While looking over the lists of Free Agents the other day to work on that post about the Tribe’s possible free agent signees this off-season, it got me thinking about who my top 50 guys were. I am much more then just a die hard Indians fan, I am a die hard baseball fan. I, admittedly, pay way too much attention to the whole league and know almost each 25 man roster in and out. So along with the top 50, I am gonna give at least 2 or 3 possible locations given what the gossip is now. The post will be updated as people sign. So here goes…
1. Jason Bay – LF – Formerly of the Boston Red Sox, look for Bay to have a huge asking price. The slugging Canadian outfielder has been very stellar his entire career, he is however, 32 years old and his limited defense is only going to get worse. Predictions: Boston, New York Yankees, New York Mets, or Los Angeles Angels.
2. Matt Holliday – LF – At 29 years old coming off a HUGE second half with St Louis. If nothing else that resurgence bought him a humongous pay day this off season, that and his agent Scott Boras. He will be sought after by every big market team trying to procure for their franchise a championship, so his suitor list will be the same as Bay’s, with a few additions. Boston, Both NY Teams, St. Louis, LA Angels, Dodgers, Braves and Tigers. I think he will return to St. Louis.
3. Chone Figgins – 3B – One of the few true GAMERS left in baseball. He will play his heart out with gold glove defense anywhere you need him to. He can get on base like very few others, hit for a little power, steal bases and will lead your team by example. The kind of hard nose player any team would love to have. That being said, if the Angels do not bring him back I will be suprised, he epitomizes the type of player Mike Sciosca Loves. Angels, Cardinals, Mets, Yankees, White Sox, Blue Jays, Mariners, and possible the Twins.
4. Rich Harden – SP – This is based purely off of what could be. When healthy he is typically a front line, #1 starter, but that is when healthy. He has great stuff and in the right situation could be a great offseason pickup. Cubs, Yankees, Astros, Mets, Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers, Mariners and Cardinals are all possibilities.
5. John Lackey – SP – Some might say Lackey should be #3 or so on the list, he’s not far off, but he isn’t quite what he used to be. I don’t know if it was just a bad stretch, but regardless he is a true #1 starter. The Angels said they won’t be bringing back both him and Figgins, I’m thinking the one they do will be Lackey. ANGELS, Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, Mets, Braves, Dodgers, Giants.
6. Erik Bedard – SP – As long as he comes with an insurance policy. He, about as much as Harden, is a huge risk with a potentially high ceiling. The lefty has great stuff, and can strike out batters in bunches. He will scare off all of the middle of the pack teams financially because of his high ticket price, but I eventually think he might have to settle for a mid-market team and a relatively smaller deal. Orioles, Blue Jays, Angels, White Sox, Tigers, Royals, Braves, Mets, Cubs, Astros, Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers.
7. Rafeal Soriana – RP – One of the better late inning relief guys in the game. Not K-Rod good, but looking for K-Rod money. One of the big money teams will bite on him. Angels, Red Sox, Dodgers, Mets, Yankees.
8. Aroldis Chapman – SP – This kid was incredible in the WBC and is only 21 and throws 100. NO WAY he goes to a small or mid market team, they won’t be able to afford him or take the risk on him. Angels, Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Mets, Braves, White Sox, Tigers, Orioles, Giants, all the usual big $ suspects.
9. Ben Sheets – SP – Simply put he’s Great. But he’s never healthy and his arm seems like its about to fall off. That being said, he will want a big deal while he can get one, but he seems like the kind of guy who might go somewhere a bit more low key to try and help them, he has played in Milwaukee his whole career after all. Brewers, Giants, Diamondbacks, Indians, Orioles, Cardinals, Mets, Yankees, Tigers, White Sox, Braves, Angels, Blue Jays.
