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Inside MLB | Here comes free agency: the Daily’s MLB offseason preview

Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 07:11

arod

MCT

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez will be among the primary talking points as the baseball hot stove gets underway.

 

It’s that time of year again. With the October Classic well in the rearview mirror, many fans have already begun forgetting all that happened in the 2012 campaign and setting their sights on what promises to be a very busy MLB offseason.

Most likely, 100 million dollar contracts will be signed, blockbuster trades may change the face of ball clubs and performance enhancing drug rumors may again begin to circulate in the four months before the start of spring training. 

MLB teams, unlike their counterparts in the other “big four” sports of the United States, are not subject to a salary cap, so franchises can transform from small payrolls into big spenders in one winter, adding to the excitement of baseball’s offseason. With that in mind, the Daily outlines the four stories that will dominate the headlines in the 2012-2013 MLB offseason.

The Alex Rodriguez Saga

Between his steroid admission, playoff chokes, and off-the-field relationships with celebrities, it seems like A-Rod has been the center of attention in the MLB offseason for the past five decades. This year, unfortunately, should be more of the same for the highest-paid player in MLB history. 

Coming off another disappointing postseason where he hit a measly .120 and was benched repeatedly in the postseason, Rodriguez’s future in pinstripes is very much in doubt. With five years and at least $114 million left on his gargantuan contract, it won’t be easy to find a taker for the most polarizing player in baseball. 

While A-Rod remains an above-average third baseman, many feel that his relationship with manager Joe Girardi has deteriorated to the point where he will be a distraction if he stays in the Bronx.

No matter what transpires, expect to read a sickening amount of Alex Rodriguez rumors between now and opening day of 2013.

Will Someone Take a Chance on Josh Hamilton?

The Texas Rangers’ left fielder is among the most distinctive players in the game today. The former MVP is one of the top hitters on the planet, hitting an average of 35 home runs and 122 RBIs in his six years in the majors. Hamilton also provides above -average speed and defense at a premium position, a rare quality for a power hitter. 

However, the outfielder has an extensive history with alcohol and drug abuse and critics question how he would adjust to playing in a big market where he may not be as comfortable. To further complicate matters, scouts believe that Hamilton suffers from concentration and mental lapses, which may explain his inconsistent efforts on the field.

These inconsistencies would be further criticized playing in a larger market, say in New York or Boston. Where Hamilton will end up remains a mystery, but it is doubtful that he’ll receive an offer of more than five years, despite his unmatched talent.

Where will all the free agent outfielders end up?

Hamilton leads a deep and talented class of free agent outfielders, many of whom are poised to leave their prior squads for more lucrative contracts elsewhere. Nick Swisher, in spite of his endless troubles in the post season, has been a consistent force in the past several seasons, averaging 26 home runs and 87 RBIs in his four seasons with the Yankees while providing above average defense at right field and first base. 

He is rumored to seek a multi-year deal north of $100 million, but it remains to be seen if any team is willing to give him that kind of money. Meanwhile, speedy center fielder Michael Bourn, coming off a solid season in Atlanta, will be sought after by squads with a need for a leadoff hitter. 

Proven but aging veterans Ichiro Suzuki and Cody Ross will also look to latch on with a contender, but perhaps will yield smaller contracts. The most intriguing free agent outfielder will be ex-Giant Melky Cabrera, who served a 50-game suspension this season after testing positive for PEDs. Will any team give him a second chance?

The Trade Market for Pitchers

Every team needs pitching, and this offseason will prove no different. What is unknown, however, is which hurlers will change uniforms before pitchers and catchers report in mid-February. Rumors have surfaced that lefthanders Cliff Lee (Phillies) and David Price (Rays), both perennial Cy Young candidates, could be signed at the right price.

Only time will tell if those rumors come into fruition, but if Lee or Price are available, there will definitely be suitors, particularly given the relative lack of quality free-agent pitchers. Outside of Angels righthander Zach Greinke, there is simply not the quantity of ace-level hurlers available as there has been in recent offseasons

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