Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, spoke with an American League executive who gave him his predictions on what the top ten free agents could get this winter.
1. Josh Hamilton, Rangers OF (Prediction: $150 million, five years)
That $30-million-a-year guarantee would represent a record, eclipsing Alex Rodriguez‘s $275 million, 10-year contract (though A-Rod also has $30 million in historic homer bonuses). Considering the talent, that guess may not be too far off. Hamilton is said to want to be paid like an elite player, and he probably will be, though it’s hard to imagine him getting the length of the Joey Votto, Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder deals considering Hamilton’s history. Even in another brilliant year (42 home runs, 123 RBI), he’s had bouts with a sinus headache and chewing tobacco. The Rangers haven’t been one of those teams to go for the crazy lengths, so he’d likely have to settle for five years to stay (“if that,” one person in the know said about the Rangers intentions). One thing that could hurt him is that the Dodgersdon’t appear to be in need of an outfielder.
2. Zack Greinke, Angels SP (Prediction: $125 million, six years)
The executive started with the idea that the Brewers already tried at least $100 million for five years, and went logically from there. Greinke always has his own ideas, and one person who knows him said a few months ago he believed the Braves, Angels and Cardinals were the best fits, though the Cards seem well-stocked for pitchers. The Dodgers are a threat to get anyone good, and Nationals GM Mike Rizzo tried to lure Greinke two years ago with a similar $100 million bid. So that’s two for basically the same price he’s turned down. One thing about Greinke we know: he won’t go to a team unless he’s convinced they are ready to win.
3. B.J. Upton, Rays OF (Prediction: $60 million, five years)
There’s a debate about whether the Rays will make the qualifying offer of around $13 million, but execs believe they will since his very nice all-around season with 24 home runs and 30 stolen bases means he’ll get at least four years elsewhere. Actually, five sounds about right. It’s a pretty good center field market, though, with Michael Bourn and Shane Victorino also free agents.
4. Edwin Jackson, Nationals SP (Prediction: $55 million, four years)
He’s better than his 9-10 record. Isn’t he always better than his record, which is now 69-70 for his career. The 162 strikeouts and 1.18 WHIP are more emblematic of this durable still-under-30 pitcher. The Nats shouldn’t hesitate to make the $13-million qualifying offer, as he’s anxious to get a multiyear deal after turning down $27 million for three years from the Pirates to take $11 million for one. At this point, that sounds like a terrific decision. Though, I don’t see him matching the exec’s prediction, as there were similar early guesses last year that turned out to be too high.
5. Kyle Lohse, Cardinals SP (Prediction: $45 million, three years)
Lohse has quietly entered the Cy Young picture with a 15-3 record (it could be even better as several games were blown by the bullpen), and 2.71 ERA. The aim could be for a deal to beat C.J. Wilson who got $75 million for five years. But since he’s a couple years older, the guess here could prove more realistic.
You can read the rest of Heyman’s predictions here which includes comments on Jake Peavy, Shane Victorino, Hiroki Kuroda, A.J. Pierzynski and Kevin Youkilis.
The only names on the list that jump out at me are Upton and Victorino who would both fill an obvious need for the Mets right now. That said, even the two years, $25 million for the Flyin’ Hawaiian may be too much for his talents considering he is in decline. He’s not that interesting to me at that price tag, but I would be interested in 2/$15MM.