Now that the World Series is over, the Major League Baseball Hot Stove is heating up. Here are some big name free agents to keep an eye on this offseason.
Robinson Cano is clearly the best player in this year’s free agency class. The durable second baseman batted .314 with 27 home runs and 107 runs batted in for a New York Yankees team that was devoid of its stars for most of the season. Cano earned his fifth All Star Game selection and was a finalist for the Gold Glove Award due to his stellar defense. The Yankees are the favorite to keep their second baseman but do not be surprised if the Detroit Tigers or Toronto Blue Jays contact Cano.
Jacoby Ellsbury is the best outfielder on the market. This past season, Ellsbury hit .298 with a league leading 52 steals for the World Series champion Boston Red Sox. The only question about Ellsbury is his durability as he has missed parts of the last two seasons due to injury. The Texas Rangers are in need of a center fielder as are the Seattle Mariners. However, Ellsbury could return to Boston.
Shin-Shoo Choo is the second biggest outfield name. He hit .285 with 21 home runs in the lead off spot for the Cincinnati Reds. Choo is known as a plus defender with a great arm. The New York Mets, Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners are all possible suitors.
Brian McCann is the top free agent catcher this offseason. He hit .256 with 20 home runs and 57 runs batted in en route to his seventh All Star Game selection. These numbers came in only 102 games, as he recovered from offseason shoulder surgery. The New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies could use McCann’s services.
Ervin Santana heads a relatively light starting pitching pool. Santana recorded 9 wins and 10 losses despite an impressive 3.24 earned run average and 211 innings pitched. The New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals are the favorites to sign him.
Matt Garza was a disappointment following his trade to the Texas Rangers from the Chicago Cubs this past season. While his combined numbers do not look that bad, his splits between the American League (4 wins, 5 losses, 4.38 earned run average) and National League (6 wins, 1 loss, 3.17 earned run average) were not good. However, his potential and playoff experience make him an attractive sign. The same teams in the hunt for Santana figure to be in the chase for Garza as well.
After the disappointment of failing a physical in the wake of signing a 3-year $39 contract with the Boston Red Sox, Mike Napoli set himself up for an even bigger payday with a solid season. Napoli hit .259 with 23 home runs and 92 runs batted in as the Red Sox everyday first baseman. The Red Sox will look to bring him back but the Seattle Mariners could make a play for him.
Following two All Star years as the New York Yankees center fielder, a pair of freak injuries limited Curtis Granderson to just 61 games. While his statistics from those games are not particularly impressive, Granderson did hit over 40 home runs and drive in over 100 runs in the previous two seasons. Both the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox could be interested in Granderson, as he is from the city. The New York Mets could also be a dark horse choice to sign the center fielder from their cross-town rivals.
Masahiro Tanaka is not technically a free agent as he plays for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan. After a 24 win, 0 loss season, the Golden Eagles will probably post Tanaka for bidding with Major League teams. The New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Los Angeles Dodgers will likely make a push for the Japanese pitcher.