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scherzer 580x260Lots of big name free agents are finding new homes in this hot stove season, and it already feels like the 2015 MLB season is just around the corner. First Victor Martinez and Michael Cuddyer signed with the Detroit Tigers and New York Mets, then Russel Martin signed a huge deal with the Blue Jays, and most recently the Red Sox shocked the baseball world by not only signing Pablo Sandoval away from the Giants, a team he won 3 World Series with, but also prying Hanley Ramirez out of Los Angeles, bringing him home to the team that signed him as an International Free Agent all the way back in 2000.

It’s safe to say the 2015 MLB hot stove season (aka the free agent offseason) has officially begun! From now until Opening Day, teams will be looking to add some of the top free agent players in the game.

This is the last part of a 5 part series. We already looked at free agents 50-4140-31, 30-21, and 20-11, and are now going to analyze the top group 10-1. Keep in mind, we are looking at MLB Free Agents, so you won’t find Yasmani Tomas and the rest of the international players who are looking to sign. This will just be players with MLB experience looking to find a new home.

 

Top 50 MLB Free Agents for 2015: 20-11

10. Melky Cabrera (OF) 

After the recent trade for Josh Donaldson and signing of Russell Martin (see below) the Blue Jays just made a big leap in the AL East towards being a real contender. The Red Sox and others are spending money, and the Jays are keeping up. His 16 HR’s, 73 RBI’s, .301 BA and .808 OPS are all great, and his best in a few years. He still has a bit of a cloud over him after the 2013 Biogenesis scandal. The Jays don’t seem to mind, and can afford to keep him around. It is a good fit for both, and there doesn’t seem to be too many competitors in his sweepstakes.

2015 Most Likely Team: Blue Jays

 

9. Francisco Liriano (SP)

When you’re the Royals, you have an interesting situation. Coming off an improbable run, just short of a World Series title, the offseason is going to be filled with reflection of ‘what ifs’ and ‘how they could have walked away with the ring?’ James Shields struggled and left for Free Agency, leaving a big hole in the starting rotation. Francisco Liriano is coming off his best 2 years as a starter in Pittsburgh. His 3.20 ERA from 2013-2014 is his best ever, and his 162 innings pitched is the most since 2010. His K/BB rate has also stayed above 2.00, something he has not seen since 2010. I like the idea of Liriano shifting from The Steel City to Kansas City as a veteran rotation leader, considering I don’t think they are done.

2015 Most Likely Team: Royals

 

8. Ervin Santana (SP)

Yep. Ervin Santana and the Royals have both showed a mutual interest in a reunion from 2013. Santana had his best ERA in KC at 3.24. For those sabermetric guys out there, his 127 ERA+ in 2013 was tied for his career high. As I said with Liriano, the Royals are in need of veteran arms with the likely departure of James Shields. For what it’s worth, Santana’s last postseason in 2009 with the Angels, he had a 1.59 in 4 appearances and a 7.9 K/9 rate, a big issue Shields faced. I think both Liriano and Santana are going to get 3 year deals with Santana possibly getting a 4th, and will be a 1-2 punch for KC as they bounce back from their best season since the George Brett era.

2015 Most Likely Team: Royals

 

7. Nelson Cruz (OF) 

Cruz was the key to the Orioles success in 2014. After getting only a 1 year deal to prove he can hit without the juice, Cruz will look to get paid, and he will. After dealing with the skeptics after his 2013 season was cut short due to his involvement with Biogenesis, Cruz bounced back with 40 HR’s, 108 RBI and an .859 OPS, all career highs for a full season. Cruz played a bit in the OF but was primarily used a DH. The Mariners used Corey Hart and Kendrys Morales as a DH, and both are gone. That leaves a nice big hole Seattle needs to fill as protection for Robinson Cano. This guess doesn’t hurt the fact that a deal between the two sides was announced Monday morning, but I did have him going to Seattle before the deal was confirmed.

2015 Team: Mariners

 

6. Russell Martin (C)

I had Russell Martin going to the Cubs before his deal with Toronto was announced. I really liked that fit, as the Cubs were losing Geovany Soto. The Cubs, as you will see at the end of this list, look like they are going to make a run in 2015, and Martin seemed like popular option for them. As it turns out, they lost out to the Blue Jays, and he will make his way north of the border for the next few years.

