Kevin Youkilis

James Loney

Rays would like to bring James Loney back if he lowers his price


First baseman James Loney had a career rebirth of sorts in 2013 with the Rays and the team would like to bring him back, but not at his current asking price, reports Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Loney is currently seeking a three-year, $27 million deal.

If the Rays have to search for a first baseman elsewhere, the free agent market is rather barren at the position. Corey Hart, Mark Reynolds, Lyle Overbay, and Kevin Youkilis are at the top of the list. Topkin suggests the Rays might be more motivated to make a trade, particularly because they would like a left-handed hitting first baseman. Among the lefty first basemen that could be acquired in a trade: Logan Morrison, Mitch Moreland, Adam Lind, and Justin Smoak.

As for Loney, he finished 2013 with a .778 OPS, his highest mark since 2007. He also finished with 2.7 WAR (per Baseball Reference), matching a career-best. Loney had joined the Rays on a one-year, $2 million deal but now that he has boosted his value, the 29-year-old is seeking both a significant raise and a multi-year contract.

“What the Red Sox just did? Yeah, do that.”

Jonny Gomes scores

Kevin Kernan’s column at the New York Post today is a treat. It praises the Red Sox’ approach and basically says “the Yankees and Mets need to do what the Red Sox just did if they want to win the World Series.”

Which, yes, I will agree 100% that if the Yankees and Mets want to win the World Series they SHOULD do what the Sox just did: they should win four World Series games before their World Series opponents do. That’s really the only way to do it.

Kernan, of course, is not saying that. He’s saying that they should sign “the right players.” Players who care about championships. Players like Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes. Not players like the Yankees signed who are just in it for the personal records and accolades. One he mentions by name is Kevin Youkilis. Let’s just forget that Kevin Youkilis has two World Series rings of his own. I’m sure he stopped caring about winning some time ago.

Kernan also says that RBIs is “the most important statistic” and that “spreadsheet baseball does not win championships.” Let’s just forget that the Red Sox front office is one of the most forward-thinking, sabermetrically-oriented front offices around. A front office that employs the man who literally coined the term “sabermetrics” in Bill James. I have no idea how significant James’ role is these days, but I would imagine that if a Red Sox employee said either of those things Kernan said every eyebrow in the office would raise.

Mostly, though, I love how certain Kernan is that “the Red Sox” approach is so easily replicable. He himself said back in February, when assessing the Sox’ prospects, that “Those 2004 and 2007 World Series titles seem so far away.” He didn’t know that Victorino and Gomes were “the right players” then. As such, to suggest that the Yankees or the Mets should have known better at the time is hindsight in the extreme.

All of the “do what the Red Sox” did analysis is. No one, except maybe the Red Sox themselves, thought they had put together a World Series team after last winter was over. They made signings that turned out better than most people expected them to be. They had good fortune as do all teams who win championships. It wasn’t a miracle season or even highly improbable as this was probably the best team on paper as the playoffs began. But nor was their 2013 season one that lends itself to blueprints and prescriptions of which teams like the Yankees and Mets should take notice.

Every teams’ situation is different. To look at the team that just had its victory parade two days ago and say “do it like THAT” is useless at best, and probably closer to the preposterous.

Where will the Red Sox spend this winter?

Masahiro Tanaka

With Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia all filing for free agency, the world champion Red Sox would seem to have a whole lot of flexibility this winter. Even without signing any replacements, they have a perfectly legitimate 25-man roster ready to go:

SS: Xander Bogaerts: $500,000
RF: Shane Victorino: $13 million
2B: Dustin Pedroia: $10 million
DH: David Ortiz: $15 million
LF: Jonny Gomes: $5 million
1B: Daniel Nava: $580,000
3B: Will Middlebrooks: $520,000
CF: Jackie Bradley Jr.: $500,000
C: David Ross: $3.1 million

C: Ryan Lavarnway: $500,000
1B-OF: Mike Carp: $1 million (arbitration)
2B-OF: Alex Castellanos: $500,000
INF: Brock Holt: $500,000

SP: Jon Lester: $13 million
SP: John Lackey: $15.25 million
SP: Clay Buchholz: $7.7 million
SP: Jake Peavy: $14.5 million
SP: Felix Doubront: $580,000

RP: Koji Uehara: $4.25 million
RP: Junichi Tazawa: $2 million (arbitration)
RP: Craig Breslow: $3.825 million
RP: Brandon Workman: $500,000
RP: Andrew Miller: $1.8 million (arbitration)
RP: Ryan Dempster: $13.25 million
RP: Alex Wilson: $500,000

Obviously, that’s not the group they’ll head into Opening Day with, but if they did, it would give them a $127.75 million payroll, down from a peak of $175 million in 2012 and about $155 million (not counting Napoli’s $8 million in incentives) in 2013.

The only arbitration choices to make are on Miller, Andrew Bailey and Franklin Morales. Miller seemed to be coming into his own prior to his July foot injury, so I’m guessing the Red Sox keep him, which would make Morales expendable. Both would be due about $1.8 million in arbitration. Bailey would probably command $4.5 million or so, and after major shoulder surgery, he’s not an option at that price.

One other thing the Red Sox could do: pay part of Dempster’s contract to move him elsewhere. He’s their sixth best starter as is, and it’s doubtful he’d be happy working in middle relief. The Red Sox could potentially free up another $8 million-$10 million by dealing him.

So, the Red Sox have at least $30 million and maybe as much as $50 million to play with this winter and not a single dire need to fill. That makes it an easier call to extend $14.1 million qualifying offers to Napoli and Drew and maybe to Saltalamacchia as well. Salty might accept his, but that’s not such a bad thing; the Red Sox would be overpaying by $3 million-$4 million, but it’d be just the one-year commitment. Despite his postseason struggles, Salty is a quality starting catcher and seemingly a big upgrade over Lavarnway.

There’s a slim chance Drew could also accept his qualifying offer, though he shouldn’t have any problem landing a three-year contract elsewhere. Again, that wouldn’t be so bad; Drew at shortstop and Bogaerts at third base is probably an upgrade over Bogaerts at short and Middlebrooks at third.

But let’s say Salty and Drew depart. Where might Boston’s money go? Some candidates:

– Masahiro Tanaka: The pitching prize of the offseason, Tanaka is a 25-year-old coming off a perfect 24-0 season with a 1.27 ERA in Japan. The Red Sox aren’t likely to target any middling starters with six guys already under contract and prospects behind them, but Tanaka would be very appealing if the Red Sox believe he’s at least a long-term No. 2. For one thing, the posting fee wouldn’t count against the luxury tax, just his likely $10 million-$12 million annual salary. He also wouldn’t cost a draft pick. What he will cost is at least $100 million overall, in terms of his posting fee and contract.

– Shin-Soo Choo: The Red Sox have Bradley to step in for Ellsbury in center field, but he’s probably not ready to take over the leadoff spot. Choo would be a huge asset there after posting a .423 on-base percentage with the Reds last season. He’d play left field in Boston, shifting Jonny Gomes to the bench.

– Carlos Beltran: If not Choo, then why not one of the greatest postseason players of all-time? Beltran can’t cover all that much ground in the outfield any longer, but that wouldn’t be an issue playing left field in Fenway. He’s still one of the game’s top offensive outfielders, having hit .296/.339/.491 for the Cardinals last season. Plus, unlike Choo, he shouldn’t require more than a two-year commitment.

– Napoli: Of Boston’s free agents, Napoli is the most likely to return. The Red Sox don’t have a real answer at first base in the farm system. A Nava-Middlebrooks platoon would likely work as a stopgap, with Carp also there to step in if Nava slumps or is needed in the outfield, but Napoli offers the team’s best source of right-handed power and surprisingly strong defense.

– Brian McCann: McCann is a more likely fit for the Yankees or Rangers, but he’s the one catcher out there who looks like an upgrade over Saltalamacchia. If the Red Sox signed him, they could recreate the McCann-Ross platoon that worked so well for Atlanta for four years.

– Jesse Crain: The Red Sox will probably add one name reliever to help in a setup capacity, plus a couple of other arms to compete for the last spot. Crain and Joe Smith are probably the top two relievers available among those not looking for a closer’s role. They’ll be costly, but with the Red Sox’s budget, that’s not a problem.

