Taking into account recent signings and some new arrivals courtesy of the non-tender deadline, here’s a new list of the top 50 free agents available. Posted Japanese players Yu Darvish and Norichika Aoki are not included. Darvish, a right-handed pitcher, would come in at No. 2 on the list, while Aoki, an outfielder, would slide in right around No. 25.
(A note: this is more a list of how I believe teams view the free agents than how I view them myself. Personally, I’d slide Carlos Beltran and Josh Willingham above Michael Cuddyer.)
Top 50 Free Agents
1. Prince Fielder (1B Brewers)
2. Yoenis Cespedes (OF Cuba)
3. Jimmy Rollins (SS Phillies)
4. Ryan Madson (RP Phillies)
5. Edwin Jackson (SP Cardinals)
6. Michael Cuddyer (OF Twins)
7. Carlos Beltran (OF Giants)
8. Hiroki Kuroda (SP Dodgers)
9. Josh Willingham (OF Athletics)
10. Roy Oswalt (SP Phillies)
11. Jorge Soler (OF Cuba)
12. Javier Vazquez (SP Marlins)
13. Joe Saunders (SP Diamondbacks)
14. Carlos Pena (1B Cubs)
15. Francisco Cordero (RP Reds)
16. Paul Maholm (SP Pirates)
17. Wei-Yin Chen (SP Japan)
18. Derrek Lee (1B Pirates)
19. Hisashi Iwakuma (SP Japan)
20. Jason Kubel (OF Twins)
21. Coco Crisp (OF Athletics)
22. Casey Kotchman (1B Rays)
23. Tsuyoshi Wada (SP Japan)
24. Johnny Damon (OF Rays)
25. Joel Pineiro (SP Angels)
26. Bartolo Colon (SP Yankees)
27. Cody Ross (OF Giants)
28. Vladimir Guerrero (DH Orioles)
29. Ryan Ludwick (OF Pirates)
30. Jason Marquis (SP Diamondbacks)
31. Wilson Betemit (3B Tigers)
32. Darren Oliver (RP Rangers)
33. Luke Scott (OF Orioles)
34. Brad Lidge (RP Phillies)
35. Rich Harden (SP Athletics)
36. Hideki Matsui (DH Athletics)
37. Kerry Wood (RP Cubs)
38. Hong-Chih Kuo (RP Dodgers)
39. J.D. Drew (OF Red Sox)
40. Jeff Francis (SP Royals)
41. Jeff Keppinger (2B Giants)
42. Yuniesky Betancourt (SS Brewers)
43. Casey Blake (3B Dodgers)
44. Chad Qualls (RP Padres)
45. Juan Pierre (OF White Sox)
46. Kosuke Fukudome (OF Indians)
47. Brad Penny (SP Tigers)
48. Andruw Jones (OF Yankees)
49. Mike Gonzalez (RP Rangers)
50. Chris Snyder (C Pirates)
A few notes:
– The 19-year-old Soler comes in at No. 11 even though he’s likely a couple of years away from contributing. There’s talk of the power-hitting outfielder getting a deal worth more than $20 million. Cespedes, on the other hand, will be expected to make an impact immediately.
– Vasquez is still believed to be leaning towards retirement.
– Non-tenders come in at No. 13 (Saunders), 33 (Scott), 38 (Kuo) and 41 (Keppinger). Ryan Theriot was a near-miss. I also like Clay Hensley and would have put him in a personal top 50, but he may have to settle for $1 million or less after his rough year.
Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.
Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.
At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.
Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.
Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.
He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.
Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!
Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.
This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.
If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.
The funny thing about that “stick to sports” stuff I was going on about the other day is that, in reality, a whole lot of the people who say “stick to sports” don’t really want to just stick to sports. They’re totally cool going on about political, social or cultural stuff as long as it fits their world view. It’s not “stick to sports.” It’s “don’t talk about the social implications of sports-related stuff in ways that upset me.” If sports and culture come together in other ways, however, they’re completely fine in grinding their axe.
For example, Beyonce is playing a concert a Citi Field this summer. The show is so popular that they added a second date. The Mets’ Twitter feed just announced that tickets will go on sale for the new show soon:
A while lotta Mets fans responded to that negatively. For political/social/cultural reasons that they are willingly bringing in to a conversation about a pop singer and a baseball stadium that will double as a concert venue:
And they go on and on.
How much do you want to bet that a whole lotta these respondents would tell you to “stick to baseball” if you wanted to bring up how race affects the sport or how, if instead of Beyonce, this was announcing a Kid Rock/Ted Nugent-headlined festival and you mused whether that was a case of the Mets somehow endorsing their messages?