10. Brad Penny – SP – I’m going to go out on a limb here. Based off of his time in San Fran last year, he is deserving, and he has always been a pretty stellar pitcher. This position for him is more based on the potential of being a great signing then his overall value. Should be a bit cheaper this year then the 5+ million he got last year. Giants, Diamondbacks, Tigers, White Sox, Angels, Rangers, Padres, Cardinals, Astros, Braves, Nationals, Orioles.
11. Randy Wolfe – SP – A crafty veteran lefty, who is healthy and had a good year last year. A good pick up for pretty much anyone. Dodgers, Mets, Red Sox, Tigers, Rays, Rangers, Angels, Cardinals.
12. Andy Pettite – SP – The craftiest of crafty veteran pitchers. Looking for one last go around, if he doesn’t retire after his latest World Series ring. Yankees, Astros, Mets.
13. Jermaine Dye – RF – The big hitting veteran outfielder is heading into free agency coming off of a down year, and at 36 years old there is not much left to see, unless he finds a place as DH or part time outfielder. Will make a lot of money, because the sluggers always do. Yankees, White Sox, Rangers, Athletics, Mets.
14. Coco Crisp – CF – The man we sent to Boston for Andy Marte. Should have kept him, maybe. He put up really solid numbers in Boston and looked good in KC before the injury. He will land somewhere and be a plus leadoff guy and defender in Center. Brewers, Cardinals, Mets, Blue Jays, Twins, Royals, Giants. Yankees.
15. Adrian Beltre – 3B – What a disaster his time in Seattle was, no one will make the mistake of paying him that kind of money again. At least I hope not. He can still hit from time to time and plays pretty solid 3B defensively. Angels, Orioles, Cardinals, Padres, Phillies, Tigers.
16. Joel Pineiro – SP – This starter began his career with amazing potential and failed to reach it. But he has turned out to be a serviceable back end of the rotation starter, especially in St. Louis. Will probably be kind of expensive, but could really land just about anywhere that is looking for a veteran starter. Cardinals, Indians, Blue Jays, Orioles, Rangers, Angels, Pirates, Astros, Braves, Mets, Nationals, Marlins, Diamondbacks, Giants.
17. Mark DeRosa – Utility – While he is getting up there in years and played really badly down the stretch in St. Louis after being hot in Cleveland, he will find a job because of his versatility and veteran leadership. Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Mets, Nationals, Astros, Cubs, Athletics, Angels, Mariners.
18. Mike Cameron – CF – He can still go get it in CF and can hit and get on base. He is 36, but he is a great athlete and takes care of himself off the field and keeps in great shape. Lots of teams could use a veteran guy in the outfield and that he can bat leadoff or in the middle of the order really helps his chances. Blue Jays, Brewers, Mets, Nationals, Pirates, Dodgers, Giants.
19. Mike Gonzalez – RP – Left handed. Left Handed. Left Handed. Reliever. What else do you need to know. He will get paid, can close games and set up for a better closer. Some one will pay him. Mets, Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers, Rangers, Tigers, White Sox, Giants, Yankees, Angels, Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays.
20. Miguel Tejada – SS – He’s old. But proved last year that he could still rake, but his defense is slipping. Won’t get too much attention because most teams are pretty much set at SS, he might take a limited role but will still put up numbers. Astros, Cardinals, Dodgers, Angels, Yankees (purely as a backup), Mets (if Reyes doesn’t get healthy).
21. Jarrod Washburn – SP – Another lefty starter, was really good with Seattle last year and has a good career. Someone will pay him to be a fifth starter. Angels, Yankees (if Pettite retires), Mariners, Rangers, Mets, Cardinals, Brewers, Indians, Twins.
22. Russell Branyan – DH/1B – Finally given full time at bats for the first time in his career despite his age. Hit 31 homeruns and struck out five million times. He can be a good DH for someone who is looking, maybe even as a back up first baseman and pinch hitter in the NL. Yankees, Mariners, Angels, Blue Jays, Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves.
