When it comes to baseball’s off season, there tends to be two types of fans: 1) Those fascinated by the most intricate of moves by management; and 2) Those who’d rather not know how the hot dog gets made.

I understand the ignorance is bliss mentality. After all, fans seldom paint their faces, make banners and cheer wildly (I’d end the sentence here if I was only referring to fans of the Toronto Blue Jays) over even the best of free agent signings. However, for those of us who dedicate far too much time to watching baseball during the summer, it seems entirely necessary to follow every single rumour associated with our favourite team, fret over budget limitiations and wonder about evaluation methods for sought after players.

In many ways, baseball’s off season is just as interesting as the actual on season. That’s not to say that those of us who feel this way are relieved that all of the ridiculous running around in pajamas with bats, gloves and balls thing is over, and now we can finally get to the most important part of the baseball season. If living and dying (mostly dying) with your team throughout the summer months is an emotional stimulation, following roster construction and management moves during the winter months brings a sort of intellectual pleasure that fills the void of the missing stimuli.

Because players and teams have until tonight to make decisions regarding their options, organizations have already begun constructing what they hope will be a championship winning team, or in the case of the Houston Astros, twenty-five players who already have their own baseball gloves.

  • The San Francisco Giants have locked up a pair of lefty relievers, extending Javy Lopez to a reasonable two year contract worth $8.5 million and picking up Jeremy Affeldt’s pricey $5 million option.
  • With C.C. Sabathia set to leave $92 million on the table and opt out of the four remaining years on his contract, the New York Yankees made sure that Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher aren’t going anywhere, wisely picking up their respective $14 million and $10.25 million options.
  • The Boston Red Sox were also smart to keep Marco Scutaro, picking up his $6 million option for 2012.
  • The Milwaukee Brewers quite rightly decided that they could do better than picking up the $17.5 million mutual option on Francisco Rodriguez and Yuniesky Betancourt’s $6 million team option.
  • The Texas Rangers exercised their no-brainer $3.25 option on Colby Lewis.
  • The Colorado Rockies and Jason Giambi also agreed on a mutually beneficial relationship for yet another year that will see the how-is-he-still-playing slugger $1 million.
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates declined options for pitcher Paul Maholm, catchers Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder and shortstop Ronny Cedeno.
  • The Atlanta Braves picked up Eric Hinske’s $1.5 million option while not surprisingly declining to pay Nate McLouth $10.65 million in 2012.
  • The Cleveland Indians decided not to pick up the oft injured Grady Sizemore’s $8.5 million option, but will keep Fausto Carmona at a $7 million option.
  • In what’s likely the most interesting move from the early part of the off season, Aramis Ramirez declined his $16 million option with the Chicago Cubs, meaning that he expects to make more than that with better terms on the free agent market.

MLB Trade Rumors has a list of the club and player options that have yet to be decided.

Players were able to file for free agency on Sunday, but the teams for which they played have exclusive negotiating rights until Thursday, after which the players will be able to sign anywhere. However, teams have until November 23rd to offer their free agents arbitration, if they rank as Type A or B free agents. Those players then have until December 7th to accept or decline the offer. If they sign elsewhere before they’re offered arbitration, they obviously lose the right to accept it.

MLB Trade Rumors has a complete list of free agents, and FanGraphs has ranked the top fifty free agents for our mutual edification.

Here are the five free agents I’m predicting will get the most money this off season:

  1. Albert Pujols
  2. Prince Fielder
  3. C.C. Sabathia
  4. Jose Reyes
  5. C.J. Wilson

Here are the five free agents I’m predicting will be the most undervalued this off season:

  1. Grady Sizemore
  2. David DeJesus
  3. Frank Francisco
  4. Andruw Jones
  5. Bruce Chen

Here are the five free agents I’m predicting will be the most overvalued this off season:

  1. Jimmy Rollins
  2. Michael Cuddyer
  3. Jonathan Papelbon
  4. Heath Bell
  5. Josh Willingham

By position, with free agent ranking.

Catcher:

  1. Ramon Hernandez – Type A
  2. Rod Barajas – Type B
  3. Ryan Doumit – Type B
  4. Jose Molina – Type B
  5. Chris Snyder – Type B

First base:

  1. Albert Pujols – Type A
  2. Prince Fielder – Type A
  3. Carlos Pena – Type B
  4. Casey Kotchman
  5. Derrek Lee – Type B

Second base:

  1. Kelly Johnson – Type A
  2. Mark Ellis – Type B
  3. Jamey Carroll
  4. Ramon Santiago
  5. Aaron Hill – Type B

Third base:

  1. Aramis Ramirez – Type B
  2. Casey Blake
  3. Wilson Betemit – Type B
  4. Mark DeRosa
  5. Eric Chavez

Shortstop:

