This has been a busy and entertaining offseason so far. We've seen the largest contract to a pitcher handed out, Matt Holliday traded to a low budget team and Jake Peavy rumor's galore only to lead to him staying in the fast-falling San Diego (for now). With news likely to be kind of slow until Teixeira signs, I am going to give my best shot at predicting where the top 5 remaining free agents will land.
News broke last night that the Red Sox will 'not be a factor' in the bidding for Teixeira. The Red Sox reportedly aren't out of the bidding, but won't raise their offer which is rumored to be between 8-years $175-184 million. The largest offer on the table is most likely the Nationals, but Teixeira and Boras may have learned from A-Rod that the top dollar isn't worth rotting away on a bad team. The Orioles have also made a large offer, and have the draw of Mark playing for his hometown team, but he'd likely have to lose there for a good 4 years before finally competing. Also reports say they have fallen behind in the bidding. The Yankees are staying involved, but have not made an offer. In the end, I don't believe the Red Sox are out of it, but I believe the Angels need him most and will do what it takes for him to stay there.
Prediction: Angels, 8-years, $179 million
Many thought that once CC and Burnett signed, all the pieces for Lowe would fall into place. So far, that hasn't been the case. Yankees GM Brian Cashman said yesterday that he doesn't like tying up too many pitchers into long term contracts because that blocks spots in the rotation. It's unlikely that the Yankees will dish out another $60 million+ contract to a pitcher, and it seems that if Andy Pettitte turns them down, they will likely look in house for the fifth starter. The Red Sox are interested, and would probably be glad to sign him if they could get him on a three-year pact. Lowe and Scott Boras are looking for a 4-year dead at least at an annual salary of $14+ million. The Phillies are no longer interested after signing Jamie Moyer and the Mets seem like the only team that could bite on Lowe's demands. They are targeting a corner outfield bat first, but after likely losing Pedro Martinez and Oliver Perez to free agency, they need at least one more starter for their rotation. If he's willing to take a 3 year deal, he'll likely go to Boston, but unless that happens I see him going to New York.
Prediction: Mets, 4-years, $58 million
On paper, the Dodgers look like the best fit for Manny, and are notorious for giving players short term contract for more money such as Jason Schmidt and Rafael Furcal. Though Scott Boras took it as a joke when the Dodgers offered Manny 2-years and upwards of $45 million. They were reportedly willing to add a third year, but not much talking has happened between the two sides since then. Boras' dream scenario would likely be Teixeira landing in Boston and the Yankees/Dodgers/Angels getting into a bidding war for Manny. However, barring a turnaround, the Dodgers seem out of it, leaving the Yankees as the only logical landing spot for the one-man drama series that is Manny.
Prediction: Yankees, 3-years, $70 million with a vesting option
It comes as a shock that guy who has hit exactly 40 home runs over the last 4 years (46 the year before that) and has drove in over 100 guys in each of those seasons would find such little interest in this market. He doesn't a high average at all, usually floating around .250, and plays below average defense in the outfield or first base, but the bat speaks for itself. He would be a great DH for any team in the AL, or can play left/right or first in the right situations. He'd be a cheaper option for those teams who miss out on Teixeira, likely only command a 4-year deal at $14 million per. His market will likely heat up once Teixeira lands wherever he's going, and teams that will have probably interest include the Nationals, Dodgers, Angels, Yankees, Cubs, Mets, Braves, Giants, Rays, Rangers and Mariners. While the Nationals have been the most rumored landing spot, he has been quoted saying winning is his number one priority, and if the Dodgers can't bring back Manny, Dunn may be able to find a nice home in LA.
Prediction: Dodgers, 4-years, $56 million
Once Francisco Rodriguez signed, Fuentes easily became the best closer on the market. Since then, Kerry Wood signed with the Indians, leaving Fuentes as the only elite closer left. He has had a quiet yet effective career in Colorado and has been one of the most consistent closers over that time. He's getting up there in age, but wouldn't require more than a 3 or 4 year contract. He says he loves LA and would love to play for the Angels. The Dodgers are also a possibility here but they seem content with Jonathan Broxton as their closer and seem more focused on other things. Cardinals manager Tony la Russa apparently 'loves' Fuentes as a closer and I believe it will come down to them and the Brewers, who have a ton a money left over after Sabathia turn down their offer.
Prediction: Cardinals, 3-years, $36 million