Major League Baseball is currently doing very well business wise. Attendance was the sixth best in history with a total of almost 75,000,000. There are more teams competing and making the playoffs -seven out of top ten teams with highest payrolls didn't make the playoffs last year. Plus, the new television deal kicks in for the 2014 season, so every team will have more money to throw around this winter.
|2013 Topps Heritage|
Most of the free agents available are veterans who are past or leaving their prime years or coming off injuries. Teams are hesitant to sign a player who is in early 30s to a long term deal, so you might see shorter deals at higher dollars.
If you watched the baseball playoffs this past month, you probably noticed that pitching dominated and the lack of power hitters. These are the two areas the general managers are coveting the most this winter. Home run numbers are down to where they were in the 70s and early 80s. and there isn't a lot in the market. Outfielders Nelson Cruz, Carlos Beltran and Curtis Granderson, catchers Brian McCann and A.J. Pierzynski and first baseman Mike Napoli will be mentioned the most. Leadoff batters Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin Soo Choo will also be highly sought after.
Available relievers are lead by Joe Nathan. Nathan has been very consistent throughout his career. The 38 year old closer is actually the all time leader in converting saves in terms of percentage. Other closers available are Fernando Rodney, Brian Wilson and Grant Balfour. We might see some setup men get deals just as good as the closers as all pitching is such a premium now, no matter if it is for beginning, middle or end of games.
Why very little amount of youth available in free agency? It's because teams are locking up their young stars to long term deals years before they become eligible for free agency or arbitration. If a team wants to get younger or fill a void during the winter, they would have to do it via trade. With the lack of headline free agents on the market each year, we might see more blockbuster trades in the future. The names mentioned the most this winter are starters Max Scherzer of Detroit and David Price of Tampa. Texas could trade also trade one of their middle infielders Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus or even Jurickson Profar in trying to fill a need. Teams are willing to trade these stars because either they are looking to lower payroll or get a return in investment instead of getting close to nothing when the players go elsewhere in free agency.
I hope I gave you some things to keep in mind when your favorite team or players are mentioned during the hot stove league. Good luck to your teams this winter as we all looking forward to Spring Training.