Top 40 Free Agents: 20-1

We continue from Monday with 20-11…
20. Jim Edmonds- .257/.350/.471, 19 HR, 70 RBI
Edmonds has a 10 million dollar option for 2007 with a 3 million buyout, so we??ll see in the impeding days whether the Cardinals decide to keep their dependable, but aging center fielder for another season. The price for teams will likely only be one year, so surely teams looking for a center fielder in the short term will be all over Edmonds. This year was badly injury plagued, and even at 36, Edmonds can still hit and play a decent center field. His speed has declined in the outfield but the golden arm is still there.
Prediction: Cardinals pick up his option
Result: Cardinals resign for 2 years

19. Moises Alou- .301/.352/.571- 22 HR, 74 RBI
Alou is already 40 years old and this will likely be his last stop before retirement. Alou can still swing the wood, though, as his .571 slugging percentage led all free agents, including Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Lee and Barry Bonds. The outfield play is a concern, so he??ll likely find an American League team to DH with. The release of Felipe Alou as manager marks the end of Alou??s stay in San Fran. I know you??ve all been waiting, folks, but here is the 2006-07 off season edition of Old Hobbling Outfielder The Orioles Will Sign When They Really Need Pitching!
Prediction: Orioles, 1 year, 8 million with 2nd year team option
18. Julio Lugo- .278/.341/.421, 12 HR, 37 RBI
Lugo struggled in his time with the Dodgers after being traded from Tampa, hitting .235 in August and .200 in September. He also lost his starting job. Boston has been on his tail for years, and now that he??s finally a free agent, the Red Sox will want him over Gonzalez at short next season. The other teams in the hunt are Toronto and the Mets. Toronto seems content with Aaron Hill at short, while the Mets are not as confident in Valentin. Look for Theo to have a revelation, or get outbid, and make the smart move by staying away.
Prediction: Mets, 3 years, 24.5 million
17. Jose Guillen- .216/.276/.398, 9 HR, 40 RBI
Jose endured a rough season in 2006 that ended in season-ending surgery. Guillen was a prime candidate to become wildly overpaid this off-season, but saw his price take a deep dive after a failed year. Now he will be looking for a guaranteed two years with some incentives involved. Guillen can undoubtedly still play and is a superb defensive outfielder, so teams will be keeping an eye on him. Even if he is a clubhouse issue/distraction.
Prediction: Pirates, 2 years, 18 million with incentives
16. Greg Maddux- 15-14, 4.20 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, .271 BAA
No doubt he??s back with the Dodgers. With his stuff and control deteriorating, Dodger Stadium suits him perfectly. He had a 2.37 ERA in August and 4.29 in September after coming over from the Cubs at the deadline.
Prediction: Dodgers, 1 year, 8 million
15. Nomar Garciaparra- .303/.367/.505, 20 HR, 93 RBI
The Angels seem like a good fit for Nomar, who came along last year and turned out to be steal for Coletti and the Dodgers. In the AL, Nomar can play first and DH, and the Angels can guarantee him 2-3 years at 6-7 million annually without much concern. If he stays healthy, Nomar is still one of the best contact hitters in the game.
Prediction: Angels, 2 years, 15.5 million with a third year option
14. Jeff Suppan- 12-7, 4.12 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, .277 BAA
Jeff was very mediocre and unspectacular all season before the money signs started flashing before him on the mound like our familiarity with Derek Lowe suffering from the same symptom (thankfully). Now Suppan will get a much undeserved payday this winter where the 4.12 ERA will continue. There are some rumors afloat the Yankees are looking into nabbing Suppan, which would aid a rotation featuring Moose, RJ, Wang and possibly Matsuzaka.
