Prince Fielder – Milwaukee Brewers
Where he goes: Chicago Cubs
In the hunt: NY Yankees, Milwaukee, Washington
Fielder’s market is pretty wide open with Milwaukee seemingly unable to afford Fielder.
The Brewers must hope co-star Ryan Braun can convince the power-hitter first baseman that there is unfinished business left to be done in Milwaukee and they need each other to succeed. But it’s going to be tough with the Yankees always looking to make their offense seem invincible and the Cubs new GM Theo Epstein looking to get his hands on a top free agent.
I think a Wild Card team in this hunt will be Washington. The Nats shocked the baseball world when they overpaid for Jayson Werth last off season. With the right corps of players along with a handful of stars, they could convince Fielder that baseball’s new dynasty could very well be in the nation’s capitol.
Fielder is the absolute perfect move for Epstein to make. He is not under pressure to make a big move right away but he would be foolish to pass up on a top tier athlete like Fielder.
Albert Pujols – St. Louis Cardinals
Where he goes: Stays in St. Louis
In the hunt: St. Louis, Chicago, NY Yankees
Pujols won’t get signed until Prince Fielder does.
The contract the Milwaukee slugger wins will be a starting point for Prince Albert’s negotiations. Luckily for St. Louis, the comfort Pujols has in that city and with that team will be the most attractive thing to him. Unless a team like the Yankees offers a sum that is too good to pass up, Pujols will be staying put.
With Lance Berkman extended in St. Louis and the return of a pretty strong corps that includes playoff hero David Freese, catcher Yadier Molina and a healthy Matt Holliday, the Cardinals could actually be a threat next year if they keep Pujols, especially with the addition of a healthy Adam Wainwright to compliment Chris Carpenter.
Pujols will see that his heart belongs in St. Louis and they will find a way to put forth the $30+ million a year Pujols will be seeking.
Jimmy Rollins – Philadelphia Phillies
Where he goes: Stays in Philadelphia
In the hunt: San Francisco
Rollins will be the first of the five big free agents to sign.
In fact, his decision to stay with Philadelphia will come rather quick. Granted the 2007 MVP wants to test the waters of free agency, only one other option would make sense to the Northern Cali native and that would be San Francisco. But the Giants have dabbled enough with veterans nearing the end of their primes and will for some young talent to give their offense some star and fire power for longer than a handful of years.
This leaves the only other team who will be showing top interest in Rollins: Philadelphia. He is the leader of the Phils and GM Ruben Amaro knows that. He will look to make Rollins happy and in turn not give in fully to Rollins’ demands for a 5th years.
Will money be the issue? Only a little bit. The freeing up of Brad Lidge’s and Roy Oswalt’s combined $28.5 million will allow the Phils to give some of that cash to Rollins.
Jose Reyes – New York Mets
Where he goes: San Francisco Giants
In the hunt: NY Mets, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Philadelphia
The Giants have dabbled enough with veterans nearing the end of their primes and will look for some young talent to give their offense some star and fire power for longer than a handful of years.
That’s why they will pass up on the hometown Rollins and go straight for Mets short stop Jose Reyes. Reyes, despite is injury problems, is one of the most dynamic short stops in the game. His defense is top notch, his career high .337 batting average is enticing and he steals an average of 57 bases in a 162-game season.
The only reason the Phillies will fall out of contention for Reyes is his lack of cohesiveness. He won’t fit into their loose clubhouse. The Mets will play a heavy part in trying to keep their super star but he will see a handful of winning teams interested in the short stop.
Atlanta is a Wild Card in play for Reyes. Their interests in Rollins will be low and once Rollins signs back with Philadelphia, they will begin to target Reyes.
C.J. Wilson – Texas Rangers
Where he goes: New York Yankees
In the hunt: Texas, Boston
The Yankees will be in the hunt for Wilson when they fail to sign Pujols or Fielder and instead look to give them a third reliable starter.
After locking up ace C.C. Sabbathia for five years and the emergence of young arm Ivan Nova, Wilson would be the perfect piece to their rotation which will finally knock A.J. Burnett from #2 to #4 and allow him to become a reliable back-of-the-rotation arm again.
Texas is going to play just as hard as they did last year when they tried to keep Cliff Lee. If they also lose Wilson, you can kiss a third straight pennant goodbye. The Yankees, who also lost out on Lee, are thankful the Phillies will keep their noses out of their business this time and will have an easier chance at prying Wilson away from Texas and their elusive first World Championship.
Boston could be a Wild Card in the mix. But unfortunately for the Red Sox, they have much bigger problems facing them in the front office and at the manager position before they can try and sign a top free agent.
After reading Roose’s take on the Top Five Free Agents, head over to Rogue Fanatic and check out where they think these same five free agents will be headed.