cliff lee in delivery

MLB free agency is officially underway


As Saturday turned to Sunday last night, MLB’s free agency period officially kicked off.

It’s hot stove season and we’ll be digging up and dissecting rumors all winter long here on Hardball Talk.

In the meantime, HBT’s own Matthew Pouliot has ranked this offseason’s Top 111 Free Agents.  A refresher:


And here’s the Top 10 with Rangers ace Cliff Lee leading the pack.  He turned in a gorgeous 3.18 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 28 starts this season, striking out 185 batters in 212.1 innings and walking only 18.  The Yankees are almost certain to try for him and Texas will try desperately to keep him.  The Red Sox may get involved, too.

Carl Crawford is another impressive name on the free agent market this winter.  He has speed, a great defensive glove, a fantastic swing built to make contact and even a little pop.  The 29-year-old finished with a .307/.356/.495 batting line and 19 home runs over 154 games this year and is expected to draw interest from the Red Sox, Angels and other big spenders.

Shawn Tolleson becomes a free agent

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The Rangers outrighted reliever Shawn Tolleson off the 40-man roster on Wednesday. Rather than accept the assignment to Triple-A Round Rock, Tolleson has opted to become a free agent, Rangers executive VP of communications John Blake reports.

Tolleson, 28, emerged as a closer for the Rangers in 2015, but his follow-up campaign this year was dreadful. He finished with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He eventually went on the 60-day disabled list with a back injury.

Despite the nightmarish season, it’s easy to see a team deciding to take a flier on Tolleson for the 2017 season.

Indians strongly considering starting Carlos Santana in left field sans DH

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Carlos Santana #41 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the third inning against Marco Estrada #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians slugger Carlos Santana hasn’t played in the outfield in a major league game since 2012, but the Indians are strongly considering starting him in left field for Game 3 of the World Series at Wrigley Field on Friday,’s Jordan Bastian reports. As the game is hosted in a National League park, there is no DH rule in effect, so the Indians might otherwise have to keep Santana on the bench.

Santana is hitless in six at-bats in the World Series thus far, but he has drawn two walks. He has overall not had a great postseason, carrying an aggregate .564 OPS in 40 plate appearances since the beginning of the playoffs. Still, during the regular season, he had an .865 OPS so he can certainly be a threat on offense at any given moment.