Last week we looked at starting pitchers who could reach free agency after the 2012 season. Today, let's see which bats might be available.
The following position players are among those on pace to have six-plus years of service time for the first time once the '12 season ends: Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, Delmon Young, Stephen Drew, Miguel Montero, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Luke Scott, and Carlos Quentin. Others currently in the four-plus service time class, such as Mike Napoli and James Loney, will need strong 2011 seasons to avoid being non-tendered. Hamilton looks like the only candidate for a $100MM+ deal, unless someone else posts massive 2011-12 seasons. Of course, any of these players could be extended before the '12 season ends.
As far as position players on multiyear deals that will expire after '12, in most cases we'll see veterans who won't qualify as top bats: Torii Hunter, Carlos Lee, Aaron Rowand, and Marlon Byrd for example. There are a pair of big names, though: David Wright and Ichiro Suzuki. Wright will turn 30 in December of 2012, and if his next two campaigns go well he could land a huge contract. Ichiro will turn 39 after the '12 season.
More than a dozen position players have contract options for 2012, which if exercised would make them eligible for free agency after that season. Yadier Molina, Aramis Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, and Nick Swisher are the interesting names here, though some could be free agents after '11 if the options are declined.
A similar-sized group has options for '13, which if declined will make them free agents prior to that season. Names here include Brian McCann, Aubrey Huff, Travis Hafner, Mark Reynolds, Ian Kinsler, Kevin Youkilis, and Curtis Granderson. The most appealing players, however, figure to have their '13 options exercised.
Current free agent hitters could join this group by signing two-year deals or one-year contracts with options that are picked up. Still more names will be added from those who sign one-year deals now and again after the season, as well as those non-tendered after '12.
As of right now Hamilton and Wright project as the top bats for the 2012-13 offseason, though others like Upton, Young, Drew, Ethier, and Kemp could join the discussion by posting a pair of big offensive seasons.
Cot's Baseball Contracts was instrumental in creating this post.