– Eric Chavez: If the Red Sox do go cheap and pencil in Bradley and Bogaerts as starters, expect them to spend to upgrade the bench. Chavez would give them a third baseman to pair with Middlebrooks, at least when he’s healthy. Chris Young or David DeJesus would give them a fallback in case Bradley disappoints and a legitimate starter if someone gets hurt. And, while it probably won’t happen, Kevin Youkilis would be an interesting fit as a part-time first baseman and third baseman. The Red Sox have the ability to spend starter-type money on part-time players, and while that’s not a role for everyone, some will find it attractive.

HardballTalk’s Top 150 Free Agents for 2014

Robinson Cano

This year’s annual free agents column has expanded to a top 150, though I’m writing up just the top 55 (it was going to be 50, but I couldn’t help myself). The rest are presented in a list. Not included are players whose contract options are sure to be exercised.

Players are ranked based not on how I personally rate them, but instead on how I expect the teams to view them. Basically, I go by whom I think will get the biggest contracts (or at least would if they shopped themselves around. Yes, I’m looking at you, Hiroki), using my own secret and closely guarded algorithm for contracts of differing lengths (in Matt’s head, a one-year, $15 million deal would be about equal to a two-year, $26 million deal, but not as good as a three-year, $36 million deal).

All ages are as of April 1, 2014.

1. Robinson Cano (2B Yankees – Age 31): Cano’s status as the winter’s top free agent is undisputed, but it remains to be seen who will compete with the Yankees for his services. The Dodgers were the obvious choice, but they’ve added Cuban defector Alexander Guerrero for second and still have to sign Clayton Kershaw to a long-term deal. Seattle perhaps? It’d be nice to see the Orioles flex some muscle and make a big bid, but it’s not their style. Maybe a usual suspect like the Tigers or Rangers could make some noise. Cano will probably get $200 million regardless, but it’s going to take a mystery team or two to get him up to $250 million.

2013 stats: .314/.383/.516, 27 HR, 81 R, 107 RBI, 7 SB in 605 AB

2. Jacoby Ellsbury (OF Red Sox – Age 30): After an MVP-type 2011 and an injured and unproductive 2012, Ellsbury basically settled right back in at his career numbers last season. The 32-homer outburst from 2011 looks like it might go down as a Brady Anderson-like outlier, but Ellsbury is still plenty valuable even without the power. Also, he’s entering free agency at a great time, with the Rangers, Mariners and Mets in definite need of leadoff hitters. Even teams like the Yankees, Tigers, Nationals and Phillies can’t be ruled out. The Red Sox would love to have him back, too, but someone is going to give him Carl Crawford money (seven years, $142 million) and Boston isn’t likely to match.

2013 stats: .298/.355/.426, 9 HR, 92 R, 53 RBI, 52 SB in 577 AB

x. Masahiro Tanaka (RHP Japan – Age 25): Tanaka isn’t a free agent, but if he were, he’d be No. 3 on the list. Expectations are that he’ll be posted this month, though MLB and the NPB are currently working on coming to terms on a new posting agreement. My guess is that the team that signs Tanaka will end up making a commitment that rivals the one Ellsbury will get. However, Tanaka himself will probably end up with just about half that money, with the rest going to his club in Japan, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. He should be valued as a $20 million-per-year pitcher, though. The Yankees, Dodgers and Rangers are all expected to be very much involved.

2013 stats: 24-0, 1.27 ERA, 183/32 K/BB in 212 IP

3. Shin-Soo Choo (OF Reds – Age 31): Choo had almost 70 points of OBP on Ellsbury last season, but since he shouldn’t be viewed as a center fielder going forward, he’s probably not in for quite as big of a contract. That’s not say he’ll be hurting. The Reds should make an effort to bring him back, the Rangers, Mets and Mariners are among the teams that could use his leadoff skills and perhaps the Red Sox would consider him for left if Ellsbury departs. He seems destined for a nine-figure deal that would top the five-year, $90 million extension Hunter Pence agreed to with the Giants.

2013 stats: .285/.423/.462, 21 HR, 107 R, 54 RBI, 20 SB in 569 AB

4. Matt Garza (RHP Rangers – Age 30): Garza didn’t fare particularly well in his return to the American League, going 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA in his 13 starts after being traded from the Cubs to the Rangers. There are also lingering doubts about his arm after he missed the second half of 2012 with a stress reaction in his elbow. Still, he has the best combination of track record and relative youth of any of the free agent starters, which should earn him a five- or six-year deal. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s the one elite free agent who won’t cost a draft pick; because he was traded at midseason, the Rangers can’t get compensation for losing him. He’d seem to be a lock to get at least $80 million this winter, and $100 million may not be out of reach.

2013 stats: 10-6, 3.82 ERA, 136/42 K/BB in 155 1/3 IP

5. Ervin Santana (RHP Royals – Age 31): The Angels gave Santana away to the Royals rather than pay him $13 million in 2013. He’ll be much more costly this time around after finishing with a career-best 3.24 ERA in 211 innings. That he does give up a lot of homers will likely scare away some teams that play in smaller ballparks, but it won’t stop him from getting about $18 million per year. Despite the old concerns about his shoulder, he’s made 30 starts in four straight seasons now. He’s made at least 23 in all eight of his seasons in the big leagues.

2013 stats: 9-10, 3.24 ERA, 161/51 K/BB in 211 IP

6. Ubaldo Jimenez (RHP Indians – Age 29): No free agent did more to enhance his stock down the stretch than did Jimenez. The Indians won each of his last six starts, with Jimenez allowing just six runs — five earned — in 41 1/3 innings during the span. He fanned at least 10 in four of his last eight starts, and he finished the second half with a 1.82 ERA and a 100/27 K/BB ratio in 84 innings. Of course, all of this comes after a 2012 season in which he was one of the league’s worst starters, finishing with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP. Jimenez will certainly be a risky signing, but he offers more upside than any other free agent starter in his age group.

2013 stats: 13-9, 3.30 ERA, 194/80 K/BB in 182 2/3 IP

7. Brian McCann (C Braves – Age 30): Throw out the 2012 season in which McCann was limited by a shoulder injury and he’s still trending downwards; his best seasons were 2006 and 2008 and, in the last six years, he’s finished with OPSs of .896, .834, .828, .817, .698 and .797. It makes it easy to forget that he’s actually the youngest of the top position player free agents here. But even if McCann doesn’t have many more All-Star Games in his future, he’s likely to remain a solid starting catcher for several more years. Universally respected, he’s probably in line for $60 million for four years, if not something like $80 million for five. The Rangers and Yankees could be his top suitors.

2013 stats: .256/.336/.461, 20 HR, 43 R, 57 RBI, 0 SB in 356 AB

8. Curtis Granderson (OF Yankees – Age 33): After hitting 40 homers in both of the previous two seasons, Granderson picked the wrong winter to head into free agency for the first time. Of course, even those willing to overlook the injuries that ruined his 2013 should note that his 2012 was one of the weakest 40-homer campaigns ever (.319 OBP, 195 strikeouts, 26 of 43 homers coming at Yankee Stadium). He’s also turning 33 in the spring. Perhaps he’ll be adequate in center field for a couple of more years, but he might be more valuable in a corner. Ideally, he could be had on something like a three-year, $54 million contract. At least one team will probably go to four years, though.

2013 stats: .229/.317/.407, 7 HR, 31 R, 15 RBI, 8 SB in 214 AB

9. Carlos Beltran (OF Cardinals – Age 36): The Cardinals could scarcely have hoped that they’d get 296 games (plus 29 more in the postseason) from Beltran over the course of his two-year, $26 million contract. It will be interesting to see if he takes less to stay in St. Louis this time around with the Yankees, Rangers and Red Sox possibilities to come sniffing around. Two of his former teams, the Royals and Mets, could also make plays for him. Although his defense has gone downhill, he’s worth $40 million for two years in this market.

