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November 5, 2013

Painting the Black

The 50 Best Free Agents of 2013-2014

by R.J. Anderson


It's back and bigger than last year. There are a few things to clear up before getting to the list. First, the players are ranked by a combination of their expected impact and their AAV—hence why a closer can finish in the top 20. Players with injury histories were nudged down the list, perhaps too much, based on what we saw last winter. The predictions are total guesswork, and to drill that point home I've included predictions made by a random number generator. Chance doesn't know about depth charts, team behaviors, budgets, or any of the like, so keep that in mind.

Finally, there are no international free agents involved. Masahiro Tanaka seems like a quality pitcher, but if I haven't seen the player in some form or another then he's not included.

1. Robinson Cano

Position: 2B
DOB: 10/22/1982
Height/Weight: 6'0" 210 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
2011-2013 Averages: .309/.371/.533
Observations: The best free agent on the market. Cano has fantastic hands at the plate and a great feel for the barrel. He homered 25-plus times for the fifth season in a row, while posting a career-high walk rate. In the field, Cano has a strong arm at second base and an unmistakable smoothness to his actions. The lone qualms about Cano revolve around his reduced performance versus lefties and his at-times questioned effort levels. He's probably the best player at his position, which is not something another free agent can claim.
Prediction: Yankees. It's hard to see Brian Cashman letting his best player walk.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Nationals

2. Jacoby Ellsbury

Position: OF
DOB: 9/11/1983
Height/Weight: 6'1" 195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
2011-2013 Averages: .303/.356/.469
Observations: In addition to being one of the game's best basestealers (and baserunners, in general), Ellsbury is a talented fielder and hitter. He doesn't have an elite arm, but he makes do by running almost everything down. Offensively, Ellsbury is a tremendous contact hitter who walks a fair amount. He's unlikely to reproduce his 2011 power production, yet he's a top-of-the-order presence. On the negative, the durability questions will continue to surround him, and one wonders if recent failures by similar players (B.J. Upton, Carl Crawford, and Michael Bourn) will limit his market.
Prediction: Mariners. This has been the hot location attached to Ellsbury for a while now.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Reds

3. Shin-Soo Choo

Position: OF
DOB: 7/13/1982
Height/Weight: 5'11" 205 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
2011-2013 Averages: .278/.387/.439
Observations: Getting on base might be Choo's best attribute, but it's not all he does well. The Reds leadoff hitter is well rounded against right-handed pitching, with the capability to hit for a good average and smash 15-to-20 home runs. On the defensive end, Choo is probably on his way back to a corner spot—likely right, where his good arm can play up. The experience in center field wasn't a total loss for Choo, however, as it showed versatility and a willingness to do anything to help his team.
Prediction: Mets. Sandy Alderson adds a legitimate leadoff hitter and a talented hitter to his improving New York team.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Yankees

4. Brian McCann

Position: C
DOB: 2/20/1984
Height/Weight: 6'3" 230 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
2011-2013 Averages: .252/.329/.441
Observations: McCann has homered 20-plus times in each of the past six seasons, so there's no doubting his pop. There's more to his offensive game than power alone, however, as he walks a good amount and doesn't strike out a ton. The big blemish is that he struggles a bit versus left-handed pitching. McCann is a good receiver who is popular with his pitchers—no doubt because of his willingness to stick up for them and his team. How the bat ages will determine the perception of his contract, but he should become a key piece for someone.
Prediction: Rangers. Another much-rumored location.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Nationals

5. Ervin Santana

Position: SP
DOB: 12/12/1982
Height/Weight: 6'2" 185 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 206 IP, 3.85 ERA, 2.57 SO/BB
Observations: Santana is the best non-aged pitcher on the market. He's durable and features a lethal one-two pitch combination—a fastball that can creep over the mid-90s and a hard slider. The former Angel turned Royal throws strikes and doesn't walk many batters. That leaves his gopherball tendencies as the big negative, something that's plagued him throughout his career and sparked a terrible 2012. He should slot in near the front of a rotation next season, but it'll be interesting to see if a lack of high-quality starting pitching leads to a bidding war for his services.
Prediction: Royals. Kansas City needs a good starter, so why mess with a good thing?
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Astros

6. A.J. Burnett

Position: SP
DOB: 1/3/1977
Height/Weight: 6'4" 225 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 195 IP, 3.98 ERA, 2.65 SO/BB
Observations: Burnett has reportedly said it's the Pirates or retirement for him in 2014. Here's hoping he gives it another go in the Steel City. Burnett is mostly a two-pitch pitcher nowadays, as he lives and dies with his low-90s fastball and overpowering curveball. He posted the best strikeout rate of his career last season, while keeping his walk rate in check and generating a ton of groundballs. If he decides to hang the cleats up, he's going out on a personal high.
Prediction: Pirates. No reason to assume Burnett would leave Pittsburgh.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Rangers

