With the 2013 World Series over, teams have begun preparing to make a run at the 2014 title. On Tuesday, free agency will officially get underway as MLB teams are allowed to talk with players that are looking for a new home.
This offseason may see more upper echelon players changing teams than in the past few years. Several All-Star-caliber players, especially outfielders and pitchers, are in the market for new, long-term contracts.
The New York Yankees might be most involved in talks with high-priced free agents. In addition to Robinson Cano, who is the biggest name on the market, Hiroki Kuroda and Curtis Granderson saw their deals come to an end this season. Cano is expected to return to the Bronx, but the future of the other two is more up in the air.
The Yankees have already made qualifying offers to all three. There’s a chance Granderson will accept his $14.1 million offer, since he only played 61 games and hit .229 in his contract season. After hitting a total of 84 home runs in 2011 and 2012, it looked like the outfielder was on his way to a major payday. Now, Granderson’s value has taken a severe hit, especially in the Yankees’ eyes. The team is trying to lower their payroll below $190 million, and could decide that they can’t offered to make a lengthy offer to the veteran.
If the Yankees let Granderson go, they could go after an older option. Carlos Beltran will be one of the more highly coveted outfielders on the market, and he could return to New York, where he played seven years with the Mets. Beltran was more productive than Granderson in 2013, hitting 24 home runs with a .296 batting average. However, he could cost them less money over the length of the contract because he is four years older. Beltran reportedly wanted to join the Yankees when he was a free agent after the 2004 season, and the New York Daily News claims there is mutual interest between both parties.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo are the other outfielders that could find themselves in the middle of a bidding war. Ellsbury, the No.1 free agent at his position, is expected by many to leave the Boston Red Sox after spending the first seven years of his career with the team. Ellsbury, along with Choo, who played for the Cincinnati Reds, could be pursued hard by the Chicago Cubs. Both players have been linked to the team that is looking for stars to turn the franchise around. The Cubs haven’t won more than 75 games since 2009.
Another struggling team, however, might be the frontrunner to sign Choo. The Houston Astros, who had the worst record in the Majors, are very high on Choo. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the team will go after the outfielder, following a 51-win season. The Astros have money to spend after a 2013 payroll that was under $25 million.
The top free agent pitchers are all still in the prime of their careers. Masahiro Tanaka will draw interest from a lot of teams as he makes his way to the Majors from Japan. He could make more money than any foreign rookie in MLB history. Despite the Yankees payroll restraints, they are one of the favorites to land the 25-year-old. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports that the San Francisco Giants want him just as badly.
Matt Garza and Ervin Santana will be hot commodities. Either one could help an up-and-coming team like the Seattle Mariners or Kansas City Royals, with whom Santana played for in 2013.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, who were the most active team over the past year and a half, could have quiet offseason. They are expected to re-sign Clayton Kershaw, who could get a contract extension worth over $300 million.