Matthew Pouliot

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Top 50 Free Agents

Friday, September 07, 2012


20. Andy Pettitte (LHP Yankees - Age 40): Until he busted his ankle in June, Pettitte was looking very good in his return from a one-year retirement, going 3-3 with a 3.22 ERA and a 59/15 K/BB ratio in 58 2/3 innings. It sounds like he wants to pitch again in 2013, and if it happens, it'd hard to imagine that it'd be for any team except the Yankees.
 
19. Shaun Marcum (RHP Brewers - Age 31): In three seasons since returning from Tommy John surgery, Marcum has posted ERAs of 3.64, 3.54 and 3.53. That gives him one of the best performance track records of any pitcher here. Unfortunately, his elbow is still a problem. He faded down the stretch last year, and he's been limited to 16 starts this year after a lengthy DL stint due to "tightness." While a healthy Marcum would be a great fit in any team's rotation, he may have to settle for a one-year deal this winter.
 
18. Kevin Youkilis (3B White Sox - Age 34)*: After a roaring start following his trade from Boston, Youkilis is down to .242/.362/.450 with 12 homers in 59 games for the White Sox. That's still just fine -- he's been an asset at a bargain price -- but it's not going to get his $13 million option for 2013 picked up. Regardless, Youkilis will enter the free agent market in pretty good position. He's clearly the best one-year option at third base available, and he could also be viewed as a possibility at first base by a few teams.
 
17. Shane Victorino (OF Dodgers - Age 32): Victorino's worst year as a major leaguer has come at a bad time, as he's hit a modest .259/.322/.384 for the Phillies and Dodgers as he heads into free agency. The other problem is that there are a couple of younger and superior defensive center fielders ahead of him on this list. Victorino will win points for intangibles and veteran presence, but whereas a four-year, $40 million contract looked realistic a year ago, he's probably headed for a two- or three-year deal as things stand now.
 
16. Kyle Lohse (RHP Cardinals - Age 34): Lohse was abysmal during the first two years of his four-year, $41 million extension with the Cardinals, but he's redeemed himself in a big way while going 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 2011 and 14-2 with a 2.81 ERA so far this year. In his 10 previous seasons, his best ERA was a 3.78 mark (which got him the big contract in 2008) and his second best was 4.18. With his poor strikeout rate, Lohse doesn't really project as much more than a fourth starter going forward. The team that signs him to a three-year contract figures to regret it.
 
15. Adam LaRoche (1B Nationals - Age 32)*: When the Nationals gave Michael Morse his contract extension in January, they were essentially penciling him as their 2013 first baseman, with Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth in the outfield corners. LaRoche, though, has been the team's best hitter this year, and with Harper proving to be useable in center, the Nationals might want to keep their current arrangement going for another year. LaRoche will have his own say; his can void the $10 million option on his contract and go shopping for a multiyear deal if he'd like.
 
14. Dan Haren (RHP Angels - Age 32)*: Haren's option still looked like a slam dunk a couple of months ago, but in part due to his back problems, he's been remarkably average this year with his 10-10 record and 4.46 ERA. Haren's option is worth $15.5 million, but since it includes a $3.5 million buyout, it's really a $12 million decision for the Angels. I still think it gets exercised if he finishes the year healthy, but perhaps the Angels would rather put that money towards re-signing Zack Greinke instead.
 
13. Mike Napoli (C-1B Rangers - Age 31): Napoli was maybe the AL's third-best hitter in 2011, coming in at .320/.414/.631 with 30 homers in 369 at-bats. He's taken a big step back during an injury-riddled 2012, hitting .223/.343/.429 with 17 homers in 301 at-bats. Given his strikeout rate, he's a lot more likely to be a .230-.250 hitter than a .270+ guy going forward, but with his power and walk rate, he's still plenty good while sporting that kind of average. Suitors will have to decide whether to pursue him as a catcher, a first baseman or a hybrid. Dreams of a four-year, $40 million deal are likely gone, but he could provide plenty of punch at $27 million for three years.
 
12. Ryan Dempster (RHP Rangers - Age 35): Dempster arrested his decline with a stellar opening kick for the Cubs, and though he did get lit up in two of his first three starts for the Rangers, he's now won three in a row while allowing a total of three earned runs. For the season, Dempster is 10-6 with a 2.87 ERA, and he still has a great strikeout rate at age 35. Since he's been plenty durable in five seasons since moving back into the rotation, he could be in line for a three-year, $30 million contract this winter.
 
11. Mariano Rivera (RHP Yankees - Age 43): Rivera intends to return to pitch in 2013 after missing all but a month of this season with a torn ACL, and it's a given that he'll re-sign with the Yankees. The only real question is whether baseball's all-times saves leader will take a pay cut from the $15 million he's made each of the last five seasons.
 

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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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