Commentary

2013 free agents-to-be, by position

Updated: March 7, 2012, 3:54 PM ET
By Brian Gramling | Special to ESPN.com

As we reach the end of the free agency period for 2012, we begin to look ahead at the 2013 free agents-to-be. The numbers next to each player are the current ESPN Fantasy 2012 preseason rankings for each player at his primary position. This is not a comprehensive list, mind you, just the biggest names currently headed for free agency following the season.

Catchers

[+] EnlargeMike Napoli
Rick Osentoski/US PresswireMike Napoli, an offensive-minded catcher, finished second on the Player Rater among catchers in 2011.

1. Mike Napoli, Rangers: Napoli reportedly has said he'll test the open market this fall, but given his recent production the Rangers likely will try to keep him around as long as they can.
3. Brian McCann, Braves: Unless he suffers a major injury in 2012, Atlanta will more than likely pick up his $12 million club option.
5. Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks: Apparently Montero's contract extension talks have stalled, possibly because Yadier Molina's 5-year, $75 million deal set a new baseline for top-flight players at this position. Montero is a better offensive player than Molina, and Arizona might not be able to afford him.
14. Russell Martin, Yankees: New York obviously thought enough of Martin and his 18-homer, 65-RBI season to trade away Jesus Montero. But the Yanks already have decided to wait to see how Martin does in 2012 before agreeing to the three-year, $27 million deal that Martin likely will ask for.
19. Chris Iannetta, Angels: Let's see how Iannetta does outside Coors Field for a full season. At 28 years old, he is certainly capable of playing well enough to prompt the front office to pick up his $5 million club option.
21. A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox: He's 35 right now and probably won't generate much interest at the trade deadline.
22. Ryan Doumit, Twins: A lot will depend on the health of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. If the stars can play the field, Doumit can hang around as the everyday DH.

First basemen

11. Lance Berkman, Cardinals: With Albert Pujols gone, Berkman, who turned 36 this February, should be able to man first base for the Redbirds the next couple years.
17. Carlos Lee, Astros: He's earning $18.5 million this season, so he'll likely have to take a major pay cut if he doesn't want to retire. He could stick around Houston to be the Astros' first full-time DH in 2013 as they move to the American League.
21. Carlos Pena, Rays: After hitting .196 for the Rays in 2010, Tampa Bay liked this guy enough to give him a one-year, $7.25 million deal in January to bring him back to Florida. He turns 34 in May and probably will find a way to stick around with the Rays past this season.
33. James Loney, Dodgers: Although he's only 27, the Dodgers probably won't give Loney a long-term deal, especially if he continues to struggle so badly against lefties (.561 OPS in 2011).
37. Aubrey Huff, Giants: With prospects Brandon Belt and Brett Pill on the roster, the Giants are unlikely to pick up Huff's $10 million club option (there's a $2 million buyout). He's a good candidate to be traded in late July.
40. Adam LaRoche, Nationals: He has a $10 million mutual option with a $1 million buyout. The Nationals likely will go with the latter option if he bats .172 with a .258 slugging percentage like he did in 2011.

Second basemen

[+] EnlargeRobinson Cano
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesIt's doubtful the Yankees will let Robinson Cano reach the open market.

1. Robinson Cano, Yankees: You gotta believe the Yankees will do everything in their power to make sure the 29-year-old Cano stays in pinstripes for at least the foreseeable future. He has a $15 million club option that likely will be picked up, and the team likely will try to ink him to a long-term deal before he hits the open market.
3. Ian Kinsler, Rangers: The Rangers figure to pick up his $10 million club option for 2013 and attempt to sign Kinsler, who turns 30 in June, to a long-term deal before next season.
6. Brandon Phillips, Reds: The front office has said the team is committed to Phillips long term, but he's making $12 million this year, and likely will want a three-year deal worth at least that much per season.
14. Kelly Johnson, Blue Jays: He's making $6.375 million in 2012 and still has the coveted power/speed combo to land on a contender, if the Jays aren't one, before this season is over.
26. Orlando Hudson, Padres: It's doubtful Hudson will be a Padre after this season; the club likely won't pick up an $8 million club option for a 35-year-old (in December) with a sub-.700 OPS last year.
31. Maicer Izturis, Angels: He'll likely test the free-agent waters after this year and probably find those waters quite frigid.

