Anyone reading this is well aware that the biggest free agent names on the market are Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth. By now you have heard that the Yankees are the favorites to land Lee, the Angels the favorites to land Crawford and the Red Sox the favorites to land Jayson Werth.
But what if things did not go as expected? What could the baseball world look like by opening day? I will throw out an out of the box idea. An entire chain reaction starts as a result of Cliff Lee signing neither with the Yankees or the Ranger.
Cliff Lee Signs With Detroit Tigers
Okay so I do see the Tigers as a possible dark horse iin the Cliff Lee talks. The Tigers shed a massive amount of salary after the 2010 season and currently only have $83.5 mil committed for 2011. This is far below the $134 mil payroll that they had in 2010. Many believe they are interested in Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford, but perhaps they would be better off bringing in a mid-tier outfielder and landing the lefty ace.
This would likely start a chain reaction for the Yankees and Rangers. The Yankees would pursue Crawford vigorously and the Rangers would likely set their immediate sights on Grienke. Suddenly the Tigers would look like a very good World Series caliber team with Victor Martinez protecting Miguel Cabrera and Verlander and Lee baffling opposing hitters.
Carl Crawford Signs With Yankees
After Cliff Lee dawns his new Tigers jersey, the Yankees look to improve elsewhere by signing the next best free agent on the market, Carl Crawford. Their ability to offer large sums of money along with many guaranteed years allows them to beat out the Angels and Red Sox in this race. The signing of Crawford leads to the departure of Nick Swisher who land the Yankees a decent package of prospects as a result of his great 2010 season.
The Angels and Red Sox begin to panic as they watch numerous free agents fall off the table.
Angels Sign Jayson Werth
Despite showing little interest in the free agent early in the off season, the Angels sign Jayson Werth as a result of having nowhere else to turn. Although they would have preferred Crawford, Werth's combination of power and defense still entices them. With Crawford and Lee being off the table, Scott Boras starts a bidding war between the Red Sox and Angels. Backed by the deep pockets of owner Arte Moreno, the Angels land Werth leaving the Red Sox without any major free agent signings.
This doesn't leave the Red Sox down however. With no major free agents left on the table, they work out a deal that gets them Adrian Beltre back and Adrian Gonzolez even without an extension. They then continue to make a trade that improves them at shortstop.
As you can see, there is no easy way to predict free agent destinations. We may have our favorites to land certain free agents but in the end surprises can happen. It even becomes interesting to see the chain reactions that happen when particular teams don't get the man they wanted.
Keep paying attention to the free agent market. Its sure to get good with the Winter Meetings right around the corner.
Wow! Literally within minutes of posting this Jayson Werth signed a massive deal with the Nationals. Didn't see that coming.