  1. Jose Reyes – Type A
  2. Jimmy Rollins – Type A
  3. Alex Gonzalez – Type B
  4. Rafael Furcal – Type B
  5. Clint Barmes – Type B

Right field:

  1. Carlos Beltran – Type A (Can’t be offered arbitration)
  2. David DeJesus – Type B
  3. Michael Cuddyer – Type A
  4. Kosuke Fukudome
  5. Jason Kubel – Type B

Center field:

  1. Grady Sizemore
  2. Coco Crisp
  3. Rick Ankiel
  4. Scott Hairston
  5. Nate McLouth

Left field:

  1. Josh Willingham – Type A
  2. Cody Ross – Type B
  3. Jonny Gomes
  4. Juan Rivera
  5. Ryan Ludwick

Designated Hitter:

  1. David Ortiz – Type A
  2. Johnny Damon
  3. Andruw Jones
  4. Jim Thome
  5. Jorge Posada

Starting Pitcher:

  1. C.C. Sabathia – Type A
  2. C.J. Wilson – Type A
  3. Roy Oswalt – Type A
  4. Hiroki Kuroda – Type B
  5. Mark Buehrle – Type B

Right handed reliever:

  1. Jonathan Papelbon – Type A
  2. Francisco Rodriguez – Type A
  3. Ryan Madson – Type A
  4. Heath Bell – Type A
  5. Frank Francisco – Type B

Left handed reliever:

  1. Darren Oliver – Type A
  2. George Sherrill
  3. Arthur Rhodes – Type B
  4. Mike Gonzalez
  5. John Grabow

Getting Blanked will provide its own brand of analysis on several of the top free agents over the next few weeks, examining possible destinations, predicting future performance and heaping scorn on any team that dares overpay for rapidly declining talent. It’s an extremely old adage, first introduced in ancient Egypt, I’m sure, but nonetheless it remains true to this day: there’s no real off season in baseball blogging, which is likely the only advantage bloggers have over players.

People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.

- Rogers Hornsby

Comments (16)

  1. If there was ever a year for the Jays to have a boatload of money for Free Agency, this may as well be it. Of all the weaknesses of the free agent market this year, the positions of depth are where the Jays are lacking. First base and relief pitching are very deep this year.

    I fully expect the Jays to make a significant push for Prince – and I think if they can pay more per annum on a shorter term contract they would hit the jackpot. I say 5 years at 130/140

  2. It’s Rogers Hornsby.

  3. “However, teams have until November 23rd to offer their free agents compensation…”

    I believe that last word ought to be “arbitration”.

  4. People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.

    – Rogers Hornsby

    That’s Colby Rasmus’ off-season regimen too!

  5. Interesting that Kelly Johnson finished as a Type A free agent… that makes it more likely that he’ll be back with the Jays next year on a one-year deal.

  6. Does anyone see the Jays getting Johnson back for one season and possibly trading him before the season starts? They could really use the fact that there isn’t many free agent second basemen options out there to pick up some nice prospects and then fill the hole with another option. I don’t think the chance of it happening is very high but i was just wondering what people’s thoughts are?

    • Wouldn’t a team that is willing to trade for him just sign him and save the prospects? I could only see this happening if a team had an injury and there were just no other options. This is all assuming that he doesn’t accept arbitration and or the Jays don’t offer it

      • The idea of a sign and trade was talked about last year with Rafael Soriano. Would a team rather give up a prospect or a first round draft pick? That’s the question.

        • Aahh I see your point. I should have looked at that closer. It would really depend on what pick was being lost/gained or what prospect was being traded. I imagine in the Jays case it would be a pick because AA seems more interested in acquiring picks. I do not see Johnson pulling a high ceiling low cost prospect before the season even starts because the team trading that pick would first want to make sure that the pick was not going to work out and nobody would know whether Johnson would be the final piece in the puzzle for a playoff push that early in the season.

        • Depends on the team. If it’s a team with a protected pick (and I’m just guessing at who those teams might be – Washington, Pittsburgh, LAD, Baltimore, Chicago, Miami) you’re in a good position to take that chance.

  7. Maybe its because I forget what it is to have hope in my team but I find the off season almost as exciting as the actual season. When I was following the Roy Halladay Trade on DJF I was updating as much as I was during game 6 (slight exaggeration but only slight)

  8. Would the Jays lose their first rounder for signing a Type A free agent? I recall the rule being only the top x number of teams would have to give up their pick. Not sure where the cut off is though.. I could be wrong..

    • Top 15 draft picks are protected from being lost via signing Type A free agents.

      The Jays pick 17th, so they would lose that pick if they sign a Type A.

  9. This is a really good little summary. Thanks.

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