Shortstops

11. Jhonny Peralta, Tigers: His remarkable durability (140-plus games in seven straight seasons) and consistency (80-plus RBIs in each of the past four years) should make it a pretty easy decision for Detroit to pick up his $6 million option for 2013.
12. Erick Aybar, Angels: He fits well with the Angels, and the team has gotten solid production out of him. At age 28, chances are good that Aybar will sign a contract extension with the Angels before reaching the free-agent market after this season.
14. Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks: Unless he has an All-Star campaign in 2012, which isn't likely with his ankle not yet 100 percent, Arizona likely will part ways with Drew after this season and spend his $10 million mutual option on someone with fewer health question marks.
15. Marco Scutaro, Rockies: He's a free agent-to-be and will turn 37 in October, so you can figure the Rockies will try to get something for him if their playoff hopes are looking dim in late July.
20. Jason Bartlett, Padres: Bartlett has a $5.5 million club option for 2013, which is guaranteed if he reaches 432 plate appearances in 2012. As such, it's quite possible the Padres would try to trade the 32-year-old this season to avoid having to pick up the option.

Third basemen

[+] EnlargeDavid Wright
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesWill the Mets trade fan-favorite David Wright in 2012?

4. David Wright, Mets: The Mets appear destined to have a sub-.500 record this season, and trading Wright, who will turn 30 in December, for some prospects likely would the serve the team well in the long run. If there are no takers, the Mets likely will pick up his $16 million option for 2013.
11. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox: Youk likely isn't going anywhere. Unless his 2012 is littered with injuries and/or ineffectiveness, he should be back in Boston in 2013 for a semi-reasonable $13 million.
12. Mark Reynolds, Orioles: Baltimore likely won't be in a playoff race anytime soon, so trading away this slugger to a contender makes sense. If the O's do hang on to Reynolds, exercising the 28-year-old's $11 million club option is at least justifiable.
17. Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays: The emergence of Brett Lawrie and Jose Bautista makes Encarnacion expendable. The question will be if any other team really wants to go after him before the trade deadline.
21. Chipper Jones, Braves: Atlanta has a $7 million club option for 2013 that vests automatically at $9 million if Jones logs 123 games in 2012.
31. Placido Polanco, Phillies: It's possible that he'll stay with Philly as a 37-year-old in 2013, but it's more likely the Phils will pass on his $5.5 million mutual option and take the $1 million buyout.
32. Scott Rolen, Reds: He'll turn 37 in April, and his recent track record indicates he can't be counted on to produce and stay healthy.
34. Ty Wigginton, Phillies: The 34-year-old should stick around the majors for a couple more years, thanks to his power bat and versatility in the field. Barring a disappointing 2012, the Phils probably want to keep him as insurance for their injury-prone infield and pick up his $4 million option at the end of the year.
43. Brandon Inge, Tigers: A $6 million club option seems like way too steep a price for a guy who is coming off a .197/.265/.283 BA/OBP/SLG season (in 2011).

Outfielders

7. Curtis Granderson, Yankees: If he plays in 2012 anything close to the way he did in 2011, the Yankees likely won't nickel-and-dime their star outfielder. They'll keep him for 2013 at $13 million and like it.
11. Michael Bourn, Braves: Bourn doesn't turn 30 until December, but he's likely to have a multiyear contract with Atlanta signed well before his milestone birthday.
14. Josh Hamilton, Rangers: Texas has a ton of money locked up with its multitude of stars, and it wouldn't be too shocking if the team allows the 30-year-old Hamilton, who has had his share of off-field problems, to leave via free agency. He already has inferred that he won't offer a hometown discount when he becomes a free agent.
18. Shane Victorino, Phillies: He originally said he would want a five-year deal from the Phils or he'd walk, but now it appears the two sides could probably settle on a more realistic three-year extension before he becomes a free agent after the 2012 season.
25. B.J. Upton, Rays: He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $7 million deal in January, but if Tampa Bay falls behind the Yankees and Red Sox in 2012, there likely will be plenty of interested parties for the services of this talented 27-year-old.
27. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: He already is making $17 million in 2012, so he'll likely have to take a huge pay cut for 2013. He posted a .645 OPS in 2011 and turns 39 in October.
37. Andre Ethier, Dodgers: Assuming his knee holds up, Ethier could have a fine bounce-back 2012 campaign, which likely would earn him a contract extension during the season.
40. Torii Hunter, Angels: He wants to play two or three more years in LA, but he likely won't do it at the $18 million price tag he currently has. Hunter turns 37 in July.
41. Melky Cabrera, Giants: He's one of the bigger bargains in baseball at $6 million, and he'll make a lot of money somewhere if he posts another .809 OPS season in San Francisco like he did in Kansas City.
42. Nick Swisher, Yankees: With teammates Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson as higher free agent-to-be priorities, the Yankees probably will let Swisher become a free agent after this season unless he checks in at a reasonable price.
46. Angel Pagan, Giants: He'll be looking for a lot more than the $4.85 million he'll make in 2012. However, San Francisco likely will be in a heated pennant race in 2012 and will hang on to their leadoff hitter for the entire season.
55. Carlos Quentin, Padres: He probably didn't figure to be spending a contract year in San Diego … but at least the weather's nice there. San Diego gave him a nice salary bump from $5.05 million to $7.025 million and could ink the 29-year-old to a contract extension before he becomes a free agent.
62. Delmon Young, Tigers: This is a make-or-break season for the 26-year-old Young, who will be paid $6.75 million in 2012. He'll likely spend the entire campaign in the Motor City then test the free-agent waters.
84. Marlon Byrd, Cubs: With stud prospect Brett Jackson waiting for a call-up, Byrd, who turns 35 in August, will most likely be in a different uniform following the trade deadline, trying to help some team make a playoff push.
88. Cody Ross, Red Sox: This was a great signing by Boston (one year, $3 million), and Ross could earn himself a few more years in Boston if he settles in and becomes a good fourth outfielder.

