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November 6, 2015

Painting the Black

The 2016 Free Agent 50

by R.J. Anderson

As always, there are three things to remember: 1) These rankings are formed using an unscientific blend of expected AAV and on-the-field impact; 2) the predictions are for fun—you can insert about a half-dozen teams for any one player and have it make sense; 3) "Randy" is a random number generator—its picks have no logic.

1. David Price

Position (Bats): LHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 30

Three-year average: 218 IP, 3.01 ERA, 5.78 SO/BB

Observations: Postseason struggles or not, it's hard to rank Price lower than no. 1. He's a big, durable left-hander with a four-pitch arsenal and an improved mound IQ—to use a dreaded cliche, he's matured from a thrower to a pitcher throughout his big-league career. In addition to pounding the zone, Price has the ability to work inside and out with his fastball and cutter. He's gained confidence in his spike curveball and changeup as well, giving him a variety of looks to keep hitters honest. Factor in his makeup—he's known to mentor young pitchers—and he has everything you want in a top-of-the-rotation arm.

Prediction: Dodgers. The obvious (and certain to be wrong) choice due to the Andrew Friedman connection and Zack Greinke opting out.

Randy's prediction: Padres

2. Jason Heyward

Position (Bats): OF (L)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 26

Three-year average: 566 PA, .274/.353/.415

Observations: Heyward is a fantastic defensive outfielder with the requisite athleticism and arm to play center field when necessary. No one disputes that. The disagreements begin with his offensive production and extend to how much he's worth. Although he's tall and has impressive raw strength, Heyward has seldom posted good power numbers. He's averaged a tick fewer than 13 home runs per season over the last three years, and his ISO last topped the .150 mark in 2013. To Heyward's credit, he does have a patient, disciplined approach and has shown the ability to hit for a good average, allowing him to check in as an above-average hitter. (He also contributes on the basepaths, having finished fourth in the majors in baserunning runs.) Because much of his value stems from his defense and his age—or the promise that his best years are ahead—expect teams to have varying valuations, with his next team being the one that buys into his offensive potential the most.

Prediction: Cardinals. As with Matt Holliday before, Heyward sticks around for the next six-plus years.

Randy's prediction: Orioles

3. Zack Greinke

Position (Bats): RHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 32

Three-year average: 201 IP, 2.30 ERA, 4.30 SO/BB

Observations: You could argue Greinke deserves to be higher. In addition to his ridiculous 2015, he possesses just about every quality you want in a frontline pitcher. Greinke commands a deep and diverse arsenal; he has an excellent understanding of the craft and how to sequence and set up batters; he's a high-caliber fielder; and he's a colorful character to boot. The only knocks against Greinke then are his age and past workload—in other words, the threat of a significant injury—and neither of those things is going to stop him from receiving another huge, well-deserved payday in the coming months. He might not be Maddux, but he could be the closest thing.

Prediction: Red Sox. Who really knows.

Randy's prediction: Rays

4. Justin Upton

Position (Bats): OF (R)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 28

Three-year average: 635 PA, .262/.344/.470

Observations: Upton's odd career continues. When the Diamondbacks traded him to the Braves, the concern was that they had punted on a player with MVP potential. Upton has since responded with three well-above-average offensive campaigns . . . only to receive less MVP consideration than he had during his time in Arizona. Don't blame Upton for that development. He's a well-rounded hitter who pitches in across the board—be it hitting for a decent average, walking, bopping, or, yes, stealing bases—and he's not a lost cause defensively. Upton is never going to shed the streakiness label due to his swing-and-miss tendencies, but he's a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat who is in his statistical prime—even if nobody seems to notice it.

Prediction: Orioles. Baltimore is shedding significant payroll, leaving them the option of splurging. Upton fits many rosters, though, so perhaps Dan Duquette spends his money elsewhere.

Randy's prediction: White Sox

5. Chris Davis

Position (Bats): 1B/OF (L)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 30

Three-year average: 623 PA, .252/.347/.544

Observations: The best power hitter on the market. Davis rebounded well from his rough 2014, posting the second-finest offensive effort of his career. On paper and in person he looks like your standard three-true-outcomes slugger, making him a risky long-term proposition. But Davis is a good deal more athletic than his gargantuan frame and high strikeout, walk, and home-run rates suggest—to the extent that he could pass in the outfield if his team needed him to do so. Besides, he's always shown a better touch for hitting for average than his significant swing-and-miss tendencies suggest. That's not to say Davis is certain to age gracefully, just that he has a better shot than your typical plodding slugger.

Prediction: Mariners. Again, the obvious pick. Davis' ability to play the outfield makes him a fit for many, many teams.

Randy's prediction: White Sox

6. Johnny Cueto

Position (Bats): RHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 30

Three-year average: 172 IP, 2.81 ERA, 3.64 SO/BB

Observations: The most certain thing about Cueto is that he knows how to pitch. All his gyrations and delivery alterations and all his clever sequences are evidence of that; ditto for his balky pickoff move, which makes him one of the toughest righties to steal against. It's a good thing that attribute is secure to the ground, too, because much else about Cueto is up in the air. Teams will have to figure out whether Cueto's difficulties after his trade to Kansas City stemmed from trouble adjusting to a new team and league, a hidden injury, or if they were just part of a poorly timed rough stretch. It's hard to see Cueto settling for a one-year deal, so whoever signs him will have to hope they have the right answer.