Prediction: Yankees, 3 years, 32 million
13. Ray Durham- .293/.360/.538, 26 HR, 93 RBI
Was 2006 a fluke? I looked up his stats and choked on my food. Did anyone realize 35-year old Ray Durham slugged .538? Now he??s a free agent and is one of the few second basemen who can hit for some power. With plenty of Giants free agents, and Bonds, Schmidt and Alou departing, they??ll free up enough cash to sign Durham.
Prediction: Giants, 2 years, 24 million with option for third year
12. Vicente Padilla- 15-10, 4.50 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, .266 BAA
Average numbers but Padilla had a lot of bright spots last year. He did a very good job at keeping the ball in the yard at hitter-friendly Ameriquest, upped his K-rate and pitched 200 innings. He??s also only 29 years old, so the average Padilla still has his peak years to improve. He seems like a good fit for the Orioles, where he will surely underachieve and fold quickly.
Prediction: Orioles, 3 years, 34.5 million
11. Tom Glavine- 15-7, 3.82 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, .267 BAA
People forget that Glavine was the best pitcher in baseball for the first two months of the season. Yet the unexceptional second half has GM??s wondering whether Glavine may be running out of juice. That won??t stop Minaya from signing him for another year. It seems like he loves New York and the Mets love him.
Prediction: Mets, 2 years, 17 million
10. Frank Thomas- .270/.381/.545, 39 HR, 114 RBI
Thomas and the A??s look close on a deal, but we all know Beane isn??t much for increasing his salaries in negotiations and Thomas is extremely selfish. He??s the A??s idea type of on-base, power player and is a good fit with the team and that lineup. Amazingly, Frank played in 137 games last year at age 38 while literally breaking down just a few years prior. Now he??ll be wanting to cash in with the highest bidder.
Prediction: Rangers, 2 years, 25 million
9. Barry Bonds- .270/.454/.545, 26 HR, 77 RBI
The big question: With whom will Bonds break Aaron??s all-time home run record? Day by day, it??s looking like the Giants will not be that team. He simply cannot function out in left field much longer. Watching him track down fly balls or run after doubles is painful to the eye. But the man can still hit, and still posted a crazy .454 OBP. Now he can break the record and get on-base without changing homes.
Prediction: Athletics, 1 year, 12 million
8. Gary Matthews Jr.- .313/.371/.495, 19 HR, 79 RBI
Is Gary really the total package or was this just a contract year performance? Has he really come into his own at 32 years old or will we see an instant decline right after he signs his new contract? Matthews made his first All-Star team, played in 147 games as the Rangers center fielder, hit .313 and showed his defensive prowess on multiple occasions. He also has above average speed on the bases. I like the Diamondbacks to sneak in and nab him in the end.
Prediction: Diamondbacks, 4 years, 36 million
7. Barry Zito- 16-10, 3.83 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, .257 BAA
The most overrated pitcher in baseball the last three years will finally get a chance to test the market. Zito??s durability, AL experience and nasty stuff are pluses, but he??s pitched in a pitchers park in Oakland his entire career and still posted ERA??s of 3.30, 4.48, 3.86, 3.83. In a pitchers park for a playoff team, he??s a solid #2. In a hitters park with a flat fastball and a curveball that can be crushed when left up in the zone, he??s a #3, and maybe a #4 in a few years. But, Zito has the name recognition and a Cy Young, and he??s only 28. Scott Boras will also help Barry get a big contract in a bidding war that comes down to the Yanks, Mets and Padres.
Prediction: Mets, 5 years, 71.5 million
6. J.D. Drew- .283/.393/.498, 20 HR, 100 RBI
