As we finish the year, here are the top 10 remaining free agents (per the rankings of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes). MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth provided an update two weeks ago, but six players already signed or will play in Japan. New notes have emerged on most of the others. Last-minute shoppers still have a choice of a couple top pitchers and a variety of veterans.
1. Max Scherzer — The 30-year-old has yet to see his market pick up, but that’s par for the course with Scott Boras. Scherzer is said to be seeking over $200MM. During the last couple weeks, we learned three teams are distancing themselves from Scherzer – the Yankees, Cardinals, and Giants. Of course, such statements could be posturing, especially when large sums of money are involved. MLBTR readers predict a return to Detroit, with the Yankees a close second.
3. James Shields — The Giants are said to be deciding between spending on Shields or a left fielder. All indications point to San Francisco as the top candidate to land the righty, who turns 33 today. The Red Sox, who have also been tied to Shields, could be out, based on GM Ben Cherington’s comments.
20. Colby Rasmus — Rasmus’ market may be heating up as the free agent outfielder cupboard grows bare. The Twins aren’t in on Rasmus, but the Orioles are one possibility. The Cubs also showed interest earlier last week. Teams may have difficulty gauging Rasmus’ value. Early in his career, he had a falling-out with the Cardinals, and last season the Blue Jays demoted him to a reserve role.
22. Asdrubal Cabrera — With the dearth of free agent middle infielders, Cabrera should remain popular until he signs. After trading Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies may be one of the only teams looking at him as a shortstop. Meanwhile, the Giants are probably out, given the acquisition of Casey McGehee. The Twins, A’s, and Mets are also saying they’re uninterested.
36. Francisco Rodriguez – The rumors thus far for the Boras client can be best described as “crickets.” The White Sox were tied to him shortly before they signed David Robertson. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd wrote a free agent profile on Rodriguez, ultimately concluding that a two-year, $14MM deal was a good estimate. Few teams need closers, and Rodriguez is probably best suited to a pitchers park. He’s been homer-prone since joining the Brewers in 2012. MLBTR readers selected Rodriguez as the most desirable reliever of the remaining closers.
37. Rafael Soriano – Like Rodriguez, Soriano has yet to be tied to any teams. Jeff profiled Soriano and concluded that a two-year, $12MM deal could be within reach. However, his late-season collapse for the Nationals probably complicates his market. With the deep supply of excellent relievers, the demand for proven, mid-market closers may be down.
38. Ryan Vogelsong –Teams are quickly scooping up mid-priced pitching. However, steady, low-ceiling veterans like Vogelsong have yet to draw much public interest. The last week saw a bevy of injury-prone, higher-upside pitchers like Brett Anderson, Kris Medlen, and Gavin Floyd sign substantive contracts. As teams look to shore up the backs of their rotations, Vogelsong should draw more rumors. The Giants are out, and the Twins showed interest prior to signing Ervin Santana.
39. Aaron Harang – After a nice rebound season that included a 3.57 ERA over 204 1/3 innings, Harang, 37 next season, has drawn mild interest from the Rockies. The slightly fly ball prone righty is seemingly a poor fit for Colorado’s high-octane park. The Braves are keeping tabs on his market, and they remain open to re-signing him. MLBTR’s Zach Links predicted a two-year, $14MM payday.
40. Nori Aoki – The leadoff hitter consistently posts a solid average and on base percentage, but he swatted just one home run for the Royals last season. Aoki, 33 in January, was an option to re-sign in Kansas City before they inked Alex Rios. The Orioles reportedly have “lukewarm” interest in Aoki, while the Reds have also been tied to the left-handed outfielder. Charlie predicted a two-year, $16MM contract for Aoki.
42. Stephen Drew – Earlier this month, we learned Drew is drawing broad interest despite a painful 2014 campaign. Drew, 32 next season, hit just .162/.237/.299 in 300 plate appearances after signing mid-season. With shortstop so thin league-wide, some team will take a chance on him recapturing his .256/.322/.425 career numbers. The Mets are the most closely tied to Drew, although plenty of teams could use a low-risk middle infielder. Charlie pegged him for a one-year, $7MM deal to rebuild value.