Prediction: Diamondbacks. Dave Stewart seems primed to make a splash. Adding a potential top-of-the-rotation arm is one way to do that.

Randy's prediction: Marlins

7. Yoenis Cespedes

Position (Bats): OF (R)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 30

Three-year average: 632 PA, .265/.309/.481

Observations: One of the stars of the Mets' pennant run, Cespedes is entering the open market at the perfect time, having shown he remains a tolerable center-field option. Of course the real draw with Cespedes is his well-above-average power production: Last season was the third time in four tries he finished with an ISO above .200 (he finished at .190 in 2014). He doesn't like to walk and he's not much of a stolen base threat—though his in-play baserunning is a plus—but he's a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat coming off a brilliant 57-game stretch to end the regular season. He's going to get paid like it, too.

Prediction: Giants. Bobby Evans needs to find some pitching, but Cespedes is too intriguing to pass on.

Randy's prediction: Cubs

8. Alex Gordon

Position (Bats): OF (L)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 32

Three-year average: 588 PA, .267/.348/.428

Observations: Gordon is arguably the best defensive left fielder in baseball, though perhaps not the best corner outfielder in this free-agent class. Go figure. Yet don't sell his bat short. He's an above-average hitter who lacks a platoon split—he's actually better against lefties—and whose patient approach makes him an ideal fit near the top of a lineup. The biggest negative here is Gordon's age—those trying seasons at the beginning of his career count all the same in the age column—but he's well-rounded and athletic enough that some team will probably give him a four- or five-year deal.

Prediction: Royals. Sure. Why not?

Randy's prediction: Red Sox

9. Jordan Zimmermann

Position (Bats): RHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 29

Three-year average: 205 IP, 3.19 ERA, 4.69 SO/BB

Observations: Can a pitcher who earned Cy Young consideration in consecutive seasons be considered overshadowed? Zimmermann is the test case. He's spent the last several years in the shadows of Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, and even Gio Gonzalez. Along the way, he kept throwing strikes and tallying innings, finishing one out short of three 200-inning seasons in a row. Zimmermann's one blemish is that he's not great against lefties. He's tried remedying that by swapping his circle-change for more curveballs, but the results haven't improved. Oh well. He's a quality starter anyway.

Prediction: Angels. It's about that time again when Arte Moreno goes on a spending spree.

Randy's prediction: Marlins

10. Ben Zobrist

Position (Bats): 2B/OF (R)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 34

Three-year average: 629 PA, .274/.356/.413

Observations: What a hectic year for Zobrist. He was traded to Oakland in January, then Kansas City in July; he had a quality postseason, later taking part in his first World Series parade; and now he's about to take his first dip into free agency, more than nine years after making his big-league debut. But enough with the reminiscing—what does Zobrist offer going forward? Offensively, he remains as well rounded as ever—he can hit for average, draw a ton of walks, and provide some power. Things get trickier on the defensive side. Zobrist has lost a step since his younger days, and while he can still play multiple positions at a reduced quality, it cuts to the bone of the big question facing his free agency: Just how many years are teams willing to commit to someone who turns 35 in July?

Prediction: Yankees. Brian Cashman reportedly turned down a trade for Zobrist at the deadline. Here, all he'd need to give up is money.

Randy's prediction: Royals

11. Dexter Fowler

Position (Bats): OF (S)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 30

Three-year average: 562 PA, .262/.361/.406

Observations: For the most part, Fowler's season in Chicago reaffirmed what we already knew: He's a leadoff hitter whose bat makes up for whatever defensive shortcomings he may or may not have. Fowler's discerning approach has enabled him to consistently post well-above-average on-base percentages, and last season he hit a career-best 17 home runs. There are negatives to mention, too: He's a better hitter from the right side, which is suboptimal, and his speed hasn't translated into stolen-base success—last season was the first time since 2009 that he swiped more than 20 bases. Yet on the whole, there's more than enough here to justify handing him a long-term deal.

Prediction: Cubs. Why mess with a good thing?

Randy's prediction: Giants

12. Ian Desmond

Position (Bats): SS (R)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 30

Three-year average: 648 PA, .256/.311/.423

Observations: Desmond picked a bad time for a letdown. Not only did he have his worst offensive effort since 2011, but he did so while making his most errors since 2010. If there were bright sides to his season, they were that a third of his errors came in April, and that his fielding percentage after May 1 was better than his career and 2014 marks. Offensively, Desmond's average and power production both slipped, while his strikeout rate crept closer to 30 percent. Gulp. Finding a shortstop with this kind of offensive past is difficult, so expect Desmond to retain plenty of suitors anyway—even if they come bearing offers worth less than they would have been 12 months ago.

Prediction: Padres. A.J. Preller isn't afraid to take a chance or make a splash.