7. Hiroki Kuroda

Position: SP
DOB: 2/10/1975
Height/Weight: 6'1" 205 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 208 IP, 3.24 ERA, 3.34 SO/BB
Observations: The story on Kuroda is the same as it was last winter: He's a smart, talented, durable right-hander who seems destined to choose between the Yankees and Japan; as a result, he's ranked the same. Kuroda is a joy to watch when he's locating and mixing his pitches—a low-to-mid-90s fastball, mid-80s slider, and upper-80s splitter. He throws strikes and has survived two seasons in the Bronx without his home run rate exploding. The lone negative here is he might have thrown his final pitch on American soil.
Prediction: Yankees. Same reasons as Burnett.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Cubs

8. Matt Garza

Position: SP
DOB: 11/26/1983
Height/Weight: 6'4" 215 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 152 IP, 3.62 ERA, 3.13 SO/BB
Observations: Garza might have struggled with the Rangers, but he remains in line for a nice payday. The power-pitching right-hander uses his low-to-mid-90s fastballs to do most of the work. A mid-80s slider is his knockout offering of choice, and he throws a curveball to keep batters honest. Garza's durability has come under question in recent years, and his fiery temperament can get the best of him. He's also a poor fielder who threatens onlookers with errant throws to first base. In an ideal world, he's the second- or third-best starter on the team. Spits a lot.
Prediction: Angels. Garza won't cost a first-round pick, and the Angels need the rotation help.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Brewers

9. Mike Napoli

Position: 1B
DOB: 10/31/1981
Height/Weight: 6'0" 220 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: .268/.371/.523
Observations: Whether the hip concerns remain valid or not, Napoli earned the top first base spot with a surprising skilled display at first base. At the plate, the grizzly ex-catcher showcases massive power against lefties and righties alike. In addition to maximizing his pop, a disciplined approach leads to walks and strikeouts by the bushel; the contact woes could be a concern if he gets too long of a term. For now, Napoli is a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat who should get paid like one.
Prediction: Red Sox. Again, why mess with a good thing?
Random Number Generator's Prediction: White Sox

10. Kendrys Morales

Position: 1B/DH
DOB: 6/20/1983
Height/Weight: 6'1" 225 lbs.
Bats/Throws: S/R
2011-2013 Averages: .275/.329/.457
Observations: After missing the 2011 season, Morales has picked up where he left off. Perhaps the purest switch-hitter on the market, he's posted an identical OPS against lefties and righties the past two seasons. Morales' above-average power production has always came with a tendency for him to put the ball in play; that saves him the indignity of high strikeout rates, but it leaves him with a bare walk total, too. The Cuban native has played the past two seasons mostly at designated hitter, and he doesn't add value on the basepaths, so he'll have to continue to hit be worth his deal.
Prediction: Mariners. Seattle needs the big bat and Morales figures to have limited suitors, given the qualifying offer.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Cardinals

11. Nelson Cruz

Position: OF
DOB: 7/1/1980
Height/Weight: 6'2" 230 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: .263/.319/.489
Observations: Cruz was on pace to set a new career high in home runs before catching a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis case. Teams figure to have interest in the increasingly immobile outfielder because sluggers don't grow on trees. Cruz tends to do most of his damage against left-handed pitching and on balls up in the zone, and he doesn't walk as much as you might anticipate. Previously thought of as fragile, he hasn't made a trip to the disabled list in two seasons.
Prediction: Yankees. Cashman adds a power bat to go with his Cano and Kuroda re-signings.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Orioles

12. Carlos Beltran

Position: OF
DOB: 4/24/1977
Height/Weight: 6'1" 210 lbs.
Bats/Throws: S/R
2011-2013 Averages: .288/.356/.503
Observations: Beltran continues to be an effective player late in his career. He's a switch-hitter, but he gets better results from the left side, and his walk rate against southpaws dipped to 4.1 percent last season. Admittedly, Beltran's injury report is full with small nicks, yet he hasn't made a trip to the disabled list since 2011. Whether teams view Beltran as a corner outfielder or designated hitter, his bat is the key to his vitality. If he continues to produce like 2013, he's going to be around for a while longer.
Prediction: Cardinals. Beltran still fits the Cardinals like a glove, and allows them to keep Oscar Taveras in the minors a little longer.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Giants

