Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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Free Agent Hitters (Page 2)

Monday, November 12, 2007


Shortstops

David Eckstein (Cardinals) - Aug. Prediction: Giants - three years, $18 million

With Juan Uribe and Omar Vizquel both re-signing, Eckstein is in good position as easily the top shortstop available. It certainly doesn't hurt his market that the Mets and Astros could look at him as a second baseman. Still, Eckstein is probably going to stay at shortstop, if not with the Cardinals then perhaps with the Cubs. Eckstein hit a career-high .309 in 2007, making it easier for teams to overlook the fact that he missed about a quarter of the season for a second straight year. With question marks already at both second and third, the Cardinals can't let him go and replace him with Brendan Ryan.

Prediction: Cardinals - three years, $18 million


Other free agents: Abraham Nunez (Phillies), Chris Gomez (Indians), Royce Clayton (Red Sox), Neifi Perez (Tigers)

Nunez was horribly miscast in Philadelphia, but he's still a fair defensive-minded utilityman. He shouldn't have much trouble finding work as one of the best defenders available. … Neifi will miss the first month of the season as a result of his 80-game stimulant suspension.


Option
Cesar Izturis (Pirates) - $5.45 million club option, $300,000 buyout

Izturis' option still hasn't been declined, but it will be. He could then become the stopgap shortstop in Tampa Bay or a utilityman on a contender.


Trade candidates: Miguel Tejada (Orioles), Bobby Crosby (Athletics), Jack Wilson (Pirates), Adam Everett (Astros), Cristian Guzman (Nationals), Clint Barmes (Rockies), Angel Berroa (Royals), Erick Aybar (Angels), Ronny Cedeno (Cubs), Chin-Lung Hu (Dodgers), Marco Scutaro (Athletics), Ben Zobrist (Rays), Eric Bruntlett (Phillies), Sean Rodriguez (Angels), Anderson Hernandez (Mets), Robert Andino (Marlins), Andres Blanco (Royals)


Non-tender candidates: Adam Everett (Astros), Alex Cintron (White Sox), Eric Bruntlett (Phillies), Jason Smith (Royals), Ray Olmedo (Blue Jays), Ramon Santiago (Tigers), Augie Ojeda (Diamondbacks), Oscar Robles (Padres)

It sounds like the Astros will stick with Everett, though they seemed to be about fed up with his lack of offense before he suffered a broken leg in June. It'll be easier to go forward with him now that Brad Ausmus is done as a regular, reducing the number of wasted lineup spots by one. … Cintron made $1.9 million for hitting .243/.281/.324 last season. The White Sox figure to either upgrade or at least go cheaper. … Santiago has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $575,000 contract, avoiding arbitration. He'll drop off the list once that's finalized.


Top 2008-09 free agents: Rafael Furcal (Dodgers), Edgar Renteria (Tigers)*, Orlando Cabrera (Angels), Juan Uribe (White Sox), Adam Everett (Astros), Omar Vizquel (Giants)*, Cristian Guzman (Nationals), Alex Cintron (White Sox), Angel Berroa (Royals)*, Juan Castro (Reds)*

2009 options: Renteria - $11 million ($3 million buyout), Vizquel - $5.2 million vesting option (guaranteed with 140 games played), Berroa - $5.5 million ($500,000 buyout), Castro - $1.1 million ($100,000 buyout)

Top 2009-10 free agents: Miguel Tejada (Orioles), Khalil Greene (Padres), Bobby Crosby (Athletics), Alex Gonzalez (Reds)*, Jack Wilson (Pirates)*, John McDonald (Blue Jays), Marco Scutaro (Athletics)

2010 options: Gonzalez - $6 million mutual option ($500,000 buyout), Wilson - $8.4 million ($600,000 buyout)


Outfielders

Torii Hunter (Twins) - Aug. Prediction: White Sox - six years, $90 million

Even when it looked like Andruw Jones would get the bigger contract, there always figured to be more teams in on Hunter. Now it's clear that Scott Boras would have to pull off a true miracle in order to get Jones a better deal than Hunter. That's because Hunter is coming off his second best season, while Jones had his worst. Hunter was also very good in 2006, posting the second-highest OPS of his career before topping that mark in 2007. He's lost a step on defense, but he's still well above average in center field. The White Sox, Rangers and Yankees could lead the chase for Hunter, with the Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Orioles, Nationals and Phillies longer shots to be involved. There's still a chance that the Twins could trade Johan Santana and free up money to add to their bid for Hunter. However, if they're going to move Santana, it'd made far more sense to blow up the team rather than to invest 20-25 percent of the payroll on a guy who turns 33 in July.