Randy's prediction: Tigers

13. Matt Wieters

Position (Bats): C (S)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 29

Three-year average: 324 PA, .253/.302/.428

Observations: Following four consecutive seasons of 130-plus appearances, Wieters was limited to 101 over the past two years due to Tommy John surgery. On paper, he looks to be in line for a big-time payday since he has proven himself as a quality player on both sides of the ball and won't turn 30 until May. Nevertheless, there are some potential snags. Wieters' large frame has always raised concerns about his long-term viability behind the plate, and it's likely to become a talking point as he ages. His bat is closer to league-average than anything, meaning it wouldn't play as well if he's forced to move to first base. There's also the matter of his arm strength, though it's worth noting that he was popping at above-average times (in a small sample) late in the season, and that a normal winter could help in that regard. Warts or not, expect some team to take the plunge anyway.

Prediction: Angels. See the Zimmermann comment.

Randy's prediction: Cubs

14. John Lackey

Position (Bats): RHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 37

Three-year average: 202 IP, 3.35 ERA, 3.57 SO/BB

Observations: There's no doubting that Lackey has come back strong since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2011, and that he has continued to find success behind his fastball-slider combination. Yet there is room for interpretation on how many innings he has left—hence rumors about him seeking a three-year deal. Presumably, the market will push for a one-year deal instead, with the sides settling in the middle. Whoever signs Lackey will be netting a quality innings sponge—albeit one who could seemingly break at any moment.

Prediction: Nationals. Lackey comes cheaper and on a shorter term than Zimmermann, and allows them to trade and/or keep their young arms on the farm for a little longer.

Randy's prediction: Athletics

15. Denard Span

Position (Bats): OF (L)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 32

Three-year average: 535 PA, .292/.345/.404

Observations: One of the best leadoff hitters in baseball, Span combines a disciplined approach with high-caliber bat-to-ball skills, which allow him to flirt with .300 on an annual basis. Once on base, he leverages his borderline-elite speed into quality baserunning: He's succeeded on 83 percent of his steal attempts over the past three seasons. Oh, and Span does all this while playing good defense in center. So why is he ranked this low? Because he missed most of 2015 due to various injuries, including season-ending hip surgery to repair a torn labrum. Otherwise, would be a few spots higher.

Prediction: Mets. Presuming the Mets don't re-sign Cespedes, then signing a center fielder makes more sense than splurging on another corner bat.

Randy's prediction: Tigers

16. Colby Rasmus

Position (Bats): OF (L)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 29

Three-year average: 440 PA, .248/.315/.476

Observations: Younger than his old player skills (and older than his youthful locks) suggest, Rasmus made the most of his one season in Houston by playing solid defense across the outfield and homering a career-high 25 times. He's a fairly safe bet to continue to provide above-average power production, thanks in part to his tendency to drop the barrel on pitches down and in. The biggest drawback with Rasmus is that he strikes out a lot—a byproduct of his patient approach and severe swing-and-miss tendencies. Nonetheless, he's likely to remain an average or better outfielder for the next few years, and should be in line for a multi-year offer.

Prediction: Padres. Rasmus would give the Padres a better defensive center fielder than they had last season.

Randy's prediction: Mariners

17. Howard Kendrick

Position (Bats): 2B (R)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 32

Three-year average: 561 PA, .295/.340/.414

Observations: Think of Kendrick as a superior, right-handed Daniel Murphy, complete with a better glove. He's a consistently above-average hitter whose offensive production hinges on his ability to stroke line drives from pole-to-pole since he doesn't walk and he seldom homers. What Kendrick does do is make the most of his fringe-average speed. While he'll hit into more double plays than you'd like, when he reaches base he's a quality baserunner who is sneaky good at advancing on in-play opportunities. Add it all together and Kendrick should be able to serve as someone's starting second baseman for the next few seasons.

Prediction: Royals. Probably not, but Kendrick fits the Royals' type and is an upgrade over Omar Infante.

Randy's prediction: White Sox

18. Daniel Murphy

Position (Bats): 2B (L)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 31

Three-year average: 626 PA, .285/.324/.420

Observations: All Murphy does is hit. Good thing, too, because historically he's been a gaffe-prone baserunner and below-average fielder whose value is tied entirely to his batting average. To an extent, that changed in 2015. Murphy continued to exhibit top-notch bat-to-ball skills and a line-drive approach, but he also posted the highest ISO of his career following some mechanical tweaks. Whether the pop proves to be a one-year aberration or not, Murphy's ability to consistently post high averages makes his low walk rate less of an issue. His ineffectiveness against same-handed pitching, however, remains a concern. A smart team could use him as the heavy side of a platoon.

Prediction: White Sox. If/when Micah Johnson is ready for action, the White Sox can move Murphy to another position.

Randy's prediction: Marlins

19. Asdrubal Cabrera

Position (Bats): SS (S)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 30

Three-year average: 576 PA, .249/.307/.405

Observations: While comparable free agents inked multi-year deals last winter, Cabrera signed a one-year pact with the Rays, perhaps with an eye on improving his stock. Truthfully, he remains what he was then: a league-average hitter who can pitch in across the board—passable or better average, walk rate, and power production—and who can play a tolerable, if below-average shortstop when well positioned. Cabrera is supposedly looking for a multi-year deal this go around, but then, aren't we all?