2015 Team: Blue Jays

 

5. Pablo Sandoval (3B)

Unlike Hanley Ramirez, I actually did get Pablo Sandoval’s deal to Boston correct. Will Middlebrooks has had struggles with injuries and more with lack of production since making his MLB debut. The Red Sox unloaded a lot of money this offseason, and plenty of that money is going to Pablo Sandoval.

2015 Team: Red Sox

 

4. Hanley Ramirez (SS, OF)

Sorry guys, didn’t get this one out before Hanley Ramirez signed with the Red Sox. I can admit I was wrong on HanRam. I had a fun idea where after Troy Tulowitzki gets traded, the Rockies would make a play on him. However, that didn’t happen. Ramirez is going to Boston along with Pablo Sandoval.

2015 Team: Red Sox

 

3. James Shields (SP)

Not So- Big Game James perplexes me. He is an elite ace pitcher, but was horrible during the postseason. His great two years in KC going 27-17 with a 3.18 ERA was washed away by a 6.80 postseason ERA including a 0-2 WS with a 7.00 ERA and a 15.0 Hits/9. He is still going to get paid, but he will come with a risk that Scherzer and Lester don’t necessarily come with. As confused as I am with Shields, I just did a process of elimination to see where he would go. I have heard rumblings and rumors about him involving the Red Sox, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Mets, Marlins, Rangers and Royals. Based on my own article and where I have people already projected, Kansas City, Boston and Texas are out. Miami shouldn’t be in the market for another big contract after signing Stanton and potentially Jose Fernandez to long term deals, and the Dodgers really can’t afford him unless they want to blow away the luxury tax. The Mets have a deep rotation as it is along with some prospects on their way to the majors. That leaves the D-backs as the last team standing. Some have reported that Shields might be out of their financial comfort zone. Looking at their 40 man roster, there are plenty of guys that can be moved in order to make this deal work, which I like for both sides when/if it does come to fruition.

2015 Most Likely Team: Diamondbacks

 

2. Jon Lester (SP)

So I originally had Jon Lester going to the Braves. That fell apart as the Braves haven’t made him an offer despite Lester living in the Atlanta area in the offseason. That leaves my options for him slim. Boston, Chicago and San Francisco are in the running for him now. I like him going to the Cubs are reuniting with Theo Epstein. Lester has 200+ innings 4 of the last 5 seasons, and a career .634 winning percentage with a 3.58 ERA, along with his best season in 2014 at a 2.46 ERA. That should go well with the Cubs plans for the future, and still only 30 years old, his 2014 resurgence will help ease the caution of signing a guy who will be 31 by Opening Day.

2015 Most Likely Team: Cubs

 

1. Max Scherzer (SP)

- My original projection was that while Jon Lester was going to Atlanta, Scherzer would be with the Cubs. After Lester, who has no qualifying offer attachment, signs with Chicago, Scherzer is now left without an obvious team. That’s saying something considering this tweet from Jon Heyman:

“Did you know Scherzer, 30, has thrown 20,954 pitches, to 26,321 for Jon Lester and 29,461 for James Shields, the other top two free-agent pitchers in a top-heavy market containing three aces?”

Scherzer has been great in Detroit, especially in his last 2 years with his 39-8 record and ERA slightly over 3.00. I might be alone, but assuming Lester doesn’t go to the Giants, Scherzer could land in the bay area. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain have big question marks going forward. Peavy and Vogelsong and both Free Agents (even though I Peavy back in SF.) That leaves Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson as the only guys with their feet firmly in the 2015 rotation. Scherzer to San Francisco. Remember where you heard it first.

2015 Most Likely Team: Giants

 

Well, that's it. There are a million different factors that could change these predictions. Signed players that are on the trade market including Cole Hamels, Yoenis Cespedes and Jordan Zimmerman are just as much an option to these teams looking to bolster their rosters. I will be monitoring all these players, and will soon be finding out which players I got right, and which ones were very wrong.





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