MLB 2009 Free Agent Predictions?

May 28, 2009

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Kyle Thompson asked:

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A note before we begin – this is a complicated puzzle, and I’ll be satisfied if I’m correct on a quarter of these guesses. If your favorite team seems under-represented, keep in mind that the list doesn’t account for trades or every single free agent.

1. C.C. Sabathia – Yankees. The guess here is that the Yankees will make C.C. an offer he can’t refuse, and he’ll sign a seven-year deal. Sabathia is the key to the Yankees’ offseason.

2. Mark Teixeira – Angels. The Angels can probably afford one of Sabathia, Teixeira, and K-Rod. They need Tex the most.

3. Manny Ramirez – Dodgers. I think Manny will ultimately sign a deal in the four-year, $100MM range.

4. Francisco Rodriguez – Mets. The buzz at the time of this writing is that the Mets will pass on K-Rod and look to sign Fuentes. However, there aren’t many big-money teams with closer vacancies, and I can see Rodriguez’s price dipping down to the four-year, $56MM range.

5. A.J. Burnett – Orioles. I am uneasy about this prediction. We know Burnett would like to play there, but will the O’s even enter the bidding? They do need starting pitching badly, and theoretically Burnett will still be effective when they are ready to contend.

6. Derek Lowe – Yankees. This would set up a rotation of Sabathia/Wang/Lowe/Pettitte/Chamberlain. Very solid on paper.

7. Orlando Hudson – Cardinals. Hudson, the top free agent second baseman, would be a large upgrade over Adam Kennedy.

8. Adam Dunn – Nationals. The Nats attempted to make a free agent splash last year with Torii Hunter. They’re known to be looking for a cleanup hitter.

9. Ryan Dempster – Cubs. Seems to be Jim Hendry’s top offseason priority. The two have a strong relationship, but Dempster may still score a competitive four-year contract. It should be noted that Hendry has a strong record of keeping his own free agents when he wants to, despite much hand-wringing leading up to each signing.

10. Ben Sheets – Braves. Under this scenario, the Braves are unable to land Jake Peavy via trade. Sheets is one of many possible free agent pitchers the Braves may consider. The Red Sox or Dodgers could be other suitors.

11. Mike Mussina – Retirement. I will go with the media sentiment that Moose is set to retire despite such a strong 2008.

12. Raul Ibanez – Braves. Even after bringing in two starters, they’ll have money left over for left field.

13. Pat Burrell – Rays. Burrell belongs in the AL, and the Rays have an open DH spot and the need for a righthanded hitter.

14. Bobby Abreu – Cubs. His defense isn’t a perfect fit at Wrigley, but they do crave a left-handed middle of the order bat. Fitting his salary in could be tricky.

15. Brian Fuentes – Brewers. If C.C. signs elsewhere, the Brewers will be able to spread their cash to fill various needs.

16. Andy Pettitte – Yankees. Once again, it’s Yankees or retirement for Pettitte.

17. Rafael Furcal – Dodgers. The interest is mutual. Furcal is the top free agent shortstop.

18. Casey Blake – Twins. If the Twins don’t like the asking prices for Garrett Atkins and Adrian Beltre, Blake may be the best third baseman on the free agent market.

19. Milton Bradley – Blue Jays. The buzz is that the Jays will take a look at Giambi, but Bradley is a nice fit as well at DH.

20. Jason Giambi – Athletics. The A’s are looking for a power hitter on a short-term deal, so a reunion makes sense.

21. Orlando Cabrera – Twins. Completing the Twins’ new-look infield. Blake and Cabrera should be capable of league-average production.

22. Jamie Moyer – Phillies. The seventh-best free agent starter, based on 2008 numbers. The Phils may look to add an additional starter for depth.

23. Kerry Wood – Cubs. A longtime Cub with a strong relationship with Hendry. Moving Marmol to the closer role would weaken the Cubs’ pen overall, so they’ll try to hammer something out.

24. Kenshin Kawakami – Red Sox. Signing Kawakami for the rotation would allow the Sox to keep Masterson in the pen and let Bowden and Buchholz come along at their own pace.

25. Randy Johnson – Angels. An improvement on Garland, and they get the bonus of his 300th win.

26. Oliver Perez – Dodgers. One possible fit for Perez, who is just 27 years old. There is a strong San Diego connection, but you have to figure money will get in the way (Perez is represented by Scott Boras).

27. Randy Wolf – Astros. Ed Wade has long been a fan of Wolf, and hopes to re-sign him. There won’t be much money left over after that.

28. Mark Grudzielanek – Indians. Grudz only makes sense here if the Indians miss out on bigger infield targets and shift Jhonny Peralta and Asdrubal Cabrera.

29. Ray Durham – Diamondbacks. The D’Backs figure to add one of the veteran second basemen on a short-term deal.

30. John Smoltz – Braves. I see no reason Smoltz would leave after all these years.

31.

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