2011 Top 50 Free Agents

It's time for the fifth annual MLB Trade Rumors Top 50 Free Agents list!  The entire list of available free agents can be found here.

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.  The linked player names go to our free agent stock watch pieces.

1.  Cliff Lee – Yankees.  I could be swayed toward the Rangers, but it seems the Yankees are more desperate for Lee.  The Nationals make an interesting dark horse.  I can see Lee getting a seventh year, as crazy as that sounds.

2.  Carl Crawford – Angels.  The Tigers and Red Sox should also be in the mix for the speedy left fielder, who is vying to become the first $100MM man without a 20 home run season on his resume.

3.  Adrian Beltre – Red Sox.  The Angels are a candidate, though I have a hard time seeing them win the bidding on the Boras client if they get Crawford.  If the Red Sox are not able to re-sign Beltre, I see them moving Kevin Youkilis to third base and finding a stopgap first baseman.

4.  Jayson Werth – Red Sox.  The Sox would have a crowded outfield, but they are known to like Werth and could view him as J.D. Drew's long-term replacement.  The Red Sox have already contacted Boras about Werth, according to ESPN's Gordon Edes.

5. Adam Dunn – Cubs.  The Nationals have held to a three-year offer.  Dunn doesn't want to DH, leaving the Cubs as the only other NL team I can see spending big at first base.  The question for the Cubs might be whether they can move Kosuke Fukudome's contract before Dunn signs.  The White Sox and Orioles may also have first base openings and Dunn on the radar.  Perhaps Dunn's unwillingness to DH will be tested by the Tigers, or they'll offer left field time. 

6.  Victor Martinez – Tigers.  They seem committed to Alex Avila behind the plate, but there aren't a ton of viable left-handed middle of the order bats out there.  Adding V-Mart might take the Tigers out of the market for a full-time DH type.

7.  Rafael Soriano – Angels.  As the best available reliever and a Boras client, Soriano should require a three or four-year deal.  I don't love the Angels-Soriano prediction, but I can't find a great match for the righty.  The Diamondbacks seek a closer, but this kind of expenditure doesn't seem like Kevin Towers' style.

8.  Mariano Rivera – Yankees.  Mo is still unstoppable as he approaches his 41st birthday, though it is outlandish to pay a reliever north of $15MM for 65 innings.

9.  Paul Konerko – White Sox.  Another tough one, if the Orioles look elsewhere and the Diamondbacks opt for someone cheaper.  The Nationals and Cubs will be seeking first basemen, but Konerko may not accept a pay cut on his $12MM salary after such a fantastic season.

10.  Derek Jeter – Yankees.  The most interesting part of Jeter's free agency may be the contract details.  I'll say four years, $65MM.

11.  Hiroki Kuroda – Pirates.  The Bucs are not typically big game hunters in free agency, but Kuroda represents a chance to add one of the better available arms with perhaps only a two-year commitment.

12.  Jorge De La Rosa – Royals.  Though De La Rosa at least gets groundballs, some consider him another Oliver Perez waiting to happen.  Much will depend on whether De La Rosa requires more than three years or $10MM annually.  The Pirates and Nationals seem like potential suitors as well, if he can't find common ground with the Rockies.

13.  Carl Pavano – Twins.  It's still strange to call Pavano dependable, but he's tallied 433 1/3 American League innings over the past two seasons.  He'd be a big loss for the Twins.

14.  Jake Westbrook – Cardinals.  There's optimism for a deal, which would really solidify the Cards' rotation.

15.  Aubrey Huff – Giants.  There is mutual interest for Huff and the Giants to strike a new deal.  If the Giants want to quit while they're ahead with him, both sides will have plenty of alternatives.

16.  Juan Uribe – Dodgers.  Uribe could be the Dodgers' new full-time second baseman assuming they non-tender Ryan Theriot.  But his versatility means he could also fit with the Twins, Mariners, Mets, Astros, Cardinals, Padres, Orioles, Reds, and of course back with the Giants.

17.  Carlos Pena – Nationals.  Quite a first base carousel could develop this winter, but Pena is a fit with Washington as they look to improve their first base defense.  Who knows – perhaps his first extended look at National League pitching will allow him to match Adam Dunn's 38 homers.

18.  Jim Thome – Rays. Thome, Vlad, and Manny should all find full-time DH jobs.  I can see the Rangers, Rays, and Athletics being the most aggressive in seeking a regular at the position.  The Tigers are a good fit for Thome if they miss out on V-Mart.

19.  Vladimir Guerrero – Rangers.  True, the Rangers already declined Vlad's mutual option, but that was a formality.  He is comfortable in Texas, and isn't going to find a huge offer elsewhere. 

20.  Manny Ramirez – Athletics.  Manny makes sense for Oakland on a make-good contract.  He had one of the better off-years I've seen, with his .409 OBP ranking second only to Thome among free agents.  Durability will be the bigger question.

21.  Magglio Ordonez – Blue Jays.  Maggs belongs in the AL.  The Blue Jays can make some room at DH if they move Adam Lind to first base, while still giving Ordonez some time in right field.