23. Nick Johnson – 1B – He can play good defense and can get on base, he is a 1B so he can’t really run and lacks power. A national league type player with health issues. You know what you get when you have Johnson. Marlins, D-backs, Rangers, Phillies, Mets, Cubs, Giants.
24. Marlon Byrd – OF – A pretty solid outfield option if you need a starter while you wait on some prospects, would be a great 4th outfielder for a team with playoff hopes. Would play really well somewhere where the ball flies out of the park like Texas because of his fly ball swing. Rangers, Dodgers, Yankees, Mets, Cardinals, Tigers, Orioles, Breweres, Rockies, Giants.
25. Billy Wagner – RP – The veteran closer will probably be given arbitration by Boston, they don’t like to let relievers go and stockpile big name bullpen arms. If he does hit the market, he’ll want some money and plenty will give it to him to be a late inning arm. Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles, TIgers, White Sox, Royals, Nationals, Braves, Yankees, Giants, Rangers, Mariners.
26. Adam LaRoche – 1B – He’s a solid hitter and solid fielder. Notoriously slow in the first half of years, and heats up big time in the late summer. Won’t have the biggest market but he will be solid wherever he goes. Seems to really like Atlanta and I’m sure they would love to have him back. But he could help out an AL team looking for a 1B or a DH. Braves, Mets, Pirates, Nationals, Blue Jays, White Sox, Orioles, Marlins, Mets.
27. Jose Valverde – RP – One of the better closers when he’s on, but he’s a Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hide type reliever. One year he can be lights out and the next he can blow more saves chances then he saves games. He’ll still get a job and a multi-year deal, wouldn’t be surprising if he stays in Houston. Astros, Tigers, White Sox, Cardinals, Mets, Blue Jays, Mariners.
28. Johnny Damon – LF/DH – Aging, can’t throw, late on-set power (might be Yankee stadium), and can get on base and run a little. I’m not really sure what the market for him would be. He jumped ship from Boston to the Yankees, which is almost unheard of, and he does things a little differnetly anyway, I personally don’t really care where he goes but I’d be glad if its not the Yankees so he can grow his hippy hair out again and grow back his Jesus-Beard. Yankees, Blue Jays, Mets, Mariners.
29. Vladimir Guerrero – DH/RF – He was so good in Montreal and when he first got to LA, but that turf up in Canada killed him. He is only 34 but plays like he’s 50. Can still hit, and will swing at absolutely any pitch thrown to him. Someone will remember him in his prime and remember a guy who hit a ball from his shoe laces 400 feet and give him a contract. Yankees (DH only), Mariners, Rangers, Angels, Mets, Blue Jays, Orioles, Giants, White Sox, Tigers.
30. Hideki Matsui – OF/DH – Mostly a DH, his legs have betrayed him like Vlad’s. If he doesn’t go back to NY then that frees up the Yankees to find an OF/DH type elsewhere, like the guy before him on this list and after him on this list. He might go back to Japan to retire after one more year or two if no one gives him a chance in the States. Yankees, Mariners, Angels.
31. Jim Thome – DH – His late season trade to Dodgers from Chicago signified how desperate he is to win one ring before he retires. He talked when he got there with Manny about coming back to Cleveland for one last go, but that is doubtful as we have Hafner at DH already. I would not be surprised if he went to NY for his shot, and that stadium could give him another go at 4O HR’s. Yankees, Angels, Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays, Rangers, Indians ( 🙂 in my dreams), Tigers.
32. Orlando Hudson – 2B – Even though he was hurt a lot in the past and last year, and lost his job in LA to Ronnie Belliard down the stretch, he is a gold glover at 2B almost every year and can hit really well. Gets on base a ton and can steal bases. Good addition to any team that needs some help up the middle. Rangers, Orioles, Dodgers, D-Backs, Mets, Braves, Nationals, Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, Giants, Padres, Rockies, Detroit.
