With the regular season less than a week away, it's time for another entry in our 2014 Free Agents Power Rankings series. One contender for our top ten was eliminated earlier this month, as 27-year-old Scott Boras client Carlos Gomez surprisingly inked a three-year, $24MM extension with Milwaukee.
The full list of players who will be eligible for free agency after this season can be found here.
1. Robinson Cano. Cano remains atop the list, despite the Yankees making what GM Brian Cashman termed "a significant offer" when talking to reporters in late February. Cashman's mention of the team's offer seemed to be something of a public relations move. It would be a big surprise if Cano does not make it to the open market.
2. Adam Wainwright. Talking to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak acknowledged that "time's ticking" on a potential Wainwright extension. The Cards and Wainwright's agent Steve Hammond made progress last week, but the 31-year-old righty is set to take the hill a week from today in Arizona. Negotiations may cease at that point.
3. Josh Johnson. By all accounts, Johnson has looked sharp this spring. So far, he's met his spring goal of allowing no walks. He's maintaining his spot for now.
4. Jacoby Ellsbury. The Red Sox and Ellsbury are being careful to preserve the center fielder's health. The speedster hasn't attempted any steals this spring, and he was removed early from yesterday's game with an ankle injury. The injury seems to be day-to-day, but Ellsbury will need to play in 140+ games this year to shake some of his injury-prone reputation.
5. Shin-Soo Choo. With Choo moving up a spot, Boras now represents three of my top five 2014 free agents. Choo missed six games this spring with back spasms, but he seems fine now. Choo is not without his flaws, but he gets on base and could score a lot of runs atop the Reds' lineup this year. His willingness to play center field has to be viewed as a plus.
6. Roy Halladay. If my fantasy baseball drafts are any indication, folks are down on Doc this year. As MLB.com's Todd Zolecki put it, Halladay "has had a rough month, struggling in starts because of dead arm, lethargy and illness, respectively." The righty has worked at 87-89 miles per hour recently, but his most effective seasons have been in the 91-92 range. The bell rings for Halladay April 3rd in Atlanta, at which point we can start evaluating him more seriously.
7. Hunter Pence. Pence jumps an impressive three spots, more by virtue of the struggles of those around him on this list than by his strong spring. Earlier this month Pence told Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio and ESPN that he'd prefer to sign an extension with the Giants rather than test free agency. I imagine the Giants will need to see a few months of production first.
8. Brian McCann. It was revealed recently that McCann will not be cleared to begin his minor league rehab assignment before April 16th, after his October shoulder surgery. GM Frank Wren said McCann wasn't behind or ahead of schedule. Previously, though, there had been talk of a mid-April return to the Braves. If McCann misses all of April, that hurts his stock a bit. For insight into the injury and McCann's relationship with the Braves, check out Ken Rosenthal's FOX Sports article from earlier this month.
9. Tim Lincecum. Lincecum at least appears healthy, but his spring hasn't been encouraging. If he repeats his lackluster 2012 season, Lincecum will be off this list. Wrote ESPN's Keith Law earlier this month, "His stuff was about where it was late last year, but I think the concerns about him having difficulty pitching off that fastball in a starting role are legitimate."
10. Matt Garza. Garza will start the season on the DL due to a strained lat muscle, after being shut down last year in July due to elbow issues. With a possible mid-May season debut, Garza will need to come on strong and stay healthy thereafter to maintain a spot in our top ten.
A few players on the fringes of the list, such as Curtis Granderson and Corey Hart, will also begin the season on the DL. That could leave an opening for others like Nelson Cruz, Phil Hughes, Hiroki Kuroda, Jason Hammel, and Chase Utley to muscle their way into the picture.