Prediction: Athletics. Anytime you can push a player closer to completing the small-market tour (Tampa Bay, Oakland, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh) you have to do it.

Randy's prediction: Pirates

20. Jeff Samardzija

Position (Bats): RHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 31

Three-year average: 216 IP, 4.09 ERA, 3.41 SO/BB

Observations: The class's most frustrating pitcher on the marketplace, Samardzija followed up an all-star 2014 with a horrid 2015. He posted his worst quality start, strikeout, homer, and hit rates since transitioning back to the rotation in 2012, and did so while throwing his fastball less than half the time—a potentially concerning sign for a power pitcher. To Samardzija's credit, he did pitch deep into games, averaging nearly seven innings per pop en route to his third consecutive 200-plus-inning season. Some team is going to look at his durability, strong frame, and track record and see visions of a frontline starter. Maybe. But, after 2015, Samardzija seem just as likely to bust.

Prediction: Yankees. Cashman needs another starting pitcher. Samardzija is another interesting project for Larry Rothschild.

Randy's prediction: Rays

21. Scott Kazmir

Position (Bats): LHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 32

Three-year average: 177 IP, 3.54 ERA, 3.08 SO/BB

Observations: It was a season of two halves for Kazmir, who pitched brilliantly for the Athletics and horribly for the Astros following a midseason trade. Kazmir saw his strikeout and home run and hits allowed rates worsen after the move. But while the rest of his numbers were in upheaval, one remained constant: his 5.9 innings-per-start ratio. Efficiency has never been Kazmir's strong suit, not during his "Kid K" days, and not now as a veteran with a more mature arsenal. Still, provided his poor stretch wasn't caused by an unreported injury, he should receive a contract befitting of a mid-rotation starter.

Prediction: Twins. Minnesota knows it needs pitching. Kazmir gives them a little more oomph than they're accustomed to having.

Randy's prediction: Rays

22. Wei-Yin Chen

Position (Bats): LHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 30

Three-year average: 171 IP, 3.61 ERA, 3.42 SO/BB

Observations: Though his efforts went largely unnoticed outside of Baltimore, Chen has shown himself to be a mid-rotation asset. He throws strikes with a variety of pitches—including a low-to-mid-90s fastball and slider—and has proven durable in spite of his listed height (6-foot-nothing) by starting 30-plus games in three of his four season stateside. Chen does have some warts—namely, his issues with right-handed batters—but he should receive a much, much bigger contract than one he received from Baltimore (four years, roughly $16 million).

Prediction: Braves. Chen is a safe, no-frills rotation cog for a team that could use a safe, no-frills rotation cog.

Randy's prediction: Reds

23. Mike Leake

Position (Bats): RHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 28

Three-year average: 200 IP, 3.59 ERA, 2.76 SO/BB

Observations: Leake is the kind of unsexy pitcher who the market values more than the public does. There's nothing exciting about his game: He doesn't throw hard or miss bats, his walk and groundball rates are closer to good than elite, and he's not guaranteed to top 200 innings. Yet Leake makes all his starts, throws strikes, and has a deep enough arsenal—led by his low-90s sinker and cutter—to profile as a back-end starter for the next few seasons. Those qualities should be enough to net him a multi-year deal, probably for more money than you'd expect.

Prediction: Giants. The Giants don't let players leave too often.

Randy's prediction: Mets

24. Hisashi Iwakuma

Position (Bats): RHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 34

Three-year average: 176 IP, 3.17 ERA, 5.36 SO/BB

Observations: Iwakuma doesn't blow anyone away with his velocity—last season he maxed out at a career-low 93.2 mph—but he continues to display great feel for his craft and command over his arsenal. He uses his fastballs to set up his splitter, and will also deploy a slider and curveball to disrupt hitters' tempos. As with Hiroki Kuroda and New York before, it's unclear whether Iwakuma has any interest leaving Seattle, which could well suppress his contract value.

Prediction: Mariners. Obviously.

Randy's prediction: Nationals

25. Brett Anderson

Position (Bats): LHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 28

Three-year average: 89 IP, 3.96 ERA, 2.39 SO/BB

Observations: When Anderson is right, he uses an assortment of pitches—though mostly his low-90s sinker and slider—to generate groundout after groundout after groundout. The problem is, his body has been wrong too often for anyone to know what's next. Last season, Anderson threw a career-high 180 innings, but his injury history makes him a wild card. There's no telling whether he's found the secret to staying healthy, or if he'll get hurt in May and miss the rest of the season. As such, he's lower than his performance and standing as a mid-rotation starter dictates.

Prediction: Blue Jays. Toronto is going to need pitching. Anderson's groundball tendencies enable Josh Donaldson and Ryan Goins maximum GIFability.

