Hardball Talk, our NBC Sports site, has compiled a list of baseball’s top 150 free agents. In previous posts, I’ve already written extensively about the Orioles’ free agents, but let’s recap HBT’s rankings, and see first, who might leave—and why.
Scott Feldman is ranked as HBT’s 13th best free agent and its 29th best free agent overall. He’s ranked behind some more accomplished pitchers, Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jiminez, A.J. Burnett, Hiroki Kuroda, Bronson Arroyo, Tim Hudson and Bartolo Colon.
Highest on the potential free agent list is Masahiro Tanaka, who as HBT points out, isn’t a free agent yet, but if the 25-year-old Japanese right-hander were, he’d be the highest ranking pitcher on the list.
Feldman is also ranked behind some highly questionable pitchers: Dan Haren, Scott Kazmir and Phil Hughes.
While Haren has won 129 games, he had a rocky year with the Nationals. Kazmir, who once led the American League in strikeouts, had a nice comeback and won 10 games for Cleveland, his first major league wins in three seasons.
Hughes was a disaster for the Yankees, going 4-14, a year after winning 16 games.
Feldman pitched creditably for the Orioles after his midseason acquisition from Chicago. In a difficult ballpark to pitch in, Feldman allowed just five home runs in nine starts.
I’d rank him even with Ricky Nolasco and Jason Vargas, two other pitchers HBT has ahead of Feldman.
After some of the higher-ranking pitchers sign, Feldman will look for a three-year contract, which the Orioles are reluctant to give him. If he’ll settle for a two-year contract for less than $20 million, he can re-sign here.
HBT has Michael Morse rated as the 53rd best free agent on the list. Morse recently had right wrist surgery, and I can’t see the Orioles re-signing him.
Morse was 3-for-29 with the Orioles, and was hitless in his last 24 at-bats. I think he’ll be fortunate to get a major league contract based on last season, but others may be swayed by his strong years with the Nationals.
Jason Hammel is ranked 60th, and the only way he returns to the Orioles is if there’s no market for him. Hammel had knee surgery in 2012 and a forearm injury this year.
HBT’s 62nd best free agent, Francisco Rodriguez should have plenty of suitors. One of the best relievers of our time, K-Rod was never used in save situations in his Orioles stint, but with another team, might be a better fit.
Nate McLouth is midway in HBT’s list. He’s better than the 75th best free agent on the list, far ahead of Morse. The Orioles would like to re-sign him, but if he gets a two-year, $10 million contract as some have predicted, he’s gone.
Brian Roberts is ranked 84th by HBT. Because of his injury history, that’s warranted. He’s also a decent fit for the Orioles because he’s played nowhere else and really doesn’t want to, and because few other teams are craving a 36-year-old second baseman.
The others on the 150 are Wilson Betemit (134) and Tsuyoshi Wada (146).
Actually, Betemit was released by the Orioles in September. No one picked him up. He hurt his right knee in late March and didn’t play until August. A once-skilled hitter, Betemit will have to go to winter ball to create any kind of a market.
The Orioles spent $8.15 million on Wada. In his two years, he didn’t pitch for the Orioles after Tommy John surgery, and they’re about to decline their $5 million option on him. He could return on a minor league deal next spring.