Prediction: Yankees - six years, $96 million


Andruw Jones (Braves) - Aug. Prediction: Braves - six years, $108 million

Jones is almost two years younger than Hunter, and he's been the superior hitter of the two in seven of the nine years in which they've both been regulars (Hunter edged him in OPS 784 to 772 in 2001). He beat him in OPS by 134 points in 2005 and 68 in 2006. I'd argue that he's the finer defender of the two, though that is debatable. One has to weigh 2007 way too heavily to get the idea that Hunter is the better bet going forward. Still, that clearly is the way most GMs feel right now. Jones will get a nice deal anyway, though probably not until Hunter is off the market. With the Braves out of the mix, the Cubs, Dodgers, Giants and Rangers look like the most likely candidates to give it to him. The Yankees, Red Sox or Nationals could get involved if his price comes down.

Prediction: Dodgers - three years, $54 million


Aaron Rowand (Phillies) - Aug. Prediction: Padres - four years, $42 million

Rowand was one of the NL's top 10 players last season, hitting .309/.374/.515 and playing Gold Glove defense in center field. The numbers say he's not quite the elite fielder he was two or three years ago, and he does have durability issues, mostly because of his reckless play in the outfield. Still, he's in line for a big contract from one of the teams that misses out on Torii Hunter. I think the White Sox, Rangers and Yankees are the favorites.

Prediction: White Sox - five years, $60 million


Barry Bonds (Giants) - Aug. Prediction: Angels - one year, $14 million

The Bonds market is no more clearly defined now than it was in August. He'd be a huge asset for any of the AL West teams. It doesn't look like any AL East or Central clubs will be involved. The Red Sox, Indians, Tigers, White Sox and Blue Jays are set at DH, and the Yankees will be as well, unless they move an outfielder. The Twins need him, but they're not that gutsy. The Orioles don't have enough to play for to make it worth inviting the controversy. In the NL, there are still the Padres and Cardinals as long shot possibilities. If the Giants can't land a big-ticket hitter elsewhere, perhaps that door might reopen. I have no idea how this one will end up.

Prediction: Rangers - one year, $10 million


Kosuke Fukudome (Japan) - Aug. Prediction: Giants - three years, $36 million

With one-year and multiyear offers on the table from the Chunichi Dragons and his market value possibly weakened following elbow surgery, Fukudome hasn't committed to playing in the U.S. Still, there should be considerable interest in a player who has traditionally been among Japan's very best. The 30-year-old Fukudome hit .294/.443/.520 in 348 at-bats before surgery last season. He finished with an OPS over 1000 three of the previous four years, including a 2006 season in which he hit .351/.438/.653. A left-handed hitter and quality defensive right fielder, he could be a J.D. Drew-type player in the majors. The Cubs appear to have the most interest in him, but the Giants, Rangers, Indians and Mets are among the clubs that could use his bat.

Prediction: Giants - three years, $30 million


Jose Guillen (Mariners) - Aug. Prediction: Phillies - three years, $30 million

That Guillen's name has come up in connection with steroids and hGH hardly qualifies as the surprise of the offseason. He's still the best right-handed-hitting corner outfielder available, so he's not going to be hurting for cash. The Mariners are moving on, and the Royals are the only team that has gone public with interest in him to date. However, there will be a market for him, especially once the Mitchell report comes out and Guillen's name fades into the background. He'd be a perfect fit in Philadelphia if the Phillies could come up with the cash. The Giants, Rangers, Twins, Cubs and Cardinals could also use him.