Randy's prediction: Indians

26. David Freese

Position (Bats): 3B (R)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 32

Three-year average: 501 PA, .260/.328/.394

Observations: Here's the score on Freese: he's boring. At the plate, he employs an all-fields approach that results in solid, if unremarkable marks across the board: decent average, good-enough on-base percentage, and some power (albeit of the gap variety). In the field, he's nothing special—tolerable, but closer to below average than not. That combination is enough to make Freese someone's starting third baseman for the next few seasons; it's just not enough to get anyone excited about paying him market value.

Prediction: Braves. With the Braves moving Hector Olivera to the outfield, the only thing standing between Freese and Atlanta is Aroldis Garcia and a long list of other potential suitors.

Randy's prediction: Phillies

27. Marco Estrada

Position (Bats): RHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 32

Three-year average: 153 IP, 3.74 ERA, 2.94 SO/BB

Observations: Estrada picked a good time to post a career-low ERA. Once a trivial waiver-wire pickup by the Brewers, he's worked his way from a dogsbody role into being known as a legitimate back-end starter. Estrada's best pitch is his upper-70s changeup, which he delivers with the same arm action as his 90-mph fastball. He also throws a curveball and cutter to keep the opposition honest. Estrada's extreme flyball tendencies and home run issues make him a questionable fit for some teams—but then, he proved that those concerns were misplaced in Toronto, and could do it again elsewhere.

Prediction: Cardinals. St. Louis likes to draft fastball-changeup starters. This isn't the draft, and it's probably too cute for its own good, but why not?

Randy's prediction: Brewers

28. Yovani Gallardo

Position (Bats): RHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 30

Three-year average: 186 IP, 3.70 ERA, 2.19 SO/BB

Observations: Gallardo is a hard pitcher to figure. His strikeout rate continued its three-year decline, yet his overall results were acceptable. You might think Gallardo adjusted by changing his repertoire, and he did—leaning more on his sinker and slider than in the past. But those tweaks didn't result in improved control or more grounders or whiffs. So just how did Gallardo succeed? Last season it was in part by coercing at least a league-average amount of double plays and infield flies. Whether Gallardo can sustain those marks is unclear—he's not ranked higher for a reason—but if he does, then whoever signs him could get him at a value-level price—even if they aren't sure how he pulls it off, either.

Prediction: Orioles. Someone has to sign Gallardo.

Randy's prediction: Giants

29. Joakim Soria

Position (Bats): RHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 31

Three-year average: 45 IP, 2.99 ERA, 3.59 SO/BB

Observations: In addition to being one of the more experienced closers on the market, Soria is quickly becoming one of the most traveled. Provided he doesn't re-sign with the Pirates, he'll be on his fourth distinct team in the past four seasons. Soria remains a legitimate late-inning reliever with an unusually broad arsenal: He has a low-to-mid-90s fastball as well as a pair of nasty breaking balls and a changeup. The one reservation teams are likely to have about handing Soria the ninth is his durability, as last season was the first since 2011 that he cracked the 60-inning mark. Closing could be part of any deal, however, so don't be surprised if Soria adds to his 202 career saves early and often in 2016.

Prediction: Tigers. The rumors are already out there, and the Tigers always need bullpen help. Soria is likelier to land with a more certain contender.

Randy's prediction: Yankees

30. Darren O'Day

Position (Bats): RHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 33

Three-year average: 65 IP, 1.79 ERA, 4.46 SO/BB

Observations: The pitcher with the funnest delivery of the free-agent class, O'Day is a durable sidewinder who has pitched at least 60 innings in each of the past four seasons, and in five of the last six. He throws strikes and misses bats with a fastball-slider-heavy approach. You might think O'Day only has one or two looks he can show hitters, but he doesn't. He likes to work up in the zone with his four-seamer, down in the zone with his sinker, and has enough feel over his slider to back-door the pitch against lefties. The sum of the package is a late-inning reliever who, even if he doesn't get a shot at the ninth inning, should provide value as a workhorse set-up man.

Prediction: Nationals. Suppose O'Day doesn't like to travel—wouldn't this make sense? Of course, it makes sense if he does like to travel, too.

Randy's prediction: Diamondbacks

31. Ryan Madson

Position (Bats): RHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 35

One-year average: 63 IP, 2.13 ERA, 4.14 SO/BB

Observations: Is this too high for a pitcher who prior to last season hadn't thrown a big-league pitch in three years? Perhaps. But Madson made his 2015 count by shoving his way into the Royals' late-inning plans. Madson wasn't there by default, either. His stats and his stuff—mostly a mid-90s fastball and his signature changeup—demanded high-leverage work. Whether Madson remains healthy heading forward is anyone's guess. If he does, don't be surprised if he eventually finds himself closing again.

Prediction: Rangers. Jon Daniels adds some experience to a relatively inexperienced bullpen.

Randy's prediction: Orioles

32. Tyler Clippard

Position (Bats): RHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 31

Three-year average: 71 IP, 2.50 ERA, 2.81 SO/BB

Observations: Another year, another 70-inning effort from Clippard, who ran his streak to six in a row. Alas Mr. Reliable provided some reasons for concern. Clippard's strikeout and walk rates each went the wrong way, and he allowed righties to post a .294 True Average—or the equivalent of 2015 Justin Upton. From a surface-level perspective, Clippard remained effective: He's almost certainly in the decline phase of his career, but he's likely to remain in a set-up role until the ERA casket drops anyway.