13. Ubaldo Jimenez

Position: SP
DOB: 1/22/1984
Height/Weight: 6'5" 210 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 183 IP, 4.45 ERA, 2.04
Observations: Exiting June, Jimenez had a 4.63 ERA and little hope of earning a top-20 ranking. From that point on, he started 16 games, tossed 99 innings, struck out 109 batters, and held opponents to two runs or fewer 11 times. Jimenez finished with the best strikeout and strikeout-to-walk ratios of his career, and cemented his place as the most polarizing free agent of the winter. There's no doubting his impressive stuff—from a pair of low-to-mid-90s fastballs to a slider and splitter—or potential to be an impact starter. But just how much should teams trust him, and what kind of contract will he demand? There might not be a bigger boom-or-bust player on the market.
Prediction: Blue Jays. Toronto needs an impact starter and has shown a willingness to be bold in the past.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Rangers

14. Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Position: C
DOB: 5/2/1985
Height/Weight: 6'4" 235 lbs.
Bats/Throws: S/R
2011-2013 Averages: .244/.306/.457
Observations: Saltalamacchia picked a good time for a breakout season. The Florida native is a switch-hitter in name only, as his struggles versus southpaws make him vulnerable to matchups in the late innings. His most marketable asset is his power; he's averaged 18 home runs per season the past three years despite tallying fewer than 500 plate appearances in each. Along with the pop, Saltalamacchia walks a fair amount, though he's prone to striking out a lot, too. Behind the plate, his work with pitchers improved this season, which atones for his tendency to stab at the ball. (It's worth noting he had graded as a good receiver in prior years.) Has questionable taste in hair.
Prediction: Red Sox. Boston has some young catching on the way, but Saltalamacchia shouldn't be cast aside yet.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Padres

15. Ricky Nolasco

Position: SP
DOB: 12/13/1982
Height/Weight: 6'2" 235 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 199 IP, 4.29 ERA, 3.20 SO/BB
Observations: One of the few players on the list to be traded in-season, Nolasco is a capable middle-of-the-rotation starter. He eats innings, as the archetype suggests, and has a varied arsenal. Sometimes Nolasco gets away from his low-90s fastball too much for anyone's liking, leaving him to lean heavily on his assortment of breaking balls. The other knock here is that he's an emotional guy, which leads to inconsistencies in his performance. He's likely no more than the third- or fourth-best starter on a good team, but his durability and production will net him a multi-year deal.
Prediction: Giants. Brian Sabean wants to upgrade his rotation, and getting Nolasco without yielding a pick does that.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Pirates

16. Bartolo Colon

Position: SP
DOB: 5/24/1973
Height/Weight: 5'11" 265 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 169 IP, 3.32 ERA, 3.73 SO/BB
Observations: The oldest pitcher on the list has the simplest game. Colon pounds the zone with his fastballs, rarely using his changeup or slider. Despite his bulbous appearance, he's a quality fielder and he can shut down the running game on his own. Colon is good for a trip to the disabled list per season, but he's still averaged more than six innings per start over the past three years. It's unclear whether Colon would consider other teams besides Oakland. If so, he's worth having in the middle of the rotation.
Prediction: Athletics. There's no reason for this relationship to end yet.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Diamondbacks

17. Joe Nathan

Position: RP
DOB: 11/22/1974
Height/Weight: 6'4" 230 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 58 IP, 2.80 ERA, 3.96 SO/BB
Observations: Nathan's two-year stint with the Rangers proved he's all the way back from Tommy John surgery. Although he's nearing his 39th birthday, the righty remains one of the top closers in baseball. Mostly a fastball-slider pitcher, he lets his curveball come out to play against left-handed hitters. The rest of Nathan's game is straightforward: he throws plenty of strikes and misses many bats. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Nathan's free agency is how long a term he'll receive.
Prediction: Tigers. Detroit passed on a closer last winter, but perhaps not this one.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Angels

18. Curtis Granderson

Position: OF
DOB: 3/16/1981
Height/Weight: 6'1" 195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
2011-2013 Averages: .244/.338/.504
Observations: Granderson had the worst luck of any free agent. Had he qualified a year earlier, he would've been a center fielder with consecutive 40-home run seasons. Now, he's a corner outfielder coming off a season in which he missed significant time due to forearm and hand injuries. The main draw remains the same: Granderson's raw power. He's posted an ISO above .200 in each season from 2007 to 2012, and it's easy to write off last year's slippage. Granderson is still speedy, and adds value on the basepaths. There is a lot of swing-and-miss to his game, and while he walks a healthy amount, there has to some concern about his ballooning strikeout rate.
Prediction: Pirates. Granderson might be too costly, but he fits what the Pirates need.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Angels

