As 2015 comes to a close and 2016 begins, there are far more quality free agents still available than have been on the market in recent memory, if not ever. The annual Winter Meetings have come and gone without all of the star players finding their new teams. Many seem content to let their market settle and evolve, but some may see their price tag drop by waiting too long. Whatever happens remains to be seen, but here are the predictions for the landing spots for the top 10 remaining free agents on the market.
4. Alex Gordon, OF
He’s a veteran player, a clutch World Series champion, the best defensive left fielder in baseball (fangraphs/defensive WAR), and a steady offensive force. The question is less who would like to sign Gordon and more who wouldn’t like to sign Alex Gordon. For most teams, even those without an obvious need, Gordon represents an upgrade. However, only a certain few teams have show serious interest. Who ever ends up signing him is getting a great player bound to greatly improve their squad.
Best Fit: Kansas City Royals
He’s been with the Royals his entire career, he’s found great success, he’s been a champion with them. What reason does he have to want to leave? The simple answer is that the Royals represent a team content to continue to develop talent as a smaller market team and lack the resources to compete with large market teams. Also, with young players such as Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain, and Mike Moustakas hitting free agency in the next 2-3 years the Royals need to properly ration their resources. However, Alex Gordon has a true home in Kansas City and has been a great part of the Royals community. A divorce, while saddening, is the most likely scenario. Reports have become public that the Royals are out of the running. Gordon himself has since refuted such a notion. However, that doesn’t change the fact that a reunion is unlikely if not out of the picture. While for sure ideal, this most likely will not happen.
Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals (4 years, $88 Million)
Many of the different suitors for Gordon present a real threat to sign him. If the White Sox miss out on Cespedes or Upton they could make a push to sign Gordon. As well, if his price drops enough the Tigers and the Giants could make a push. However, the most logical solution at this time is the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals truly value outfield defense. A year ago, they gave up a top young pitcher in Shelby Miller to trade for stud outfielder Jason Heyward. After a year of playing outstanding right field at Busch Stadium, Heyward decided to ditch the aging Cards for the young and upcoming rival Cubs. The Cardinals have been primed and had their wallet open all winter looking to make a splash. First it was David Price, whom they were about to sign before the Red Sox came in a swooped him away. Then it was Heyward who they offered a reported $200 Million deal before he settled for less from the Cubs. The only major signing they have had so far has been singing starting pitcher Mike Leake to a four year $80 million pact with a fifth year option. They still have plenty of money to spend and a clear need in the outfield. Signing Gordon would provide them with nearly equivalent play to that of Heyward at less than half the cost and years. What looks like now as a big hole could easily be filled by Gordon. Whether the Cards decide to play him in right or put him in left and slide Matt Holiday to 1B would be decided later on. What is most important, rather, is that the St. Louis Cardinals represent an obvious fit for Alex Gordon because it is bringing a champion to a championship team.
Check back for the rest of the top 10