2013 stats: .296/.339/.491, 24 HR, 79 R, 84 RBI, 2 SB in 554 AB

10. Hiroki Kuroda (RHP Yankees – Age 39): This is Kuroda’s third straight year as a free agent after he left money on the table to sign with the Yankees the previous two offseasons. He hasn’t lost anything on the mound, having finished with the same ERA and WHIP last season as he did in 2012, and he should be able to command the highest one-year salary of any pitcher in this year’s free agent crop if he wants to shop himself around. However, he’ll probably choose between those same two options he did last year: staying with the Yankees or returning to Japan.

2013 stats: 11-13, 3.31 ERA, 150/43 K/BB in 201 1/3 IP

11. A.J. Burnett (RHP Pirates – Age 37): With a 3.41 ERA and 389 strikeouts the last two seasons, there’s no doubt that Burnett has earned himself a healthy two-year contract this winter. The question is whether he wants one. He’s openly discussed retirement, and it doesn’t seem to be any sort of negotiating ploy. If he does come back, it’ll probably be on a one-year deal with the Pirates. But if he were to play the market, he certainly shouldn’t have to settle for anything less than the $35 million for two years that Tim Lincecum just got from the Giants.

10-11, 3.30 ERA, 209/67 K/BB in 191 IP

12. Nelson Cruz (OF Rangers – Age 33): The 50-game steroids suspension may take a year or two off Cruz’s next contract, but it probably won’t stop him from getting at least $15 million per year. He was in the midst of a very good season when the ban took effect, and he’s managed to stay completely healthy two straight years after battling leg troubles earlier in his career. He’s still not much of a right fielder, but a team can live with him out there. Something like three years and $45 million might fit.

2013 stats: .266/.327/.506, 27 HR, 49 R, 76 RBI, 5 SB in 413 AB

13. Mike Napoli (1B Red Sox – Age 32): Napoli’s chronic hip condition cost him a three-year, $39 million deal last winter, but he ended up making $13 million under the terms of his incentive-laden one-year deal anyway. Now, he’ll head back into free agency, and after making such a smooth transition to first — metrics had him as the American League’s best at the position this year — he shouldn’t have much trouble getting at least $39 million for three years again. If the Red Sox don’t want to pay the price, a return to Texas would make a lot of sense. Seattle would be a fit if Kendrys Morales leaves, and the Pirates and Rockies might also want to consider opening their wallets.

2013 stats: .259/.360/.482, 23 HR, 79 R, 92 RBI, 1 SB in 498 AB

14. Tim Hudson (RHP Braves – Age 38): Hudson had a rough May last season, but he was pitching quite well in the two months up until he suffered a fractured ankle on a play at first base, ending his season. His strikeout rate (6.5 per 9 IP) rivaled his best mark in a decade. Hudson has taken less money to stay with the Braves before, and it sounds like there’s mutual interest in a new deal, even though the Braves have an enticing starting five without him. If he were to test the open market, he’d probably get $15 million per season for one or two years.

2013 stats: 8-7, 3.97 ERA, 95/36 K/BB in 131 1/3 IP

15. Stephen Drew (SS Red Sox – Age 31): Drew took a one-year deal from the Red Sox last winter in the hopes of rebuilding his value, and it worked out well, despite an ugly playoff slump that has seen him go 6-for-54. His defensive reputation seems better than ever now, and he’ll enter the winter as far and away the top shortstop on the market, which will drive his price tag up. Even though the Red Sox should be ready to turn shortstop over to Xander Bogaerts, they’ll likely make Drew a qualifying offer, with the idea that they can play Bogaerts at third if he accepts. He probably won’t. Since the Yankees, Cardinals and Mets all need shortstops and the Pirates, Mariners, Twins and Angels (if they trade Erick Aybar) could consider additions as well, a three- or four-year deal appears likely.

2013 stats: .253/.333/.443, 13 HR, 57 R, 67 RBI, 6 SB in 442 AB

16. Bronson Arroyo (RHP Reds – Age 37): Arroyo just keeps on spinning breaking ball after breaking ball up there with remarkable success. In four of the last five seasons, he’s finished with ERAs between 3.74 and 3.88 and with a strikeout total in the 120s. He’s also never been hurt; 2013 was his ninth straight season of at least 32 starts. The Reds will move on rather than pay the price to keep him, but he’ll get at least $26 million for two years from some team needing a steady hand. The Angels are one of the more obvious fits.

2013 stats: 14-12, 3.79 ERA, 124/34 K/BB in 202 IP

17. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (C Red Sox – Age 28): A lousy throw and a bunch of strikeouts got Saltlamacchia benched in the World Series, but they shouldn’t overshadow what was a very good season in which he collected 40 doubles and ranked sixth in OPS among catchers. The Red Sox have a tough call coming up on whether to make him a qualifying offer that could result in him earning $14.1 million next season. He should be able to get a three-year deal somewhere, perhaps even from Boston, but not quite at that kind of salary.

2013 stats: .273/.338/.466, 14 HR, 68 R, 65 RBI, 4 SB in 425 AB

18. Joe Nathan (RHP Rangers – Age 39): Even though his velocity isn’t quite what it used to be, Nathan was as effective as ever last season, allowing just two homers in 64 2/3 innings and converting 43 of his 46 save chances. He’s expected to decline his $9.5 million option for 2014 and seek another multiyear deal. Even at 39, he figures to get one. The Rangers will likely make an attempt to re-sign him, even though they have alternatives in the closer’s role. It’ll probably take about $24 million for two years.

2013 stats: 6-2, 43 Sv, 1.39 ERA, 73/22 K/BB in 64 2/3 IP

19. Bartolo Colon (RHP Athletics – Age 40): This one will be fascinating. Colon finished second in the AL in ERA last season, not to mention second in wins. He was also quite good in 2012 before he got slapped with a 50-game steroids ban. However, Colon is 40, he has a modest strikeout rate and he’s benefitted from pitching in Oakland with a strong outfield defense behind him (though his home-road splits are essentially even the last two years). Tim Lincecum just got $17.5 million per year after being half of the pitcher Colon was the last two seasons (statistically and physically). In this market, wouldn’t Colon be worth $20 million or more on a one-year deal? I’m not sure he’ll end up getting more than half of that, though.

2013 stats: 18-6, 2.65 ERA, 117/29 K/BB in 190 1/3 IP

20. Ricky Nolasco (RHP Dodgers – Age 31): With his strikeout rate on the way back up, Nolasco had the second best season of his career in 2013. Even with the ugly fade at the end, he was particularly good for the Dodgers, going 8-3 with a 3.52 ERA and a 75/21 K/BB ratio in 87 innings after coming over from the Marlins. Since missing most of 2007, Nolasco has been very durable, averaging 31 starts per year. He’s not really the kind of guy a contender would want for one of the top three spots in the rotation, but since the large-market teams could look at him as a No. 4 and the small-market teams could view him as an innings-eater for the top of the rotation, he should be quite popular.

2013 stats: 13-11, 3.70 ERA, 165/46 K/BB in 199 1/3 IP

21. Jason Vargas (LHP Angels – Age 31): A blood clot in his pitching arm knocked Vargas out for about seven weeks last season, but he was his usual self when he was on the mound. Put him in a big ballpark with a strong outfield defense, and he’ll be a very solid middle-of-the-rotation option, and since he’s not quite as much of a flyball pitcher as he used to be, he could still be of use in more neutral parks as well. He could get $30 million for three years, maybe a bit more.

2013 stats: 9-8, 4.02 ERA, 109/46 K/BB in 150 IP

22. Kendrys Morales (1B-DH Mariners – Age 30): Morales has put in three full seasons since reaching the majors at 23 in 2006, and he’s finished with an .800 OPS in one of them. He’s also mediocre defensively at first base and likely a bigger injury risk the more he plays there. Despite all that, the Mariners are expected to make him a $14.1 million qualifying offer, and he’s probably going to turn it down in the hopes of a three-year deal in the $36 million range. He may well end up disappointed considering the lack of market for designated hitters.

2013 stats: .277/.336/.449, 23 HR, 64 R, 80 RBI, 0 SB in 602 AB

23. Brian Wilson (RHP Dodgers – Age 32): Even though his velocity wasn’t all the way back, Wilson was quite the force in a setup role after completing his Tommy John rehab and signing with the Dodgers. In the postseason, he pitched six scoreless innings, striking out eight and allowing four hits. That success should ensure that he’ll have his pick of closer gigs this winter, with at least a two-year, $20 million deal in the offing. The Tigers, Indians, Rangers, Angels and Mariners could be among his suitors. The Yankees would make sense, too, but their policy on facial hair could be quite the deterrent in this case.