Prediction: Braves. Is it likely? No. But the Braves need to sign a few relievers and Clippard's familiarity with the division makes it . . . uh, no more likely at all. Huh.

Randy's prediction: Diamondbacks

33. Nori Aoki

Position (Bats): OF (L)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 34

Three-year average: 538 PA, .286/.353/.369

Observations: Last winter, Aoki changed teams for the second time in three offseasons. Yet his offensive production remained about the same as it had been in his previous two seasons: a .272 True Average, as compared to his previous .269 and .267 marks. That consistency at the plate is owed to Aoki's tremendous bat-to-ball skills and patient approach, which combine to make him a legitimate top-of-the-order hitter. He doesn't offer much power, and he's no longer a big stolen base threat, but he's an everyday outfielder who once again could come cheaper than anyone expects.

Prediction: Rays. Early reports have the Rays deciding whether to re-sign John Jaso or Grady Sizemore. Aoki is more durable than either.

Randy's prediction: Padres

34. John Jaso

Position (Bats): DH/OF

Age (as of 4/1/16): 32

Three-year average: 270 PA, .272/.364/.421

Observations: Jaso seems guaranteed to do two things each season: 1) hit right-handed pitching and 2) miss time due to injury. True to form, he enjoyed one of his best efforts last season . . . right after he returned from missing three months due to a sprained wrist. Jaso continues to employ a patient, disciplined approach, and has learned throughout his career how to tap into his above-average raw power. Last year was the first time in his big-league career that he didn't see action behind the plate; instead, the Rays permitted him to stand in the outfield about once a month. Presuming no team sees Jaso as a legitimate outfield or everyday option, he could have a limited market. As a result, expect him to come cheaper than his numbers suggest he should.

Prediction: Indians. The Mark Shapiro-less Indians stick to their platoon roots.

Randy's prediction: Red Sox

35. Gerardo Parra

Position (Bats): OF (L)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 28

Three-year average: 609 PA, .273/.320/.408

Observations: Known foremost for his defensive excellence, the story of Parra's 2015 was his increased power output. Though his pop tapered off following a trade to the Orioles, he nonetheless finished the season with a career-high 14 home runs and .452 slugging percentage. Perhaps those improved results fueled Parra's decision to take a more-aggressive approach, thereby leading to a career-worst 4.8 percent walk rate. Unless he retains more of the power than expected, his walk-averse way and struggles versus left-handed pitching make him a fourth-outfielder type who continues to boast enough arm to play across the outfield.

Prediction: Angels. Hey, the Angels acquired every other left-handed hitting outfielder at the deadline. Why not try again?

Randy's prediction: Nationals

36. Marlon Byrd

Position (Bats): OF (R)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 38

Three-year average: 587 PA, .268/.313/.469

Observations: All Byrd has done since resurfacing with the Mets in 2013 is hit. Thanks to some mechanical adjustments he made while he was away for most of the 2012 season, he's homered 20-plus times in three consecutive years for the first time in his career—this coming while he was in his mid-to-late 30s. Power aside, Byrd does have some drawbacks. His age and boom-or-bust approach at the plate—he's eager to expand the zone and he swings and misses a lot—makes him a big-time attrition risk. That isn't to say Byrd will fade this season, but if we keep saying it, at some point it'll come true.

Prediction: Tigers. Byrd gives the Tigers another powerful right-handed bat—and a piece to shop around the league if they fall out of contention by the deadline.

Randy's prediction: Braves

37. Dioner Navarro

Position (Bats): C (S)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 32

Three-year average: 326 PA, .276/.328/.417

Observations: The biggest loser in Toronto's Russell Martin signing, Navarro went from starter to trade chit to Marco Estrada's personal catcher within a 12-month span. When he did play, he was his usual self: providing decent offense and tolerable defense —assuming, of course, you credit him with his reputedly good staff-handling abilities. He's not going to sell many tickets or win many games, but he's likely to take over as someone's starting backstop—or, at minimum, serve as a quality insurance plan.

Prediction: White Sox. By rule the White Sox must employ a former Cubs backstop as their backup.

Randy's prediction: Rockies

38. Ian Kennedy

Position (Bats): RHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 31

Three-year average: 184 IP, 4.25 ERA, 2.79 SO/BB

Observations: Kennedy's struggles with the home run reached career-worst territory last season, as he allowed 31 jimmy jacks in 30 starts. To think, that was with Petco Park as his home stadium. Despite that, expect Kennedy to garner interest. He throws a variety of pitches, none more important than his low-to-mid-90s fastball. Kennedy isn't tall, yet he gets good extension on his release point, thereby allowing his heater to play quicker than it looks. As a result, his go-to out pitch is the uptown funk—a fastball above the belt that batters can't seem to catch. Teams in small ballparks should steer clear of Kennedy, but one with spacious grounds and a good outfield defense could enable him to enjoy a bounceback season in 2016.