Drew just announced last Thursday he was going to be a free agent, causing many Red Sox fans to jump for joy. He seems like a perfect replacement in RF for Nixon for a variety of reasons- his defense, keeping Pena on the bench for another year, Pesky Pole and short right field fence, .393 OBP hitting fifth in the lineup- so I??m hoping for the Sox to pick up on this and grab him. And you know what, I think they will.
Prediction: Red Sox, 4 years, 40 million
5. Jason Schmidt- 11-9, 3.59 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .238 BAA
Schmidt is a durable, 8-inning starter who will be coveted by many big-market teams this off season. While getting up there in age, Schmidt still has a strong 95 MPH fastball that rides up in the zone and a slider that looks seemingly un-hittable when he??s on. Rumors are surfacing he wants to pitch in Seattle, but I have a feeling he??ll just where the money is- a depleted Cubs rotation that, along with Zambrano, Hill, Marshall and Prior/Miller, all of a sudden seems pretty good.
Prediction: Cubs, 4 years, 48 million
4. Carlos Lee- .300/.355/.540, 37 HR, 116 RBI
Lee is the first of the three big-time power bats in the free agent market, but he??s by far the biggest risk. Sure, he??s a slugger who fits well in the 4 or 5 slot of any contending team and is always capable of a 40-HR season, but at age 31 he??s already slowly breaking down. His defense is atrocious, he??s slow and rarely walks. A four or five year deal is an enormous risk for any team, but someone will bite. Look like Houston, who has a wad of cash to spend on a power bat, is the best fit. The Cubs are another option that??s been thrown around.
Prediction: Astros, 5 years, 65 million
3. Aramis Ramirez- .291/.352/.561, 38 HR, 119 RBI
Ramirez made a good decision to test the free agent waters with many factors working in his favor. The third base stockpile is weak, and it??s extremely rare to find a third baseman who can hit for his power at 29 and play average defense. The OBP could use work, but he has a keen ability of going to all fields and spraying the ball to the right field gap. Wrigley Field helped, but I don??t see that as a big factor if he does move. The Padres have in the area of 30 million to spend this winter, so look for them to make a long-term investment in Ramirez.
Prediction: Padres, 6 years, 86 million
Result: Cubs, 5 years, 70 million
2. Daisuke Matsuzaka- 17-5, 2.13 ERA, 200 K in 186 IP
Hold your horses, Sox fans, it??s not official that we won the bidding for Matsuzaka. If it??s confirmed that we did, I will be ecstatic. The investment is costly, but the reward is undeniable. Watching some film of Matz shows me a hard fastball that peaks at 95 MPH, a hard breaking slider that is just filthy and a splitter that starts in the zone and ends up in the dirt with the opposing hitter walking back to his dugout. The motion is also fun to watch. The Red Sox need to make a big splash this winter, and keeping Matz from the Yankees and gaining a (potential) #1 starter in the process would be extraordinary. Let??s all hope.
Prediction: Red Sox
1. Alfonso Soriano- .277/.351/.560, 46 HR, 95 RBI
I would take Ramirez over Soriano, but he??s got the edge in all-around game. His ability to not only hit home runs in a pitchers park, but also steal bases makes him the #1 free agent out there. There are risks in signing Soriano long-term, though. His age is 31, which means a six-year deal would go way beyond his peak years. His career OBP is lacking and he tends to strikeout more than often. While he posted a record SLG for his career, the .277 BA needs work. And he wasn??t exactly overly spectacular in his days in Texas. Still, Soriano is the only 40-40 player who projects to stay on that playing field for 2007. Any team that grabs Soriano will have themselves an instant superstar.
Prediction: Angels, 6 years, 110 million
Wild Card: Roger Clemens- 7-6, 2.30 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, .216 BAA
Who really knows anymore?