2013 stats: 2-1, 3 Hd, 0.66 ERA, 13/4 K/BB in 13 2/3 innings

24. Dan Haren (RHP Nationals – Age 33): Haren salvaged his season following a midseason stint on the DL to rest an inflamed shoulder. After going 4-9 with a 6.15 ERA in 15 starts prior to the injury, he finished up 6-5 with a 3.29 ERA the rest of the way. The peripherals suggest that he’s worthy of another one-year, $13 million deal, which is what he got from the Nationals last winter. Since his velocity is down and he’s not the workhorse that he used to be, a multiyear deal would be dangerous.

2013 stats: 10-14, 4.67 ERA, 151/31 K/BB in 169 2/3 IP

25. Scott Kazmir (LHP Indians – Age 30): Left for dead after giving up five runs in 1 2/3 innings in his lone appearance for the Angels in 2011, Kazmir’s comeback was one of the nice stories of last season. Inconsistent early on, he was at his best down the stretch, posting a 3.38 ERA and an 82/17 K/BB ratio in 72 innings after the break. In September, he had a 43/4 K/BB ratio and allowed just one homer in 28 innings. Health is a big question mark going forward, so it’d be awfully risky to sign him to a long-term deal. That finish, though, should land him a contract worth about $10 million per year.

2013 stats: 10-9, 4.04 ERA, 162/47 K/BB in 158 IP

26. Phil Hughes (RHP Yankees – Age 27): Once counted on to lead a wave of young pitching for the Yankees, Hughes and Joba Chamberlain will be departing with nary a whimper this winter. Hughes simply must find his way to a ballpark that’s move forgiving towards his flyball tendencies; he’s allowed 39 homers in 177 innings at Yankee Stadium the last two years, compared to 20 in 160 innings on the road. Given his youth and durability, he should have his pick of three-year offers to choose from, or he can gamble on a one-year deal with the hopes of getting a bigger payoff next winter. As long as his arm feels good, he should go the latter route.

2013 starts: 4-14, 5.19 ERA, 121/42 K/BB in 145 2/3 IP

27. Jhonny Peralta (SS Tigers – Age 31): Peralta has been all over the map offensively, but he had one of his best seasons in 2013 after turning in one of his worst in 2012 (.239/.305/.384 in 531 at-bats). How much a role steroids have played in the ups and downs of his career is something we’ll never really know. Interestingly, his defensive numbers have been better his three years in Detroit than they were in Cleveland, suggesting that he’ll be playable at shortstop for a couple of more years anyway. It wouldn’t be a good idea to sign him for more than two years, but he’ll probably get $9 million-$10 million per season.

2013 stats: .303/.358/.457, 11 HR, 50 R, 55 RBI, 3 SB in 409 AB

28. Grant Balfour (RHP Athletics – Age 36): Balfour doubled his career save total last season, but that’s just saves; 2013 was his fourth straight campaign with an ERA in the mid-2.00s. After struggling to stay healthy throughout his 20s, he’s pitched 55 innings six straight seasons since turning 30, topping 60 the last three years. He’s still rather risky on a multiyear deal, but he’s set to get the biggest contract of his career. $24 million for three years or $18 million for two could work.

2013 stats: 1-3, 38 Sv, 2.59 ERA, 72/27 K/BB in 62 2/3 IP

29. Scott Feldman (RHP Orioles – Age 31): Feldman took a one-year, $6 million deal from the Cubs last winter coming off a season in which he went 6-11 with a 5.09 ERA for Texas. He has a much better ERA this time around, though his peripherals are about the same, and should get a raise and a multiyear deal as a result.

2013 stats: 12-12, 3.86 ERA, 132/56 K/BB in 181 2/3 IP

30. Corey Hart (1B-OF Brewers – Age 32): Hart is just a year older than the new $90 million man, Pence, and he has a slightly better career OPS at .824 (a mark he’s beaten each of his last three healthy seasons). Unfortunately, he’s coming off surgery on both knees that cost him all of last season. He’s aiming to be ready for Opening Day, but it’s hardly a sure thing that he’ll be 100 percent. Whether he’ll be any sort of option in the outfield is unclear. Hart has said he’ll take less to stay with the Brewers, and they definitely have need of him at first base. However, if he chooses to explore his options, he could find suitors in Boston (if Napoli leaves) and Colorado.

2013 stats: N/A
2012 stats: .270/.334/.507, 30 HR, 91 R, 83 RBI, 5 SB in 562 AB

31. Josh Johnson (RHP Blue Jays – Age 30): A healthy Johnson would have been the top pitcher on the board this winter, but he had a disastrous season while dealing with elbow woes. What gives some hope going forward is that his velocity was fine and his strikeout rate was actually outstanding in his 16 starts. Still, in eight big-league seasons, he’s made 20 starts four times, 30 starts twice and pitched 200 innings just once. On something like a one-year, $10 million deal with incentives that could add $8 million, he’d be worth a try.

2013 stats: 2-8, 6.20 ERA, 83/30 K/BB in 81 1/3 IP

32. Paul Maholm (LHP Braves – Age 31): Maholm had a 3.54 ERA in his 11 starts with the Braves in 2012 and a 3.69 ERA through three months last season, but he started struggling in July, went down with a sprained wrist and then had a bit of an elbow problem at the end of the year. That’s all bad news for his stock. Fortunately, nothing major turned up with the elbow. Maholm is still relatively young at 31, and he’s made at least 26 starts in eight straight seasons. His signing won’t be met with a lot of excitement, but he should land a substantial two- or three-year deal.

2013 stats: 10-11, 4.41 ERA, 105/47 K/BB in 153 IP

33. James Loney (1B Rays – Age 29): Loney provided tremendous value for the Rays after signing a $2 million contract as a free agent last winter, but he wasn’t really standout after the first two months, settling in at .283/.328/.382 over the final four. He did play his usual fine defense around the bag, and if he can keep that OPS in the .750-.800 range, he’s an asset. Unfortunately, it will probably cost $8 million-$10 million per year to sign him this time around. The Pirates could aim for him.

2013 stats: .299/.348/.430, 13 HR, 54 R, 75 RBI, 3 SB in 549 AB

34. Omar Infante (2B Tigers – Age 32): Underrated no longer, Infante is in line for the biggest contract of his career after batting .318 for the Tigers. While Infante is a 12-year veteran, he’s just turning 32 in December, so he should be good for at least a couple of more years of regular play, followed by additional years as a utilityman. Besides Robinson Cano, Infante is the only second baseman available worthy of a multiyear deal. Someone will go to three years, possibly for $21 million or so.

2013 stats: .318/.345/.450, 10 HR, 54 R, 51 RBI, 5 SB in 453 AB

35. Joaquin Benoit (RHP Tigers – Age 36): Thrust into the closer’s role, Benoit converted his first 22 save chances last season before blowing two during the final week of the season. He also took one huge blown save in the postseason when he gave up David Ortiz’s grand slam in Game 2 of the ALCS. It was just the sixth homer he allowed in 2013 after he gave up 15 between the regular season and postseason in 2012. Benoit will probably be viewed more as an elite setup man than as a closer this winter. Still, after four strong years in a row, he shouldn’t have any trouble landing at least a two-year deal.

2013 stats: 4-1, 24 Sv, 2.01 ERA, 73/22 K/BB in 67 IP

36. Fernando Rodney (RHP Rays – Age 37): Obviously, Rodney’s 2013 stats don’t compare to the 2012 season that saw him set a major league ERA record (0.60 in 74 2/3 IP) and go 48-for-50 saving games. However, his stuff was as good as ever at age 36; he often hit 98-99 mph on the gun and he finished with a career-best strikeout rate. He’ll almost surely move on from the Rays and take over as a different team’s closer next year. Given his inconsistency, he might have a tougher time getting a mulityear deal than Nathan and Balfour.