Prediction: Royals - two years, $16 million


Mike Cameron (Padres) - Aug. Prediction: Orioles - two years, $16 million

As the one above average center fielder unlikely to hold out for a particularly long-term deal, Cameron appeared to be sitting pretty a month ago, with the potential of a $10 million-per-year contract on the way. Then a 25-game stimulant ban was handed down on Halloween. The suspension would seem to put him back into San Diego's price range. The Braves say they're going to address their hole in center through a trade, and Cameron probably isn't enough of an upgrade to entice the Dodgers to move Juan Pierre to left field. The Orioles, White Sox, Rangers and Twins could be factors, but I have him going back to San Diego.

Prediction: Padres - two years, $16 million


Geoff Jenkins (Brewers) - No Prediction

Still a useful player, if one doesn't mind his tendency to run hot and cold, Jenkins could be offered a number of one-year deals this winter. The mistake would be going to two or even three seasons to secure him. Jenkins is a solid platoon corner outfielder, but he's not that much better of a choice than Luis Gonzalez, Shawn Green or Brad Wilkerson for 2008. The Padres, Rangers, Cubs and Twins are among the candidates to make bids.

Prediction: Padres - one year, $6.5 million


Kenny Lofton (Indians) - Aug. Prediction: Twins - one year, $4 million

That he no longer plays against lefties very often has helped Lofton post .360 OBPs three years running after he failed to do it any of the four seasons prior. He remains a fine basestealer, and the big hits he came up with in the postseason won't hurt his stock at all. His defense plays better in left than in center these days, but he's not an enormous liability in center and he has the bat to platoon in left field a few teams. The Twins, Orioles and Marlins are among the teams that may consider him in center, while the Cubs and Padres could use him in either center or left.

Prediction: Twins - one year, $6 million


Milton Bradley (Padres) - Aug. Prediction: Padres - two years, $15 million

The torn ACL Bradley suffered on the next-to-last weekend of the season figures to take him out of the running for a multiyear deal this winter. It's not definite, but there's a good chance that he'll open 2008 on the disabled list as he completes his recovery. I'm guessing he'll go unsigned into January, and I don't have much of a clue where he'll land.

Prediction: Cardinals - one year, $5 million w/2009 option


Corey Patterson (Orioles) - Aug. Prediction: Rangers - one year, $5 million

Mainly because he's one of the game's most underrated defenders, Patterson is worthy of a starting job against right-handers. His career OBP remains under .300 at .298, but he's tolerable as a No. 9 hitter. It helps that he's an outstanding basestealer. The Rangers and Twins should feel comfortable with the idea plugging him in at the bottom of their lineups. Florida and Oakland also might be possible homes for him.

Prediction: Rangers - one year, $5 million


Shawn Green (Mets) - No Prediction

He wasn't much in the middle, but by turning in a strong April (949 OPS) and an even better September (1069 OPS), Green was able to finish last season at .291/.352/.430. Throwing out his 118 at-bats against lefties, he hit .326/.383/.482. That should buy him at least another 400 at-bats in his age-35 season in 2007. The Tigers, Twins and Cardinals are a few of the teams that could bring him in to play versus righties.

Prediction: Cardinals - one year, $4.5 million


Luis Gonzalez (Dodgers) - Aug. Prediction: Twins - one year, $4 million

While he slipped in the second half, Gonzalez put up season totals right along the lines of what the Dodgers should have expected after signing him to a one-year contract. The problem is that he's a liability defensively in left field, and he really doesn't offer as much production as one would like from a designated hitter. Still, he'll find work. Despite evidence to the contrary, he's regarded as a strong clubhouse guy, and the idle steroids claims that have existed since he went from journeyman to superstar in his early 30s still haven't been backed up. He could go home and finish up his career in Tampa or try to land with a playoff hopeful, such as the Cubs, Twins or Cardinals.

Prediction: Cubs - one year, $4 million


Shannon Stewart (Athletics) - No Prediction

Stewart his .290/.345/.394 while playing in 140 games last season for the first time since 2002. With the shortage of right-handed-hitting corner outfielders and potential leadoff hitters on the market, Stewart should be able to triple his 2007 base salary of $1 million. The A's have some interest in bringing him back, though they could use someone with more power if they're going to add another corner guy.

