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Predicting where Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes, Dexter Fowler end up

With Alex Gordon returning to the Royals and Denard Span signing with the Giants, we should see some rapid movement with the other top free-agent outfielders: Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes and Dexter Fowler.

Gordon was an attractive option for teams seeking a corner outfielder because even though he's older than Upton or Cespedes, it meant it would cost less and require fewer years. Front offices love to avoid risk, even at the potential upside of Upton or Cespedes. Gordon agreed to a four-year, $72-million contract; Upton and Cespedes will both likely get at least five years and top $100 million. With Gordon, front offices would be primarily worried about how he'd age into his mid-30s; with Upton and Cespedes, you're worried about the dollars and their inconsistent pattern of production (especially with Cespedes).

Anyway, Gordon is gone, so let's consider the teams who could get these guys.

Via the FanGraphs projections, here are the 10 worst left-field situations in the majors (starting from the bottom): Phillies, Padres, Reds, Braves, Orioles, Angels, White Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers.

And here are the 10 worst right-field situations (Upton can play either corner, but Cespedes prefers to play left): Diamondbacks, White Sox, Phillies, Braves, Reds, Orioles, Royals, Yankees, Twins, Padres.

Some of these positions are already locked in: Matt Kemp in right field with the Padres, the Yankees with Carlos Beltran and Aaron Hicks in right field, the D-backs with Yasmany Tomas, the Blue Jays with Ben Revere in left, and so on. Teams such as the Braves, Reds and Phillies are still rebuilding and won't be spending on free agency (although you could make an argument for the Phillies pursuing Upton, considering he's young enough to still be a factor when the Phillies are ready to contend again, plus they're a big-market team with money to spend).

Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles have agreed to a deal with Korean left fielder Hyun Soo Kim, although he's not yet included on the FanGraphs depth chart. That still leaves a gaping hole in right field, and Buster Olney wrote today that the Orioles have been in contact with Upton's agents "and it's possible that Upton could choose the same route as Nelson Cruz two years ago, when Cruz took a one-year deal to sign with the O's." There are differences between those two, however: Cruz was 33, coming off a PED suspension and with little defensive value; Upton is 28 and a reliable outfielder. The only advantage to him signing a one-year deal is that next year's free-agent crop is much weaker. Still, he's young enough and valuable enough that he should still get a lucrative offer.

The Orioles' projected payroll is already at its 2015 level, so it seems unlikely there's room for Chris Davis and Upton or Cespedes, but if Davis goes elsewhere, the Orioles are more likely to make a run at an outfielder. As Olney wrote, maybe the Orioles move on from Davis and pursue Upton instead.

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers' core is old, the owner is old and wealthy and the team won just 74 games in 2015. With Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez and Justin Verlander all 33 or older, the Tigers' window with his group is obviously short and Jordan Zimmermann isn't enough to push the Tigers into the playoffs. They could use another big bat, so bringing back Cespedes certainly makes sense. Mike Ilitch bought the team in 1992 for $82 million. Forbes estimated its value at $1.125 billion last March. Ilitch is 86. He should be spending all the money, even if it means the Tigers have to pay some luxury tax.

Los Angeles Angels: The left-field situation is currently a Daniel Nava/Craig Gentry platoon. Gordon would have been a nice fit, as the Angels need a left-handed bat, but owner Arte Moreno has said the team doesn't want to go over the luxury tax and it's only $4 million under right now. If Moreno sticks to his word, the Angels won't get Upton or Cespedes.

Texas Rangers: Ken Rosenthal reported that the Rangers were interested in Upton, but on a one-year deal. The Rangers have Josh Hamilton, Delino DeShields and Shin-Soo Choo in the outfield and top prospect Nomar Mazara on the way, but the lineup leans left-handed with Hamilton, Choo, Prince Fielder, Mitch Moreland and Rougned Odor. Upton's right-handed bat would certainly fit nicely in the middle. And can you really count on Hamilton? The Rangers' payroll is at an estimated $144 million after finishing at $156 million last year. They're a big-market team and they're on the books for some big contracts well beyond 2016, but they look like a good sleeper team to reel in Upton.

Chicago White Sox: Their payroll is right at its 2015 level, but they were reportedly interested in Gordon or Cespedes on a three-year deal. So there appears to be some wiggle room. They finished last in home runs in 2015 and have added Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie, but a new corner outfielder to replace Avisail Garcia would be nice. But they're unlikely to participate if the bidding goes well beyond that $100 million mark.

Prediction: Cespedes to the Tigers, Upton to the Rangers. Davis goes back to the Orioles.

Span's signing leaves Fowler and Austin Jackson as potential starting center fielders. FanGraphs' worst center-field situations (from the bottom): Rockies, Rangers, Nationals, A's, Indians, Tigers, Padres, Braves, Phillies, Mariners.

The FanGraphs projection system certainly doesn't like Charlie Blackmon or DeShields. The Nationals have Michael Taylor, who can cover the ground on defense but projects to a .301 OBP. They're also counting on a healthy Jayson Werth. The Indians are the other obvious contender in need of a center fielder, currently counting on Abraham Almonte and Rajai Davis (who is 35). Fowler is tied to draft-pick compensation, so it seems unlikely the Indians will want to give up their first-round pick to sign him.

This one is a little harder to predict, but my idea: The White Sox sign Fowler and move Adam Eaton to right field. The White Sox's first-round pick is protected, so they'd lose their second-rounder, an obviously more palatable idea. Austin Jackson to the Nationals makes sense, giving them a second center-field option and improved depth.