So the fun begins. With a handful of big-name free agents set to test the waters after the season concludes, I couldn’t help but wonder: Where will they land next year? Or will they stay put in their home town?
It’s already been said that Tampa Bay doubts they could hold onto Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, or Rafael Soriano. And at the same time, The Rangers and Phillies have a goal to hold onto Cliff Lee and Jayson Werth respectively.
So I’m going to evaluate a couple free agents and give you my guess on where they’ll land:
Jayson Werth – Boston Red Sox: Let’s face it, Werth will want a change of scenery. In his presser on Monday, he basically said he enjoyed his time in Philly and said he will never see a group of fans like ours again. So who would want Werth? Basically in the race between the Yankees and Red Sox each off season, they acquire big-name guys. So if the Yankees go after Crawford, that means the Sox will get their hands on Werth, where he will instantly make them a serious contender in the toughest division in baseball.
Cliff Lee – Texas Rangers: I think he stays in Texas. If he does, it will be the biggest splash in free agency as Lee is the league’s most prized possession this off season. Yankee fans didn’t help their cause in landing Lee after their harassment of his wife and he said he enjoyed watching the Phillies lose to the Giants. And with the team they have in Texas, he would be absolutely stupid to walk away from a young, talented team in which he would become the face of. As a pitcher, the Rangers haven’t had that since a certain Nolan Ryan. I’m sure Ryan will use all of his persuasive powers to keep Lee in the Lone Star State.
Derek Jeter – New York Yankees: As the captain of the Yankees, I don’t see him going anywhere else but staying in New York. He will demand a lot of money probably and put the Yankees in a tough spot: drop the cash on an aging short stop with decreased range and pop in his bat or cut ties with one of the greatest Yankees to ever wear the pinstripes. They can’t piss-off the masses. Jeter stays as a Yankee for life and wraps up his Hall of Fame career in the Bronx.
Carl Crawford – New York Yankees: So the Yankees don’t get Werth. They will have to “settle” with Crawford, arguably the most enticing position player in the free agent market. He’s fast, can play a mean center field, and is a lifetime .300 hitter that can give you 15 homers and drive in about 70 runs. He hit career highs last season with 19 homers, 90 RBIs, and a .307 average along with a high in OPS (.851). Crawford will make the Yankees very happy next season and should allow them to stay ahead of the Red Sox and knock the Rays back out of the talks.
Carlos Pena – Seattle Mariners: Pena is a DH. The guy is a defensive liability. He struggled much of last season with injuries but will look to bounce back in a new team. Seattle is a perfect fit for him. Same type of laid-back fans and with the team looking to add a true power bat, they could start to build an offense around Pena. He’s just a building block to launch the Mariners into contention with the Rangers, who could be the best team in baseball if they win the World Series.
Jonny Gomes – Philadelphia Phillies: This is more like wishful thinking. With Werth likely gone in Philly, they will be looking to fill not only a hole in the outfield but also that important right-handed bat to protect Ryan Howard. Gomes would be a good replacement, that is assuming the Reds don’t pick up his $1.75 million option for next season. Gomes hit .266 with 18 homers and 86 RBIs last season. Similar numbers like that would be a fine replacement. Only problem is that he’s a worse defensive option than Raul Ibanez could ever have a nightmare to be. A two-year contract will be fine if Ruben Amaro, Jr. doesn’t over-pay.