|Top 10 OF|
|1||Brian Giles - LF/RF||St. Louis||3+/$32m||3%|
|2||Johnny Damon - CF||Boston||4/$38m||0%|
|3||Jacque Jones - LF||Seattle||2/$11m||40%|
|4||Preston Wilson - CF||Chicago (NL)||2/$12m||1%|
|5||Reggie Sanders - LF||St. Louis||1/$5m+||1%|
|6||Jeromy Burnitz - LF/RF||San Diego||1/$3.5m+||5%|
|7||Kenny Lofton - CF||Florida||1/$2.5m||1%|
|8||Juan Encarnacion - LF||Pittsburgh||1/$2.5m||0%|
|9||Bernie Williams - LF/CF||New York (AL)||1/$2.5m||0%|
|10||Sammy Sosa - LF/RF||Washington||1/$1.5m+||0%|
While Giles has many teams interested, only a few clubs will ultimately interest the 34-year-old. St. Louis and the Cubs may end up fighting over him, and the Red Sox should be getting involved whether they trade Manny Ramirez or not.
My guess is that the Cardinals' prominence in the postseason the past few years will mean more to Giles than a few more dollars from the Red Sox or Cubs. He desires to remain in the National League and as far west as possible. The Gateway to the west is close enough.
The market for Damon is going to dry up, I believe. With other options available - some cheaper, some better defenders, some better run producers - The Red Sox may be bidding against themselves. Five years is far too lengthy but he'll probably get four to stay in beantown.
Jones is the consolation prize to the losers in the Giles sweepstakes, but the Cubbies are more likely to search for center field help after failing to land Damon. This is where Seattle swoops in and takes Jones off the market. Perhaps this allows the M's to get Jones at less than his initial market value, which is believed to be somewhere in the $6 million range.
Looking at the above signings as well as the initial predictions of the rest of the field, it looks like the 2005-2006 free agent winners are...
St. Louis Cardinals
OF - Brian Giles, OF - Reggie Sanders, 1B/3B - Wes Helms, 2B - Rich Aurilia, LHR - Scott Eyre, RHP - Byung-Hyun Kim.
The Cards may have to trade Jason Marquis to avoid paying him a healthy arbitration salary. The value they receive in return will greatly effect which direction they go with their pitching staff in 2006. Landing Giles and Eyre could be key additions to the best Cards' club in years.
Toronto Blue Jays
LHP - Jarrod Washburn, 1B - John Olerud, 3B - Jeff Cirillo, C/DH Mike Piazza, RHP - Kyle Farnsworth.
While Washburn will certainly be overpaid, the additions of Olerud, Piazza and Farnsworth could be enormous. Veteran leadership, solid offensive production and a solid relief arm to solidify a weak bullpen.
New York Mets (NL)
RHP - Kevin Brown, LHP - Billy Wagner, C - Bengie Molina.
The Mets could go out and snag the best two free agents at the two positions in which they need the most help. Molina and Wagner make the Mets a favorite in the NL East. Brown could prove a savvy deal for Minaya.
RHP - A.J. Burnett, C Kenji Johjima, OF - Jacque Jones.
If the M's are the lone team left willing to go four+ years on Burnett at $12 million or more, they just might land the best arm on the market. Johjima and Jones rounds out a much better lineup.
RHP - Kevin Millwood, RHP - Bob Wickman, DH/OF - Carl Everett, 1B - Tino Martinez.
The O's could start off the winter by inking more offense in Martinez and Everett, but if they are able to land Millwood, the O's are in business. Wickman could be the smartest signing of the offseason if they can get him for the right price.
Boston Red Sox
3B - Joe Randa, LHP - B.J. Ryan, OF - Johnny Damon.
With pitching help coming up from the minors, the Sox may wish to solidify the pen and the infield. Look for Boston to be active in the trade mnarket, looking for a first baseman.
RHP - Trevor Hoffman, RHP - Jeff Weaver.
Weaver isn't the typical Gillick signing, but if the Phillies deal Vicente Padilla, they'll need a proven arm. Hoffman is a nice short-term replacement for Wagner.
OF - Preston Wilson, SS - Rafael Furcal.
If the rotation could just stay healthy, the Cubs might be the best team in the NL.