Players will be allowed to sign with their new teams on Friday and trading season has already started, so let’s take a look at the top 10 players who will be wearing a new uniform next season.
1. Roy Halladay – Phillies
Halladay was nearly dealt to Philadelphia at the Trade Deadline, but the Phillies opted for Cliff Lee for a cheaper price. Had they dealt for him last season at the deadline, they probably would have had to give up top pitching and hitting prospects Kyle Drabek and Dominic Brown, along with rookie sensation J.A. Happ. With a few less months of Doc, Philly will only have to give up Drabek and Brown. At best, Drabek could be Halladay, and they won’t need Brown if they have Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, and prospect Michael Taylor.
2. Matt Holliday – Red Sox
Many fans think that the Yankees will be after Holliday, but corner outfielder is not an area of need. They would like to keep the DH position open to give an off-day to Posada or A-Rod every few days, assuming they sign either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui. Boston needs to muscle up their lineup, especially in the Left Field vacancy, unless they want to go with Jeremy Hermida. They will pony up and sign Holliday for a $110 million contract over 6 years.
3. John Lackey – Mets
The major players for Lackey will be the Angels, Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, and Dodgers, all major markets. Lackey should do what Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia did, although they were both traded, and sign with in the NL, which is far inferior to the AL. The Mets will be able to give Lackey the bigger contract, around $90 million for 6 years, and he will be form one of the better 1-2 punches with Johan Santana.
4. Jason Bay – Mariners
After the Red Sox sign Holliday, the major players for Bay will be the Yankees, Mets, Mariners, and Giants. The Giants don’t have the money after giving huge contracts to Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand; the Yankees, again, won’t have the motivation, and the Mets have a poor hitters ballpark. The Mariners think that they can compete next season with a team featuring Felix Hernandez, Ichiro, and now Jason Bay. He will get a slight better deal than Boston offered over the summer at $80 million over 5 years.
5. Adrian Gonzalez – Boston
New Padres GM, and former Red Sox assistant, Jed Hoyer wants to redo his club to put his mark on the team. After Theo Eptstein, Hoyer knows the Red Sox minor league system the best. He and Theo will be able to to work out a deal, which will be easier since they each know who the other likes. Look for a deal that includes Lars Anderson, Michael Bowden, and another player, either Ryan Kalish or Stolmy Pimentel.
6. Chone Figgins – Angels
At first glance, the Phillies would be a great fit for Chone, but they already have two leadoff quality hitters in Jimmy Rollins and Victorino. The White Sox already said that Figgins was too expensive for their taste, so the Cardinals and Mets are the only other major suitors. Figgins was perhaps the most important hitter in their playoff run, so they really need to bring him back for around$ 4 years/$48 million.
7. Curtis Granderson – Cubs
The Tigers will be cutting costs this off-season, possibly trading Granderson, Miguel Cabrera, and Edwin Jackson. Granderson, who was born just outside of Chicago, would be a perfect fit for the Cubs, who need an outfielder to replace the soon-to-be-departed Milton Bradley. Because Granderson won’t come cheap, the Cubs will have to part with top prospects, in this case, Jeff Samardzija and Josh Vitters. But in the end, we all know what is better than an Anderson, a Granderson.
8. Jose Valverde – Phillies
The main fault of the Phillies this year was their horrific bullpen. Valverde will be able to split time with Brad Lidge at closer, and will likely become the closer later in the season. Valverde will come at a price, though, since the Astros will almost for certain offer him arbitration, meaning the team who signs Valverde will lose their first round pick. He should sign for around $25 million over 3 years.
9. Ben Sheets – Rangers
Sheets will come a ton cheaper than he would have last year, because of his elbow surgery. He will sign for a cheaper price and does not cost his new club a first round pick. Although he is injury prone, Sheets is as dominant as any pitcher when he is on his mark. He nearly signed with the Rangers before surgery last year, so look for him to pick Texas over Boston, New York, and Milwaukee.
10. Aroldis Chapman – Red Sox
Chapman, the Cuban defector, is said to be as talented as Stephen Strasburg, with a fastball measured as high as 102 MPH and a hard slider. He has the build of a slightly lighter CC Sabathia and should excel like CC once he makes the majors. It will take some time before he hits the show, but that shouldn’t be to big of a concern. Boston will edge out the Yankees to sign the big lefty for 6 years/$42 million.
Honorable mention: Dan Uggla to the Dodgers, Erik Bedard to the Orioles, Milton Bradley to the White Sox, Randy Wolf to the Mets, Andy Pettitte to the Yankees, Adrian Beltre to the Phillies, Rich Harden to the Brewers, Johnny Damon to the Cardinals, Orlando Hudson to the Mets, Miguel Tejada to the Athletics, Vladimir Guerrero to the Rangers, Hideki Matsui to the Yankees, Mike Gonzalez to the Nationals, Marco Scutaro to the Reds, Mark DeRosa to the Orioles, Mark Mulder to the Brewers, Melvin Mora to the Cardinals, and Bengie Molina to the Mets.