Some big names are hitting the free agent market this winter, let’s take a look at five who are poised for a big time pay-day.
5) Omar Infante: A name that hasn’t been thrown around much in the baseball world, but Omar Infante has set himself up to cash in on his time in Detroit. Brought over in a trade with Anibal Sanchez, both have been very helpful to the Detroit Tiger cause. Currently, in 98 games Infante has posted a .319/.346/.455 with 9 HRs and 38 RBIs. Known more for his ability to hit and get on base than being a run-producer, Infante is having a very good year. Add to that the fact that he only has made 7 errors in 98 games, Infante’s defense is a plus as well. He will be coming off a 2 yr/$8 million deal that saw him being a key part of the Tigers team. Whether his future is with the Tigers or not, there are a handful of teams that want a guy that can hit .300 and get on base, and those teams will pay in the $6-8 million range to put that type of production in their lineup.
4) Hunter Pence: Pence is going to play a full season with one team for the first time since 2011. The Giants mark the 3rd team that the high-touted outfielder has been on during that span. A power hitting outfielder, Pence is having a quality year for a mediocre San Francisco team. In 140 games, Pence is has a line of .283/.334/.461 to go along with 18 HRs and 72 RBIs. Pence is getting paid $13.8 million this year and is sporting a 3.5 WAR this season. Pence is a commodity that many teams would like: a power hitting outfielder that hits for average, can get on base, and gives it all out on the field. His defense is where he might lose some value, but his bat is can’t miss. Look for a team like the Red Sox (if they lose Ellsbury), Rangers, Mets, Yankees and even the Giants to be in a bidding war for the 30-year-old hitter.
3) Robinson Cano: Only a handful of teams will be able to even submit an offer worth looking at, but they carry a pretty price tag. The Yankees second basemen is about to hit the jackpot. A Yankee team that has had its trouble finding constant production in the lineup never had to worry about Cano. A .307/.384/.514 line is something any baseball fan would love to have in their respective team’s lineup. Add to that 26 HRs and 94 RBIs and you have one of the best players in the game today. An MVP-type hitter who plays quality defense is hard to find, and it’s even harder to find at second base. Cano is making $9.5 million this year and is sure to make a lot more. A contract for Cano would have to start around 7 yrs/$150 million. The market may make this price go down a bit but, with a player like Cano, teams may be willing to throw the kitchen sink at the hopes of having Cano man second base for them in the future.
2) Shin-Soo Choo: The on base machine Shin Soo Choo is about to make a lot of money. It also helps that he is a Scott Boras client, but the numbers don’t lie. A .420 on base percentage with 20 HRs and 48 RBIs (as a leadoff hitter) makes Choo a target for teams missing that piece at the top of the batting order. Coming into the 2013 season Choo’s defense was a huge concern, as he was being moved to center at the hitter friendly Great American Ball Park, but Choo has been just fine there, pushing those concerns aside for the moment. With an outfield market that has Choo, Ellsbury, Pence and others, it’s going to be open season for teams needing outfield help. Who they go after will dictate how the market plays out, so there may be a lot of sitting and waiting in the beginning.
1) Jacoby Ellsbury: The speedy Red Sox center fielder has drawn some attention to himself over the past couple of weeks. It’s been made known that the Yankees are interested in bring Ellsbury into the Bronx. Add the Bombers to a list that includes the Red Sox, Mets and Rangers; all teams that need outfield help. Ellsbury brings the speed element that many teams lack and want. A .299/.355/.424 line this season with 8 HRs 52 RBIs and 52 SBs and at age 29 Ellsbury is a hot target.But again, with a market filled with so many players and so many teams involved, it may take some time for the ball to get rolling. But either way, expect all these outfielders to start bidding wars and drive their value up, allowing them to cash in at the bank.
A 2013 offseason that will be filled with rumors and speculation about where these (and others) will end up is sure to bring about an exciting time to be a baseball fan. In the off-season, everyone’s got a chance.