This will be by position for all upcoming and potential free agents.
Catcher – Ramon Hernandez is probably the best available upcoming catcher. The only problem is, can he play 130 plus games? Last season, in 97 games he hit .297. Doumit will be available but he isn’t consistent. Ramon Hernandez, if he can play on a consistent bases, is the best available catcher.
First Base – Easy one, Albert Pujols! Pujols will be a free agent for the first time in his career, and we analyzed earlier which teams may be interested. It is very likely that he’ll come to some sort of an agreement with the Cardinals before then. Other than Pujols, Prince Fielder is due for a big day.
Second Base – Brandon Phillips is a potential free agent so he makes the list. He has a $12MM club option upcoming which the Reds will most likely accept. Next on the list is definitely Kelly Johnson. He can hit for power (26 HR last season) and can hit for a great average. If Phillips’ option is accepted, Kelly Johnson is easily worth $7MM-$9MM annually. This is obviously pending if he repeats last seasons success.
Third Base – Easy. Aramis Ramirez. He is without a doubt the best third baseman available. The next best available (arugably) is Omar Infante. He’s due to make $14.6MM this season and has a team option worth $16MM for 2012. This will most likely be declined. Ramirez will likely make $10MM-$13MM annually pending he returns to his old form.
Shortstop – Another easy one. Jose Reyes. He is coming off of an injury prone season in 2009 (33 games played) and came back in 2010 and play 133 games. Reyes had a great season last year. 11 HR, 54 RBI, 30 SB and a .282 AVG. He is only featured in out list of possible trade candidates. Reyes is due $11MM this season. If he repeats last seasons success, he’ll be worth that, if not more in such a shallow position.
Left Field – Johnny Damon is arguably the best LF available this upcoming offseason. He’s played in 140 games or more since the 1996 season. He still provides a bit of pop (8 in 2010), can steal a handful of bases. But, after this offseason he’ll be reaching 38 years old an is a more enticing DH. Damon is due to make $5.25MM this season. He’ll probably make less on the open market next season.
Right Field – Nick Swisher would easily top this list but his club option will likely be expected. There isn’t really a clean cut “best.” David DeJesus, JD Drew, Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer are interesting options. If Jason Kubel can still play the field, he’d probably be the best. He’s silently averaged 25 HR and98 RBI per season. If he can play RF, he is the best available RF.
Center Field – Grady Sizemore takes the cake here. There is an $8.5MM team option which I presume the Tribe will most likely take. If that’s the case, Carlos Beltran will top the list. Beltran may not be able to play CF, possibly, but more than likely LF. Sizemore will be well worth the $8.5MM his option dictates.
Starting Pitcher – CC Sabathia if he opts out. It’s looking more and more like he will. $92MM over 4 years translates into $23MM annually. If Sabathia can repeat his usual Cy Young performance, he’ll be worth around $25MM or so.
Relief Pitcher – I’ll give this one to Kerry Wood. Struggled in Cleveland but went to the Yankees and dominated. He has a 3.65 lifetime ERA. He’s due to make $1.5MM this season. If he repeats somewhat of what he did in New York, he’ll be in the mix for a multi-year deal. He’ll be worth somewhere around $4MM-$5MM a season.
Closer – Easily Heath Bell if he doesn’t sign an extension with the Padres. Since becoming a closer in 2009, he’s averaged 46 saves per season. He will easily be worth anywhere from $10MM-$15MM a year annually if he does not sign an extension with the Padres.