Yesterday’s list looked at free agent starters. Today, we’ll focus on free agent outfielders. The pickings are slim, and some mediocre players who lucked into free agency this year are going to get very wealthy as a result. What’s the old maxim about rather being lucky than good? Anyway…
- Alfonso Soriano, LF
One of the themes this blog will come back to over and over is how difficult predicting the future is. Soriano is a perfect example of this. When he was traded for a motley crew of Brad Wilkerson, Terrmel Sledge, and prospect Armando Galarraga (the Little Cat?), enlightened thinkers all decried the trade. Well, we were wrong, and now Soriano is the top outfielder on the market. The Mets covet his big bat, but may choose to spend their money on pitching instead, and would further block the path for prospect Lastings Milledge. The Angels are one of the front-runners; he fits in well with their hitting philosophy (he’s a mini-Vlad Guerrero), fills a need in the OF (assuming they’ve given up on expecting Garret Anderson to be any good), and would be a block-buster signing the front office could trumpet to Angels fans as evidence of their dedication to improve the franchise. The Phillies are another possibility, especially if they can unload Pat Burrell (a good hitter in theory who frustrates fans endlessly in practice and is an oaf on defense). In the end, I see the Angels winning the bid for 6 years, $85 million. Yowsas!
- JD Drew, RF/CF
Opting out of his contract to become a free agent could turn out to be a lucrative move for David Jonathan Drew. While considered a rich deal at the time, 5 years, $55 million for a top free agent doesn’t cause anyone to bat an eye these days. It’s a foregone conclusion that he won’t re-sign with the Dodgers (indeed, one reason he reportedly opted out was due to his not liking the city), but there should be plenty of other suitors for the OBP machine. Expect the Red Sox to take the lead here, especially if they’re also negotiating with Scott Boras (Drew’s agent) over Daisuke Matsuzaka’s contract. When all is said and done, injury concerns take a back seat to what the guy can do when he’s healthy. Don’t be surprised to see him get at least 13 million per season (otherwise, why opt out?); 4 years, $56 million seems like a good bet.
- Carlos Lee, LF
Okay, so El Caballo is rapidly turning into El Caballo Gordo. Lee still swings a big bat, even if he’s prone to streakiness, and other than Soriano has the best combination of power and youth on the market. He’ll get a look from the losers of the Soriano derby, but will probably end up an Astro. Will he get the 5 year, $65 million deal he wants? The Magic 8-Ball says: “All signs point to yes.”
- Barry Bonds, LF/DH
Let’s see: everyone in the country outside of San Francisco hates this guy. That said, he can still hit (when he plays). A move to the AL so that he could DH makes sense, but he’s almost too radioactive for an AL team to sign. A last hurrah with the Giants to break the home run record for about $12 million seems about right, but more years wouldn’t be all that surprising. By the way, how ridiculous is that picture? The chances that he never used steroids are even lower than the chances the guys in Lost have of ever getting off that stupid island.
- Moises Alou, RF/DH
Moises keeps getting older and keeps putting up numbers, even if he is having trouble staying on the field at times. (By the way, how amazing is it to think that in some games last year, Alou was the youngest outfielder in the Giants’ line-up?) Not an untouchable like his former teammate Bonds, Alou probably will end up in the AL where he can DH, especially since the Giants fired his dad. He’s perfect for Baltimore, who will react with shock and awe when he misses three weeks with a hamstring injury after signing him to a two year, $14 million contract.
More tomorrow. Don’t be a stranger now…