19. Stephen Drew

Position: SS
DOB: 3/16/1983
Height/Weight: 6'0" 190 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
2011-2013 Averages: .245/.322/.403
Observations: Drew is in a peculiar position. The qualifying offer seemingly makes another one-year deal with Boston the most likely outcome, yet—aside from a rough postseason—he did everything to earn a multi-year deal. He stayed (mostly) healthy and showed pop while continuing to employ a patient approach, which leads to walks and strikeouts alike. Defensively, Drew relies on instincts, reactions, and accuracy, as he's not blessed with a cannon. He continues to struggle with left-handed pitching, but he does enough well to be crowned an everyday shortstop.
Prediction: Red Sox. Boston's flexibility lets it retain Drew without sending Xander Bogaerts to the minors.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Brewers

20. Carlos Ruiz

Position: C
DOB: 1/22/1979
Height/Weight: 5'10" 205 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: .293/.365/.432
Observations: Ruiz followed a banner 2012 season with a suspect 2013. He missed the start of the year while serving a suspension triggered by testing positive for amphetamines. When Ruiz returned, he showed no ability to drive the ball, save for a strong August. In the past, his pitchers have praised his staff-handling and game-calling abilities ad nauseum. Otherwise, Ruiz's game is about a lack of weaknesses rather than an abundance of strengths. Between his age and spotty 2013 season, he could be looking at a one-year deal.
Prediction: Yankees. New York could use a new catcher, and Ruiz isn't going to break the bank.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Twins

21. Joaquin Benoit

Position: RP
DOB: 7/26/1977
Height/Weight: 6'3" 220 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 66 IP, 2.89 ERA, 3.61 SO/BB
Observations: For the first time in his career, Benoit was a closer and not a middle reliever or set-up man. The longtime Ranger took to the job just fine, proving that he had the requisite mental capacity to end games. Benoit is a fastball-splitter-slider pitcher who handles lefties and righties with the same effectiveness. The same cannot be written for baserunners, as he's a liability when it comes to controlling the running game.
Prediction: Tigers. Benoit hangs around Detroit and moves back to his old role.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Indians

22. Grant Balfour

Position: RP
DOB: 12/30/1977
Height/Weight: 6'2" 200 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 66 IP, 2.53 ERA, 2.71 SO/BB
Observations: The foul-mouthed Australian hits the open market after securing 62 saves since the start of the 2012 season. He rides two pitches: a mid-90s fastball and an upper-80s slider; he'll also break out a curveball against left-handed batters. His extreme fly-ball tendencies result in a fair amount of home runs that, when bundled with his control woes, make him a less-than-ideal closer. Still, the stuff is high quality and he's bound to take over the ninth inning for someone.
Prediction: Rangers. Texas' Joe Nathan replacement probably comes internally, but Balfour needs a landing spot.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Giants

23. Omar Infante

Position: 2B
DOB: 12/26/1981
Height/Weight: 5'11" 195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: .288/.318/.414
Observations: The second-best second baseman available. Infante is a talented defender and isn't a black hole with the bat. His offensive game is geared toward producing good averages, and he kept his strikeout rate under 10 percent during his most recent stint with the Tigers. Infante doesn't walk often, but he does have some pop in his bat. Whatever enticed him to add the stolen base to his game during the 2012 season was drilled out or left on its own accord in 2013.
Prediction: Tigers. There's no reason for Detroit to move on.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Angels

24. Dan Haren

Position: SP
DOB: 9/17/1980
Height/Weight: 6'5" 215 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 195 IP, 3.96 ERA, 4.75 SO/BB
Observations: Heading into the All-Star break, Haren had no place on this list; he'd pitched poorly and missed time with shoulder inflammation. He returned and finished strong, however, twinning an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio with a much-improved home run rate. Haren throws strikes and uses his mid-80s cutter, low-90s sinker, and mid-80s splitter to get outs. Health is a concern—he's spent about two weeks on the disabled list in each of the past two seasons, and his medical records have spooked teams in the recent past—and will determine whether he's a useful middle-of-the-rotation starter, or a winter regret.
Prediction: Mariners. Seattle could use another good starter.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Brewers

25. Tim Hudson

Position: SP
DOB: 7/14/1975
Height/Weight: 6'1" 175 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 175 IP, 3.55 ERA, 2.54 SO/BB
Observations: Before breaking his ankle in a bang-bang play in late July, Hudson was en route to another solid season and perhaps a suitable sendoff. Now the talking points are how the veteran groundballer will return, and whether he's willing to entertain non-Atlanta suitors. Presumably, Hudson is seeking a one-year deal, after which he can retire on his own terms. Expect to see Hudson follow his old formula of sinkers, cutters, curves, and splitters no matter which mound he's takes in 2014.
Prediction: Braves. As weird as it sounds, it's hard to picture Hudson in another uniform nowadays.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Pirates

