Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Free Agents

This weekend I got together with the TwinsCentric guys and we walked through each and every free agent for the upcoming year. (I know, I know – we know how to have a good time.) The purpose was to estimate what kind of contract each would get this offseason for our new ebook, the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook. It turned into a long meeting, but an interesting one as it really gave me a reality check on various players.

It also made it very clear which free agent shelves are stocked this winter and which aren’t. So rather than go through every player, I thought I might run through an overview of a few positions.

First Base – Absolutely stocked. I’ve never seen a first baseman market so stocked. I had thought the White Sox might really have an issue if they lost Paul Konerko this winter, but they can fall back on Derrek Lee, Lance Berkman, Carlos Pena or Aubrey Huff, let alone chase Adam Dunn. The next tier of agents is stocked, too. It’s a very good year to be looking for a first baseman (or a DH, hint, hint.)

Second Base – Bad. Last year there were a lot of great second basemen – so many that the Twins could let Orlando Hudson fall into their laps. This year, he is easily the top name out there. The only other guys I’d even consider starters are Mark Ellis and (drumroll please) Cristian Guzman.

Shortstop – Terrible, but it always is. Sure, there are names like Jose Reyes and Derek Jeter who might end up being free agents, but they likely won’t be. The top name is likely Juan Uribe, who plays very well for a bowling ball. If JJ Hardy is not offered arbitration by the Twins, he’s the top name in the market, and will certainly get a multi-year deal.

Third Base – Maybe a little better than average, depending on if the Tigers re-sign one of their two guys (Brandon Inge and Jhonny Peralta). I count five guys that are generally considered starters at the hot corner, and that’s a lot for a free agent class. Update: Inge signed with the Tigers today for $11.5M. That's $1.5M per year more than we predicted. It appears Detroit isn't afraid to keep spending like a wasted celebrity.

Catcher – It’s highlighted by Victor Martinez, and then you have John Buck (20 HR this year), Bengie Molina (starting for ALCS Rangers) and AJ Pierzynski. There arent’ a lot of complete guys there, but there never are at catcher.

Center Field – Ouch. Once Carl Crawford is gone the next best option is …. Melky Cabrera? Rick Ankiel? Jim Edmonds? You’ll hear the name Coco Crisp, but given how desolate the market is, I wouldn’t be shocked if he ends up having his option picked up by the A’s, if only to trade him. (BTW, you can find excerpts from the Handbook about the center fielder market here.)

Corner Outfield – There are some MONSTER names in the outfield this year, like Vlad, Magglio and Manny. But there are also lots of questions about whether they are really outfielders or designated hitters. If you want a outfielder that can actually play in the outfield, the choices drop off quick. This might be good news for the Twins if they decide to shake up their roster a bit. They could move any of their three guys in this market.

Rotation – Beyond Cliff Lee, there are a couple guys who profile a lot like Pavano – veteran, good, but not great, inning-eating guys. It falls off the deep end pretty quick after that.

Bullpen – Wow – there are so many great arms out there I wonder if I’m making a mistake. The Twins are losing almost their whole bullpen to free agency, and looking at the list of what is available, I almost don’t care. There are some great power arms that likely won’t be too expensive because they don’t have all those pesky saves on their record. It’s impressive.


Want more? How about 30 more pages of smart alec profiles on each of the free agents along with 70 pages about everything else you would ever want to know regarding the Twins upcoming offseason? You can get it all right here. The offseason deserves its own Twins annual, and you deserve a chance to try your hand as GM of the Twins. Here’s your chance.

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