff leader and I can't imagine that the Atlanta Braves won't want him back. Having said that, there will be other suitors for Hudson and the San Francisco Giants are in need of adding starting pitching. I think Hudson is a better off in the National League so while American League teams will pursue him, I think he stays in the Senior Circuit.
PREDICTION: San Francisco Giants