Categories: Aramis Ramirez Barry Zito Carlos Lee Gary Matthews Jr. Greg Maddux J.D. Drew Jason Schmidt Jeff Suppan Jim Edmonds Jose Guillen Moises Alou Nomar Garciaparra Ray Durham Tom Glavine Vincente Padilla

11 Responses to “Top 40 Free Agents: 20-1” Subscribe

  1. Quo November 12, 2006 at 11:55 PM #

    FIrst off, great piece Zach. I enjoyed this one and the last one immensely. I personally believe that the Diamondbacks will not be in the market for GMJ. They already have an overrated defender who had a career year offensively under contract for next season (Eric Byrnes) that can play CF. I get the feeling that any big splash they make to surprise people would be in the pitching department.

  2. Quo November 12, 2006 at 11:59 PM #

    I should have been more specific, in that Byrnes is arbitration-eligible next year, but either way, I think the D-Backs will go with him, and failing that, someone younger (Chris Young). They've got a great core of young players (Tracy, Jackson, Drew, Quentin), I think their goal for next year will be for all of them to take the next step, then possibly sign the impact bat/player before 2008.

  3. Zach November 13, 2006 at 12:07 AM #

    Quo, I'm actually not too familiar with the D'Backs, but looking at their depth chart, my reasoning for Matthews was Byrnes moving to left and Quentin in right. That would seem like a better plan than waiting for DaVanon to get healthy or going with Easley/Young. I originally penciled him in for the Angels so it was a tough call.

  4. Quo November 13, 2006 at 1:40 AM #

    I agree that the D-Backs would probably be better next season with Byrnes/Matthews/Quentin in the OF than Byrnes/Young-DaVanon-Easley/Quentin, but they seem like a team pretty well committed to a youth movement. I also have some faith in the other Byrnes that he'll be smart enough not to give a huge contract to GMJ based on one year.

  5. Sam November 13, 2006 at 5:37 AM #

    Zach, when you say Julio Lugo to the Mets, I presume you mean as a second baseman. I hope so, anyway.
    The Alou/Orioles thing was damn funny.
    Suppan a Yankee? I love it. Hell yes. Steinbrenner gets one of the postseason warriors he loves so much, and we get a punching bag for the next 3 years. I can live with that.
    I'm not seeing all the love for Vicente Padilla. Rays fans like him too.
    After moving to the outfield, Soriano was a big plus on defense for the Nationals. I've heard he wants to return to second base. If so, that's a shame. A very good outfielder is worth a lot more than an atrocious second baseman, and Soriano is in fact both a very good outfielder and an atrocious second baseman.

  6. Peter N November 13, 2006 at 10:31 AM #

    This is why the off-season is, and will be, so much fun. Fast and furious stuff. Stuff VITAL to our next year 2007 Boston Red Sox. And important to all of us.

  7. Benjamin Kabak November 13, 2006 at 2:52 PM #

    One bone to pick: Technically, Matsuzaka is not a free agent. If he were, he would be able to pick which team to sign with instead of having one team "win" his rights.

  8. mattymatty November 13, 2006 at 4:51 PM #

    Why would Drew opt out of a 3 year $33M contract to sign a 4 year $40M contract in Boston? He'd effectively be taking a pay cut to sign that deal. It'll never happen. Its going to take more than that to get him to sign. I'm guessing 4 years, ~$52M. Supposedly the Sox have already made him an offer – Theo didn't confirm it but he didn't deny it either.

  9. the other josh November 13, 2006 at 8:08 PM #

    mattymatty, 4/$40MM is $7MM more in guaranteed money. I don't think that'll be enough…4/$44MM might, since it's basically an extra year at the same salary he turned down. I'd also be OK with a 5th year option to sweeten the deal at maybe $12 or $13MM that kicks in automatically if Drew stays healthy and productive through the last 2 years of this contract…though I do hope it doesn't come to that.
    Count me among those who are praying Theo can't get Lugo.
    And I'm wondering why Justin Speier doesn't crack the top 40, but a guy like Joe Borowski does. Speier posted similar numbers for an AL East team. He may not have Gagne's upside…but if I had to choose and money was no object…I'd take Speier. He's gotta be the most underrated FA reliever available right now. And I know he's 33…but a 2 year deal at $5 or $6MM per year seems right up Boston's alley. He might even be cheaper then that.
    Danys Baez is another interesting possibility; I wouldn't be upset if Boston signed him, but he sure as hell isn't the answer at closer. And I'd like them to push hard at Jamie Walker, who was great for Detroit against lefties last year.

  10. mouse November 13, 2006 at 8:18 PM #

    Walker would solve that lefty problem, that's for sure.
    //Wild Card: Roger Clemens- 7-6, 2.30 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, .216 BAA
    Who really knows anymore?//
    OK, this made me laugh. Here's hoping that the Matsuzaka mania will finally, mercifully put an end to all those stupid rumors about the Rocket coming back to Boston. Just retire already, Roger!

  11. MikeQ November 13, 2006 at 11:31 PM #

    Why would Drew opt out of a 3 year, $33 MM commitment to go sign a 4 year, $40 MM contract? It makes no sense. Tack on $4 MM a year, bringing the value to $56 MM, and that's realistic.