2013 stats: 5-4, 37 Sv, 3.38 ERA, 82/36 K/BB in 66 2/3 IP

37. Marlon Byrd (OF Mets – Age 36): Byrd’s numbers may have been dismissed a bit had he finished the season with the Mets, but after a strong showing down the stretch with the Pirates and then some postseason heroics (.364 in six games, big homer in the wild card victory), he’s in much better position to get a two-year contract. Right-handed power just isn’t easy to come by. In fact, among right-handed hitters, Byrd led all free agents-to-be with his 24 homers.

2013 stats: .291/.336/.511, 24 HR, 75 R, 88 RBI, 2 SB in 532 AB

38. Carlos Ruiz (C Phillies – Age 35): Ruiz sat out the start of the season serving a 25-game amphetamines suspension and then missed a month with a strained hamstring. He never found his stroke offensively until August, when he hit four of his five homers for the season. At age 35, there’s little reason to expect him to have more seasons like his 2010 and 2012 campaigns. He also shouldn’t be penciled in to catch much more than 100 games. Still, he’ll probably be a bit above average when he’s in there. Since the Phillies’ catching prospects have failed to develop, they’ll look to bring Ruiz back.

2013 stats: .268/.320/.368, 5 HR, 30 R, 37 RBI, 1 SB in 310 AB

39. Chris Young (OF Athletics – Age 30): After six years as an everyday center fielder, Young didn’t take to the limited role he had in Oakland, hitting just .200. He’s always been rather unappreciated anyway, because of his modest averages (career high of .257) and underrated defense. It didn’t help that his 32-homer season as a rookie led to high expectations. Freed of those now, Young should be a solid enough regular for whichever team that snares him. He’s probably looking at a one-year deal and a chance to go back out on the market.

2013 stats: .200/.280/.379, 12 HR, 46 R, 40 RBI, 10 SB in 335 AB

40. Suk-Min Yoon (RHP Korea – Age 27): Yoon hopes to capitalize on fellow Korean Hyun-Jin Ryu’s success in jumping to MLB, but after a down season, he’s not likely to be valued quite so highly. On the plus side, Yoon is a free agent, so there’s no posting required. Yoon had his best years in 2008 and 2011, when he was the KBO MVP after going 17-5 with a 2.45 ERA and a 178/44 K/BB ratio in 172 1/3 IP. He should be able to contribute as a reliever if he doesn’t cut it as a starter. The guess here is that he signs for about $18 million for three years, but it only takes one team to go overboard.

2013 stats: 3-6, 4.00 ERA, 76/28 K/BB in 87 2/3 IP

*. Yoshio Itoi (OF Japan – Age 32): There’s been less of it lately, but speculation was that Itoi would be posted this winter. That he wanted to jump to MLB is one of the reasons the Nippon Ham Fighters traded him to the Orix Blue Wave last winter. Itoi, a left-handed bat, has been very consistent hitting between .300-.320 and posting OPSs between .813 and .901 in his all five of his full seasons in Japan. He has the skills to be a leadoff hitter in the majors, though there’s some question about whether he’ll be able to stay in center field.

2013 stats: .300/.384/.468, 17 HR, 75 R, 61 RBI, 33 SB in 524 AB

41. Roy Halladay (RHP Phillies – Age 36): Halladay finished 2013 without his usual velocity or movement, but he also claimed he wasn’t hurt. At this point, he seems highly unlikely to regain his old stuff, and while he might be able to survive with a lesser arsenal, it’s going to be hard for him to thrive. So, what to wager? He should have to settle for an incentive-laden contract, but someone might guarantee him $10 million or more based on his history and his work ethic.

2013 stats: 4-5, 6.82 ERA, 51/36 K/BB in 62 IP

42. Joe Smith (RHP Indians – Age 30): Smith’s next contract will surprise a lot of people, but this is a rock-solid reliever. His career ERA is 2.97, and he’s come under that each of the last three years, even though he’s been allowed to face more left-handed hitters (he was more of a righty specialist in his first few years). Plus, he’s only 30 and he has no history of arm injuries. He seems like a shoo-in for a three-year deal, though whether it’s for $15 million or something closer to $20 million will depend on the bidders.

2013 stats: 6-2, 25 Hd, 2.29 ERA, 54/23 K/BB in 63 IP

43. Derek Jeter (SS Yankees – Age 39): The Jeter situation would be a whole lot more interesting if he didn’t possess a $9.5 million player option. He wants to keep playing, so he wouldn’t seem to have any choice but to exercise it. Another team would be crazy to pay him that kind of coin to play shortstop, and he doesn’t appear to have any interest in a position switch.

2013 stats: .190/.288/.254, 1 HR, 8 R, 7 RBI, 0 SB in 63 AB

44. Scott Baker (RHP Cubs – Age 32): It looked like Baker, who originally hoped to come back from Tommy John surgery in May, might miss the full season, but he returned for three starts in September and pitched well in two of them. Unfortunately, his velocity was well down, resulting in fewer strikeouts than usual. But just the fact that he did get back on the mound makes him quite a bit more attractive in free agency. If he returns at full strength next year, he’s a $15 million pitcher. However, because of the question marks, he may not go for more than half of that.

2013 stats: 0-0, 3.60 ERA, 6/4 K/BB in 15 IP

45. A.J. Pierzynski (C Rangers – Age 37): Always consistent offensively, Pierzynski pulled a new trick out of the bag at age 36, throwing out his highest percentage of would-be basestealers ever (24-of-73, 33 percent). He’s been incredibly durable as well, playing in 128 games in a dozen straight seasons. He’s going to have to decline one of these years, but a team needing a catcher could do quite a bit worse for it’s $7 million-$8 million.

2013 stats: .272/.297/.425, 17 HR, 48 R, 70 RBI, 1 SB in 503 AB

46. Randy Messenger (RHP Japan – Age 32): A journeyman major leaguer from 2005-09, Messenger became one of the best pitchers in Japan in 2011 and turned in his third straight sub-3.00 ERA last season. He also struck out 25 more batters than anyone else in the Central League. The belief is that he’d prefer to return to MLB now, but he’s already received a strong offer to stay with Hanshin. To lure him away, some team may need to commit to a three-year deal in the hopes that he’s the new Colby Lewis or Ryan Vogelsong.

2013 stats: 12-8, 2.89 ERA, 183/56 K/BB in 196 1/3 IP

47. Jesse Crain (RHP Rays – Age 32): For nearly three months last season, Crain was the AL’s best reliever, amassing a 0.53 ERA and 18 holds in his first 35 appearances while setting up for Addison Reed. Shoulder problems did him in after that, and while it seemed his return was always right around the corner — the Rays even traded for him in the hopes that he’d contribute down the stretch — he never did make it back. He was probably on track for a $20 million-plus contract before the injury. He still might get a multiyear deal if some team seems like gambling.

2013 stats: 2-3, 19 Hd, 0.74 ERA, 46/11 K/BB in 36 2/3 IP

48. Wandy Rodriguez (LHP Pirates – Age 35): When Rodriguez was traded from Houston to Pittsburgh in 2012, it turned his $13 million for 2014 from a club option into a player option. With a healthy 2013 season, he probably would have declined it. However, since he missed the final two-thirds of the season with forearm and elbow soreness, it’s pretty much a no-brainer for him to exercise the option and stay with the Pirates.

2013 stats: 6-4, 3.59 ERA, 46/12 K/BB in 62 2/3 IP

49. David Murphy (OF Rangers – Age 32): After five pretty terrific seasons as the game’s busiest fourth outfielder, Murphy was finally penciled in as a starter last season and stunk it up, losing 200 points off his 2012 OPS of .859. It was pretty much all BABIP, though: his strikeout rate was a career low and he showed about as much power as usual. He just didn’t hit singles. A rebound seems very likely, and Murphy should be able to get a multiyear deal, maybe something in the range of $12 million for two years.

2013 stats: .220/.282/.374, 13 HR, 51 R, 45 RBI, 1 SB in 436 AB

50. Edward Mujica (RHP Cardinals – Age 29): This will be one of the tougher calls of the winter. Mujica’s breakthrough year had him lined up for a big payday, probably something in the neighborhood of $24 million-$30 million for three years. Unfortunately, his shoulder started bothering him in September; he tried to pitch through it but his ERA jumped from 1.73 to 2.78 and the Cardinals replaced him in the closer’s role. In the postseason, he made just two appearances, none in the World Series. Mujica had always been durable previously, and there’s nothing to suggest that there’s anything seriously wrong with his shoulder. Still, given that he was more solid than spectacular prior to last season, $20 million would seem to be a reach now.

