There’s still a full season of baseball to finish before the free agency period begins. As any good chess player knows, you need to think a few moves ahead even while focusing on the current game. A look at the upcoming free agents following the 2014 season, these are five likely to find a new home in 2015.
Quietly Justin Masterson has become one of the better pitchers in baseball. The Jamaican born pitcher for the Cleveland Indians has blossomed into a pitcher capable of throwing a shutout on any given day.
The 2013 season was Masterson’s best, finishing with a 14-10 record and more than a strikeout per inning. While the Indians had their run in the playoffs cut short, Masterson was a big reason why they were able to get there in the first place. Still young enough to command a large contract, the Indians will have to change a lot about how they do business if they want to keep him around.
One of the most underrated power hitters of the century, Aramis Ramirez, has seen better days. This goes specifically for health as he missed almost half of the 2013 season.
After spending 9 seasons with the Chicago Cubs, Ramirez joined his third National League Central team by signing with the Milwaukee Brewers before the 2012 season. Even at his advanced age Ramirez can still deliver the long ball and even managed to lead the league in doubles with 50 back in 2012. His option for 2015 is a mutual one, but seeing as the Brewers might be better suited giving younger players an opportunity and focus on the future he is very likely to hit free agency.
For a while it looked like Pablo Sandoval was headed toward a Hall of Fame career. His well-rounded play turned into a more well-rounded body and numbers suddenly dropped. Unable to blame his weight because he has slimmed down, Sandoval continues to struggle so far in 2014.
The San Francisco Giants are very unlikely to re-sign Sandoval following the 2014 season. The days of the Kung Fu Panda being a charming character are over. Sandoval might already be better suited in the American League working as a designated hitter; that is if he can start hitting again.
The reigning Cy Young Winner in the American League will hit the open market after 2014. His team, the Detroit Tigers, are already paying Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander over $20 million each. Locking Scherzer into another big contract could severely set them back for years if things don’t work as planned.
These three will definitely regress at around the same time which is something every team should try to avoid. Somebody would be willing to pay big money for Scherzer and he knows it. There are always owners who decide to start spending and landing a name like Scherzer could be exactly what they want.
There’s little glory pitching in Kansas City for the Royals these days which is why James Shields might not stick around after 2014. The main reason why the Royals may want to keep him is that they gave up a lot to get him. To do this they will have to spend a lot of money.
Aside from being able to pitch a lot of innings, Shields has remained generally healthy since debuting in 2006 with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Shields is an underrated veteran commodity that will benefit greatly from being on an already established team instead of the Royals. A lot will depend on how good the Royals do in 2014 and whether or not he thinks they can contend soon after.