AL East, AL West Dominating Free Agent Market

In an article on spending in this year's free-agent market, Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan notes that this year's heavy spending hasn't been distributed evenly by division. Robinson Cano and Shin-Soo Choo have headed to the AL West, and that division has spent about $467MM on free agents. The AL East has spent about $399MM. Meanwhile, the NL Central comes in last so far, at around $78MM. To see what that means, here are MLBTR's top 50 free agents, and here's where they went by division. The total spending figures are from Passan.

AL West ($467MM)
1. Robinson Cano, Mariners
3. Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers
16. Scott Kazmir, Athletics
27. Scott Feldman, Astros
39. Corey Hart, Mariners
44. Joe Smith, Angels

AL East ($399MM)
2. Jacoby Ellsbury, Yankees
4. Brian McCann, Yankees
8. Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees
10. Mike Napoli, Red Sox
12. Carlos Beltran, Yankees
33. A.J. Pierzynski, Red Sox
37. James Loney, Rays
40. Edward Mujica, Red Sox

AL Central ($269MM)
18. Omar Infante, Royals
19. Joe Nathan, Tigers
20. Ricky Nolasco, Twins
35. Jason Vargas, Royals
38. Phil Hughes, Twins

NL East ($183MM)
13. Curtis Granderson, Mets
15. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Marlins
22. Bartolo Colon, Mets
24. Marlon Byrd, Phillies
29. Carlos Ruiz, Phillies
41. Nate McLouth, Nationals
50. Chris Young, Mets

NL West ($148MM)
26. Joaquin Benoit, Padres
30. Josh Johnson, Padres
31. Tim Hudson, Giants
34. Dan Haren, Dodgers
42. Juan Uribe, Dodgers
45. Justin Morneau, Rockies
47. Brian Wilson, Dodgers

NL Central ($78MM)
21. Jhonny Peralta, Cardinals

49. Roy Halladay

5. Masahiro Tanaka
6. Ervin Santana
7. Matt Garza
9. A.J. Burnett
11. Ubaldo Jimenez
14. Stephen Drew
17. Nelson Cruz
23. Bronson Arroyo
25. Grant Balfour
28. Kendrys Morales
32. Fernando Rodney
36. Suk-Min Yoon
43. Paul Maholm
46. Jesse Crain
48. Jason Hammel

15 of the top 50 free agents remain unsigned, and the preceding list does not take into account trades, which are another way for teams to add talent in the offseason. The list also does not include the White Sox's $68MM signing of Jose Dariel Abreu or the Giants' re-signings of Hunter Pence or Tim Lincecum, since those occurred before the offseason began. (Passan's numbers appear to include Abreu's signing, but not Pence's or Lincecum's.) Nonetheless, a few notes:

  • The NL Central hasn't engaged in the free agent market much at all, even though three of its teams — the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds — made the playoffs last season, and all three went into this offseason as potential threats to do it again. Meanwhile, those three teams have lost Shin-Soo Choo (Reds), Carlos Beltran (Cardinals) and others to free agency, and they might end up also losing A.J. Burnett (Pirates) and Bronson Arroyo (Reds).
  • The 15 top free agents who remain unsigned might not change the prevailing patterns much once they do pick their teams. In the AL West, the Mariners could still add Nelson Cruz, and the Angels reportedly have interest in Matt Garza. In the AL East, the Yankees could be key players for Masahiro Tanaka. Stephen Drew could re-sign with the Red Sox. The Orioles have been connected to Ubaldo Jimenez, Cruz, Burnett, and Fernando Rodney. Rumors have connected Grant Balfour to the Rays.
  • None of the top dozen free agents have signed with NL teams. Meanwhile, the Yankees alone have come to terms with four of the top 12.
  • In fact, seven of the top 12 free agents have gone to the AL East or AL West. None have gone to any other division.
  • The starting pitching market remains uncertain, with Tanaka's situation keeping the market in a holding pattern.
  • The Diamondbacks may be the best bet to be the first NL team to sign a top-ten free agent, since they've been connected to Tanaka, Ervin Santana and Garza. The Pirates aren't a terrible bet either, but only because they're the likely favorites to get Burnett if he decides to play in 2014.

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