The playoffs are underway, and it's time for our last 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings in advance of our Top 50 Free Agents list in late October. Our previous installment was published August 6th. Though Hunter Pence was only able to snag an honorable mention at that point, he still signed a five-year, $90MM deal in late September. Our tenth-ranked player, Chase Utley, signed a two-year, $27MM extension with three vesting options. You can check out our full list of free agents here.
1. Robinson Cano. On September 26th, ESPN's Buster Olney reported Cano was seeking a ten-year contract worth approximately $305MM, which would be the largest in baseball history. Joel Sherman of the New York Post suggested $310MM. Olney wrote, "Some friends of Cano have a sense that Cano will take the biggest offer that he receives this winter, regardless of whether it comes from the Yankees or some other team." According to Sherman, the Yankees topped out in spring negotiations at seven years and less than $170MM. GM Brian Cashman recently told reporters the Yankees have made or will make a significant offer, but that Cano will be given the chance to entertain offers from other teams. If it's true that the Dodgers will sit out the bidding, it's too early to determine which clubs will give the Yankees a run for their money and offer more than $200MM.
With another brilliant campaign, Cano never slipped from the top spot on this list. In April, it was revealed Cano had left the Boras Corporation for Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA and rapper Jay Z. It appears Van Wagenen will take lead on Cano's negotiations, but Jay Z has been certified as an agent.
2. Jacoby Ellsbury. Boras still has Ellsbury, who he seemed to compare to an aircraft carrier in a conversation with Jon Heyman of CBS Sports in early September. Boras went to great lengths explaining why Ellsbury is better than Carl Crawford, suggesting he would seek more than the seven-year, $142MM deal Crawford signed after the 2010 season. Of course, the numbers floated in September are usually much higher than the final price. Ellsbury missed three weeks in September due to a foot injury, but appears fine for the playoffs.
3. Shin-Soo Choo. Choo, another Boras client, ranked fourth in all of baseball with a .423 on-base percentage. Heyman discussed at length whether $100MM is possible, with Boras of course implying it's a low estimate. Reaching that benchmark will depend on Boras getting a sixth year for his client; keep in mind Michael Bourn had to settle for four last winter.
5. Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka leaps onto the list as a contender for the best available starting pitcher. Not technically a free agent, Tanaka will have to be posted by his Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles. He'll play next year at age 25, coming off a 1.24 ERA in 181 innings for Rakuten.
6. Ervin Santana. Santana will be vying for a fifth year, and some team may find it justified given past comparables like C.J. Wilson. He will, however, cost a draft pick to sign after posting a 3.24 ERA in 211 innings.
7. Matt Garza. Garza posted a 4.89 ERA in his final 11 starts. His peripheral stats were not bad aside from home runs and hits allowed, but the rough finish takes some of the shine off his free agency. He did make all his starts since his May 21st season debut, and was working around 95 miles per hour in his last one. Plus, unlike Santana, Garza is ineligible for a qualifying offer and won't cost a draft pick. A five-year contract now seems optimistic for Garza, however.
8. Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda's free agent profile can be found here, in which MLBTR's Steve Adams predicted a one-year, $16MM deal. If he doesn't retire, he'll pitch next year at 38, and age hasn't slowed him down yet.
9. A.J. Burnett. Burnett is still considering retiring after the season, even though he's at the top of his game and kicked off the NLDS for the Pirates against the Cardinals yesterday (albeit poorly). The Pirates have strong interest in retaining him, and Burnett doesn't seem to want to play anywhere else.
Carlos Beltran, Josh Johnson, Nelson Cruz, and Tim Lincecum have previously occupied spots in the top ten, while Ubaldo Jimenez, Ricky Nolasco, Bartolo Colon, Bronson Arroyo, Scott Kazmir, Marlon Byrd, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Omar Infante, Kendrys Morales, and Stephen Drew have also positioned themselves well for free agency. Cuban free agent Jose Abreu merits consideration among our top 20 free agents.