26. Josh Johnson

Position: SP
DOB: 5/10/1984
Height/Weight: 6'7" 250 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
2011-2013 Averages: 111 IP, 4.00 ERA, 2.64 SO/BB
Observations: The two-time All-Star, acquired in a blockbuster winter trade, missed time with numerous arm issues in 2013. When he was active, he pitched as though he were hurt, finishing with career-worst hit, walk, and home- run rates. Johnson at his finest does work with a mid-90s fastball and a pair of breaking balls that wreck batters in two-strike counts. He might be the biggest upside play of the offseason, but the odds of him returning to form appear remote. Some team will pay to try.
Prediction: Astros. Houston can gamble on Johnson rebounding.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Padres

27. A.J. Pierzynski

Position: C
DOB: 12/30/1976
Height/Weight: 6'3" 235 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
2011-2013 Averages: .279/.315/.444
Observations: Pierzynski isn't here for his defense. He's the worst receiver on the list and doesn't have a cannon for an arm. He makes up for those negatives by providing offensive and qualitative value. A late-career power surge combined with his tendency to post solid averages overshadows an aggressive approach at the plate. Pierzynski likes to pull the ball and has a sizable platoon split, yet neither has stopped him thus far. The antagonistic stuff isn't for everyone, and his age makes him an attrition risk, but his teammates tend to speak well of him. Catchers who can handle the bat and the staff are always in demand.
Prediction: Rays. Tampa Bay will need a new veteran backstop in place of Jose Molina. Pierzynski has lobbied the Rays to sign him before.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Giants

28. Jhonny Peralta

Position: SS?
DOB: 5/28/1982
Height/Weight: 6'2" 215 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: .278/.334/.438
Observations: The question is where will Peralta play. Neither the shortstop nor the third-base market are bustling with options, leaving the Dominican native in the proverbial sweet spot. Of course Peralta's defense at both positions is iffy, and the real draw here is the bat. Yet his offense has been erratic in recent seasons, fluctuating between good and bad the past four years. Peralta at his best is capable of hitting for a solid average, walking an acceptable amount, and adding some thump. He must hit to justify his spot in the lineup, no matter the position.
Prediction: Marlins. Miami gets a new third baseman who can add some offense.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Astros

29. Fernando Rodney

Position: RP
DOB: 3/18/1977
Height/Weight: 5'11" 220 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 58 IP, 2.39 ERA, 2.33 SO/BB
Observations: In terms of raw stuff, Rodney is as good as it gets. His heavy upper-90s fastball sets the table for a fantastic changeup that has similar movement. Usability is an issue, however, as Rodney's control wavers from appearance to appearance. His pitches are tough to barrel, yet his casual approach to holding baserunners turns walks into doubles. After some early-season struggles, Rodney pitched well from June on, compiling a 2.45 ERA and 3.11 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Teams shouldn't ignore his messy side but his closing experience, pitch quality, and past two seasons of (mostly) good work will persuade someone to hand him the ninth inning.
Prediction: Rays. Rodney's teammates reportedly believe he's willing to return for less money.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Rockies

30. Edward Mujica

Position: RP
DOB: 5/10/1984
Height/Weight: 6'3" 225 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 69 IP, 2.93 ERA, 5.03 SO/BB
Observations: Nicknamed "Chief" by Jack McKeon, Mujica enjoyed his first taste of ninth-inning action during the 2013 season. All went well until September, when the beefy right-hander allowed 18 hits and nine runs in seven innings. The new label was then removed, and Mujica was seldom used in the postseason. There's no reason he can't return to effectiveness; Mujica throws strikes and keeps batters off balance with liberal usage of his splitter. A team that can overlook his home run tendencies could use him as a closer again, though a return to the middle innings seems probable.
Prediction: A's. Oakland could promote Ryan Cook to closer, or they could sign a seemingly undervalued veteran reliever to fill that slot instead.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Padres

31. Corey Hart

Position: 1B/OF
DOB: 3/24/1982
Height/Weight: 6'6" 235 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: .277/.344/.509
Observations: Hart missed the 2013 season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee. He's indicated he would return to the Brewers at a discounted rate, so he might not be completely in play. If he is willing to leave Milwaukee, then teams searching for right-handed pop should flock his way. Hart has popped 25 or more home runs in his past three seasons, and maintains respectable batting averages and on-base percentages to go with his pole-to-pole thunder. He doesn't have a sizable platoon split, and is best used at first base, where his height is advantageous when snagging high throws.
Prediction: Brewers. Milwaukee could still use a first baseman and, if Hart is serious, it might be too sweet of a deal to pass on.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Diamondbacks

