MLB

Double Play: Looking at the Top 12 free agent hitters

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Daan De Kerpel
11/16/2009 10:34:44 AM
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With Major League Baseball players free to sign with any team they like on Friday, it's time for the Double Play Blog to weigh in on where some of the more interesting 25 players will land.

Today, I'll be dealing with 12 of the top hitters, while tomorrow I'll take a look at 13 pitchers.

Making predictions like this is difficult at the best of times, but there seems to be a lot of grumblings coming out of Cincinnati and Detroit about spending less this season. And the messy divorce proceedings between the McCourts could reduce the Dodgers' ability to make a big splash.

With that out of the way, let's get down to business.

Matt Holliday - He along - with Jason Bay - is the cream of the crop offensively, but unlike Bay, Holliday is represented by super-agent Scott Boras. That's only significant because there are teams out there that will avoid Boras clients like the plague. Despite his rough stint in Oakland in 2009, I think he returns to the American League, with the Boston Red Sox, who will be looking to land the big fish, much the same way the Yankees got Mark Teixeira last season.

Jason Bay - The Trail, B.C. native doesn't have an opportunity to play on the left coast in Canada, but he can be close to Vancouver by signing with the Seattle Mariners, who won 85 games last season and are in a winnable division.

Chone Figgins - He's been one of the most valuable Angels over the years, not only for his ability to play multiple positions on the field, but for his ability to lead off. The Chicago White Sox, despite adding Canadian Mark Teahen already this off-season, are a team that could use (and will spend to get) his services.

Johnny Damon - Despite the sabre-rattling of Scott Boras about Damon being a special part of the Yankees that would be looking for a three to four-year deal, the reality is that Damon's age (36) and desire to win a championship limits the market for him.  I think he'll stay in New York with the Yankees on a one-year deal.

Vladimir Guerrero - If he could still play in the outfield, I would predict an 'Expos reunion' with the Mets and general manager Omar Minaya. But since he can't play every day out there anymore, his market is limited to the American League, where a lot of the top teams are already filled at Designated Hitter. I think he ends up in Oakland with the Athletics.

Marco Scutaro - Despite my earlier blog about how I don't think that the Toronto Blue Jays should keep Scutaro, I think he stays north of the border in 2010. A large reason for that is if the Jays offer him arbitration (which they likely will), any team that signs him would lose either a first or second-round pick (depending where they finished last season).  I have a hard time believing that a top tier team would sacrifice a pick for him, and lower-tiered teams shouldn't really have use for a 34-year-old shortstop coming off a career year.

Adrian Beltre - After making it the World Series in back-to-back years and winning once, the Philadelphia Phillies cut their third baseman Pedro Feliz loose in order to get an upgrade. And that's where Beltre fits in. He plays good defence is a consistent 20-plus home run hitter.

Bengie Molina - Molina to me falls into the same category as Scutaro, a productive player that other teams might not want to give a pick up for due to age issues. Because of that, I can see the Giants bringing him back on a one-year deal to help ease the transition of their top catching prospect Buster Posey

Jermaine Dye - While Dye is still a good hitter, the same cannot be said about his defence, but that won't stop a National League team from signing him.  I think he ends up with the Giants, who could use the offense and are used to dealing with a liability in the field because of all of their recent seasons with Barry Bonds in left field.

Orlando Hudson - The slick fielding former Blue Jay, who sat in favour of Ronnie Belliard in the playoffs won't be returning to Los Angeles.  While the Mets would reportedly love to get him, they've already got Luis Castillo locked up there. I think he goes to the NL East, but it will be with the Washington Nationals.

Nick Johnson - There is no doubt that this guy can hit, but there is also no doubting that thus far in his career, he's never really been able to stay healthy. I think the 31-year-old ends up the Atlanta Braves (who have a hole at first base) and could use a hitter like Johnson, who can take some pitches and get on base on a regular basis.

Hideki Matsui - Another DH that has a limited pool of available teams. I think his huge World Series performance will buy him another year with the New York Yankees.

Lastly, this blog would normally include the opinions of my co-blogger David Carroll, but he's away for a few weeks.  Much like how the Yankees added to their legacy with their 27th championship in November, Carroll added to his legacy, welcoming his second son into the world a week and a bit ago.

Of course, I suggested some cool baby names, like Liriano Carroll, WAMCO Carroll and of course Lewis Carroll. None of my ideas were used for some reason.

As always, we want to know where you think the top hitters will sign. Can you guess better than De Kerpel? Share your predictions by using the Your! Call feature.

Jason Bay (Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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