Article Written By: Julian Beck
With moves being made around the hot stove league at a furious pace over the last few days, there are still several key players on the market who stand a chance to make a huge impact on teams around the league for the 2014 season. With baseball general managers making their wish list for next season, with a little luck they may find one of these free-agents under their Christmas tree.
#5 Nelson Cruz, OF
With power being scarce in this years free agent pool, Cruz will be a main focal point for many GMs this off-season. The slugger has hit at least 22 homers in five straight years, and blasted 27 this last season, nodding him to the all-star game before his 50-game suspension for PEDs. He does have a little issue staying healthy for a full season. He has only played 124 games during three years of his nine year career so far. With the Tigers trading away Prince Fielder to the Rangers that leaves them with just Miguel Cabrera as their main power source. So with Cruz’s power and ability to play left field, position the Tigers had an issue with getting production from, he will fit right into that potent Tigers line-up. Miggy will be thankful to have someone be able to protect him batting fourth.
#4 Ervin Santana, SP
Ervin picked a good year to become a free-agent. There isn’t a top of the line pitcher on the market and Ervin is about to cash-in on that problem. He has pitched 200+ innings in three of the past four season. And when he is good he has un-hittable pitches, with his 95 mph fastball as his main weapon. But the only problem he has is that when he is off he gives up home-runs at a scary pace. Last year he led the MLB with 39 homers given up. If a team is willing to take a chance on him to be their #1, Oakland seems like a logical place, where he can go heads up against his former Angels team.
#3 Carlos Beltran, OF
Carlos is one veteran that every team would love to plug into a corner outfield spot on their roster. He brings a big bat, good speed, and on base monster to any lineup. Being a switch-hitter is a great aspect of his game, being able to play him any day against any pitcher is a huge boost. Beltran is looking for a 3 year deal, and at this time of his career an AL team may take a risk on him since he can split time from playing outfield and being a DH. With mainly AL teams being in contention for Carlos returning to the Roayls seems very reasonable. That’s where Beltran started his career and he can help that very young and talented team progress in the future.
#2 Shin-Soo Choo, OF
With Jacoby Ellsbury off the market, that now leaves Choo as the last main outfielder available and ready to sign a big contract. Shin-Soo is one of the leagues premier lead-off hitters with a rare combination of power, speed, and ability to get on base. He can also change the outcome of the game with one swing of the bat as the lead-off hitter by slamming lead-off home runs to start the game. With Ellsbury out of Boston now the only logical place where Shin-Shoo can cash in on his great 2013 season would be with the Red Sox. They are now looking for a leadoff hitter that can play any position in the outfield.
#1 Robinson Cano, 2B
This year, the biggest name on the market is easily Robinson. He has hit at least 25 doubles and 41 homers in five straight seasons, and has only missed 14 games in the past seven seasons. Cano even produced with a depilated Yankee roster last season. Being as consistent and durable he has been in his career he is up for a record payday. Many teams won’t give him his asking price of $300 million but whatever amount he signs for that team will get one of the best players this generation in return. With the Yankees signing Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury this off-season that will seem like enough to keep him in pinstripes. He will have protection in the lineup and will be able to produce more when the roster is at full strength.