32. Mark Ellis

Position: 2B
DOB: 6/6/1977
Height/Weight: 5'10" 190 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: .258/.314/.353
Observations: Perhaps the most blase player on the list. Ellis derives much of his value nowadays from his glove, as he remains a talented second baseman. What he adds on offense tends to come against left-handed pitching. Ellis doesn't hit for great averages, walk a ton, or offer much power, but he does just enough to provide decent, if below-average, production. He's made trips to the disabled list in each of the past six seasons, casting his durability in a critical light. The second-base market is chilly enough that he should get a starting gig.
Prediction: Royals. Kansas City might get its second baseman through the trade market. If not, Ellis would be an upgrade.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Brewers

33. James Loney

Position: 1B
DOB: 5/7/1984
Height/Weight: 6'3" 220 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
2011-2013 Averages: .281/.329/.398
Observations: Loney is known for his defense at the cold corner. He uses his strong, accurate arm smartly, and displays good body control around the bag with soft hands capable of tough picks. The one negative about his defensive game is his tendency to overplay balls to his right. At bat, Loney employs excellent hand-eye coordination that allows him to put a bat on just about any pitch. He'll use the entire field and, while his surprising raw power rarely shows in game, he can put a charge into the ball on occasion. Loney doesn't fit the position's archetype, but he's coming off a nice rebound season and this is a weak first-base market.
Prediction: Pirates. Pittsburgh upgrades from Justin Morneau.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Pirates

34. Bronson Arroyo

Position: SP
DOB: 2/24/1977
Height/Weight: 6'4" 195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 201 IP, 4.19 ERA, 3.17 SO/BB
Observations: The preeminent right-handed junkballer, Arroyo is as dependable as they come. He's started 30 games in every season since 2004, and has tallied 200 innings in eight of the past nine seasons (finishing with 199 in the excepted year). Arroyo atones for below-average velocity with an understanding of how to disrupt timing. This includes throwing his curveball, changeup, and cutter in varied counts, adding or subtracting from his pitches, and changing his arm slots. Combine that craftiness with a naturally deceptive delivery and he's hard for right-handed hitters to hit—less so for lefties. He's going to yield a lot of home runs in any given season, but he fits as a back-end starter.
Prediction: Twins. Minnesota could use a veteran innings eater.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Indians

35. Scott Kazmir

Position: SP
DOB: 1/24/1984
Height/Weight: 6'0" 185 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
2011-2013 Averages: 80 IP, 4.28 ERA, 3.31 SO/BB
Observations: Using multi-year stats to evaluate Kazmir is pointless since he appeared in one game from 2011 to 2012. Nonetheless, his 2013 return was a mixed bag. He posted good peripherals, yet his hit and home run rates prevented him from a great ERA. Kazmir leans on a three-pitch repertoire: a low-to-mid-90s fastball, slider, and changeup. He missed bats and threw strikes despite at times questionable command. Because of his age and strong second half, there's reason to think he has more upside than most other free agent starters. Even so, he has less reliability.
Prediction: Indians. It's not out of the question that another suitor blows Kazmir's socks off, but for now here's playing it conservative.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Padres

36. Marlon Byrd

Position: OF
DOB: 8/30/1977
Height/Weight: 6'0" 245 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: .275/.320/.431
Observations: It wasn't a surprise when Byrd made the Mets out of spring training, but his performance with the club was shocking. As it was when, after a late-season trade to the Pirates, he continued to hit as if nothing had happened. Banking on a 36-year-old to repeat what amounts to a career season is foolish, and Byrd is best suited as a fourth outfielder. Yet some team figures to give him a chance to prove he can soar at these new heights.
Prediction: Giants. Brian Sabean adds some pop to his lineup by taking a chance on Byrd.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Rangers

37. Nate McLouth

Position: OF
DOB: 10/28/1981
Height/Weight: 5'11" 180 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
2011-2013 Averages: .246/.329/.378
Observations: It wasn't long ago McLouth appeared on his way out of the league. He's since landed in Baltimore and changed his career's direction. McLouth has a solid command of the strike zone and posts decent numbers in each of the slash categories. Left-handers give him issues, so he's more of a platoon player than a candidate to start daily. That could work to his advantage, however, as his past durability issues are too fresh to forget. McLouth re-added the stolen base to his game last season, swiping 30 bags at an 81 percent success rate. He ought to find work under a micromanager.
Prediction: Orioles. Need and familiarity are working in favor of McLouth staying with the Orioles.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Astros

38. David Murphy

Position: OF
DOB: 10/18/1981
Height/Weight: 6'4" 210 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
2011-2013 Averages: .267/.331/.419
Observations: The tall and slender Murphy is coming off a poor walk year. When right, the former Baylor Bear uses his level swing to make a lot of contact. He has a solid approach at the plate, though he quickly expands his zone as the count deepens, and he can be lured into hitting off his front foot. Defensively, Murphy has experience at each outfield position, with most of his time being spent in left. He's a platoon player who shouldn't see much exposure against left-handed pitching. His down season could force him to sign an easy-to-outperform contract.
Prediction: Astros. Murphy should come cheap and should provide solid value before getting flipped at the deadline.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Athletics

