93 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report
140 – Number of days until Opening Day
The Hot Stove that is the major league offseason is about to reach a boiling point with General Managers and Owners meeting in Orlando this week. There are several key free agents this year, so this week at BEONDECK, I will give you my best free agents on the market and my predictions on where they will play in 2014. I will give you three players each day, so here are my top 3 free agents for this offseason.
He is clearly the best player avaliable, but plays a position where elite players rarely hit the free agency. There is little doubt that Can will get more than Dustin Pedroia's eight-year$110 million deal with the Boston Red Sox. He should not have a problem landing an average salary between $23 and $25 million. Many thought that the The Los Angels Dodgers may take a swing at Cano, but they just signed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero to play second base. The Chicago White Sox have some money to spend but its unknown if they will immediately invest.
PREDICTION: New York Yankees
When healthy, Ellsbury is capable of being one of the game's best players. He proved it in 2011, hitting .321 with 32 home runs and strong defense in centerfield. Health will be a big factor in his next contract because he was limited to 18 games in 2010 with a rib injury and then 74 games in 2012 by a shoulder injury. This year he played in 134 games, but power he showed in the past was not there. A contract with an annual salary between $17 to $19 million should get it done for Ellsbury. Ellsbury has ties to Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein, but its unclear if the Cubs will spend significant money this offseason this early in the rebuilding process. The Seattle Mariners might have some money, but don't provide an immediate opportunity to win. Keep an eye on the Cincinnati Reds to make a splash. Even with Jackie Bradley Jr. waiting in the wings, the Red Sox should still be considered a landing spot to re-sign him.
PREDICTION: Boston Red Sox
It's pretty rare for a catcher of McCann's caliber hits the market. John Buck's three-year $18 million deal with the Miami Marlins is the biggest free agent deal given to a catcher in the past seven years. McCann was able to recover from a shoulder injury, but his offensive numbers were down for the Atlanta Braves this year. With Yadier Molina's annual salary at $15 million with the St. Louis Cardinals, it seems that this is a fair place to start. However, if McCann gets less it will be because teams are concerned about his shoulder. The Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers are potentially losing Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski respectively and both could make a play for McCann. The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels will all be in the mix. Two other teams that may jump into the mix are the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.
PREDICTION: Los Angeles Dodgers
97 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report
144 – Number of days until Opening Day
We know who the finalists are for several postseason awards and today I'm going to share who I think will win and why:
AMERICAN LEAGUE MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Chris Davis
My Winner: Miguel Cabrera
There is conversation about Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout deserving this award, and I’m not opposed to rewarding players from losing teams. I supported Andre Dawson when he won the award in 1987 on a last place the Chicago Cubs club. However, Cabrera topped Trout in average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The Tigers offense struggled when Cabrera was injured toward the end of the season and into October. Trout's overall body of work was awesome for the most disappointing team in baseball, but Cabrera posted .348/44/137 in just 144 games. Yes, these are better offensive stats than his 2012 Triple Crown season!
NATIONAL LEAGUE MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, Andrew McCuthen, Yadier Molina
My Winner: Paul Goldschmidt
Goldschmidt led the entire National League in five different major categories: home runs (36), runs batted in (125), slugging percentage (.551), OPS (.952) and total bases (332). In addition, Goldschmidt stole 15 bases, scored 103 runs and only missed two games for a team in the wild card race until the final few weeks of the season. Goldschmidt also won NL Offensive Player of the Year and a gold glove last week. He truly is the team leader in Arizona.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG: Max Scherzer, Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma
My Winner: Max Scherzer
This one won't even be close as Scherzer’s 21 wins and near 90 percent winning rate will win him the award. Scherzer struck out 10.08 hitters per nine innings and 240 total. That was good for second-best in the AL, while his 0.97 WHIP led the American League.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CY YOUNG: Jose Fernandez, Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright
My Winner: Clayton Kershaw
I'll apologize now for not putting up much of a case for why Kershaw will win the National League Cy Young this year. Kershaw’s 1.83 ERA was the lowest for a starting pitcher since Roger Clemens in 2005. Kershaw is not only going to win the Cy Young award, but he is an MVP candidate this year and will win his second Cy Young award in three seasons. September was Kershaw's worst month of the season when he posted a 2.53 ERA, but Kershaw still owned the NL best in ERA (1.83), WHIP (0.92) and strikeouts (232).
AMERICAN LEAGUE MANAGER OF THE YEAR: John Ferrell, Terry Francona, Bob Melvin
My Winner: John Ferrell
Postseasons are not factored into voting, but I’d be surprised if Ferrell didn’t capture the award. He took a 69-win Boston team to 97 wins and their third World Series title in the past decade.
NATIONAL LEAGUE MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Clint Hurdle, Don Mattingly, Fredi Gonzalez
My Winner: Clint Hurdle
This is not even close for me to pick Hurdle. All the pieces finally fit in Pittsburgh this season, as the Pirates with the National League's second lowest payroll finally made the playoffs after a 21-year absence.
AMERICAN LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Chris Archer, Jose Iglesias, Wil Myers
My Winner: Wil Myers
This is a fairly easy selection for me. Wil Myers was recalled by the Tampa Bay Rays on June 18th and all he did was hit a grand slam off CC Sabathia in Yankee Stadium just days later. He only played in 88 games, but he still led all AL Rookies in on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
NATIONAL LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Yasiel Puig, Jose Fernandez, Shelby Miller
My Winner: Jose Fernandez
Jose Fernandez was impressive from his first start of the season and finished the year with a 2.19 ERA. Fernandez is just the fourth rookie ever with a sub 2.20 ERA and finished second in the National League with 9.75 strikeouts per nine innings. He gave up just 5.8 hits per nine innings this season. The media will select Yasiel Puig, but Fernandez should win the award.