Friday, November 20, 2009

Ten Burning Free Agent Questions (Part II)

With free agency beginning at midnight, Jorge Says No! will examine ten burning free agent questions. We will break down the 10 questions into 3 parts because quite frankly, my extended responses became far more extended then I initially intended them to be.

See part I here

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4. Ownership Turmoil: How much will the Dodgers and Rangers be able to spend?

-Consider this question the great unknown. No one knows how this will play out and no one expects a final outcome anytime soon.

Over the past few years, the Dodgers have been one of the biggest spenders on the free agent market, splurging in years past to sign (and re-sign) guys like: Jason Schmidt, Rafael Furcal, Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre, Manny Ramirez, and Orlando Hudson. But it does not look like the Dodgers will be able to throw their money around this winter. The divorce of Jaime and Frank McCourt is sure to prevent GM Ned Colletti from making too many costly moves because no one honestly knows how the ownership situation will player out or who actually owns the team right now.

On the other hand, the Rangers have been fairly quiet in the free agent market in the past couple of years. Don't expect much to change this year. With the Rangers ownership situation in flux, it's doubtful that the Rangers can afford to make a big splash on the market and sign one of the top free agents. It will be interesting to see if the Rangers are able to make a play for someone in the Rich Harden, Ben Sheets, Erik Bedard group.

5. How close will Matt Holliday come to "Mark Teixeira" money?

-We're only a few weeks removed from game 6 of the World Series, but super agent Scott Boras has already made a big push for his client, Matt Holliday. Boras has stated over and over again that Matt Holliday is a franchise player and he expects to land a contract similar to the one that Mark Teixiera signed with the Yankees last winter.

Will that happen? Probably not. As I wrote a few weeks back, there is simply not enough competition on the market or enough teams that can spend the big bucks right now for Holliday to get such a large contract.

This could become a four team race between the Mets, Red Sox, Cardinals, and Yankees for Holliday's services. If that's the case, Holliday's best chance at landing a big deal is if the Yankees and Red Sox decide to go hard after him and wind up bidding against each other. That scenario isn't likely, but Scott Boras can dream, right?

I still say Holliday winds up with a deal north of $100 million total, but well shy of the $180 million dollar benchmark that Boras has in mind.

6. How close will John Lackey come to "AJ Burnett" money?

-5 years/$82 milllion. Seems like a daunting contract in this economy, right? Especially for a 31 year old pitcher, who has missed time in each of the past two seasons because of injuries.

But nevertheless, I'm confident that Lackey will get his big payday. Lackey is far and away the best pitcher on the free agent market and unlike Matt Holliday, he has no real competition or cheap second options, who provide the ability, stability, and leadership that Lackey brings. While he is not in the same category as Johan Santana, CC Sabathia, or Roy Halladay; Lackey is a pretty damn good pitcher in his own right and in this market, he is the only "ace" out there.

There will be a handful of teams, who could be interested in Lackey: Angels, Mets, Yankees, Mariners, Brewers, and Red Sox all could/should have varying levels of interest in Lackey. My guess: Lackey exceeds a $80 million dollar contract this winter.

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