39. Brian Wilson

Position: RP
DOB: 3/16/1982
Height/Weight: 6'2" 205 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 24 IP, 2.80 ERA, 1.86 SO/BB
Observations: This is an aggressive ranking since Wilson has notched 16 innings over the last two seasons due to Tommy John surgery. There's obvious upside involved, as the bearded one was an end-game staple for the Giants prior to his injury. When Wilson pitched in 2013, he used his low-90s cutter in concert with his mid-90s fastball to get ahead and force groundballs. His extracurricular antics can annoy, but his personality is tolerable provided he doesn't disappoint in the ninth inning.
Prediction: Angels. Wilson stays in California to shore up the ninth for the Angels.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Diamondbacks

40. Joel Hanrahan

Position: RP
DOB: 10/6/1981
Height/Weight: 6'4" 250 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 45 IP, 2.65 ERA, 2.29 SO/BB
Observations: Hanrahan is a prime example of the information gap between teams and outsiders. He appeared in nine games last season before succumbing to elbow surgery, which figures to keep him on the sidelines until at least mid-May. Last year, Ryan Madson was ranked 30th under similar circumstances, meaning Hanrahan is being docked 11 spots. That could prove too conservative if he returns to action—complete with his patented blazing fastball and wipeout slider—and turns in a Brian Wilson-like performance. For now, it's worthwhile to remember that—as great as the procedure is— Tommy John surgery doesn't have a 100 percent success rate.
Prediction: Indians. Cleveland could use a Chris Perez replacement, and Hanrahan figures to come cheaper than some of the other closers.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Reds

41. Juan Uribe

Position: 3B
DOB: 7/22/1979
Height/Weight: 6'0" 235 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: .237/.295/.360
Observations: Uribe doesn't top anyone's list of ideal third base solutions, but he had a good season and the hot-corner market is barren. The 13-year vet has maintained his strong arm, which is arguably his best asset defensively, and welcomed back his power last season. He was never as bad as his 2011 and 2012 campaigns suggested, and it's fair to wonder how much injuries—including one to his wrist—impacted his play. Uribe likes to swing the bat and step in the bucket—making him vulnerable to soft stuff away—yet it shouldn't surprise anyone if he starts on Opening Day.
Prediction: Dodgers. Where need, money, and familiarity meet.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Nationals

42. Geovany Soto

Position: C
DOB: 1/20/1983
Height/Weight: 6'1" 235 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: .220/.299/.396
Observations: Soto spent the season with Texas, seldom playing as A.J. Pierzynski's backup. When he did appear, he mashed left-handed pitching. Soto still possesses good pull-side power, and his approach continues to result in healthy walk rates. However, his strikeout rate spiked last season, and he's never been an effective hitter against secondary pitches—particularly from right-handed hurlers. Defensively, Soto can be an overenthusiastic field general. He's a decent receiver, but his inaccurate throws limit his caught-stealing rate. Soto should get the chance to play more next season.
Prediction: Blue Jays. Toronto probably can't be thrilled with J.P. Arencibia's production.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Rays

43. Dioner Navarro

Position: C
DOB: 2/9/1984
Height/Weight: 5'9" 205 lbs.
Bats/Throws: S/R
2011-2013 Averages: .260/.324/.425
Observations: Formerly a busted top prospect, Navarro's past two seasons showed renewed offensive life, albeit in limited playing time. The man once nicknamed "Pudgito" tweaked his swing, allowing him to add more loft to the ball. Despite being a switch-hitter, he remains more capable against left-handed pitching, which limits his overall upside. At the same time, Navarro is one of the youngest free agent catchers available, and his defense doesn't subtract from his offensive production. A team that believes in the new Navarro could entrust him with a starting position.
Prediction: Phillies. If Carlos Ruiz signs elsewhere, it's unclear if the Phillies would feel comfortable starting Erik Kratz most days.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Cardinals

44. Mike Morse

Position: Hitter/1B/OF
DOB: 3/22/1982
Height/Weight: 6'5" 245 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: .277/.325/.481
Observations: Here's Morse in 11 words: a large human being with raw strength and no defensive position. Hulk appearances and pole-to-pole power aside, the former shortstop hits for better averages and walks less often than the typical oaf. A strong arm wasn't enough to keep Morse on the left side of the infield, and it's not apparent that he'd be a defensive asset anywhere on the diamond. He's unlikely to return to his 2011 form, when he received MVP consideration, but health and defensive concerns have disappointingly limited him to one career 20-home run season. If a team figures out where to put Morse, then he should get a shot at number two in 2014.
Prediction: Rays. Morse has supposedly been on Tampa Bay's radar for a while now.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Cubs

