Friday, October 25, 2013
World Series players possibly on move
By Jim Bowden
David Freese and Carlos Beltran could be playing elsewhere next season.
As the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals battle it out in the 2013 World Series, no one's thinking past the next game, with perhaps the exception of the two managers as they plan out their pitching and lineups. For the players, it's the here and now.
However, there's a very good chance that several key players for both teams will be wearing different uniforms come February, when spring training arrives. And as the players try to win today, their general managers already have started looking at the roster adjustments they will have to make.
Here are nine players in the Fall Classic who could very easily be playing for different teams next season.
1. Jacoby Ellsbury | OF | Boston Red Sox The Red Sox would love to be able to re-sign Ellsbury to a long-term contract, and Ellsbury would prefer to stay in Boston. However, he's also represented by Scott Boras, who has a proven track record of negotiating record-breaking deals for his clients, leveraging for the most money and most years unless his client insists otherwise.
Ellsbury clearly is the best free-agent outfielder on the market and certainly will get more than B.J. Upton and Michael Bourn earned as free agents last offseason. Ellsbury's history of injuries and growing sentiment that his 30-home run campaign in 2011 was an aberration might hinder his market with some clubs. However, it only takes one team to believe in him, and when we see the overpays that went to Hunter Pence, Andre Ethier and Jayson Werth, it's realistic to believe this negotiation could end up in a contract worth somewhere around six years and more than $100 million.
The Red Sox have had a history of walking away from players who other teams are willing to break the bank for, such as Pedro Martinez and Jason Bay. Ellsbury will have clubs lining up for him, so it won't surprise me if they do the same thing here once offers start to spin out of control. The Red Sox can then replace Ellsbury with Jackie Bradley Jr., whether he’s ready or not.
2. Carlos Beltran | OF | St. Louis Cardinals Beltran signed with the Cardinals because he thought it would give him the best shot of getting to the World Series and it has certainly worked out that way. The Cardinals would love to have him return and he'd love to stay, but based on the way the Cardinals do business, it's doubtful they will offer Beltran the maximum years and dollars -- something that might be of utmost importance to him this time because it could be his final substantial contract.
3. Mike Napoli | 1B | Boston Red Sox Napoli agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal last November with the Red Sox only to see it vaporize after a routine physical exposed a hip injury. He ended up instead signing a one-year, $5 million deal with incentives that eventually earned him $13 million, his original contract's average annual value.
He'll enter the market again and this time with leverage after proving the hip is fine. Several teams will vie for his service, most notably the Rangers -- his former team that recognized it was a mistake to let him go, especially after Lance Berkman's health issues blew up in their face.
4. Jarrod Saltalamacchia | C | Boston Red Sox Though generally a rare commodity in baseball, left-handed hitting free-agent catchers are plentiful this offseason, including Saltalamacchia, Brian McCann and A.J. Pierzynski. (Salty is actually a switch-hitter, but he is much stronger from the left side.)
The Sox like the platoon of Saltalamacchia and David Ross and aren't completely sold on rookie Ryan Lavarnway. However, Saltalamacchia could very easily price himself out of the Red Sox's range.
5. Matt Adams | 1B | St. Louis Cardinals Adams will continue to develop into an impact middle-of-the-order bat and won't be eligible for salary arbitration for two more years. If the Cardinals are not able to bring Beltran back next season, then they will move Allen Craig to right field and Adams will be the Cards' long-term solution at first base.
However, if they re-sign Beltran and Craig returns to first base, then Adams would be their top trade chip to upgrade shortstop and/or center field -- the only two positions on the field where they really need to improve. Of course, the Cardinals highly value Adams' left-handed power bat and are not actively looking to deal him. He'll only go if it's a deal for a position player who improves their team significantly.
6. Jake Peavy | RHP | Boston Red Sox The Red Sox traded their top defensive shortstop, Jose Iglesias, in a three-way deal at the trade deadline to acquire Peavy and improve their fourth starter slot, hoping that would lead them to the World Series. It worked. Now they might look to deal Peavy in a reverse version of the original deal and try to acquire a young prospect at the same talent level as Iglesias.
They like Peavy, who is signed for 2014 and has a vesting option for 2015, but they have a pipeline full of young pitching -- Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman (pitching out of their bullpen now), Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes and Henry Owens -- and want to open up the starting rotation for the guys their player development people believe will be ready in 2014. With a very thin free-agent starting pitching market, Peavy's value will be high this November.
Possible fits: Angels, Blue Jays, Rockies, Giants, Brewers
7. David Freese | 3B | St. Louis Cardinals Freese has battled knee, calf and leg issues for years. This certainly has hurt his offensive numbers, but his range is now far below average, and manager Mike Matheny routinely inserts Daniel Descalso late in games for defensive purposes.
Freese made $3.15 million this season in his first year of arbitration, and the Cards might decide to move him while he still has two years of team control left and isn't too expensive. If they do, the rumblings have been their internal plan would include moving second baseman Matt Carpenter to third base and letting rookie Kolten Wong finally get his chance to play second base every day.
Possible fits: Angels, Yankees, Cardinals
8. Stephen Drew | SS | Boston Red Sox Drew's consistent defense and range to both sides have been critical to the Red Sox's success. However, this also could be his last season with the Red Sox as rookie sensation Xander Bogaerts seems poised to take over the position full time next year and Will Middlebrooks mans third base.
Nevertheless, Drew really has increased his value. Many around baseball took great notice of his contributions to the Oakland A's last September, when he performed for a playoff-bound club down the stretch, and he has done the same this year.
Possible fits: St. Louis Cardinals, Mets and Pirates.
9. Edward Mujica | RHP | St. Louis Cardinals Mujica's days with the Cardinals probably are over but not because he faded down the stretch. There is no reason he won't be able to bounce back next season.
With a winter of rest and conditioning, he should return to form. However, with the development of hard-throwing youngsters Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Seth Maness and Kevin Siegrist, he has become expendable. If the Cardinals were offered the right deal, I wouldn't be surprised if they moved him.