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MLB Top 30 Free Agent Signing Predictions

By: Emilio Lacques-Zapien (Twitter: @EmilioLZ323)

Believe it or not, the Winter Meetings for all MLB General Managers are just around the corner (December 7). Here are my predictions as to where the remaining of the top 30 free agents will sign before the start of the 2016 season and for how much. Front line starting pitching and outfielders are robust this offseason, while relief pitching and catchers are scarce. This could affect how clubs decide to fill holes in their rosters. There have already been a steady flow of trades this month, and I expect several more as we move towards December and teams look to find cost effective ways to improve their rosters. This list and order are wholly subjective.

Zack Greinke

  1. Zack Greinke, SP: Giants. 6 years/$190 mill. It would be a win-win for San Francisco; take away the Dodger ace and give Bumgarner a right-hand man. They are expected to have plenty of cash to spend this offseason, and Greinke’s success could be sustained as he ages in that spacious ballpark. As scary as it sounds, not paying a 32-year old with a ton of innings on his right arm until he’s 38 may be the smarter play here. Watch out for L.A. to pull off more creative trades to land younger, talented starting pitchers like Shelby Miller from Atlanta. David Price
  2. David Price, SP: Cubs. 6 years/$200 mill. NL Manager of the year Joe Maddon and Price are known to have a great relationship, the Cubs are a young and vibrant club on the rise, and Price wants to hit in the NL. They need to do something big to set themselves apart from The Cardinals and Pirates long-term.
  3. Jason Heyward, OF: Cardinals. 7 years/$154 mill. The J-Hey kid has openly stated he loved playing for St. Louis and being a part of “the Cardinal way.” GM Mozeliak usually shies away from long-term contracts, but Heyward is young and athletic enough to dish out the necessary cash.
  4. Johnny Cueto, SP: Red Sox. 5 years/$120 mill. They obviously need a front line starter, but Greinke and Price are going to sign with National League teams. Cueto’s contract should also be relatively cheaper than those two. Justin Upton
  5. Justin Upton, OF: Nationals. 7 years/$154 mill. Nats GM Mike Rizzo drafted Justin Upton, and Washington’s roster is in win-now mode. Pair J-Up with Harper in the middle of the lineup to make a run at taking the NL East back from the Mets in 2016 and beyond. ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 19: Chris Davis #19 of the Baltimore Orioles reacts after striking out against the Texas Rangers in the top of the second inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on July 19, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 163494589
  6. Chris Davis, 1B: Orioles. 6 years/$125 mill. After losing both Nelson Cruz and Melky Cabrera last offseason, Baltimore can’t afford to lose the 2015 MLB Home Run King (47 bombs) as well.Aug 21, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; New York Mets center fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) during the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
  7. Yoenis Cespedes, OF: Padres. 6 years/$120 mill. San Diego will lose Upton, and GM A.J. Preller has proven he’s not afraid to go after heavy hitters. Cespedes (.295 Avg, 35 HR, 105 RBI) is an exciting talent that will help fill the seats and possibly drag the under-performing Padres out of mediocrity. Jordan Zimmerman
  8. Jordan Zimmermann, SP: Dodgers. 5 years/$120 mill. As the reality of 32-year old Greinke leaving L.A. sets in, Friedman and Zaidi will target the next best and youngest power-righty of the free agent class to fill the void behind Kershaw. With the possibility of having four left handed starters (Kershaw, Ryu, Anderson, Wood) in the mix, they can’t afford not to ink a talented righty. In addition to J.Z, the Dodgers could look to add another veteran righty like Doug Fister or pull off a trade with Cleveland for Kluber, Carrasco, or Salazar.
    MLB: Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox-Game 1
  9. Alex Gordon, OF: Angels. 5 years/$100 mill. Anaheim needs left-handed hitters to complement Trout and an aging Pujols, and left-field is a massive hole they need to fill.
    Yovani Gallardo
  10. Yovani Gallardo, SP: Tigers. 4 years/$70 mill. Detroit missed the playoffs again after the departure of ace Max Scherzer to the Nationals. Star players Verlander, Cabrera and Martinez aren’t getting younger, and they need more innings out of their starters.Ian+Desmond
  11. Ian Desmond, SS: White Sox. 4 years/$64 mill. Chicago is in the market for middle infielders, Desmond has a lot to prove, and they could move him around the diamond if necessary.
