92 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report
139 – Number of days until Opening Day
I received great feedback after Monday's blog when I announced my top 3 free agents this offseason. Some of you felt that I rated Brian McCann too high, but I'll stick with my decision to put McCann in the top 3 free agents. Look, how often does a catcher of McCann's caliber hit the market? McCann will have multiple suitors and the Los Angeles Dodgers are my pick to land him. Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury along with McCann made my top 3 free agents on Monday. Here are my next three free agents.
4. SHIN-SOO CHOO
Shin-Soo Choo enters free agency coming off a huge year in Cincinnati at the plate. Choo hit .285 with 21 home runs. Granted, he did hit in a very friendly ballpark in, but teams interested in Choo are certainly looking to add his bat much more than his defense. His defense has slipped the past two seasons which does lower his value. Hunter Pence signed a $90 million dollar extension with the San Francisco Giants at the end of the season and this is the perfect contract for Choo to use as a baseline. Choo has been as good as Pence and they are the same age. The Houston Astros appear to be a surprise suitor and the Seattle Mariners are in need of outfield help. Neither of these teams offer Choo to win now. The Texas Rangers could also use some outfield help and should compete next year.
PREDICTION: Texas Rangers
5. CARLOS BELTRAN
I'm sure some may question my selection to have Carlos Beltran this high. Despite his age Beltran (he turns 37 in April) continues to produce at the plate and a move to the American League could be the next stop for him. Beltran has at least two more productive years in him and there may be a team that is willing to give him a third year. Torii Hunter got a two-year $26 million deal from the Detroit Tigers last year and Beltran should get the same deal. Beltran will likely to only consider contenders. The New York Yankees, Kansas City Royals, and Baltimore Orioles seem to be solid suitors, but I think the team that makes the most sense is the Boston Red Sox. Beltran can be a DH, but at Fenway Park he can play left field which does not require alot of running around with the Green Monster. Beltran has no reason to rush his decision and in the end it will pay off.
PREDICTION: Boston Red Sox
6. CURTIS GRANDERSON
Curtis Granderson is going to be an interesting free agent to keep an eye on this offseason because he enters it looking to rebuild his value after an injury-riddled season in 2013. He can provide a ton of power, but his batting average has dropped dramatically the past few seasons. Its tough to put a finger on what type of contract Granderson will receive this offseason. He may have to settle for a contract with an annual salary of $10-$12 million range due to the injuries this past year and the lower batting average. The Chicago White Sox have been rumored to have interest in the Chicago Native. The Texas Rangers and the Boston Red Sox could lose outfielders and would open the door as possible destinations. The New York Yankees extended him a qualifying offer, which he declined.
PREDICTION: Chicago White Sox
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