MLB's Winter Meetings ended last week, and with it most of the top free agent names came off the board during one of the craziest stretches of days in free agent history.
There are still more than a few players left on the market, but they're going quickly. The best indication: Last night, I started writing this up, only to find that the player with the fourth spot on the list, Michael Morse, had signed a two-year deal with the Marlins just this morning.
The whirlwind of speculation, rumors, progressions and deals has certainly cooled off, but players are still flying off the market at the drop of a hat. That's the nature of the business, and in the next 24 hours, there's a good chance another one of these names will be scooped up. Read this while it's still relevant!
5. Jake Peavy
Peavy hasn't had many suitors this offseason, at least as far as we know, but he could end up being a bargain signing wherever he ultimately ends up. The right-hander probably won't receive such a massive deal because of his age (he's 33) and some concerns about his overall performance, which is in flux after he posted a 4.72 ERA with the Red Sox last season before pitching lights out in San Francisco.
Peavy also had a rough time in the postseason, giving up 11 runs in 16 innings, including nine in 6.1 World Series frames. But the number that most teams will probably focus on is this: 2.17. That's Peavy's ERA across 12 starts with the Giants, perhaps a sign that he's closer to his Cy Young level of pitching than the performance he had in Boston, when he won once in 20 starts.
So far, the Marlins have already "had some dialogue" with Peavy's camp, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, though it's unclear whether the team's additions of Mat Latos and Dan Haren will steer them away from Peavy.
4. Colby Rasmus
Rasmus slipped quite a bit offensively last season, and he has a few holes in his game, but the 28-year-old is still the best free agent outfielder left at a position that has suddenly become rather thin.
Last year, Rasmus had a .287 on-base percentage with 29 walks against 124 strikeouts, the continuation of a three-year trend of poor plate discipline. However, he can hit for power, with 63 homers in 1,328 at-bats since the beginning of 2012. His wRC+ totals also rate him as an above-average hitter in three of the last five seasons, including an impressive 129 mark in 2013.
Most recently, the Cubs met with Rasmus, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Davidi noted the possible positive influence of new Cubs manager Joe Maddon, and he also mentioned that the Orioles have shown interest in Rasmus, which would be a nice transition for the outfielder as he'd stay in a hitter-friendly park within the AL East.
3. Asdrubal Cabrera
A whole bunch of teams have been linked to Cabrera, who is coming off a pair of down years at the plate and in the field. He hasn't cracked triple digits in wRC+ since 2012, and the notoriously poor fielder has yet to post a positive zone rating in any full season of his career.
The Giants wanted to slot Cabrera over at third base to replace Pablo Sandoval, but Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News reported that Cabrera prefers second base and "[isn't] a good fit right now" for the hot corner. Either way, it's pretty clear that Cabrera's defense at shortstop isn't up to par, and he might have to accept a different assignment if he wants to start next season.
2. James Shields
The Giants have been the leaders in the Shields sweepstakes for the past several days now, though nothing is certain until the right-hander puts pen to paper. Whoever ends up with Shields will have to pay him a lot of money into his late-30s, which might be worth it if he can churn out a few more good seasons, though it's also easy to see a long-term contract going south if Shields is unable to maintain the durability he's shown since 2008 (33 or more starts and more than 200 innings every year).
The right-hander hasn't shown signs of slowing down (yet), but Shields does turn 33 on Saturday, which is old in baseball terms—especially to be signing an extensive multi-year contract. Still, even if Big Game James' moniker is no longer appropriate, he's still capable of eating up a ton of innings and pitching well while he does it. A move to the National League would also likely suit Shields and his ERA rather well.
1. Max Scherzer
Scherzer's $144 million bet could net the right-hander more than $50 million extra if someone is willing to surpass the $200 million total that Scherzer is reportedly seeking, per FOX Sports' Jon Morosi.
Though he's not quite Clayton Kershaw—the only other pitcher to exceed the $200 million figure—Scherzer is still damn good, having posted ERAs of 2.90 and 3.15 over the last two seasons while leading the league in wins both times. He appeared more vulnerable last season than he did during his Cy Young campaign in 2013, seeing his WHIP spike by more than 20 points with a dramatic increase in hits per nine as well. But even if Scherzer wasn't able to maintain what were probably unsustainable figures in 2013, he is still far and away the best pitcher left, and he will earn more than enough money to justify the gamble he took at the beginning of the season.