2013 stats: 2-1, 37 Sv, 2.78 ERA, 46/5 K/BB in 64 2/3 IP

51. Kevin Youkilis (1B-3B Yankees – Age 35): Back problems ruined what was likely Youkilis’ lone season in New York. Trending downwards since 2010, he’s definitely in line for a pay cut from the $12 million he made the last three seasons, and one wonders if he’s still a realistic option at third base going forward.

2013 stats: .219/.305/.343, 2 HR, 12 R, 8 RBI, 0 SB in 105 AB

52. Chris Perez (RHP Indians – Age 28): Figuring he’d be impossible to trade with an $8 million-$10 million arbitration award coming his way, the Indians simply released Perez on Thursday. It probably would have happened even if not for his dreadful September that took his ERA from 3.22 to 4.33, though maybe then they would have had some chance of trading him. Perez’s performance hasn’t actually taken much of a dive; he was simply never that good in the first place. He’ll probably be an adequate closer for some team next year.

2013 stats: 5-3, 25 Sv, 4.33 ERA, 54/21 K/BB in 54 IP

53. Michael Morse (OF Orioles – Age 31): Morse followed up a big spring with six homers in his first nine games for the Mariners. He then hit just seven more all year, with four coming after he hurt his wrist in May. Surgery to shave down a bone in his wrist followed in October. That there are only so many right-handed hitters with 25- or 30-homer power will work in Morse’s favor this winter. He’s not a big OBP guy and he’s a liability on defense, but he’ll have bidders.

2013 stats: .215/.270/.381, 13 HR, 34 R, 27 RBI, 0 SB in 312 AB

54. Justin Morneau (1B Pirates – Age 32): The Pirates took a chance that Morneau’s August surge was a sign of better things to come, but hit .260/.370/.312 with no homers and three RBI in 25 games for his new team. The playoffs was most of the same: he went 7-for-24 with just a double and no runs batted in. It’s not that Morneau is a liability as a starting first baseman, but neither has been an above average regular at any point since suffering battling post-concussion syndrome in 2011. A one-year, $5 million seems suitable, though his name will probably get him a bit more.

2013 stats: .259/.323/.411, 17 HR, 62 R, 77 RBI, 0 SB in 572 AB

55. Javier Lopez (LHP Giants – Age 36): Last time Lopez was a free agent, a barren market for left-handed relievers resulted in him getting a two-year, $8.5 million deal to stay with the Giants. This time around, he could again be considered the best of the bunch, but he has a lot more competition in the form of J.P. Howell, Boone Logan, Manny Parra, Scott Downs and the rehabbing Eric O’Flaherty. The Giants are expected to attempt to retain him.

2013 stats: 4-2, 15 Hd, 1.83 ERA, 37/12 K/BB in 39.1 IP

56. J.P. Howell (LHP Dodgers, 30): 2.03 ERA, 11 Hd, 54/23 K/BB in 62 IP
57. David DeJesus (OF Rays, 34): .251/.327/.402, $6.5 million club option
58. Mark Ellis (2B Dodgers, 36): .270/.323/.351 in 433 AB
59. Boone Logan (LHP Yankees, 29): 3.23 ERA, 11 Hd, 50/13 K/BB in 39 IP
60. Jason Hammel (RHP Orioles, 31): 4.97 ERA, 96/48 K/BB in 139.1 IP
61. Bruce Chen (LHP Royals, 36): 3.27 ERA, 78/36 K/BB in 121 IP
62. Francisco Rodriguez (RHP Orioles, 32): 2.70 ERA, 10 Sv, 54/14 K/BB in 46.2 IP
63. Juan Uribe (3B Dodgers, 35): .278/.331/.438, 12 HR in 388 AB
64. Jake Westbrook (RHP Cardinals, 36): 4.63 ERA, 44/50 K/BB in 116.2 IP
65. Chris Capuano (LHP Dodgers, 35): 4.26 ERA, 81/24 K/BB in 105.2 IP
66. Carlos Marmol (RHP Dodgers, 31): 4.41 ERA, 6 Hd, 59/40 K/BB in 49 IP
67. Dioner Navarro (C Cubs, 30): .300/.365/.492, 13 HR in 24 AB
68. Kelly Johnson (2B-OF Rays, 32): .235/.305/.410, 16 HR in 366 AB
69. Ryan Vogelsong (RHP Giants, 36): 5.73 ERA in 103.2 IP, $6.5 mil club option
70. Manny Parra (LHP Reds, 31): 3.33 ERA, 16 Hd, 56/15 K/BB in 46 IP
70 1/2. Jose Veras (RHP Tigers, 33): Tigers declined $3.25 mil option
71. Colby Lewis (RHP Rangers, 34): DNP – elbow, hip surgeries
72. Eric Chavez (3B Diamondbacks, 36): .281/.332/.478, 9 HR in 228 AB
73. Michael Young (INF Dodgers, 37): .279/.335/.395 in 519 AB
74. Joe Saunders (LHP Mariners, 32): 5.26 ERA, 107/61 K/BB in 183 IP
75. Nate McLouth (OF Orioles, 32): .258/.329/.399, 30 SB in 531 AB
76. Chad Gaudin (RHP Giants, 31): 3.06 ERA, 88/40 K/BB in 97 IP
77. Mark Reynolds (1B-3B Yankees, 30): .220/306/.393, 21 HR in 445 AB
78. Scott Downs (LHP Braves, 38): 2.49 ERA, 26 Hd, 37/19 K/BB in 43.1 IP
79. Mike Pelfrey (RHP Twins, 30): 5.19 ERA, 101/53 K/BB in 152.2 IP
80. Paul Konerko (1B White Sox, 38): .244/.313/.355, 12 HR in 467 AB
81. Gavin Floyd (RHP White Sox, 31): TJ surgery, 5.18 ERA in 24.1 IP
82. Joba Chamberlain (RHP Yankees, 28): 4.93 ERA, 5 Hd, 38/26 K/BB in 42 IP
83. Eric O’Flaherty (LHP Braves, 28): TJ surgery, 2.50 ERA in 18 IP
84. Brian Roberts (2B Orioles, 35): .249/.312/.392 in 265 AB
85. Kurt Suzuki (C Athletics, 30): .232/.290/.337 in 285 AB
86. Raul Ibanez (OF-DH Mariners, 41): .242/.306/.487, 29 HR in 454 AB
87. Joel Hanrahan (RHP Red Sox, 32): TJ surgery, 9.82 ERA in 7.1 IP
88. Matt Belisle (RHP Rockies, 33), 4.32 ERA, $4.25 million mutual option
89. Oliver Perez (LHP Mariners, 32): 3.74 ERA, 8 Hd, 74/26 K/BB in 53 IP
90. Rafael Furcal (SS Cardinals, 36): TJ surgery
91. Geovany Soto (C Rangers, 31): .245/.328/.466, 9 HR in 163 AB
92. Jason Kubel (OF-DH Indians, 31): .216/.293/.317 in 259 AB
93. Chris Carpenter (RHP Cardinals, 38): DNP – shoulder, expected to retire
94. Franklin Gutierrez (OF Mariners, 31): .248/.273/.503 in 145 AB
95. Jamey Wright (RHP Rays, 39): 3.09 ERA, 6 Hd, 65/23 K/BB in 70 IP
96. Edinson Volquez (RHP Dodgers, 30): 5.71 ERA, 142/77 K/BB in 170.1 IP
97. Rajai Davis (OF Blue Jays, 33): .260/.312/.375, 45 SB in 331 AB
98. Shaun Marcum (RHP Mets, 32): Thoracic outlet surgery, 5.29 ERA in 78.1 IP
99. John Buck (C Pirates, 33): .222/.288/.365, 15 HR in 392 AB
100. Matt Thornton (LHP Red Sox, 37): 3.74 ERA, 19 Hd, 30/15 K/BB in 43.1 IP
101. Lance Berkman (DH Rangers, 38): .242/.340/.359 in 256 AB, retirement likely
102. Roberto Hernandez (RHP Rays, 33): 4.89 ERA, 113/38 K/BB in 151 IP
103. Jeff Baker (INF-OF Rangers, 32): .279/.360/.545 in 154 AB
104. Kevin Gregg (RHP Cubs, 35): 3.48 ERA, 33 Sv, 56/32 K/BB in 62 IP
105. Takashi Toritani (INF Japan, 32): .282/.402/.410, 15 SB in 532 AB
106. Erik Bedard (LHP Astros, 35): 4.59 ERA, 138/75 K/BB in 151 IP
107. Skip Schumaker (2B-OF Dodgers, 34): .263/.332/.332 in 319 AB
108. LaTroy Hawkins (RHP Mets, 41): 2.93 ERA, 13 Sv, 55/10 K/BB in 70.2 IP
109. Tim Stauffer (RHP Padres, 31): 3.75 ERA, 7 Hd, 64/20 K/BB in 69.2 IP
110. Ryan Madson (RHP FA, 33): DNP – TJ surgery
111. Clint Barmes (SS Pirates, 35): .211/.249/.309 in 304 AB
112. Willie Bloomquist (INF Diamondbacks, 36): .317/.360/.367 in 139 AB
113. Delmon Young (OF-DH Rays, 28): .260/.307/.407 in 334 AB
114. Ted Lilly (LHP FA, 38): 5.09 ERA, 18/10 K/BB in 23 IP
115. Luke Scott (OF Rays, 35): .241/.326/.415 in 253 AB
116. Jose Molina (C Rays, 38): .233/.290/.304 in 283 AB
117. Brendan Ryan (SS Yankees, 32): .197/.255/.273 in 319 AB
118. Johan Santana (LHP Mets, 35): DNP – shoulder surgery
119. Michael Gonzalez (LHP Brewers, 35): 4.68 ERA, 11 Hd, 60/25 K/BB in 50 IP
120. Nick Punto (INF Dodgers, 36): .255/.328/.327 in 294 AB
121. Chad Qualls (RHP Marlins, 35): 2.61 ERA, 15 Hd, 49/19 K/BB in 62 IP
122. Brayan Pena (C Tigers, 32): .297/.315/.397 in 229 AB
123. Aaron Harang (RHP Mets, 35): 5.40 ERA, 113/40 K/BB in 143.1 IP
124. Luis Ayala (RHP Braves, 36): 2.90 ERA, 10 Hd, 22/13 K/BB in 33 IP
125. Jerry Hairston Jr. (INF-OF Dodgers, 37): .211/.265/.275 in 204 AB
126. Juan Carlos Oviedo (RHP Rays, 32): DNP – TJ surgery, Rays hold $2 mil option
127. Kyle Farnsworth (RHP Pirates, 37): 4.70 ERA, 2 Sv, 28/10 K/BB in 38.1 IP
128. Barry Zito (LHP Giants, 35): 5.74 ERA, 86/54 K/BB in 133.1 IP
129. David Aardsma (RHP Mets, 32): 4.31 ERA, 4 Hd, 36/19 K/BB in 39.2 IP
130. Yuniesky Betancourt (INF Brewers, 32): .212/.240/.355, 13 HR in 391 AB
131. Alfredo Aceves (RHP Red Sox, 32): 4.86 ERA, 24/22 K/BB in 37 IP
132. Placido Polanco (3B Marlins, 37): .260/.315/.302 in 377 AB
133. Daisuke Matsuzaka (RHP Mets, 33): 4.42 ERA, 33/16 K/BB in 38.2 IP
134. Wilson Betemit (3B Orioles, 32): Knee surgery, 0-for-10 in Aug./Sept.
135. Brett Myers (RHP Indians, 33): Sore elbow, 8.02 ERA in 21.1 IP
136. Jeff Karstens (RHP Pirates, 31): DNP – shoulder surgery
137. Roy Oswalt (RHP Rockies, 36): 8.63 ERA, 34/9 K/BB in 32.1 IP
138. Juan Pierre (OF Marlins, 36): .247/.284/.305, 23 SB in 308 AB
139. Octavio Dotel (RHP Tigers, 40): Sore elbow, 13.50 ERA in 4.2 IP
140. Frank Francisco (RHP Mets, 34): Sore elbow, 4.26 ERA in 6.1 IP
141. Clayton Richard (LHP Padres, 30): Shoulder surgery, 7.01 ERA in 52.2 IP
142. Reed Johnson (OF Braves, 37): .244/.311/.341 in 123 AB
143. Wil Nieves (C Diamondbacks, 36): .297/.320/.369 in 195 AB
144. Grady Sizemore (OF FA, 31): DNP – knee surgery
145. Tsuyoshi Wada (LHP Orioles, 33): Tommy John rehab, 4.03 ERA in AAA
146. Yorvit Torrealba (C Rockies, 35): .240/.295/.285 in 179 AB
147. John Lannan (LHP Phillies, 29): 5.33 ERA, 38/27 K/BB in 74.1 IP
148. Andres Torres (OF Giants, 36): .250/.302/.342 in 272 AB
149. Jamey Carroll (INF Royals, 40): .211/.267/.251 in 227 AB
150. Rich Hill (LHP Indians, 34): 6.28 ERA, 13 Hd, 51/29 K/BB in 38.2 IP