Prediction: White Sox - one year, $3.5 million


Brad Wilkerson (Rangers) - Aug. Prediction: Athletics - one year, $2.5 million

Wilkerson didn't bounce back from shoulder surgery quite as well as hoped, but he still contributed 20 homers and 62 RBI in 338 at-bats for the Rangers. He might go for a third what Jenkins does and then outhit him next year. That teams can view him as either a corner outfielder or a first baseman might help his market.

Prediction: Athletics - one year, $2.5 million


Other free agents: Cliff Floyd (Cubs), Reggie Sanders (Royals), Sammy Sosa (Rangers), Trot Nixon (Indians), Darin Erstad (White Sox), Rob Mackowiak (Padres), Jeff DaVanon (Athletics), Bobby Kielty (Red Sox), Jose Cruz Jr. (Yankees), So Taguchi (Cardinals), Rondell White (Twins), Preston Wilson (Cardinals), Brady Clark (Padres), Lew Ford (Twins), Jody Gerut (FA), Steve Finley (FA), Richard Hidalgo (FA), Orlando Palmeiro (Astros), Carl Everett (FA), Juan Gonzalez (FA), John Mabry (FA), Eli Marrero (FA), Luis Terrero (White Sox), Alex Escobar (Nationals), Brandon Watson (Nationals), Jason Ellison (Reds), Luis Matos (Minor FA - Pirates), Jon Knott (Orioles), David Newhan (Mets), Todd Linden (Marlins), Joe Borchard (Minor FA - Marlins), Larry Bigbie (Minor FA - Braves), Hiram Bocachica (Minor FA - Padres), Tommy Murphy (Angels), Michael Restovich (Minor FA - Nationals), Josh Kroeger (Minor FA - Cubs), Dustan Mohr (Minor FA - Rays), Bubba Crosby (Minor FA - Reds), Adam Stern (Minor FA - Orioles)

Floyd still doesn't appear to be interested in DHing in the AL, meaning he'll probably start fewer than 100 games for an NL team for a third straight season in 2008. Still, he should be productive enough when healthy to justify a $3 million investment. … The same goes for Sanders. However, he might call it quits at age 40. … Nixon and Erstad figure to have difficulty landing starting jobs this time around, and viewed as bench players, they don't figure to be as valuable as Mackowiak, DaVanon or Kielty. … White is 99 percent sure he's retiring, and it's unlikely that any team will be too anxious to talk him out of it.


Trade candidates: Carl Crawford (Rays), Manny Ramirez (Red Sox - NTC), Adam Dunn (Reds - NTC), Ken Griffey Jr. (Reds - NTC), Johnny Damon (Yankees - Limited NTC), Pat Burrell (Phillies - NTC), Austin Kearns (Nationals), David DeJesus (Royals), Coco Crisp (Red Sox), Rocco Baldelli (Rays), Jim Edmonds (Cardinals - NTC), Randy Winn (Giants - NTC), Mark Kotsay (Athletics), Luke Scott (Astros), Jacque Jones (Cubs), Xavier Nady (Pirates), Ryan Church (Nationals), Jay Payton (Orioles), Scott Podsednik (White Sox), Jay Gibbons (Orioles), Lastings Milledge (Mets), Carlos Quentin (Diamondbacks), Carlos Gonzalez (Diamondbacks), Wladimir Balentien (Mariners), Brian Anderson (White Sox), Brandon Moss (Red Sox), Joey Gathright (Royals), Elijah Dukes (Rays), Jonny Gomes (Rays), Matt Murton (Cubs), Kevin Mench (Brewers), Chris Duffy (Pirates), Nate McLouth (Pirates), Tony Gwynn Jr. (Brewers), Shin-Soo Choo (Indians), Jeremy Reed (Mariners), Jeff Salazar (Diamondbacks), Ben Francisco (Indians), Scott Hairston (Padres), Jason Lane (Padres), Jeff Baker (Rockies), Jason Botts (Rangers), Nelson Cruz (Rangers), Victor Diaz (Rangers), Brent Clevlen (Tigers), Nook Logan (Nationals), Kory Casto (Nationals), Terry Evans (Angels), Ryan Ludwick (Cardinals), Laynce Nix (Brewers), Ben Johnson (Mets), John Rodriguez (Cardinals), Paul McAnulty (Padres), Shane Costa (Royals), Freddy Guzman (Rangers), Nathan Haynes (Angels), Eric Reed (Marlins)


