Tru School Sports Hot Stove Presents: Top MLB Free Agents (Ranks 36-40)

After an extremely entertaining 2013 Major League Baseball season, the ball park cheers have given way to the rumors, discussions, and debates as to which team will land the top free agents this winter. This time of year gives hope to each and every baseball fan, as their teams all have the same record and the ability to drastically change their team’s future seemingly overnight. For the next several weeks, @SportsGeek02 and @TruSchoolSports will be providing its followers with a breakdown of the top 40 free agents, five at a time, twice a week. The top ten available free agents will be done two at a time for more in-depth analysis. Stay tuned and see if your favorite team has dreams of October baseball in its future.

40.) Paul Konerko, 1B (2013 stats: .244/.313/.355, 12 HR, 41 R, 54 RBI in 467 AB):
A mainstay in the heart of the Chicago White Sox order for 15 years, Konerko and front office officials have yet to meet heading into the Winter Meetings, leaving his future with the club uncertain. With the team signing free agent Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68 million deal and Adam Dunn sticking around to be the DH, the only role left for Konerko appears to be in a pinch-hitting mentor role. Dunn is still weighing out his retirement options, which would undoubtedly open the door for Konerko to be re-signed. All signs point to him staying in Chi-town, however, there are a few big-budget AL teams who are always looking for another bat, but my money is on him ending his career with the White Sox.

Possible Suitors: White Sox, Red Sox, Angels, Yankees


39.) A.J. Pierzynski, C (2013 stats: .272/.297/.425, 17 HR, 48 R, 70 RBI in 503 AB): The soon-to-be 37-year-old backstop has openly admitted he is well aware of the fact that he is not one of the top off-season priorities for the Texas Rangers. Having said that, Pierzynski still provides an above-average bat behind the plate and a veteran presence for a young pitching staff, not to mention the fact that he had his best year throwing out potential base stealers in 2013. While he is undoubtedly on his last legs, he would be an undeniable upgrade behind the plate for several teams. He will likely end up in the hands of a team who is not willing to dish out a multi-year deal to either Brian McCann or Jarrod Saltalamacchia; my best guess is the New York Yankees or Tampa Bay Rays, but Philly may surprise you.

Possible Suitors: Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Phillies, Rangers


38.) Juan Uribe, 3B (2013 stats: .278/.331/.438, 12 HR, 47 R, 50 RBI, in 388 AB): The 35-year-old journeyman still has what it takes to be a starter in this league, and then some. His WAR of 5.1 placed him above the likes of fellow free agents Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, which may signal a two-year deal in his future. He does not have the range to play up the middle anymore, but his hands have made him one of the better fielding third basemen in the league. Combine that with his playoff experience and occasional pop and Uribe becomes a viable one or two year starter for a team looking to rebuild. Expect him to end up starting somewhere for a non-contender or coming off the bench for an AL East team.

Possible Suitors: Marlins, White Sox, Yankees, Cubs

37.) Colby Lewis, P (DNP due to elbow/hip injuries): Coming off multiple surgeries on his elbow and his hip, Lewis will undoubtedly be a bargain for a team looking for a middle of the rotation starter with upper half of the rotation potential. When healthy, Lewis put up above average numbers in Texas, posting 32 wins and a sub-4.00 ERA in a little over two seasons. While the injuries may scare some suitors away, at 34 Lewis likely has a few years of service left to give, and he could provide a borderline playoff contender with a surprising jolt in their rotation to propel them into the postseason. The most logical choice here is for Milwaukee to scoop him up, but Texas may want to keep him as well.

Possible Suitors: Brewers, Rangers, Rockies

36.) Josh Johnson, P (2013 stats: 2-8, 6.20 ERA, 83/30 K/BB in 81 1/3 IP): Without question one of the more talented arms in the league, Johnson struggled with elbow issues all season for Toronto, and placed doubt in the eyes of several teams. Having said that, when healthy Johnson is a top of the rotation type of pitcher who can carry a team on his back for weeks at a time. Considering that even with his injury issues he still maintained his fastball velocity and strikeout rates, you can be sure that there will be plenty of teams willing to give him a one-year trial run for somewhere in the neighborhood of $9 million. The Blue Jays will likely try to get him back for a year or two, but they will undoubtedly have a great deal of competition for the righty.

Possible Suitors: Blue Jays, Royals, Pirates, Nationals, Cubs, Phillies, Rays

Scott Eastment is a former college baseball player at Frostburg State Univeristy and also covers Major League Baseball for FOX Sports/Yardbarker affiliate Baseball Hot Corner. He has his MBA in sport business and in marketing and hopes to one day become an MLB front office executive. Follow him on Twitter @SportsGeek02

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