MLB Free Agent Big Hitters | December 17, 2012
Following the exciting baseball season that we had last year we are now into the off season and usually this part of the baseball year gets swept up in a footnote on the sports news but there has already been some big moves and big spenders. In this article I will take a look at who have been the big spenders and who are the best free agents still available.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have not signed a whole lot of players this year but the one player they have put pen to paper with caused some huge ripples around the baseball world. They signed Josh Hamilton, who last year played for their main division rivals the Texas Rangers, on a 5 year $125million deal. With Hamilton’s ages and injury history this is a huge risk especially when you consider they already have Pujols and Wells on big money contracts. While the offence is going to be amazing this year with them 3 and Trout on the field together come 2016 they are going to be on the hook for big money with some ageing players. Another problem with this signing is that last year many considered it to be the pitchers that were the issue and therefore unless Wilson and Weaver step up they could still end up losing games because they did not bulk up their pitching staff.
Boston Red Sox
The Sox have been busy in free agency this year signing 6 players already and on the verge of finalising a deal with Mike Napoli, another former Ranger player. One of those signing was to resign David Ortiz to a 2 year $26million contract which could be a genius move or really damage their attempts to rebuild. Having traded three of their biggest earners to the Dodgers during last season they have a lot of money to spend and they have reinforced the pitching staff with Ryan Dempster (2 years $26.5million) to go alongside Lackey, Lester and Bucholtz. On the offensive side of the ball they have picked up catcher David Ross (2 years $6.2million), outfielders Shane Victorino (3 years $39million) and Jonny Gomes (2 years $10million) and 2B Stephen Drew (1 year $9.5million). If they sort of the terms of the contract with Napoli this Red Sox team looks like they could be right back to challenging for the AL East title.
The Tigers made real waves last year when they went out and paid big money to get Prince Fielder, they owe him $23million this year alone, and it almost paid off for them with them getting all the way to the World Series before being thoroughly beaten by the Giants. They have added to their offence by going out and getting ex-Angel Torii Hunter on a 2 year $26million deal which when combined with Cabrera and Martinez gives them one of the top offenses in the AL. They have also gone out and paid big money to resign Anibal Sanchez to a 5 year deal worth $80million, who they acquired from the Marlins last season, to go alongside their ace, Justin Verlander.
New York Yankees
The Yankees have made moves for 6 players this free agency with 5 of them being resigned and only 1B/3B Kevin Youkillis (1 year $12million), the former Red Sox player, coming in from outside. Of the five resigned players only Ichiro Suzuki has signed a contract longer than one year (2 year $13million) with Hiroki Kuroda ($15million), Andy Pettitte ($12million), Mariano Rivera ($10million) and Brett Gardner ($2.85million) all staying on one year deals. They are already lumbered with some big contracts with A-Rod earning $28million this year, Teixera $22.5million and Sabathia $23million and that’s without even looking into Jeter’s, Cano’s and Granderson’s deals so they will be hoping that Youkillis can make an instant impact and help them beat his former team to the AL East title.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers got the ball rolling in LA with a big money move to sign Zack Greinke on a 6 year $147million contract to try and reinforce their pitching staff in order to knock the world champion Giants off their perch in the NL West. In order to give their offense a boost they resigned Andre Ethier to a 5 year $85million deal. They are looking like the new big spenders of the league having traded for Gonzalez ($21mil this year), Crawford ($20mil this year) and Beckett ($15.75mil this year) in the hope that they can stay healthy and provide them the thrust they need against the Giants top class pitching staff.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants have followed up their World Series victory by resigning three of the key components in their run. They have made no moves for outside players but are hamstrung by their big money contracts with Lincecum ($22million), Cain ($20million) and Zito ($20million) so just keeping this team together has been their biggest priorities so far. The resigned offensive players Angel Pagan (4 years $40million) and Marco Scutaro (3 years $20million) and reliever Jeremy Affeldt (3 years $18million) and will be looking to pick up any low cost high impact players that they can throughout the remainder of free agency.
The Braves biggest move of the year was perhaps one of the least expected, they chose to sign former Tampa Bay Ray BJ Upton to a five year $75million contract when many would argue his performances had not deserved that level of investment. They have also added Gerald Laird and Reed Johnson to cheap contracts that will not hamstring the organisation. They already have money tied up in Dan Uggla, Brian McCann and Tim Hudson but they will be hoping the addition of Upton can take them further than they made it last year.
Top Available Free Agents
There are still some quality free agents available for teams to make moves. The highest rated is perhaps Michael Bourn the speedy outfielder who would is also a good leadoff hitter with the ability to steal bases. Another outfielder available is Nick Swisher the former Yankee who is perhaps a better batter but not quite the same standard in the field. In terms of available pitchers the former Cardinal Kyle Lohse will be on a few radars but his age could be a limiting factor for teams wanting to offer him big money. A younger option is perhaps Edwin Jackson but his ERA is 1.17 higher than Lohse’s and he lost more games than he won last year and that could count against him in the eyes of potential suitors.
Perhaps the biggest loser so far has been the Rangers who have not managed to sign any of the players they have targeted so far and have seen Napoli and Hamilton leave to go to big rivals. They were not willing to offer the stability to Hamilton and maybe in the long run that will benefit them but for now Rangers fans may well be worried about what the next few years hold for their team.
The baseball off season has been big news so far but with most of the big names now signed the stories are likely to arise from trades or a public spat but until then we hope this has given you your baseball fix for now. If you want regular updates on the MLB then be sure to follow us @1amsports and also @UKMLB who do a fantastic job keeping everyone up to date with the latest news.