45. Scott Feldman

Position: SP
DOB: 2/7/1983
Height/Weight: 6'7" 230 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
2011-2013 Averages: 112 IP, 4.32 ERA, 2.55 SO/BB
Observations: Feldman greets the market in better shape this winter than last, when he signed a one-year deal worth $7 million with the Cubs. The Amish-looking northpaw has a three-pitch arsenal that includes a low-90s sinker, upper-80s cutter, and curveball. He's willing to pitch backward—particularly against left-handed batters—but must compensate for the lack of an out pitch by keeping the ball down in the strike zone. Expect Feldman to take his spot near the back of a rotation with a better deal in hand.
Prediction: Phillies. These back-end starters have to go somewhere.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Brewers

46. Jason Hammel

Position: SP
DOB: 9/2/1982
Height/Weight: 6'6" 225 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
2011-2013 Averages: 143 IP, 4.46 ERA, 1.92 SO/BB
Observations: Hammel hits the open market after a down season. He's never thrown more than 200 big-league innings in a season, and hasn't topped 150 since 2011. When right, Hammel works with two low-to-mid-90s fastballs and a plethora of secondary pitches. He pitches up in the zone more than his respectable groundball rates suggest, and that spotty command exposes him against left-handed hitters. Hammel had a few nice seasons in the past and profiles as a no. 4 starter; he's just not going to be paid as well as he might've had he reached free agency a year earlier.
Prediction: Mets. Ditto.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Tigers

47. Paul Maholm

Position: SP
DOB: 6/25/1982
Height/Weight: 6'2" 220 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
2011-2013 Averages: 168 IP, 3.89 ERA, 2.28 SO/BB
Observations: Maholm is a back-of-the-rotation starter who relies on locating and mixing speeds. He pounds the zone with a varied arsenal, including a high-80s sinker, and generates a good amount of groundballs. One sticking point with Maholm is his durability; he hasn't topped 200 innings since 2008, and has finished below 180 innings in two of the past three seasons. Another is his rough finish to the year, which led the Braves to start Freddy Garcia in the postseason. If Maholm checks out physically, he could eye a one-year deal with the intent to restore value.
Prediction: Orioles. If Baltimore lets Jason Hammel and Scott Feldman walk, they'll need another starter or two.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Athletics

48. Jason Vargas

Position: SP
DOB: 2/2/1983
Height/Weight: 6'0" 215 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
2011-2013 Averages: 189 IP, 4.04 ERA, 2.38 SO/BB
Observations: Another command-and-control southpaw, Vargas earns his keep by eating innings and producing decent but not great statistics. He survives with upper-80s velocity thanks to an abundance of faith in his changeup; he's willing to throw the pitch whenever and to whomever, preventing batters from getting their timing right. Vargas also throws a breaking ball, primarily against lefties. It's not a sexy package and he allows too many fly balls for his style to work in certain parks, but he should find a home in the back of a rotation.
Prediction: Indians. Cleveland could use a dependable rotation piece.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Diamondbacks

49. Raul Ibanez

Position: DH
DOB: 6/2/1972
Height/Weight: 6'2" 225 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
2011-2013 Averages: .243/.300/.451
Observations: Ibanez is tough to place but deserves a spot on the list nonetheless. There are reasons to dislike him as a potential signing: he's a poor defender, he's old, and he's ineffective against left-handed pitching. Yet Ibanez hit 29 home runs last season and should get another crack as a platoon DH. He's earned praise throughout his career for excellent conditioning habits and clubhouse presence—characteristics that make him appealing to teams good and bad. Of course the chance for a collapse is legitimate, but it shouldn't be a surprise if he outperforms some players ranked ahead of him.
Prediction: Mariners. Seattle didn't trade Ibanez at the deadline, and it's obvious they value him beyond his on-the-field production.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Indians

50. Kelly Johnson

Position: INF/OF
DOB: 2/22/1982
Height/Weight: 6'1" 200 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
2011-2013 Averages: .226/.307/.395
Observations: Johnson takes the last spot due to his versatility and pop. The one-time shortstop played four positions last season, including taking his first big-league reps at the infield corners. Offensively, Johnson marries a decent approach with good power. He's had some inconsistency problems in the past, and he saw his production and performance nosedive late in 2013, but he makes for a solid bench or platoon player at a low cost.
Prediction: Yankees. Johnson gives New York a backup option at a few positions.
Random Number Generator's Prediction: Twins

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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