Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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Top 150 Free Agents

Sunday, November 03, 2013

21. Jason Vargas (LHP Angels - Age 31): A blood clot in his pitching arm knocked Vargas out for about seven weeks last season, but he was his usual self when he was on the mound. Put him in a big ballpark with a strong outfield defense, and he'll be a very solid middle-of-the-rotation option, and since he's not quite as much of a flyball pitcher as he used to be, he could still be of use in more neutral parks as well. He could get $30 million for three years, maybe a bit more.


2013 stats: 9-8, 4.02 ERA, 109/46 K/BB in 150 IP


22. Kendrys Morales (1B-DH Mariners - Age 30): Morales has put in three full seasons since reaching the majors at 23 in 2006, and he's finished with an .800 OPS in one of them. He's also mediocre defensively at first base and likely a bigger injury risk the more he plays there. Despite all that, the Mariners are expected to make him a $14.1 million qualifying offer, and he's probably going to turn it down in the hopes of a three-year deal in the $36 million range. He may well end up disappointed considering the lack of market for designated hitters.


2013 stats: .277/.336/.449, 23 HR, 64 R, 80 RBI, 0 SB in 602 AB


23. Brian Wilson (RHP Dodgers - Age 32): Even though his velocity wasn't all the way back, Wilson was quite the force in a setup role after completing his Tommy John rehab and signing with the Dodgers. In the postseason, he pitched six scoreless innings, striking out eight and allowing four hits. That success should ensure that he'll have his pick of closer gigs this winter, with at least a two-year, $20 million deal in the offing. The Tigers, Indians, Rangers, Angels and Mariners could be among his suitors. The Yankees would make sense, too, but their policy on facial hair could be quite the deterrent in this case.


2013 stats: 2-1, 3 Hd, 0.66 ERA, 13/4 K/BB in 13 2/3 innings


24. Dan Haren (RHP Nationals - Age 33): Haren salvaged his season following a midseason stint on the DL to rest an inflamed shoulder. After going 4-9 with a 6.15 ERA in 15 starts prior to the injury, he finished up 6-5 with a 3.29 ERA the rest of the way. The peripherals suggest that he's worthy of another one-year, $13 million deal, which is what he got from the Nationals last winter. Since his velocity is down and he's not the workhorse that he used to be, a multiyear deal would be dangerous.


2013 stats: 10-14, 4.67 ERA, 151/31 K/BB in 169 2/3 IP


25. Scott Kazmir (LHP Indians - Age 30): Left for dead after giving up five runs in 1 2/3 innings in his lone appearance for the Angels in 2011, Kazmir's comeback was one of the nice stories of last season. Inconsistent early on, he was at his best down the stretch, posting a 3.38 ERA and an 82/17 K/BB ratio in 72 innings after the break. In September, he had a 43/4 K/BB ratio and allowed just one homer in 28 innings. Health is a big question mark going forward, so it'd be awfully risky to sign him to a long-term deal. That finish, though, should land him a contract worth about $10 million per year.


2013 stats: 10-9, 4.04 ERA, 162/47 K/BB in 158 IP


26. Phil Hughes (RHP Yankees - Age 27): Once counted on to lead a wave of young pitching for the Yankees, Hughes and Joba Chamberlain will be departing with nary a whimper this winter. Hughes simply must find his way to a ballpark that's move forgiving towards his flyball tendencies; he's allowed 39 homers in 177 innings at Yankee Stadium the last two years, compared to 20 in 160 innings on the road. Given his youth and durability, he should have his pick of three-year offers to choose from, or he can gamble on a one-year deal with the hopes of getting a bigger payoff next winter. As long as his arm feels good, he should go the latter route.


2013 starts: 4-14, 5.19 ERA, 121/42 K/BB in 145 2/3 IP


27. Jhonny Peralta (SS Tigers - Age 31): Peralta has been all over the map offensively, but he had one of his best seasons in 2013 after turning in one of his worst in 2012 (.239/.305/.384 in 531 at-bats). How much a role steroids have played in the ups and downs of his career is something we'll never really know. Interestingly, his defensive numbers have been better his three years in Detroit than they were in Cleveland, suggesting that he'll be playable at shortstop for a couple of more years anyway. It wouldn't be a good idea to sign him for more than two years, but he'll probably get $9 million-$10 million per season.


2013 stats: .303/.358/.457, 11 HR, 50 R, 55 RBI, 3 SB in 409 AB


28. Grant Balfour (RHP Athletics - Age 36): Balfour doubled his career save total last season, but that's just saves; 2013 was his fourth straight campaign with an ERA in the mid-2.00s. After struggling to stay healthy throughout his 20s, he's pitched 55 innings six straight seasons since turning 30, topping 60 the last three years. He's still rather risky on a multiyear deal, but he's set to get the biggest contract of his career. $24 million for three years or $18 million for two could work.


2013 stats: 1-3, 38 Sv, 2.59 ERA, 72/27 K/BB in 62 2/3 IP


29. Scott Feldman (RHP Orioles - Age 31): Feldman took a one-year, $6 million deal from the Cubs last winter coming off a season in which he went 6-11 with a 5.09 ERA for Texas. He has a much better ERA this time around, though his peripherals are about the same, and should get a raise and a multiyear deal as a result.


2013 stats: 12-12, 3.86 ERA, 132/56 K/BB in 181 2/3 IP


30. Corey Hart (1B-OF Brewers - Age 32): Hart is just a year older than the new $90 million man, Pence, and he has a slightly better career OPS at .824 (a mark he's beaten each of his last three healthy seasons). Unfortunately, he's coming off surgery on both knees that cost him all of last season. He's aiming to be ready for Opening Day, but it's hardly a sure thing that he'll be 100 percent. Whether he'll be any sort of option in the outfield is unclear. Hart has said he'll take less to stay with the Brewers, and they definitely have need of him at first base. However, if he chooses to explore his options, he could find suitors in Boston (if Napoli leaves) and Colorado.


2013 stats: N/A

2012 stats: .270/.334/.507, 30 HR, 91 R, 83 RBI, 5 SB in 562 AB

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