33. Placido Polanco – 2B – One of the hardest guys to get out year in and year out. Can hit for average, and plays good defense. Not a star, but just a good baseball player. Like the rest of this years FA class, he doesn’t jump off the page at you with his skills. Detroit, Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Dodgers, Astros, Mets.
34. Pedro Martinez – SP – Do not expect last year’s results again this year. He proved he could still get it done on the mound even with his fastball at about 82 MPH. He just knows how to pitch and can outsmart almost everyone. Someone will come after him to anchor their rotation and eat up some innings, and if he stays healthy he can be a really good pick up. Phillies, Dodgers, White Sox, Angels, Orioles, Mariners, Cardinals, Indians, Blue Jays, Braves.
35. Xavier Nady – OF – The Yankees acquired him to make a playoff run the year before last from the hapless Pirates, and for good reason. When healthy he is a good hitter and he will come at a much more premium rate then the big ticket guys. He can produce and play pretty good defense, as either a full time guy or a part time. Look for him to go to a team that was in the chase for Bay or Holliday but lost out, so potentially: Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Cardinals, Giants, White Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays, Phillies.
36. Doug Davis – SP – Another veteran lefty starter, never really a big ticket guy but he will be a serviceable pickup for any team looking for a 3, 4, or 5 starter to eat up innings and give you a handful of quality starts. Indians, Brewers, D-backs, Rockies, Mets, Braves, Orioles, Marlins, Nationals, Giants, Rangers, Mariners, Blue Jays.
37. Felipe Lopez – 2B/SS – He is one of those guys that came up and looked really promising, but never really developed past that. He had a pretty good year last year and had flashes of the good player he could be. Plays solid defense and could move over to SS where he started his career or even be a plus utility guy. D-backs, Dodgers, Giants, Brewers, Tigers, Orioles, Rays, Pirates, Cardinals.
38. Marco Scutaro – 2B/SS – Likely to head back to the Blue Jays, he is a utility guy and has been his whole career but he has enjoyed some solid seasons here and there, one being last year. Blue Jays, Orioles, Mets, Indians.
39. John Garland – SP – He used to be a front end guy for the White Sox, but has regressed into a middle to back end rotation guy. He is a innings eater and could help a young club with veteran leadership. Don’t expect his ERA to get much under 4, but he will give you 200+ innings and get a lot of ground ball outs. Indians, D-backs, Rockies, Giants, Cardinals, Mets, Braves, Nationals, Royals, Mariners, Athletics, Angels, Orioles, Blue Jays, Pirates, Brewers, Cubs.
40. Pedro Feliz – 3B – He has always been a good defender, and has had years where he hit really well as well. He doesn’t put up the kind of power numbers any more that you expect from 3B and will probably not find much in the way of an AL team looking for his services. But he is the kind of guy teams like the Yankees like to bring in as backups. Expect him to stay in the NL with a team that needs a veteran presence. Dodgers, Phillies, Nationals, Padres, Giants, Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, Pirates, Yankees, Angels.
41. Fernando Rodney – RP – The former Tiger’s back end bullpen fireballer is hitting the market. While he has been a good closer whenever he was not in that roll he seemed to struggle. Teams are always in the market for a closer type pitcher, especially when he can throw close to 100 MPH. Tigers, Yankees, Brewers, Blue Jays, Orioles, Cardinals, Padres, Nationals, Mets, Braves, Royals, Rangers.
42. Bengie Molina – C – He was the clean up hitter in San Francisco the past few years, but offensively that team did not have a better option. He is an aging catcher with some pop and good defense, like the whole Molina Family. Better offensively then both brothers, he is not quite as good defensively. Could be a good veteran back up somewhere in the league or a seat warmer for a young guy… Carlos Santana – Indians hint hint. Yankees, Angels, Giants, Mets, Nationals, Royals, Indians, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Brewers, Padres.
