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Best MLB Free Agent Signings of 2013


As spring training continues in Florida and Arizona, Athlon Sports offers its thoughts on all the offseason movement. Here are the best free agent signings in Major League Baseball for 2013:

Mike Adams, Philadelphia Phillies

2 years, $12,000,000

Last year Philadelphia’s set-up men blew 15 saves. Adams has blown just 11 in the last five seasons and should solve the Phils’ eighth-inning woes.

Michael Bourn, Cleveland Indians
4 years, $48,000,000
The Indians certainly were the beneficiaries of a shrinking market late in the offseason. Bourn, one of the best defensive center fielders in the game, immediately makes the Cleveland pitching staff better. While his efficiency stealing bases has declined the past few years, he has a .346 OBP over the past three seasons and will be the catalyst for the Indians' lineup. With a vesting option for 2017, this contract will likely end up being a five-year, $60 million deal, which will make it look even better. It’s backloaded as Bourn will make just seven million this season.

Kyuji Fujikawa, Chicago Cubs

2 years, $9,500,000

It’s always difficult to project how Japanese pitchers will fare in the U.S. Hideki Irabu was not very good; Dice-K’s success was short-lived; Yu Darvish is off to a great start. But Fujikawa owns 510 Ks and only a combined 316 hits and walks in six seasons in Japan. By the end of this deal, he should be ranked fifth on the Cubs’ all-time saves list.

Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers

6 years, $147,000,000

The former American League Cy Young winner will begin to understand the pressure that a $147 million contract brings, but he enters the best situation to succeed of his career. He should get solid run support and will make about half his starts in a terrific pitcher’s park. 

Dan Haren, Washington Nationals

1 year, $13,000,000

Haren was not fully healthy in 2012, the first season he logged fewer than 216 innings since becoming a full-time starter in 2005. He will round out one of the top rotations in baseball.

Roberto Hernandez, Tampa Bay Rays

1 year, $3,250,000

Performed under the stage name of Fausto Carmona for several years in Cleveland. He made just three starts last season and is 33–51 with a 5.06 ERA over the past five seasons. However, given some time with pitching coach Jim Hickey, perhaps Hernandez can rekindle his career.

Torii Hunter, Detroit Tigers

2 years, $26,000,000

In the Tigers’ lineup, his bat will be a bonus as he improves the outfield defense. Hunter is the type of player the city of Detroit will love.

Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners

2 years, $14,000,000

Iwakuma joined the Mariners’ rotation in July and made 16 starts. Over his last 13 starts he had a 2.16 ERA, and Seattle was 9–4 in those games.  

Edwin Jackson, Chicago Cubs

4 years, $52,000,000

This four-year deal may finally end the nomadic portion of Jackson’s career in which he played for six teams in the last five seasons. During that time, he’s averaged 32 starts, 199 innings, 12 wins and a 4.06 ERA. His record tends to reflect his team’s, so don’t expect him to be better than .500 for his first few seasons in Chicago.

Hiroki Kuroda, New York Yankees

1 year, $15,000,000

It’s surprising that Kuroda didn’t get a multi-year deal. He and CC Sabathia anchor the Yankees’ pitching staff.

James Loney, Tampa Bay Rays

1 year, $2,000,000

The slick-fielding first baseman could be the latest offensive reclamation in Tampa Bay. His defense alone at first base is worth the $2 million.

Hiroyuki Nakajima, Oakland Athletics

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2 years, $6,500,000

The .300 hitter from Japan is a much cheaper (and better?) option than Stephen Drew if the A’s had picked up Drew’s $10 million option.

David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox

2 years, $26,000,000

Expect Big Papi’s production to drop. But he’s a fan favorite, and $11 million in 2014 isn’t going to hamstring the team. This is a good gamble.

Angel Pagan, San Francisco Giants

4 years, $40,000,000

The fleet center fielder sparked the Giants’ offense during the pennant drive last season, including scoring 32 runs in August.

Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox

2 years, $29,000,000

Only five times last season did a pitcher throw nine or more innings, give up three runs or fewer and lose. That happened to Peavy twice. The righthander agreed to these terms in lieu of a $4 million buyout. 

Andy Pettitte, New York Yankees

1 year, $12,000,000

The aging lefty made two quality starts in the postseason in 2012, giving the Yankees confidence that there’s one more season left in the old vet.

A.J. Pierzynski, Texas Rangers

1 year, $7,500,000

A catcher who can hit and answers the bell every day is worth $7.5 million.

Mark Reynolds, Cleveland Indians

1 year, $6,000,000

This is a low-risk, medium-reward play for Cleveland, and Reynolds’ right-handed raw power will probably make it pay off for the Tribe.

Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees

1 year, $10,000,000

Never bet against the Sandman.

Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers

6 years, $36,000,000

Even considering the $25.7 million posting fee, Ryu stands to be a good bargain as a No. 4 starter for the Dodgers making just $10 million over the next three seasons in addition to his $5 million signing bonus. With the Dodgers’ win-at-all-costs mentality, this is not an outlandish contract.

Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants

3 years, $20,000,000

It’s too much to expect Scutaro to continue to hit .362 as he did down the stretch for the Giants last season. But over the past four years, he has batted .290 with a .356 OBP. 

Nick Swisher, Cleveland Indians

4 years, $56,000,000

In a free agent market short on outfielders, the Indians may have paid a little too much. But Swisher will be a big part of any success the Indians have under manager Terry Francona.

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