Now that the smoke has cleared after an extremely busy Winter Meetings, here’s a look at the top ten remaining free agents available (based on Tim Dierkes’ early-November ranking of the top 50 free agents), with updates on each. We’ll assume here that Brandon McCarthy, whose pact with the Dodgers has is not yet confirmed, is off the market.
1. Max Scherzer — Six weeks into the offseason, it’s Jon Lester, and not Scherzer, who has dominated discussions, but that’s mostly because Scherzer’s agent, Scott Boras, often prefers to have his clients sign later in the offseason. A reunion with the Tigers appears possible for Scherzer, although a Tigers official recently said a new deal for Scherzer was “not happening.” The Yankees also appear to be a possibility for Scherzer, who is reportedly looking for at least $200MM.
3. James Shields — The Red Sox are an obvious match for Shields, despite all the starting pitching Boston has already added. The Giants also seem keenly interested in Shields. Shields has also met with the Rangers, although GM Jon Daniels has said the club was mostly just doing due diligence.
7. Melky Cabrera — The Mariners appear to be the clear favorites here, although reports indicate that neither the Mariners nor the Orioles are willing to go beyond three years. Cabrera is reportedly the Royals’ top priority to (re-)join their outfield as well.
12. Kenta Maeda — It still isn’t clear whether the Hiroshima Carp will post Maeda this winter. If they do, expect the Diamondbacks to have interest. Teams in the pitching market who lose out on Shields or Cole Hamels could be possibilities as well. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has flown to Japan to watch Maeda pitch.
16. Chase Headley — The Yankees continue to be connected to Headley, with the Giants (who, of course, lost Pablo Sandoval already this offseason) in the mix as well. Before the Winter Meetings, it was rumored that a mystery team had offered Headley four years and $65MM. (Another report had the Astros offering Headley five years and $65MM.) One would think the four-year, $65 offer (which went way over the four years and $48MM MLBTR projected) would have seemed like a good deal for Headley, but he remains on the market a week and a half later. Some within the industry reportedly doubted that offer was legitimate.
20. Colby Rasmus — The market for Rasmus has been fairly quiet, with the Orioles and Royals lurking as possibilities. And even there, the Royals reportedly only see Rasmus as a backup plan in case they’re unable to land Cabrera. Rasmus has talent and youth on his side, but his strikeout numbers and his benching by the Jays are concerns. Still, the lack of a clear market for Rasmus seems a little incongruous, given that he’s 28 and produced a 4.8-fWAR season in 2013.
21. Jed Lowrie — The Giants have asked about Lowrie as a potential addition at third base or second (in which case Joe Panik would move to third). Lowrie is reportedly looking for a three-year deal, with the Mets and Marlins as potential landing spots along with the Giants.
22. Asdrubal Cabrera — The Giants have inquired about Cabrera as a potential third baseman as well, only to be told that he would rather play up the middle. The Royals have shown interest in Cabrera, but they might not have much use for him unless they can move Omar Infante. The Mets, on the hunt for a shortstop, reportedly have more interest in Lowrie or Stephen Drew than in Cabrera. Given Cabrera’s recent defensive struggles, it’s hard to imagine a team signing him to start at shortstop at this point, so if he’s not willing to play third, he might be limited to second.
26. Jake Peavy — The market for Peavy has been rather quiet, which isn’t a surprise, given that the pitching market only recently broke open with Lester’s signing. The Marlins have been connected to Peavy, and Miami might be a possibility for him if Dan Haren retires, although the Marlins’ acquisition of Mat Latos probably makes a signing less likely. The Dodgers have also had discussions with Peavy, although that was reported before we learned they were deep in talks with Brandon McCarthy.
27. Hiroki Kuroda — At last check, Kuroda had reportedly not yet decided whether to pitch in the Majors next season (in which case he might return to the Yankees) to pitch in Japan, or to retire. He remained a durable and effective starter even at age 39 last season, so the Yankees could certainly still use him if he were to decide to return.