Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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Top 150 Free Agents

Sunday, November 03, 2013

41. Roy Halladay (RHP Phillies - Age 36): Halladay finished 2013 without his usual velocity or movement, but he also claimed he wasn't hurt. At this point, he seems highly unlikely to regain his old stuff, and while he might be able to survive with a lesser arsenal, it's going to be hard for him to thrive. So, what to wager? He should have to settle for an incentive-laden contract, but someone might guarantee him $10 million or more based on his history and his work ethic.


2013 stats: 4-5, 6.82 ERA, 51/36 K/BB in 62 IP


42. Joe Smith (RHP Indians - Age 30): Smith's next contract will surprise a lot of people, but this is a rock-solid reliever. His career ERA is 2.97, and he's come under that each of the last three years, even though he's been allowed to face more left-handed hitters (he was more of a righty specialist in his first few years). Plus, he's only 30 and he has no history of arm injuries. He seems like a shoo-in for a three-year deal, though whether it's for $15 million or something closer to $20 million will depend on the bidders.


2013 stats: 6-2, 25 Hd, 2.29 ERA, 54/23 K/BB in 63 IP


43. Derek Jeter (SS Yankees - Age 39): The Jeter situation would be a whole lot more interesting if he didn't possess a $9.5 million player option. He wants to keep playing, so he wouldn't seem to have any choice but to exercise it. Another team would be crazy to pay him that kind of coin to play shortstop, and he doesn't appear to have any interest in a position switch.


2013 stats: .190/.288/.254, 1 HR, 8 R, 7 RBI, 0 SB in 63 AB


44. Scott Baker (RHP Cubs - Age 32): It looked like Baker, who originally hoped to come back from Tommy John surgery in May, might miss the full season, but he returned for three starts in September and pitched well in two of them. Unfortunately, his velocity was well down, resulting in fewer strikeouts than usual. But just the fact that he did get back on the mound makes him quite a bit more attractive in free agency. If he returns at full strength next year, he's a $15 million pitcher. However, because of the question marks, he may not go for more than half of that.


2013 stats: 0-0, 3.60 ERA, 6/4 K/BB in 15 IP


45. A.J. Pierzynski (C Rangers - Age 37): Always consistent offensively, Pierzynski pulled a new trick out of the bag at age 36, throwing out his highest percentage of would-be basestealers ever (24-of-73, 33 percent). He's been incredibly durable as well, playing in 128 games in a dozen straight seasons. He's going to have to decline one of these years, but a team needing a catcher could do quite a bit worse for its $7 million-$8 million.


2013 stats: .272/.297/.425, 17 HR, 48 R, 70 RBI, 1 SB in 503 AB


46. Randy Messenger (RHP Japan - Age 32): A journeyman major leaguer from 2005-09, Messenger became one of the best pitchers in Japan in 2011 and turned in his third straight sub-3.00 ERA last season. He also struck out 25 more batters than anyone else in the Central League. The belief is that he'd prefer to return to MLB now, but he's already received a strong offer to stay with Hanshin. To lure him away, some team may need to commit to a three-year deal in the hopes that he's the new Colby Lewis or Ryan Vogelsong.


2013 stats: 12-8, 2.89 ERA, 183/56 K/BB in 196 1/3 IP


47. Jesse Crain (RHP Rays - Age 32): For nearly three months last season, Crain was the AL's best reliever, amassing a 0.53 ERA and 18 holds in his first 35 appearances while setting up for Addison Reed. Shoulder problems did him in after that, and while it seemed his return was always right around the corner -- the Rays even traded for him in the hopes that he'd contribute down the stretch -- he never did make it back. He was probably on track for a $20 million-plus contract before the injury. He still might get a multiyear deal if some team seems like gambling.


2013 stats: 2-3, 19 Hd, 0.74 ERA, 46/11 K/BB in 36 2/3 IP


48. Wandy Rodriguez (LHP Pirates - Age 35): When Rodriguez was traded from Houston to Pittsburgh in 2012, it turned his $13 million for 2014 from a club option into a player option. With a healthy 2013 season, he probably would have declined it. However, since he missed the final two-thirds of the season with forearm and elbow soreness, it's pretty much a no-brainer for him to exercise the option and stay with the Pirates.


2013 stats: 6-4, 3.59 ERA, 46/12 K/BB in 62 2/3 IP


49. David Murphy (OF Rangers - Age 32): After five pretty terrific seasons as the game's busiest fourth outfielder, Murphy was finally penciled in as a starter last season and stunk it up, losing 200 points off his 2012 OPS of .859. It was pretty much all BABIP, though: his strikeout rate was a career low and he showed about as much power as usual. He just didn't hit singles. A rebound seems very likely, and Murphy should be able to get a multiyear deal, maybe something in the range of $12 million for two years.


2013 stats: .220/.282/.374, 13 HR, 51 R, 45 RBI, 1 SB in 436 AB


50. Edward Mujica (RHP Cardinals - Age 29): This will be one of the tougher calls of the winter. Mujica's breakthrough year had him lined up for a big payday, probably something in the neighborhood of $24 million-$30 million for three years. Unfortunately, his shoulder started bothering him in September; he tried to pitch through it but his ERA jumped from 1.73 to 2.78 and the Cardinals replaced him in the closer's role. In the postseason, he made just two appearances, none in the World Series. Mujica had always been durable previously, and there's nothing to suggest that there's anything seriously wrong with his shoulder. Still, given that he was more solid than spectacular prior to last season, $20 million would seem to be a reach now.


2013 stats: 2-1, 37 Sv, 2.78 ERA, 46/5 K/BB in 64 2/3 IP

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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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