Who in ’06?

Today, Rotoworld came out with a look at the free agent hitting class and also predicted where they would end up. I found this a fascinating topic (plus some of their choices on where people would end up – most which I agreed with) and so I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon. I am not going to copy the blurb they said, because that would be too long, but you can find their blurbs at the Strike Zone Archives. I’ll post the name, where Rotoworld thought they’d end up, my notes, then where I think they will end up… at least, at this point in time.
C Ramon Hernandez, Padres – Mets 4y/26m – I agree with this signing as the Mets are going to be in need of a catcher. However, considering that a lot of teams always are in need of catching, this could be a bidding war considering he’s the best catcher on the market, and he’s looking for Jason Varitek Money, and will probably get it. Mets, 4y/36m
C Mike Piazza, Mets – Orioles 1y/5m – Piazza is pretty much done and needs to head to the AL so he can catch and play DH. Rotoworld hit it on the head with the Orioles because not only could he split time with Javy Lopez at both positions, but the Orioles need some more mashers, and will love adding Piazza’s name to their roster. Piazza will probably hold out for a multi-year contract though, and should get it. Orioles, 2y/9m
C Bengie Molina, Angels – Angels 3y/11m – This one is reasonable here, but the Angels have all sorts of options at catcher, and also have a great prospect in Jeff Mathis. It seems unlikely they’d pay for Molina, but should stay in the bidding long enough to drive the price up. Padres, 3y/14m
C Brad Ausmus, Astros – N/A – The Astros are also going to be in the market for a catcher, and since Hernandez and Molina are off the market, should go back to Ausmus because if they’re not going to get someone better, why not bring back a defensive whiz who pitchers love working with? Astros, 1y/2m
1B Paul Konerko, White Sox – White Sox 4y/40m – Resigning with the White Sox is pretty much a near bet, but I would have to think the Yankees would look to be involved. They more than likely want to put Giambi at DH fulltime, and Konerko can handle the glovework at first. Factor in that Paul Konerko is a Yankees fan, and I have to say this ends up a lot like the Pavano negotiations last year, except the Sox in question are different. Yankees, 4y/50m
1B Erubiel Durazo, Athletics – Yankees 1y/2.5m – Don’t like this one. I think Durazo can command more on the market. In addition, he can’t field at all. Durazo and Giambi would be a disaster for the Yankees. There are a number of teams I think can get into the bidding here – the Twins and Rangers. Considering the Rangers pony up the money more than the Twins, I gotta pick the Rangers here. Rangers, 2y/6m + Option
1B Rafael Palmiero – Retirement – Retirement would be the smart choice, but I have a feeling he’s going to want to prove steroids had nothing to do with his success, and will take any job to prove it. Devil Rays, 1y/2m
1B Kevin Millar – Orioles 1y/3m -It makes sense, but I’m not so sure the Orioles would do this. They’ve got Jay Gibbons who can fill in, a possibility at Piazza, and Walter Young in the minors. If anything, they’d probably go after people like JT Snow or Daryle Ward. On the other hand, the Red Sox don’t have any palatable choices at first base for next year. Roberto Petagine will probably return, but knowing the Red Sox, they’ll refuse to have Ortiz spell Petagine at first and will want a backup first baseman. Youkilis will probably have the 3B job next year, so they’ll need someone to back first up, and the fact that Millar can patrol the outfield and fill in at third should be appealing. Factor in his clubhouse impact (which, like it or not, is extremely positive) and his desire to stay here, I can see him signing on as a platoon partner to Trot Nixon and backup to Manny and Petagine against righties. Make his role clear, and he should be fine. Red Sox, 2y/4m
2B Craig Biggio – Astros 1y/3.5m – Is there any doubt?
2B Mark Grudzielanek – Cardinals 2y/5m – He’ll probably stay put, but I see a bidding war here. If the Rangers trade Alfonso Soriano, as I expect, they’ll need a secondbaseman. The Twins will look at him, the Giants, the Mariners, etc. He’ll stay in St. Louis, but not for just five million. Cardinals, 2y/8m + Option
2B Bret Boone – Devil Rays, 1y/1.5m – I agree 100%. Which is kind of sad, because Jorge Cantu deserves to play.
2B Tony Graffanino – N/A – this is dependent on a number of things. If the Rangers trade Soriano, I would think they are very interested. If not, then he might not find a starting job, unless he wants to go back to the Royals. I’m going to have to guess that he’s more interested in playing time and money than he is winning, because he signed with the Royals over us two years ago. It all depends if the Royals want to go that route. Soriano traded: Rangers, 2y/4m … Soriano stays: Red Sox, 1y/3.5m + Mutual Option
2B Mark Bellhorn – possible competition with Pedroia – Forget it. He’s gone. Twins and Mets are a possibility. His versatality can be useful.