Designated hitters

1. David Ortiz, Red Sox: Boston will pay Ortiz $14.575 million in 2012 and likely will pay top dollar again if he has another .309-29-96 season for the Sox.
6. Travis Hafner, Indians: Tough call here. If you're the Indians and Hafner posts another .811 OPS, you probably have to pick up his $13 million club option, or lose a beloved run producer who is still just 34 years old. But if injuries bite again, the Indians likely will suck it up and buy him out for $2.75 million.
7. Manny Ramirez, Athletics: This season likely will be a one-and-done situation for Ramirez, whose contract is non-guaranteed. And it's doubtful a contender would give up much to get this guy for a stretch run.
8. Jim Thome, Phillies: There just doesn't seem to be a market for 42-year-old pinch-hitters, even those with 600-plus career home runs.

Starting pitchers

[+] EnlargeCole Hamels
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarPhillies southpaw Cole Hamels is in his prime at age 28.

8. Cole Hamels, Phillies: Talks have already begun for a contract extension (Hamels wants several years at $20 million per season). Don't expect Hamels to go anywhere.
9. Dan Haren, Angels: He'd probably want to get an extension done before his all-too-common second-half fade, but all signs point toward the Angels picking up his $15.5 million club option for 2013 and then focusing on a long-term deal.
11. Zack Greinke, Brewers: Expect Greinke's name to be bandied about come June as the most highly coveted two-month rental. No matter what happens this year, the 28-year-old should be able to rake in a ton of cash when he becomes a free agent after this season.
14. Matt Cain, Giants: Although contract extension talks have stalled for the moment, the Giants don't have any plans to part with this tremendous 27-year-old hurler.
15. James Shields, Rays: Many teams reportedly have asked what it would take to acquire Shields, and Tampa's asking price has been way too high for any serious negotiations to take place. Unless he reverts back to his 2010 season (5.18 ERA), the Rays likely will pick up his $9 million club option for 2013 and then figure out whether to trade him.
34. Shaun Marcum, Brewers: Assuming Zack Greinke bolts, Milwaukee will need to keep Marcum around to anchor the staff alongside Yovani Gallardo. Marcum is making $7.725 million this year, and barring injury/ineffectiveness, he'll probably end up making about the same (or more) money next year.
41. Anibal Sanchez, Marlins: At this point, Miami is not going to part with a pitcher who is hitting his prime -- Sanchez just turned 28 in February -- and coming off a 202-strikeout season.
42. Tim Hudson, Braves: It all depends on how his back holds up, but it's doubtful Atlanta is going to pick up his $9 million club option after the season ends.
44. Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees: Kuroda inked a one-year, $10 million deal with a full no-trade clause, indicating that New York believes Kuroda can still be a top-flight starter at age 37.
47. Scott Baker, Twins: Assuming his elbow injury is as minor as reported, Minnesota will most likely exercise his $9.25 million option and then worry about losing him after 2013.
49. Ervin Santana, Angels: Los Angeles spent a ton of money this past offseason and would likely love to unload Santana's $11.2 million salary for 2012. There's little chance the team would pick up his $13 million club option for 2013.
53. Colby Lewis, Rangers: After losing C.J. Wilson, the Rangers likely won't part with Lewis unless he has a disastrous 2012 season. A contract extension during the 2012 season is certainly a possibility, especially if Yu Darvish isn't as good as advertised.
54. Brandon McCarthy, Athletics: He's making only $4.275 million, which is quite affordable for a pitcher of his ilk. Expect the A's to hang on to McCarthy unless they are blown away by a trade proposal from a pitching-starved playoff hopeful.