Prediction: Padres. If the rumors are true about Kennedy receiving a qualifying offer, then he just might become the first player to accept it.

Randy's prediction: Orioles

39. J.A. Happ

Position (Bats): LHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 33

Three-year average: 141 IP, 4.05 ERA, 2.56 SO/BB

Observations: How much do you buy into Happ's stunning 63-inning performance with the Pirates? That's the question facing teams this winter. Obviously no one is going to say 100 percent—improved or not, Happ isn't going to post a sub-2 ERA heading forward—but if a team believes (at least more than everyone else) that his mechanical and strategical tweaks are sustainable, then there's a chance someone gets a potential mid-rotation starter at back-end costs. Set Happ's over/under at two years and $20 million: the amount Edinson Volquez received last winter following his own Pittsburgh rebirth.

Prediction: Royals. Dayton Moore had to like what he got from Volquez this year. Might as well repeat history with Happ.

Randy's prediction: Cubs

40. Alexei Ramirez

Position (Bats): SS (R)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 34

Three-year average: 651 PA, .269/.301/.382

Observations: There aren't many options on the shortstop market beyond Desmond and Cabrera, meaning Ramirez is likely to be in greater demand than you'd think given that he's a 34-year-old coming off one of the worst seasons of his career. Ramirez is a durable quality who has notched 500 or more plate appearances in each of his big-league seasons, and who has topped 600 in every year dating back to 2009—he's the only shortstop who can claim that, with Robinson Cano serving as the one other middle infielder to accomplish the feat. He's never had great command of the strike zone, yet he's come close to being a league-average hitter more often than not thanks to his contact ability and gap power. Depending on team's evaluations of Ramirez's defense—public metrics are mixed, though the perception is he's at least tolerable there—he could be an interesting (and cheap) one-year fit for a club in need.

Prediction: Nationals. Mike Rizzo gives Trea Turner more time to develop, and adds some durability to a lineup that suffered through a lot of injuries in 2015.

Randy's prediction: Blue Jays

41. Matt Joyce

Position (Bats): OF (L)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 31

Three-year average: 419 PA, .228/.324/.376

Observations: Had Joyce qualified for free agency last winter, he would've ranked much higher on that list than this one. Unfortunately, he didn't. Instead he endured the worst season of his career, hitting .174/.272/.291 and providing few glimpses of the consistently above-average hitter he had been over the past five seasons. The best-case scenario for Joyce is that teams forget and forgive, as they did with David Murphy a few winters ago. The worst-case is that teams see a platoon outfielder whose power has dissipated and who adds little beyond his command of the strike zone. There's still a role in the majors for him either way, but Joyce's 2015 almost certainly cost him a fair amount of money.

Prediction: Royals. Presuming Alex Rios doesn't return, the Royals could use another outfielder. Joyce isn't as good defensively as the Royals are used to, but he should come cheap.

Randy's prediction: Marlins

42. Chris B. Young

Position (Bats): OF (R)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 32

Three-year average: 366 PA, .224/.299/.405

Observations: It took a while, but at long last Young has found his ideal role as a platoon outfielder—a gig that best leverages his raison d'être: hitting left-handed pitchers. Last season, he faced lefties in a career-high 49 percent of his plate appearances. Guess what happened? His raw numbers impressed and he posted the third-best full-season True Average of his career. A deeper dig reveals why: Young posted a .339 TAv against southpaws—or more than 130 points higher than his mark against righties. His game features some blemishes—he's a good bet to lead his team in pop-ups, for instance—but expect a contender to nab him to fill a bench spot.

Prediction: Reds. There's a chance some team gives Young one more shot at becoming an everyday player. The Reds have an opening in left, so maybe they're that team.

Randy's prediction: Rays

43. Juan Uribe

Position (Bats): 3B (R)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 37

Three-year average: 409 PA, .281/.329/.432

Observations: The third-base market is so weak that Uribe is likely to enter spring as someone's projected starter. He remains a defensive asset who, despite unbalanced performances with the Dodgers and Mets, somehow finished with above-average offense numbers in 2015. Uribe has never been the most reliable hitter to begin with—remember how he seemed done in 2010 and 2011?—and that's unlikely to change at this point in his career. And yet, given the alternatives, he's worth a shot on a one-year deal.

Prediction: White Sox. Almost every infielder makes sense for the White Sox.

Randy's prediction: Marlins

44. Ryan Raburn

Position (Bats): DH/OF (R)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 34

Three-year average: 230 PA, .257/.335/.465

Observations: A late addition to the list, Raburn's $3 million option was declined by the Indians on Wednesday. You can understand Cleveland's decision if you focus on the negatives and nothing else: He's a short-side platoon player with limited defensive ability whose full-season True Average has finished below .200 in two of the past four years. Yet as with Steve Pearce, you just know some contender is going to hand him a bench job and ask him to start in an outfield corner or as a DH against left-handed pitchers. That makes Raburn more useful than most bench players.