22.  Orlando Hudson – Cardinals.  He'd help the Cards improve on Skip Schumaker without breaking the bank.

23.  Derrek Lee – Brewers.  I can see the Orioles or Diamondbacks for Lee, who will have to settle for a one-year deal.  But Lee could land in Milwaukee as Prince Fielder's replacement and remain close to home.

24.  Lance Berkman – Diamondbacks.  If Berkman aims for a place he can DH part-time, the Rays, Blue Jays, or Rangers could work.

25.  Andy Pettitte – Retirement.  If the Yanks miss out on Cliff Lee, they could be scrambling if Pettitte retires.

26.  Jon Garland – Rockies. He's best-suited on an NL team looking for bulk innings.  The Rockies could be that club if De La Rosa departs.

27.  A.J. Pierzynski – Marlins.  They fit all of Pierzynski's preferences and are known to be in the catching market.  He also mentioned the Padres, Rangers, Rays, and Red Sox as potential fits if he doesn't re-sign with the White Sox.

28.  Miguel Olivo – Rangers.  The Red Sox, White Sox, Angels, Marlins, Reds, and Dodgers may also be looking for a catcher, so there's plenty of potential combinations.

29.  John Buck – Red Sox.  Buck has a supporter on the Sox in assistant GM Allard Baird.  They seem unlikely to hand the starting gig to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

30.  Javier Vazquez – Nationals.  Vazquez has already expressed interest in pitching for the Nats.  His 2010 season was alarming, but there's still the upside of his fantastic 2009 with the Braves.

31.  Scott Downs – Red Sox.  Downs has the AL East experience to slot into a late inning role for the Red Sox or Yankees.  The Phillies and Angels could also be among his suitors, though a draft pick will have to be surrendered.

32.  J.J. Putz – Tigers.  Putz is officially back after a very strong season with the White Sox.  He may seek another shot at closing, but a chance to pitch for the Tigers close to home could be tempting.

33.  Brian Fuentes – Diamondbacks.  Fuentes will likely go where he has the opportunity to rack up saves.  The Braves could be another match if they don't stay internal for the ninth inning.

34.  Adam LaRoche – Orioles.  The Orioles are going to find a corner infielder one way or another; LaRoche is just one of many free agents they'll probably consider.

35.  Hisanori Takahashi – Phillies.  He's strong against southpaws and could spot start if need be, so the Phillies are a reasonable match.

36.  Pat Burrell – Padres.  Burrell had a nice run with the Giants, aside from the playoffs.  He could theoretically draw interest from the Braves, Reds, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers as well.

37.  Joaquin Benoit – Rays.  His numbers for the Rays this year were so absurd, they might be willing to offer him a chance to close in 2011.  He'll probably draw interest from a dozen teams, so that could be the difference-maker.

38.  Kevin Millwood – Padres.  Perhaps Millwood will get a shot at being the Jon Garland of 2011.  The Padres will probably bring in one veteran starter, and it's a coveted place to pitch.  Millwood could be a match for the Pirates as well.

39.  Kevin Correia – Brewers.  I like Correia as a sleeper this year.  The Brewers could make a big rotation upgrade by way of trading Prince Fielder, and then add Correia at the back end of the rotation cheaply.

40.  Arthur Rhodes – Reds.  The Reds and Rhodes have mutual interest in a new deal, but the 41-year-old southpaw will be popular on the open market.

41.  Pedro Feliciano – Angels.  The Phillies and Angels are two teams that seem highly likely to import free agent lefty relievers.

42.  Grant Balfour - Yankees.  Balfour would be a solid addition at the back of anyone's bullpen.  The Yankees will have options, though Balfour has AL East experience.

43.  Kerry Wood - Cubs.  He wasn't eager to leave after the '08 season, and now the Cubs can fit him into their budget.

44.  Scott Podsednik – Reds.  Pods fills the Reds' left field and leadoff needs at what should be an affordable price. 

45.  Yorvit Torrealba – Dodgers.  After five seasons as the Dodgers' primary catcher, it seems likely that they'll move on from Russell Martin.

46.  Hideki Matsui – Mariners.  His choice will probably come down to playing time, and the Mariners need a few quality bats.

47.  Johnny Damon – White Sox.  They had interest a year ago, and Damon's price should be lower this time around.  He's not an ideal DH but he's still an upgrade for the Sox.

48.  Kevin Gregg – Braves.  I expect they'll add some kind of late-inning veteran with Billy Wagner retiring, and Gregg may be inclined to chase the save opportunities.

49.  Koji Uehara – Mets.  Uehara, 36 in April, was fantastic in 44 relief innings this year for the Orioles.  His price should be held down by the 200+ DL days he logged over the past two seasons.  The market is flush with interesting right-handed relievers, but Uehara may still have a dozen suitors.

50.  Brandon Webb - Nationals.  Interest appears mutual.  Unlike last year's Chien-Ming Wang experiment, Webb may require upward of $5MM.

Honorable mentions: Miguel Tejada, Vicente Padilla, Takashi Saito, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, Brad Penny, Nick Johnson, Bill Hall, Frank Francisco, Jason Frasor, Jose Contreras

Non-tender candidates: click here


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