The MLB season is around 56% over, and it's time for a fresh set of 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings prior to the July 31st trade deadline. Our previous installment was published June 4th. You can check out our full list of 2014 free agents here.
1. Robinson Cano. "Scott Boras, you over baby. Robinson Cano, you coming with me," raps Jay-Z about his lone baseball client on "Crown." Roc Nation Sports may only have one baseball client at present, but he happens to be the offseason's top free agent by a mile. Cano, 31 in October, sits at .299/.380/.537 with 21 home runs and 62 RBI through Wednesday.
2. Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury, who is with Boras, is hitting .379/.439/.515 in 192 plate appearances since May 21st and has reclaimed the #2 spot. He's shown no ill effects from a recent minor wrist issue. If he stays relatively healthy, he may finish with 100 runs scored and his second career 60-steal season.
3. Shin-Soo Choo. Also a Boras client, Choo is second in the National League with a .418 OBP. It wasn't enough to get him his first All-Star nod, but he's in good shape for a sizeable four-year deal.
4. Brian McCann. McCann now has almost 200 plate appearances since returning from offseason shoulder surgery, and he's hitting a strong .294/.371/.518. I imagine he'll be seeking at least four years as well.
5. Matt Garza. Our first change since the last rankings, as Garza moves up a spot. He's now provided the Cubs with ten starts and 64 1/3 strong innings this year, and has the rest of the season to further solidify his health. A trade this month appears a near-certainty, meaning Garza will not be linked to draft pick compensation in the offseason. I consider Anibal Sanchez money (five years, $80MM) to be his ceiling.
6. Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda recently experienced tightness in his hip flexor, but he only missed one start. He's third in the AL with a 2.77 ERA, and even at 39 next year he'll get big dollars on a short-term deal.
7. Carlos Beltran. Beltran doesn't have youth on his side either, but he seems past the injury issues of 2009-10. With a .309/.347/.534 line, 19 home runs, and 52 RBI, he'll start in the All-Star game.
8. Ervin Santana. A new entrant to this list, Santana is eighth in the AL with 123 innings and is making the Royals look smart for acquiring him (despite a rough outing today). I'm not convinced he's a different pitcher than what he was in Los Angeles, but he should be a popular mid-rotation free agent arm.
9. Josh Johnson. Since coming off the DL June 4th, Johnson has a 3.54 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, and 1.11 HR/9 in seven starts. He should have at least a dozen more starts to continue bringing his stock back up after missing over a month with a triceps injury. The Blue Jays, currently eight games out in the wild card, can help his stock by trading him and removing the qualifying offer issue.
10. Nelson Cruz. Cruz is tied for fifth in the AL with 22 home runs, and has a shot at his first 40 home run season. Biogenesis is a looming issue, with a potential 50-game suspension likely to be served at the start of his next contract (if he is indeed suspended). I imagine his suitors would prefer to let that situation play out before determining what kind of contract to offer the 33-year-old slugger.
A.J. Burnett, Hunter Pence, and Mike Napoli were bumped out of the top ten this time around, while Chase Utley and Tim Lincecum just missed returning to it. The top five appears to be solidifying, while the rest may shift around quite a bit in the coming months.