Prediction: Mariners. Raburn pushes the Mariners closer to an all-DH lineup.

Randy's prediction: Orioles

45. Chris Iannetta

Position (Bats): C (R)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 32

Three-year average: 363 PA, .223/.344/.368

Observations: Iannetta is coming off a miserable season, during which he compiled career-low marks in each of the slash categories. Even so, his track record and underlying indicators suggest he deserves a spot on the list. Iannetta continued to show a selective approach at the plate, as well as power on the inner half. He also performed well against left-handed pitchers, hitting .230/.359/.405 with the platoon advantage. Defensively, Iannetta has improved since arriving in Anaheim. He doesn't have the strongest arm, but he atones for that by being aggressive with his backpick attempts. There's a chance he's done, but there's also a chance he proves to be a value on a one-year deal. Given how tough it is to find a tolerable two-way catcher, you can bet someone will find out.

Prediction: Mariners. The Jerry Dipoto connection, yes, but Iannetta also gives the M's a legitimate alternative to Mike Zunino, who can't complain if he has to share playing time.

Randy's prediction: Tigers

46. A.J. Pierzynski

Position (Bats): C (L)

Age (as of 4/1/16): 39

Three-year average: 442 PA, .276/.308/.403

Observations: Pierzynski authored one of last season's most surprising performances by notching the second-highest full-season True Average of his career. Who knew? Unexpected year or not, Pierzynski remains the same player he's been forever. At the plate, he's a hacker who has to hit for a high average to be employable. Behind it, well, he supposedly calls a good game. There's no reason whatsoever to expect Pierzynski to replicate his 2015 heading forward . . . but then, there was no reason whatsoever to expect Pierzynski would have his 2015 to begin with. What are teams going to do—not sign a catcher who hit .300/.339/.430 in his most-recent effort and who, by the way, is willing to come on a one-year deal? Come on.

Prediction: Braves. Why mess with a good thing?

Randy's prediction: Yankees

47. Chris Young

Position (Bats): RHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 36

Two-year average: 144 IP, 3.40 ERA, 1.85 SO/BB

Observations: Young is the rare pitcher who scouts and stat nerds can agree is overrated. He doesn't have what you'd normally consider good (or even average) stuff, and his component metrics suffer due to his poor strikeout-to-walk ratio. Yet Young has gotten results whenever he's been healthy, and lately he's been hearty and hale enough to take his turn when asked. No team should want him higher than fifth on their depth chart, but he's earned this spot with his last two seasons.

Prediction: Twins. Young replaces Mike Pelfey as the designated tall Twin.

Randy's prediction: Rockies

48. Rich Hill

Position (Bats): LHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 36

Three-year average: 24 IP, 4.19 ERA, 2.40 SO/BB

Observations: This seems like an absurd overreaction to four good starts in September; it's not—not entirely. Teams believe Hill has found greater comfort and consistency since raising his arm slot to a more traditional three-quarters angle (he altered his placement on the rubber as well, moving from the first-base side to the third-base side). That combination has allowed Hill to better control his arsenal, including his always-good curveball and an average fastball. There are legitimate reasons for skepticism—most notably, he hasn't thrown more than 50 innings in a big-league season since 2009—but his upside in the rotation or in relief could land him a multi-year offer from a team seeking this winter's Brett Anderson.

Prediction: Blue Jays. Who really knows here, but Hill's versatility makes him a fit in Toronto either way.

Randy's prediction: Orioles

49. Tony Sipp

Position (Bats): LHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 32

Three-year average: 48 IP, 3.22 ERA, 3.09 SO/BB

Observations: Sipp is a small left-handed reliever, but he's not a LOOGY by any definition. He has a three-pitch arsenal: a riding low-90s fastball that he uses against everyone, and a slider and a splitter—each of which is used depending on whether he's facing a lefty or a righty. What Sipp lacks is a platoon split (his multi-year True Average against righties is better than his .231 mark against lefties) and a pretty delivery: beyond a quick, stabby arm action, his glove is down and away from his body at release. Sipp still manages to throw strikes, meaning the correct term for his delivery is "deceptive" (as opposed to "disruptive" if he had the same mechanics and a higher walk rate). Whatever or whenever his next team calls him, he should be a solid contributor.

Prediction: Twins. Again, the Twins need pitching help.

Randy's prediction: Giants

50. Jerry Blevins

Position (Bats): LHP

Age (as of 4/1/16): 32

Three-year average: 41 IP, 3.83 ERA, 3.05 SO/BB

Observations: Blevins missed most of the season after fracturing his arm twice—once after being struck by a Dee Gordon liner, then again after slipping on a sidewalk. He gets the nod here due to his track record of shutting down left-handed hitters with his low-90s fastball and slow curveball. Because he isn't nearly as effective against right-handed batters, he requires a manager who pays heed to platoon splits and is proactive about preventing his exposure to righties. Provided Blevins makes a full recovery over the winter, he should continue to be a solid left-handed specialist.

Prediction: Giants. Blevins replaces Jeremy Affeldt and sticks in San Francisco for the next half-decade.

Randy's prediction: Mets

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

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