3B Joe Randa – Padres 1y/3.5m – It makes sense, but I doubt it’ll happen. Randa’s a nice glove, a nice personality, but to succeed at the plate, will need an offensive ballpark. The White Sox aren’t entirely happy with Joe Crede, and Randa could fit in nicely. White Sox, 1y/3.5m
3B Bill Mueller – Twins 2y/6m – I’m iffy on this here. I think Mueller has a good chance to return to the Red Sox, but the Red Sox will probably just give Youkilis the job (side note: he really SHOULD be playing more…) and move on ahead without Mueller’s continual injury concerns. Mueller will probably go to whoever gives him the most money, because he knows his career is at the end of the line. Nationals, 2y/8m
3B Jose Valentin – Indians 1y/2m – I like this signing here, it is typical Indian signing. The Dodgers are going to be in the market for a 3B and likely dissapoint in that area unless they’re willing to take on Mike Lowell’s contract.
SS Rafael Furcal – Diamondbacks 5y/40m – I also like this move, because the Diamondbacks will be in the market for a shortstop and will have the most money to burn out of all candidates.
SS Nomar Garciaparra – Cubs 1y/6m – No reason not to agree.
SS Alex Gonzalez – Marlins 3y/17m – I’ve never really heard anything about A-Gon, but he has always been steady with the glove and is average with the bat. Aside from Furcal, there’s no one special out there so the Marlins will probably resign him for that price.
SS Rich Aurilia – look and fail to find a starting job – He has many options here if he’s willing to become a full fledged utilityman. The Cubs, Twins, Yankees, Phillies … a lot of teams could use one. Here’s a limb to go out on … Dodgers, 1y/1m
SS Pokey Reese – N/A – A lot of teams will bid for his services. I would think the Red Sox will be included, but he’ll go where he can get playing time. He’ll try to bank on Cristian Guzman not turning it around. Nationals, 1y/2m
OF Johnny Damon – Red Sox 5y/47.5m – Yes, the Yankees should bid the price up, but I have a hard time believing the Red Sox will go to 5 years. I would have to say their final price would be 4/40 and I’ve been saying since the off-season there’s a dark horse who I think will go out and nab him. Giants, 5y/50m
OF Hideki Matsui – Yankees 3y/27m – Makes a lot of sense on the surface. However, I’m going to buck the trend and say that he’ll get offered more money from another place and will take it. Stienbrenner might not be happy about it, but he’ll go out and get a replacement.Mariners, 3y/32m + Option
OF Brian Giles – Astros 2y/18m – The replacement for Hideki Matsui. I don’t think the Astros will go as high as 9 million a year for Giles, but the Yankees won’t hesitate, and will even throw a third year in. Yankees, 3y/27m
OF Sammy Sosa – Marlins 1y/7m – I don’t think anyone should be interested in signing Sosa, especially for 7 million, but that’s my prerogative. If the Marlins deal Mike Lowell, then they could be players, but I think they’ll be hesitant to spend big bucks on Sosa. The Astros would fit perfectly, and the Cardinals makes all kinds of silly sense. But the offensive potential of Minute Maid Park will sway him. Astros, 1y/6m + heavy incentives + Option
OF Preston Wilson – Cubs 2y/12m – Agree with the team, not the years. Cubs, 3y/15m
OF Matt Lawton – Cubs 2y/12m – This is also another possibility, but this is dependent on a few things, which I don’t think makes the Cubs palatable. Wilson has more offensive potential than Lawton and isn’t as horrible defensively. Jerry Hairston Jr deserves more playing time and should get it in Cubland. If not, he should be traded, and the Cubs could net an outfielder in return. If Wilson leaves the Nationals, the Nationals will be looking for a replacement. Nationals, 2y/10m
OF Reggie Sanders – Cardinals 1y/5.5m – Should happen.
OF Juan Encarnacion – Nationals 2y/12m – Encarnacion to the Nationals makes all sorts of crazy sense.
OF Jacque Jones – Orioles 3y/15m – I could see the Orioles, although the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, Marlins, and Cubs should all be involved. It will take more than 3/15 to sign with the Orioles, but that’s his likely destination. Orioles, 3y/18m
OF Richard Hildago – Royals 1y/4m – It’s possible, but I think another team will give him just as much to start for them … a team with more potential. Tigers, 1y/4m + Option
OF Rondell White – N/A – One of the losers in the OF bidding will grab White. I see the Dodgers here. Dodgers, 1y/2.5m
OF Jose Cruz Jr. – N/A – He’ll take a starting job over an outfield backup. Royals, 1y/3m
OF Kenny Lofton – N/A – The Phillies are going to still need him. Phillies, 1y/3m + Option
OF Bernie Williams – Starting for the Royals or some other nondescript team, or staying as a platoon player with the Yankees? Easy choice, although if I were the Red Sox, I take a look at Bernie. His defense and arm, while terrible, apparently still get the job done, and his plate patience is remarkable. Yankees, 1y/5m
There are, of course, other free agents that will be rattling around, but these are the biggest names and the ones sure not to be free agents. Possible option buyouts or non-tenders weren’t included here. That’s my look at the free agent class, and I think there are interesting options year. People say this class is weak, but I’m not so sure it is. It lacks star punch, but I think there’s nice options here for quite a few clubs. Sean Douglass and Bronson Arroyo in a few hours. It’s likely we’ll see Jon Papelbon tomorrow…