    Ben Zorbist
  12. Ben Zobrist, 2B: Mets. 3 years/$51 mill. The Mets watched Zobrist and Kansas City out-duel their talented pitchers for five games, and they loved his skill-set. They will need to replace Murphy at second base, and thanks to his versatility, BZ could also relieve Conforto in left field and others defensively.jeff-samardzija-white-sox
  13. Jeff Samardzija, SP: Yankees. 5 years/$90 mill. Samardzija had a down year in 2015, and the Yankees won’t want to add another bloated contract to their aging veteran core. Cashman should be willing to take a gamble on Samardzija and slide him in behind Tanaka in the rotation.Mike Leake
  14. Mike Leake, SP: Giants. 5 years/$80 mill. The Giants are known to hang on to their own guys; and though Leake underperformed after they traded for him, he should do fine at AT&T park. 
    Daniel Murphy
  15. Daniel Murphy, 2B: Angels. 4 years/$70 mill. The Angels need lefty bats and have yet to successfully filled the gap at second base since trading Howie Kendrick.Scott Kazmir
  16. Scott Kazmir, SP: Astros. 4 years/$68 mill. A second chance at becoming a homecoming hero should be appealing to Kazmir, and Houston can’t afford to lose their starting pitching depth if they want to get back to the post season in 2016 with their young core.Kenta-Maeda-Japan
  17. Kenta Maeda, SP: D’backs. 5 years/$70 mill. Dave Stewart apparently loves Maeda, and Arizona needs pitching depth, especially after trading Jeremy Hellickson.
  18. Dexter Flower, OF: Cubs. 4 years/$60 mill. Fowler fits in well both skill-wise and in the clubhouse with Maddon’s fun-loving and supportive young core. The athletic switch-hitter (.250 Avg, 17 HR, .346 OBP) is valuable on both sides of the ball. Why change what has worked?Matt Wieters
  19. Matt Wieters, C: Orioles. Accepted Qualifying Offer.Howie Kendrick
  20. Howie Kendrick, 2B: Yankees. 4 years/$60 mill. The Bronx Bombers got no offensive production from their second basemen last year, and the Mets will out-bid them for Zobrist. Kendrick (.295 AVG, 9 HR, 54 RBI) is a consistent bat and unafraid of the big stage. Wie-Yin Chen
  21. Wie-Yin Chen, SP: Blue Jays. 5 years/$80 mill. After losing Price, Toronto will do what they can to replace the innings and production; and Chen is an underrated left-handed starter (11-8, 3.34 ERA).Ian Kennedy
  22. Ian Kennedy, SP: Orioles. 3 years/$40 mill. GM Dan Duquette has made it clear he wants to add at least one more starting pitcher after the Orioles disappointing 2015 campaign. They might not want to spend the big bucks, so Kennedy could be a sufficient option to replace Chen. Look for the O’s to be aggressive in the trade market as well. John Lackey
  23. John Lackey, SP: Cardinals. 3 years/$40 mill. Lackey should have another legitimate shot at obtaining another World Series ring by sticking with the Cards, where he had another impressive season (13-10, 2.77 ERA). After losing Lance Lynn to injury, retaining the big Texan is essential.hisashi-iwakuma
  24. Hisashi Iwakuma, SP: Mariners. 3 years/$48 mill. According to the rumor mill, Seattle wants Iwakuma back and there is mutual interest on his end. After a letdown season, the Mariners hope to both maintain their guys and also fill some other holes.colby Rasmus
  25. Colby Rasmus, OF: Astros. Accepted Qualifying Offer.Brett Anderson
  26. Brett Anderson, SP: Dodgers. Accepted Qualifying Offer.St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers
  27. Gerardo Parra, OF: Royals. 3 years/$30 mill. Alex Gordon will likely command a contract too expensive for K.C. to retain him. Parra is another gritty veteran who loves to compete and makes solid contact, fitting perfectly into the Royals established championship style. Denard Span
  28. Denard Span, OF: Mariners. 3 years/$39 mill. It’s no secret that Seattle needs outfield help. They traded for Leonys Martin from Texas, and Span would provide further stability, contact and solid defense.Oday
  29. Darren O’Day, RP: Tigers. 4 years/$36 mill. Detroit has been wheeling and dealing after watching their NL Central rival Royals take the crown. Their bullpen was the fourth worst in baseball last year (4.38 ERA,) and O’Day is the best reliever available.Soria
  30. Joakim Soria, RP: Dodgers. 3 years/$24 mill. The Dodgers will come into 2016 having retained their three best relievers in 2015-Kenley Jansen, J.P. Howell, and Chris Hatcher. But the rest of the pack was inconsistent, and if they want to win a championship, they should spend a bit to add another strong righty to the core.

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