Red Sox redefine what it means to be dynasty


These Boston Red Sox are a new kind of dynasty. I suppose there’s a question if they really ARE a dynasty, if that word “Dynasty” even means anything in today’s game, with 30 teams and the game’s structure pushing toward parity. But Boston did win its third World Series in a 10-year-span. Only eight teams have done that since the Live Ball Era began in 1920.

— The 1923-32 Yankees — powered By Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Herb Pennock, Waite Hoyt, etc. — won four World Series.

— The 1926-34 Cardinals – first Rogers Hornsby and then the Gashouse Gang with Frankie Frisch and Ripper Collins and Pepper Martin — won three World Series.

— The 1936-43 Yankees — with some leftovers from the earlier dynasty plus Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez, Joe Gordon — won six World Series.

— The 1942-46 Cardinals — Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, Marty Marion — won three World Series.

— The 1947-62 Yankees won 10 World Series. In the early years of baseball’s greatest dynasty the Yankees were driven by DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto and so on. The later years was driven by Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Roger Maris, Elston Howard and so on. It’s hard to draw dynasty lines when it comes to the Yankees because one dominant team simply bumps into another.

— The 1955-65 Dodgers won four World Series. The first was the last stand for Brooklyn and the Boys of Summer — Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella and that great bunch. The last three championships were in L.A., with Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale at the heart.

— The 1972-74 Oakland Athletics won three World Series in a row. The best players: Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, Vida Blue, Joe Rudi.

— The 1996-2009 Yankees dominated their time with five World Series championships — Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera were on the first and last of those teams.

More: Red Sox win World Series after routing Cards | What a difference a year makes

— I went through all eight of those dynasties for a reason: There is something connecting them all. When you think of those dynasty teams, you think of players. You might think of managers — Casey Stengel, Walter Alston, Joe McCarthy, Joe Torre. You might think of a certain style, a certain rhythm, a certain ethos. You might think of the nicknames and rebelliousness of the 1970s A’s, the high mounds of the 1960s Dodgers, the Murderers’ Row lineup of the Ruth-Gehrig Yankees.

This Red Sox team? No. They have none of that. Oh, they’ve had great players. They’re just not the SAME great players. You’ve probably seen the answer already, but do you know how many players on this year’s Red Sox championship team were also on the Red Sox team that broke the curse in 2004?*

*Speaking of curses: A lot of people, it seemed, were trying to make a big deal out of the fact that this year was the first time that the Red Sox had clinched a World Series AT HOME since 1918. Television made it seem like the overriding story of the Series. The “clinch at home” angle seemed to give everyone a chance to trot out all the old curse talk, rehash the Babe Ruth trade, chat up all the old Red Sox fans who have been coming to the park for decades and had never gotten the chance to see a World Series clincher.

Seriously – clinching a World Series at home is a thing now? It’s not enough to just win two World Series in the previous eight years, not you have to win it at home for it to really count? I mean, look, it’s great that a wonderful town like Boston got to win the World Series in a wonderful park like Fenway. Happy that it worked out that way. It was great to see Red Sox fans get to unleash their happiness.

