1. Josh Hamilton, OF
Some are predicting he will end up in Seattle where he can be a beloved rock star. However, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports says Seattle wants to give him a three year deal; if that's the case, the Yankees and Rangers could probably match that offer. It's likely Hamilton will get five years, possibly more if he's lucky.
According to reports from last season, Hamilton would have only played 50 games if the Rangers didn't push him out — almost literally from what I understand — onto the field on a regular basis. The Rangers could be fed up with his antics and injury history. And don't the Yankees always overspend?
Then again, remember when the Angels came out of nowhere to overspend on Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson last year? The Phillies could be that team this season.
2. Zack Greinke, SP
The Dodgers supposedly want him badly, but Greinke is a small-town minded guy that loves playing in a lower market. The former Cy Young winner literally gets anxiety pitching in large cities.
The Rangers are courting him hard and Greinke has really liked what he's seen, according to reports. If Greinke signs, he'll be the ace at the front of a rotation in a market smaller than Los Angeles and closer to his pro roots in Kansas City; where he won his Cy Young award. Not to mention he'll play for a team with a legitimate shot to win the World Series. Then again, if the Rangers take him, that means Hamilton would have to go elsewhere to clear the cap space. The chain reaction would officially begin.
3. Michael Bourn, OF
Bourn can be a dynamite player when he's on a roll; the kind of guy that can steal a base at-will and hit for a great average as well. Now that we're out of the juicing era — of course, even that can be argued — teams are willing to pay a premium on speedsters that can hit. With the way the market is shaking out, most think the Cubs are the only NL team likely to take him, considering everyone else has a locked-in center fielder. He's asking for $75 million though, and Theo Epstein is smart.
The Mariners, Phillies and Rangers have all been mentioned as suitors as well. With Philly's multiple offensive holes, they could surprise some people and jump in when the time is right.
4. Kyle Lohse, SP
I think Lohse is a better overall pitcher than Anibal Sanchez in that he's simply more consistent. The question will be whether or not he can carry on his talents aside from the incredible Cardinals pitching coaching staff, while not falling into the likes of the Jeff Suppans and Jason Marquis' of year's past — who both declined in performance considerably after leaving the Cardinals for other teams.
Lohse is being enamored by the Red Sox and most likely the Angels. It's being reported that if the Red Sox offer him three years, he will take it.
5. Ryan Dempster, SP
Was Dempster a one year wonder? Personally, I think so. It doesn't mean that he's still probably not one of the best free agent pitchers on the market. Teams will be willing to overpay and the Brewers are a likely fit. They need pitching and Dempster — a former Cub and Red — is used to the division.
It only gets tricky, because like everyone else, Dempster wants three years. So far he's turned down two year deals with the Red Sox and Royals. It will be surprising to see if Milwaukee is able to cough up more.
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