The Jays coordinated a pretty special blockbuster trade that brought them Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes from the Miami Marlins and in the process, they became World Series contenders.
While that move might be tough to beat, there are still a number of big free agent chips that have yet to fall into place. At the top of this year’s class is former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke and five-time All-Star and American League MVP Josh Hamilton. Both players have potential to elevate the status of any contender and that’s why there is no shortage of suitors vying for their services.
Here’s a look at the two biggest prizes of the baseball offseason and analysis as to where they might end up playing next season:
Zack Greinke, Starting Pitcher
Greinke finished with the 58th-best ERA among starting pitchers in 2011 and the 27th-best in 2012. Three rivals are fighting for his services and that’s going to create quite the bidding war. The Angels, whom Greinke pitched for last season, need him back in their rotation. They already let Dan Haren go and traded away Ervin Santana, so they really need Greinke back.
Meanwhile, their AL West rivals from Texas are prepared to open their checkbooks too. They would love nothing more than to weaken their opponent’s rotation by strengthening their own.
Lastly, the Dodgers are also in the mix — maybe somewhat surprisingly — even after all of the payroll they’ve take on in the last year. They apparently have no qualms going into the luxury tax and if that’s truly the case, they’ll go after Greinke very aggressively.
Greinke doesn’t like the spotlight of playing in New York or Boston, so don’t expect those teams to get into the mix.
Josh Hamilton, Outfielder
Hamilton is an intriguing free agent who is also likely to get a very lucrative contract. On the one hand, when you see his 128 RBIs and 43 home runs from last season, the temptation is to do everything possible to sign him. However, teams like the New York Yankees have been burned by signing sluggers to such massive, long-term contracts (see: Alex Rodriguez) and many other teams around the league will be reticent.
The 31-year-old only played 134 games or more twice in his career. He’s also battled drug addiction and had some relapses throughout his career, so there are definitely some red flags.
Teams like the Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers, Boston Red Sox and Rangers should be in the mix for his services.
2013 World Series Odds
Detroit Tigers: 17-2
Washington Nationals: 17-2
New York Yankees: 11-1
Toronto Blue Jays: 11-1
Cincinnati Reds: 12-1
Los Angeles Angels: 12-1
Los Angeles Dodgers: 12-1
San Francisco Giants: 12-1
Texas Rangers: 12-1
Boston Red Sox: 30-1