But I believe, and my Red Sox friends seem agree — not winning a World Series AT HOME is not a thing. It’s not a curse. It’s not a drought. It’s not anything. If you win a World Series you win a World Series, it doesn’t matter where. The Chicago White Sox have not clinched a World Series at home since 1906. The Reds did not clinch either of the Big Red Machine World Series at home. Those poor Giants fans have never clinched a World Series in San Francisco. So what? The Red Sox don’t have a losing tradition anymore. It’s over, you can’t just keep bringing it up like it’s a storyline. The Red Sox have won three World Series in 10 years. It’s time for everyone to just deal with being Boston being Goliath.

Sorry, back to the question: How many players from 2004 — even in a minor role — were on the 2013 team?

Answer: One. That’s ONE. Uno. Une. Odin. Um. Ett. David Ortiz is the only one left. He was an awesome DH for the 2004 Red Sox. He was an awesome DH for the 2013 Red Sox. That’s all. One.

And this goes beyond players. The manager is gone. The general manager is gone. The pitcher and catcher on that 2004 team — Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek — are now special assistants to Ben Cherington, who was a player-development guy back for the Red Sox then. The highest ranked guy in the front office who seems to have the same job he had in 2004 is writer, historian and sabermetrician Bill James. More on him in a minute.

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The point is not that this team has changed from 2004. All teams change. The 2009 Yankees were very different from the 2000 Yankees. No, the point is that this is a completely different team from 2004. And, even stranger, the 2007 team in the middle that won a World Series is kind of distinct from either team. Take a look at the Top 5 WAR from each team.

2004: Johnny Damon, Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Varitek, Mark Bellhorn.

2007: Ortiz, Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Coco Crisp.

2013: Pedroia, Shane Victorino, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ortiz, Mike Napoli.

Other than Ortiz on all three teams and Pedroia the last two, there are no matches. And top five pitchers by WAR? It’s even more striking.

2004: Curt Schilling, Martinez, Keith Foulke, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Timlin.

2007: Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Schilling, Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima.

2013: Clay Buchholz, Koji Uehara, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Craig Breslow.

Other than Schilling, again, no overlap whatsoever. The Red Sox dynasty, if you are willing to call it that, represents three distinct and largely unconnected teams.

This is the time in which we live. Baseball is geared heavily against dynasties these days. There are the reasons everyone talks about how much it costs to try and keep a great team together. That cost can hit you two ways. One, the obvious way, it can cost too much to keep your best players. The Pittsburgh Pirates of the early 1990s won three consecutive division titles, then Barry Bonds and others left for more money, and the Pirates were dreadful. The 1990s Cleveland Indians went to two World Series, then Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome and Bartolo Colon and others priced themselves out and they had to start over. The 2003 Marlins had a young Beckett and Miguel Cabrera and others, but, not long after, did not have any of them.

But there the less obvious and perhaps deadlier way cost can destroy a great team. This happens when teams spend a ton of money to keep their best players (or to import new ones). This can often cripple the team in utterly unexpected ways. Look at the Yankees now. Look at the Angels. This, of course, happened to the Red Sox. They spent a fortune on Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford and Lackey and a fortune to retain Beckett, Youkilis and Papelbon. And what they found was that when things weren’t going well, they were powerless to do much about it. The team got stale. The older players faded but were huge investments and so played too big a role. There was no freedom to make changes. The Red Sox floundered away a playoff berth in 2011. They were the worst Red Sox team in a couple of generations in 2012.

That’s why the Red Sox get so much credit for the enormous trade they made with the Dodgers last year. They should. The Red Sox didn’t really GET anybody in that deal. And they traded away good players — Gonzalez had a good year for the Dodgers, Crawford wasn’t bad when he was healthy — but it was still a win for the Red Sox. They were able to take the team back. They were able to reorder and refocus the direction. And some good things followed, some expected, some not. Lackey rebounded, which was huge. Uehara decided to become unhittable, which was huge. Victorino, at 32, took to Fenway Park (he hit .322/.365/.485 there and was fantastic defensively) and had perhaps his best season. That, too, was huge.

And the rest came together. The starting pitching was good enough. The bullpen was terrific despite injuries. The lineup blended familiar Red Sox faces like Pedroia, Ortiz and Ellsbury with some shrewd choices like Victorino, Napoli, and 30-year-old minor-league lifer Daniel Nava. They led all of baseball in runs scored.

So, they were smart about the way they built this team. But it isn’t just cost that crushed dynasties. It isn’t just the crazy distractions that come after winning. No, there’s something more direct: You need postseason luck to win a World Series now. Take a look at the dynasties above. Six of the eight came before the 1969 expansion. That meant the teams who won their league went right to the World Series. They did not have to pass Go. They did not have to collect $200. There were no five-game Division Series. There was no seven-game Championship Series. Win the league, win the Series. Two steps.

The Oakland A’s of the early 1970s had three steps. They had to win five-game championship series each of their three seasons. They beat Detroit in 1972, Baltimore in ’73 and ’74. Two of those series went five games.

Then you look at the amazing Yankees run where they won four World Series in five years. It was an incredible run because suddenly there were FOUR steps. Win the division (or Wild Card). Win the Division Series. Win the Championship Series. Win the World Series. Even great teams need luck. The Yankees did. The Jeter flip (or the Jeremy Giambi non-slide). The Jeffrey Maier game. In 2000, the Yankees won only 87 games — they had the fifth-best record in the American League — but they made it into the playoffs, and they won the World Series.

Then, for the next eight years, the Yankees did not win the World Series. They were almost annually the best team. The Yankees had the best record in the American League in 2002, ‘03, ‘04, ’06 and ’07 (tie) and did not win the World Series any of those years (You can throw in ‘11 and ’12, too). This is the essence of the playoff system. It brings a lot more luck into the game. It basically invalidates the season. It gives the surviving teams a fresh start in a much more volatile kind of tournament. Not one time from 2000-12 did the best record in the American League play the best record in the National League.

So, to win three World Series in a decade the way the Red Sox have, they have needed to win nine postseason series. And in many ways, winning the actual World Series has been the easy part. In 2004, the Red Sox had to come from a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees in the ALCS. In 2007, the Red Sox trailed the Cleveland Indians 3-1 in the ALCS. They roared back and stomped Cleveland three in a row. This year, the real challenge was probably Game 2 against Detroit in the ALCS. The Red Sox had lost Game 1 at home, they trailed Game 2 by four runs in the eighth inning when Jim Leyland went to his calamitous bullpen and Papi hit the grand slam. No slam, it’s hard to see the Red Sox winning that series.

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But they did. Three times in the last decade they got into the postseason and then navigated through. It’s a different kind of success from Stengel’s Yankees or Koufax’s Dodgers. This is what a 21st Century dynasty looks like.

Finally, Bill James. As mentioned, he seems to be the highest-ranking front-office guy — not counting the executive guys like president Larry Lucchino and owner John Henry — to have been around for all three championships. It’s hard to say exactly what Bill does for the Red Sox. He’s very discreet about it, and he would never take any credit whatsoever for Boston’s success. It was funny to see Jonny Gomes, in the glow of winning a World Series, choose to rip sabermetrics — a word Bill James coined — since I’m guessing it was probably some sabermetric thinking that got Gomes to Boston in the first place.

But here’s something to think about. A little more than a year ago, when the Red Sox were in the middle of their disastrous season, Henry went public with his complaint that the Red Sox had not listened enough to James in recent years. James is one of the great baseball minds in the history of the game. He has changed the way countless people look at baseball – and other things too. He is constantly questioning what we know, what we think we know, what we should know, what we can’t know. In his role with the Red Sox, he does not decide who to trade, who to draft, who to acquire, who to start or how to play. He is just there to ask questions and to be a different voice.

The Red Sox had stopped listening to him for a while, and they fell off considerably. I’m not saying ignoring Bill James was the reason why they went in the tank. But I do think it was a symptom of why. They stopped asking questions because, I think, they believed that they had all the answers.

John Henry announced last year that Bill James would report directly to him, and his voice would again be heard in the organization. Did that make a difference? I suspect people in Boston are too busy celebrating another World Championship to worry too much about it.