Non-tender candidates: Scott Podsednik (White Sox), Craig Monroe (Cubs), Kevin Mench (Brewers), Emil Brown (Royals), Wily Mo Pena (Nationals), Cory Sullivan (Rockies), Jason Repko (Dodgers), Jason Lane (Padres), Terrmel Sledge (Padres), Jason Tyner (Twins), Chris Snelling (Rays), Laynce Nix (Brewers), Tike Redman (Orioles), Darnell McDonald (Twins), Timo Perez (Tigers), Chris Roberson (Phillies), Sean Barker (Rockies)

Podsednik should be out of the White Sox's plans after back-to-back disappointing seasons. He managed only a .299 OBP in 214 at-bats last season. … The Cubs have given no indication that they're interested in keeping Monroe around. He's in line for a significant paycut after making $4.775 million last season. … Pena looks like a keeper in Washington, though if another outfielder falls into their laps, perhaps they could consider sending him elsewhere.


Top 2008-09 free agents: Carl Crawford (Rays)*, Manny Ramirez (Red Sox)*, Adam Dunn (Reds), Bobby Abreu (Yankees), Ken Griffey Jr. (Reds)*, Pat Burrell (Phillies), Jim Edmonds (Cardinals), Rocco Baldelli (Rays)*, Brian Giles (Padres)*, Moises Alou (Mets), Garret Anderson (Angels)*, Raul Ibanez (Mariners), Jacque Jones (Cubs), Wily Mo Pena (Nationals), Craig Monroe (Cubs), Mark Kotsay (Athletics), Endy Chavez (Mets), Scott Podsednik (White Sox), Juan Encarnacion (Cardinals), Jay Payton (Orioles), Juan Rivera (Angels), Kevin Mench (Brewers), Jason Michaels (Indians)*, Emil Brown (Royals), Daryle Ward (Cubs)

2009 options: Crawford - $8.25 million ($2.5 million buyout), Ramirez - $20 million (additional $20 million option for 2010), Griffey - $16.5 million ($4 million buyout), Baldelli - $6 million ($4 million buyout), Giles - $9 million ($3 million buyout), Anderson - $14 million ($3 million buyout), Michaels - $2.6 million

Top 2009-10 free agents: Matt Holliday (Rockies), Carl Crawford (Rays)*, Vladimir Guerrero (Angels)*, Jason Bay (Pirates), Magglio Ordonez (Tigers)*, Gary Sheffield (Tigers), Hideki Matsui (Yankees), Michael Cuddyer (Twins), Johnny Damon (Yankees), Austin Kearns (Nationals)*, Coco Crisp (Red Sox)*, Rocco Baldelli (Rays)*, Jermaine Dye (White Sox)*, Randy Winn (Giants), Reed Johnson (Blue Jays), Xavier Nady (Pirates), Dave Roberts (Giants), Ryan Freel (Reds), Jay Gibbons (Orioles), Rick Ankiel (Cardinals), David Dellucci (Indians), Frank Catalanotto (Rangers)*, Jayson Werth (Phillies), Marlon Anderson (Mets), Matt Stairs (Blue Jays), Marlon Byrd (Rangers), Jason Lane (Padres), So Taguchi (Cardinals), Willie Harris (Braves)

2010 options: Crawford - $10 million ($1.25 million buyout), Guerrero - $15 million ($3 million buyout), Ordonez - $15 million ($3 million buyout - additional $15 million option for 2011), Kearns - $10 million ($1 million buyout), Crisp - $8 million ($500,000 buyout), Baldelli - $17 million for 2010-11 ($2 million buyout), Dye - $12 million mutual option ($1 million buyout), Catalanotto - $5 million ($2 million buyout)


Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of RotoWorld.com and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter at matthewpouliot.
Email :Matthew Pouliot



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