58. Gavin Floyd, White Sox: Expect to hear Floyd's name a lot when June rolls around. Unless the White Sox are major contenders, it will not be in their best interest to hold on to Floyd and pick up his $9.5 million option.
61. Ryan Dempster, Cubs: He's a lovable guy, but the Cubs likely will be more than happy to rid themselves of Dempster's $14 million contract in 2012. He'll turn 35 in May, and could certainly help a team win a pennant this year.
63. Brett Myers, Astros: Houston has little chance of fielding a competitive team for a few years, so Myers could be traded away in July, just like all the other star Astros players over the past two years. But chances are better that he has a strong season as the closer and Houston picks up his $10 million club option for 2013.
65. Jonathan Sanchez, Royals: Although he won't be pitching in many crucial games for the always-rebuilding Royals, Sanchez could provide value for somebody desperate for a quality left arm. His $5.6 million contract this year isn't outrageous, but he'll need to do a lot better than a 4-7 record, 4.26 ERA and 1.44 WHIP (his 2011 numbers) to garner any outside trade interest.
67. Edwin Jackson, Nationals: He reportedly turned down a three-year, $30 million deal with Pittsburgh and instead inked a one-year, $11 million contract to pitch for Washington. He's almost certain to test the free-agent market in 2013, which makes him a trade possibility this July.
76. Jake Peavy, White Sox: If his shoulder holds up, numerous clubs could seek the services of Peavy at the trade deadline. He's only 30 years old, and if the White Sox want to keep him they'll have to pony up $22 million to pick up his option, or $4 million to buy him out.
77. R.A. Dickey, Mets: There are worse contracts out there, but New York will more than likely choose not to exercise its $5 million club option and let Dickey become a free agent.

Relief pitchers

[+] EnlargeMariano Rivera
John O'Boyle/The Star-Ledger/US PresswireMariano Rivera enters 2012 as our No.2-ranked RP option.

2. Mariano Rivera, Yankees: Can you imagine him pitching anywhere but New York? He'll turn 43 in November, and his cutter still will likely be unhittable.
6. Ryan Madson, Reds: Cincinnati would have to be really desperate to let this guy walk. The team likely is fully prepared to pick up his $11 million mutual option at the end of the year.
10. Jose Valverde, Tigers: A perfect 49 for 49 saves in 2011 have earned Valverde $9 million for 2012. He's not going anywhere this year, but he'll likely be a free agent following the season.
14. J.J. Putz, Diamondbacks: Given his injury history, Arizona likely is in no hurry to work out a contract extension. If he remains effective, the Diamondbacks likely will exercise his $6.5 million club option for 2013.
19. Kyle Farnsworth, Rays: Tampa Bay picked up his $3.3 million option for 2012 but likely won't lock him up with a long-term deal. He's a candidate to be moved before the trade deadline if he remains an effective closer.
20. Huston Street, Padres: If San Diego went through the trouble of trading for Street, you have to figure the team wants to keep him around awhile. Expect his $9 million mutual option to be picked up by the Padres in 2013, and maybe Huston, too.
23. Brandon League, Mariners: League, an up-and-coming closer on a horrible, team, could be dealt in 2012, considering his one-year, $5 million contract for this season is reasonable for a pitcher who had 37 saves last year.
25. Matt Capps, Twins: After blowing nine saves in 2011, Capps is expendable for the rebuilding Twins. But with a $6 million club option for next season, there probably won't be many takers for Capps' services long term.
29. Grant Balfour, A's: He'll probably win the closer job in Oakland, but even if he doesn't the A's might keep Balfour as a setup man for 2012. That said, most setup men don't earn $4.5 million a season, which is Balfour's option-year figure. That makes him a midseason trade candidate in 2012.

Brian Gramling is a fantasy baseball, football and college basketball analyst for ESPN Fantasy Games.