42. Jason Marquis – SP – He looked like a Cy Young candidate early on in the season, but regressed back to his normal self the 2nd half. He is the kind of guy who can log you 200 innings and has relieved a bit in his career, and put up a decent record. Would be a good, experienced, starter for anyone looking for starting depth. Indians, Cardinals, Rockies, Padres, Giants, Mets, Blue Jays, Orioles, Royals, Mariners, Angels, Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, Nationals.
43. Rafael Betancourt – RP – The only reason he is so low is that you don’t really know which Rafy you are gonna get. Will it be the one who struggled the last 2 years for the Tribe? Or the one that was lights out the 2nd half with Colorado and in past years with the Tribe. He could help out any depth starved bullpen. Orioles, Rockies, Indians, Rangers, Mariners, Marlins, Mets, Cardinals, Giants, Padres, Braves, Nationals, Angels, White Sox, Tigers, Royals.
44. LaTroy Hawkins – RP – Hawkins has flip flopped throughout his career between being unhittable and shockingly easy to hit. That is pretty typical for most relief pitchers as one year can be amazing and next not, and the last 2 have been good for LaTroy. There are tons of teams that would love the veteran Righty. Astros, Indians, Twins, Orioles, Blue Jays, Mariners, Rangers, Angels, Rockies, Mets, Phillies, Braves, Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates, Nationals.
45. Kiko Calero – RP – Like Hawkins and Betancourt, he has had both good and bad years. He is a hard throwing reliever, right handed, and can shut down opposing hitters as they hit just .180 against him last year. Look for the big teams to come calling for him. Mets, Angels, Yankees, Mariners, White Sox, Tigers, Cardinals, Braves, Giants, Orioles, Cubs.
46. Rick Ankiel – OF – The story of Ankiel’s big league life has been injuries and a meltdown, more injuries lately then he needed. He had just got his career on the right path as the starting CF for the Cardinals, and he ran head first into a wall and lost an already injury riddled season. He will land somewhere, he plays balls to the walls defense and can hit for a lot of power, but little average. Cardinals, Yankees, Blue Jays, Mets, Brewers, Giants, Cubs, Royals, Rangers, Mariners.
47. Hank Blalock – 3B/1B/DH – Once a super promising young 3B in Texas he got nailed by injuries that put his path to superstardom on hold. He has bounced back with a couple solid, yet still injured years. He can play some 1st and possibly 3rd if healthy, projects more to be a DH and stay in the AL. Yankees, Rangers, Blue Jays, Orioles, Athletics, White Sox.
48. Miguel Olivo – C – A good game caller behind home with plus power (23 homers). He seems to be getting better every year with more playing time, but is getting up there in years. He will be 32 this season coming off of a career year in which he helped Zach Greinke win the Cy Young. Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays, Giants, Nationals, Royals, Mariners, Indians, Padres, Rockies, Brewers.
49. Troy Glaus – 3B – Was a big time slugger during the Angels World Series win, but has seen better times. Has a penchant for come back years after injuries, but they have taken a toll, and his production has gotten a bit spottier post steroids crack down. I think he can, if healthy, have a few more big years in him. Someone will bite. Cardinals, Mets (Maybe as a 1B), Yankees (DH), Orioles, Mariners, Giants.
50. Yorvit Torreabla – C – Another veteran Catcher rounds out the list. He can still do a good job behind the plate and was pivotal in the Rockies playoff runs the past few years. He has done enough to earn himself another job as either a starter or a 50/50 platoon guy. Has some good pop, and would be a better veteran option the any of the other Catchers out there other then those already named. Rockies, Mets, Yankees, Indians, Blue Jays, Mariners, Royals, Giants, Pirates, White Sox, Twins, Nationals, Braves, Marlins.
That rounds out my top 50 for this year. No where near the best crop of free agents, but there is an abundance of veteran talent. That being said, I expect to see a lot of shorter term deals as teams try to stay away from crippling veteran contracts on 35 year olds making 10 million for 5 years. You never know with baseball free agency and that is what keeps us watching it year after year.