With the winter meetings beginning today, hopefully we will finally see some action in a time full of anticipation and speculation. It appears as if we just need one or two big names to sign to get the ball rolling and set the tone for the other teams, player and agents. Nobody seems like they want to be trend setter this winter as teams don’t want to overpay and agents don’t want to be undercut.
So before the first ball drops (so to speak) I’d like to give my predictions of where I believe the top 20 free agents will be heading over the coming weeks and months. Not only will this give my predictions, but it will also give my rankings of the top free agents as many people have requested.
Two birds, one stone. On to the list:
1.) C.C. Sabathia – Dodgers
I know I am in the minority here but I just hope Sabathia doesn’t give into the player’s union and the big dollars the Yankees are throwing at him. For once I’d like to see a player go where he wants (wants to play out west) and not go where the most money is. Crazy concept I know.
2.) Mark Teixeira – Angels
I just don’t see the Angels not signing him. They need to do whatever they can to lock this star up.
3.) Manny Ramirez – Dodgers
Some way, some how Boras is going to get Manny four years and $100 million. Too many years to keep him interested.
4.) AJ Burnett – Braves
The Braves need him since the Peavy talks have all but dried up. He would be a huge sign for them and really lock down their rotation.
5.) Francisco Rodriguez – Mets
He’s the best of the available closers and I don’t see the Mets going second best. Especially heading into a new stadium.
6.) Ryan Dempster – Cubs
Done and done. You’ll have to take my word that this was my prediction. Dempster pitched great and wanted to stay in Chicago.
7.) Adam Dunn – Nationals
At first I didn’t see this happening as there is no real reason to sign with the Nats. But with how overloaded the market is and how much the Nats want a clean up hitter and a big name, they will over pay for the big man.
8.) Derek Lowe – Yankees
This will happen for sure if the Yankees lose Sabathia. They will get desperate and give in to his demands of too many years.
9.) Ben Sheets – Braves
This is a HUGE hunch. The Braves do have enough to sign Burnett, Sheets and the next guy on this list. Alternatively I see him going to the Yankees if they don’t get Sabathia.
10.) Raul Ibanez – Braves
They want a lefty, they want a good fielder in left and they want a power hitter. Sounds like a perfect fit to me.
13.) Pat Burrell – Rays
Attractive place to play now and the Rays need another big bopper. Plus Burrell should be in the AL with the DH rule especially as he gets older. Plus he was never truly appreciated in Philly.
14.) Rafael Furcal – Dodgers
Already spat in the face of the A’s (who I originally would have predicted) and I don’t see any viable options for him. He’s pretty much boxed himself into a corner.
15.) Casey Blake – Twins
I think the Twins are locked in on him and determined to sign him to solidify a third base hole that has been there since Corey Koskie left years ago. Plus they are hesitant to give up their young pitching for Atkins or Beltre.
16.) Jason Giambi – Athletics
Best fit for everyone involved. Plus I don’t know if you are aware of this but there’s a history there.
17.) Milton Bradley – Rays
Here is a perfect DH filler for the Rays. Since he would have to stay in the AL the only other option I see is Toronto.
18.) Brian Fuentes – Brewers
No Sabathia, no Sheets and no closer means they have a large pot of money to throw around. They won’t do this until after the Mets make their move.
19.) Orlando Hudson – Mets
The Mets want to get rid of Luis Castillo’s contract (and broken old body) in the worst way. They are attempting a contract dump with another team (bad contract for bad contract) and if they can swing that they will go after Hudson.
20.) Kerry Wood – Indians
He will be the final of the big three closers available and the Indians will swoop in and grab him. They desperately need a closer and will fit the bill for them.
By Matthew Whipps
“The Diamond Cutter“
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist
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