MLB: Free Agent Peek…Who will be the most active teams
With MLB free agents able to begin negotiating with other teams beginning Saturday at 12:01 am ET, lets take a look at ten teams that potentially could be very active on the free agent market. Remember when it comes to free agency in baseball, it is normally different then the NHL and NBA, in the sense that the bigger names normally do not sign right away. The process normally takes weeks and even a month or two before big names sign.
1) Texas Rangers – The Rangers are expected to be heavily involved in the Zack Greinke sweepstakes, perhaps a three team race between the Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Greinke’s current team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Rangers have some top free agents of their own hitting the market, in outfielder Josh Hamilton and catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli. The Rangers are expected to be watching the Hamilton sweepstakes, and once other teams submit offers, they will decide what direction they will go. If Hamilton and/or Napoli depart, the Rangers should be very active in replacing their offensive production. There has been some talk that the Rangers may look to David Ortiz, but it seems likely that Ortiz will re-sign with the Boston Red Sox. On the trade front, another name to watch for is Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton.
2) Philadelphia Phillies – Expect the Phillies to go hard after an outfielder, perhaps Michael Bourn, Melky Cabrera, B.J. Upton, or even bringing back Shane Victorino. The Phillies dealt Victorino to the Dodgers at the non-waiver July trade deadline, but it’s possible they bring him back in the fold, if they miss out on the other three players mentioned. The Phillies struggled last season, but they are still a very talented club with a deep starting rotation, if they stay healthy. Expect the Phillies to do what they can to get back into contention for next season.
3) Los Angeles Dodgers– The money is obviously there for the Dodgers to do whatever they would like to do. They will be active on the free agent front looking for starting pitching, but I wouldn’t expect them to go after any starting position players unless they make an unexpected trade to create room in their lineup. The Dodgers will be in on Greinke, although I still expect him to resign with the Angels. Other names that the Dodgers will look into are Ryan Dempster, Kyle Lohse, Anibal Sanchez and even former Dodger pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. The Dodgers were Dempster’s number one team of choice at the trade deadline, although the Dodgers were unable to work out a trade with the Chicago Cubs. Kuroda is in line for another one-year deal, perhaps two, due to his age, but he still a very good pitcher and while the New York Yankees appear poised to resign him, you can’t rule out the possibilty of Kuroda returning to the west coast. On the trade front, the Dodgers have also been linked to the Tampa Bay Rays, James Shields, but if the Rays do decide to trade Shields, the Dodgers farm system currently lacks the depth to make another deal of this caliber.
4) Kansas City Royals – Yes, the Royals. Not a mistype, but the young Royals are going to actively pursue starting pitching. Expect them to be very much in on both Lohse and Sanchez.
5) Baltimore Orioles – After returning to the postseason in 2012, the Orioles might be poised to make a splash to get to the next level, or at the very least keep them on their current pace.
6) Toronto Blue Jays– The Jays have been a bit of sleeper. The talent is there. Is this the offseason where the club takes a big dip into the free agent market? I believe that this will be a club to watch this winter.
7) San Diego Padres– With new ownership taking over and a good farm system in place, the Padres appear ready to take that next step. I expect them to lock up star third baseman Chase Headley this winter on a long-term deal, but I also believe ownership will green light an aggressive free agent push to improve the ball club in the ever improving National League West.
8) Milwaukee Brewers – After dealing away Greinke during the season and losing Prince Fielder to free agency last offseason, expect the Brewers to be greatly involved in the pitching market. They need another starter and bullpen help. If these needs are met and the money is there, perhaps the Brewers will take a swing at Hamilton, as speculation persists that the Brewers would love to bring in the former AL MVP.
9) Seattle Mariners– Perhaps the Mariners brass will decide it’s time to upgrade the offense. I expect them to test the waters on Hamilton and perhaps a few other hitters, but this team is still a few years away from contending.
10) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – The Angels main priority this offseason is to re-sign Greinke. If he departs via free agency, expect the Angels to be very aggressive and pursue the second tier options like Sanchez, Lohse and perhaps Kuroda.