2014 MLB Free Agency: Top 15 Players on the Market
2014 MLB Free Agency: Top 15 Players on the Market
Thank goodness that in life, the amount of money we make does not always compare to our worthiness in what we do. The same can be true in Major League Baseball as well when it comes to free agents. There are a clear few players that will definitely make more money than anyone else but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the only good available players on the market. For once, if you do not like the business side of baseball, this list will be right up your alley. We aren’t even going to think about money; well maybe a little.
Of course the simple fact of the matter is that sometimes a lot of money is paid to a player for a reason, that reason being how great of a player they are. Regardless of the money they will rake in however, this list is about performance and what each player could do for another team. Whereas some general managers will be looking this offseason for the highest paid player they can find, a great deal will be searching for a bargain buy that will get them to where they want to be.
By way of example we’ll look at the trade market and a waiver wire pickup by the Atlanta Braves. They grabbed veteran starter / reliever Freddy Garcia and everyone laughed at them. The fact is that he came at a very low rate of pay as he likely will next year but he was one of the best pitchers in baseball for the final few weeks and matched Clayton Kershaw pitch for pitch in game four of the NLDS. He was in line for the win in that game.
The point is that a lot of money doesn’t always mean success and a low salary doesn’t always mean a lack of success. Garcia won’t be on this top 15 list but he absolutely should be on someone’s top 20. Let’s take a look at those I believe are the top 15 free agent players on the market. The comments section below loves comments of all kinds, especially the nice ones.
15 – Juan Uribe
Uribe had a solid year at third base for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is able to come through in the clutch and I believe will come into the 2014 season with something to prove. That is always a good place for a talented player to be when approaching a new team. I don’t know who wants him the most but someone is liable to get a great player for less money by signing Uribe. He can be one of the better third basemen in the league when things go well. I would look for things to go well next season.
14 – Jhonny Peralta
I called that Peralta would have little or no impact at all in the playoffs for the Detroit Tigers but I was dead wrong. Peralta was able to find his grove and really come through when the Tigers needed him. He has versatility in that he can play outfield fairly well and of course shortstop. He does carry the PED baggage with him but that mess should be over and done with. Someone is likely to pay a lot for him but regardless of that, he will come through.
13 – Carlos Beltran
Beltran is likely to be signed for a little more than he will seem worth during the regular season. If whoever signs him heads towards the clutch time of the year and the postseason however, he’ll quickly look like a bargain no doubt. Beltran is solid in all the fundamentals of the game and that matters on more levels than I can count. No matter what playing time he is assigned for the regular season, Beltran will come through in a solid way for someone.
12 – Raul Ibanez
What Ibanez gets from a new team will matter about as much as his age. No matter what he is paid or what age he is, Ibanez is able to play outfield or DH, play full-time or part-time and will provide a lot more offense than everyone expects in 2014. I don’t know why anyone would suspect anything different. Unless he gets injured for some reason, Ibanez will quietly be one of the better players in baseball yet again.
11 – Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Salty has carved a pretty good notch out in Boston but look for him to hit the open market this year with the Red Sox potentially targeting Brian McCann. Though he has made a few mental mistakes in the playoffs, he is well worthy of being called one of the better available catchers in the game this offseason because of what he will do over the course of the full regular season. It is even possible that he could return to the Texas Rangers. Wouldn’t that be interesting?
10 – Joe Nathan
Nathan should just about be considered a legend among closers in MLB. If he has another few good seasons he surely will be. Though he may never reach Mariano Rivera status, he most certainly has been one of the most consistent closers in recent history. As he approaches the final several years of his career, he’ll probably only get better as Rivera did towards the end. Until retirement comes calling, look for Nathan to remain one of the top MLB closers year in and year out.
9 – James Loney
Potential may be a strange word to use for someone with Loney’s experience but you can just see it sitting there ready to blow. Though he is likely not going to be one of the higher paid free agents, he most certainly should become one of the more successful free agents when we all look back at the end of the 2014 season.
8 – Ervin Santana
It’s a good thing we aren’t factoring in money on this list because Santana is looking like a highly priced starter this offseason. He will probably do just fine when it counts as well but don’t be surprised if he ends up effective but not as good as some predicted him to be. On the other hand, he is definitely worth the risk of signing for a few years based on his track record and age.
7 – Kendrys Morales
Morales has all the tools to be someone’s go-to big hitter for the next few seasons. Whoever is the team that is lucky enough to land him, be it Seattle or someone else, is bound to see an instant return on their investment that will continue to pay dividends all season long.
6 – Marlon Byrd
Though the Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t make it as far as they would have liked in the postseason, Byrd most certainly showed everyone that he is still very capable of being one of the better players in MLB as he lifted the Pirates when they needed it most. Chances are if they would have gotten the same lift from the other free agents as they got from him, they might still be playing.
5 – Grant Balfour
Balfour isn’t profiling as the biggest money-making closer on the free agent market but you can bet he will be one of the most successful when all is said and done. This guy has an attitude that is extremely unique and can be troublesome but it is all in the name of intensity, nothing personal. Though he likely won’t be as highly touted as Nathan this time around, look for him to be one of the top few closers in the majors by the time his next contract season comes up.
4 – Jacoby Ellsbury
There is a good chance that Ellsbury will be chased quite desperately by the Red Sox but either way he is surely one of the more promising free agents this offseason. He is capable of being the best outfielder in the game when all of his tools are working well but a couple of injuries might bring him in at a bargain price. I think the postseason run will fuel Ellsbury to come back in 2014 ready to prove he is every bit as good as he has ever been.
3 – Shin-Soo Choo
Choo won’t win or lose the entire season in a game or two but over the long-haul he will definitely be a huge difference maker for any team. For example if the Astros, who are very interested at least for now, were to sign Choo, you can bet that would be enough to take them from 111 losses to at least around 90 or so just by his being on base and creating problems for opposing pitchers with his at-bats. He will continue to be one of the better players in the game, no doubt about it.
2 - Brian McCann
McCann is going to likely be let go by the Braves but it isn’t because they think he is done. On the contrary they know he has a ton left in him but also know they won’t be able to afford his price-tag. McCann, even as good as he is expected to be, is likely to come out with all cylinders firing in 2014. I would look for him to potentially have his best offensive season next year and that is saying something.
1 – Robinson Cano
It might get irritating to see this guy’s name at the top of any list he qualifies for but that is just the way it is. Cano is the most consistent and most valuable free agent available and it isn’t really that close. Sure, he’ll make a ton of money but no one is going to care because he’ll be the best second baseman in the game and one of the top 5 players in the game overall.