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By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Torii Hunter") [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsWith Victor Martinez and Michael Cuddyer signing with the Detroit Tigers and New York Mets, and more recently Russel Martin signing a huge deal with the Blue Jays, 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. We are going to look at the Top 50 Free Agents this offseason, and which uniform they will be sporting in 2015.

This is part 3 of a 5 part series. We already looked at 50-41 and 40-31, and are now going to analyze #30-21. Keep in mind, I said Free Agent, so I am not going to add Yasmani Tomas and the rest of the international players looking to sign, this will just be players with MLB experience looking to find a new home.

 

Top 50 MLB Free Agents for 2015: 30-21

30. Brandon Morrow (SP)

Morrow had his 2015 option declined by the Blue Jays. Even though he could have had a role with them, his $10M price tag would not have been worth it for Toronto. Despite plenty of injuries, Morrow has insisted that he wants his future to remain as a starter. What that means is he will have to settle for a losing team willing to take a chance on him.

2012 was his last full season, and he went 10-7 with a 2.96 ERA with a handful of BABIP luck, so whichever team takes a chance on Morrow will hope to get these sort of results as opposed to his 2013-2014 where he had a total of 16 starts with an ERA in the 5.60 range. He'll likely join another injury-prone pitcher we saw higher up on this list, Josh Johnson in San Diego.

2015 Most Likely Team: Padres

 

29. Francisco Rodriguez (RP)

K-Rod had a resurgence in his last year with the Brewers, taking the closer role and running away with it. He might end up with the closer role for whatever team he signs with. His 44 saves in 2014 were his most since leading the league with 62 in 2008. Looking for a team with an available ninth inning role, the Rangers would like to have a guy like Rodriguez with them.

Despite being an abysmal team in 2014, most of the problems can be written off due to injuries to stars Yu Darvish, Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo and Jurickson Profar. They did have Neftali Feliz as their closer this past season, but I see Feliz more as a middle reliever who will fit in behind K-Rod. Look for the Astros to make a play at K-Rod as well.

2015 Most Likely Team: Rangers

 

28. Michael Morse (OF, 1B)

Even though he played Right Field primarily for the Giants, he DH’d during the World Series, and riding the bench half the game might have grown on him. After a shaky 2013, Morse got back on track in 2014 hitting .279/336/.475, which is right around his career averages. He will be looking for an AL Team to play for, and one who has lost their DH. The Royals fit that mold, as Billy Butler has signed with the Athletics.

2015 Most Likely Team: Royals

 

27. Norichika Aoki (OF)

The Royals don’t want him, but he does have potential for a 2-3 year deal on the market as a Top 7 free agent OF. He has had a relatively consistent 3 years in the majors, although his steals (30-17) and homers (10-1) have both gone down since his rookie year. The winner of the Aoki sweepstakes, whoever it is, will likely be the one to offer him the third year. Looking for a guy to play left field, the Reds might want to do that. Aoki has played all over the outfield in Milwaukee and Kansas City, so taking over left with Billy Hamilton firmly in center shouldn’t be a problem.

2015 Most Likely Team: Reds

 

26. Asdrubal Cabrera (SS)

Even though I tend to like Jed Lowrie more, Cabrera is still a nice option for teams looking for a shortstop. Cabrera. has been on the decline since his best year in 2009. His average has dropped from .308 to .241 and his OPS is at .694, both career lows. A positive for Cabrera is he showed that once traded to Washington that he can play both 2B and SS. One team who is in need of both is the Yankees who lost some scrub named Derek Jeter to retirement. They may look to fill that void with Cabrera.

2015 Most Likely Team: Yankees

 

25. Torii Hunter (OF)

The 39 year old Hunter is still kicking, and looking for another, perhaps final, deal. I think he gets two years wherever he lands, and plenty of teams should be willing to give it to him. His key numbers have held up, with 17 HRs, 83 RBIs and a .286 BA in 2014 being right around his later-year averages. The Royals are a team that could improve in the outfield after losing Aoki. Hunter not only provides depth, but also experience in the postseason and leadership for the young Royals team.

2015 Most Likely Team: Royals

 

24. Edinson Volquez (SP)

Volquez was really bad in 2013 for San Diego before being released and ending the year with the Dodgers. He had  a major comeback in 2014 with Pittsburgh, having his ERA drop from 5.71 in 2013 to 3.04 in 2014. He stated that he wishes to stay with the Pirates, as he thinks that the staff have helped him become a better pitcher than his career 4.50 ERA would indicate.

In the same breath however, he said he is not looking for another 1 year deal. The Pirates may not want to invest in him long term, but there is a team out there that will sign him for beyond 2015. Bronson Arroyo and Patrick Corbin are likely to not be ready for Opening Day, and prospect Archie Bradley had some setbacks in the minors.  I don’t think the Diamondbacks are going to be big players on the free agent market, but Volquez can be a nice addition for a team who ended the year with tons of question marks in the rotation.

2015 Most Likely Team: Diamondbacks

 

23. Jed Lowrie (SS)

In a year where the SS position is extremely thin in the free agent market, Lowrie is the best you’re going to get for teams not willing to spend big on Hanley Ramirez. Lowrie has shown that he is the definition of a league average hitting SS, with his .249/.321/.355 slash line. However, when you are a team that needs a consistent everyday guy at SS, The Jed-I Master, as I deemed him one night in Fenway early in his career as a Red Sox, seems to be your guy. His 16 & 15 HR seasons in 2012 and 2013 are also not going to hurt his value despite hitting only 6 in 2014. The Mets have longed for consistency at SS since Jose Reyes left, they've just moved their RF fence in a lot, and they seem like a perfect fit for Lowrie as they desperately need a shortstop.

2015 Most Likely Team: Mets

 

22. Nick Markakis (OF)

Everybody and their mother would’ve guessed that Markakis would be coming back as an Oriole this offseason. However, that doesn’t seem to be such a foregone conclusion anymore. The O’s are more interested in resigning Nelson Cruz, and are pursuing Cuban Yasmani Tomas. If either lands in Baltimore, with the exception of when Cruz plays DH, Markakis will not be needed. Looking at where else he could land, his .276 BA, 14 HR and only 84 K’s in 710 plate appearances is pretty attractive. The Yankees are losing Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki, and Carlos Beltran should be their everyday DH in 2015. That leaves a hole in RF that Markakis could be a nice fit for.

2015 Most Likely Team: Yankees

 

21. Jason Hammel (SP)

Hammel was hot with the Cubs, then cooled after being traded to the Athletics and had an up and down second half. His 2.96 ERA with the Cubbies is better than any year he had, and his K/BB ratio of 4.52 is a career best and an excellent mark. However, his 4.26 ERA and 2.57 K/BB rate from Oakland is much more fitting for Hammel’s career. This leads to the question of what level of production you can expect from Hammel, a 32 year old who has never been more than a bottom of the rotation guy. He might get a better deal than expected, and he is going to look to get 3 years from a team to put him in the middle of the rotation. The Rangers are also looking to bolster their rotation, and might take a flyer on Hammel.

2015 Most Likely Team: Rangers

 

That's the end of Part 3 of this 5 part series. Next we will look at free agents numbered 20-11. In this group we are going to feature the best relievers available on the market, a few quality starting pitchers, and plenty of valuable offensive guys.  Stay tuned and see which ones I get right and which ones are very, very wrong.





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