Josh Hamilton's free-agent company
Cole Hamels is positioned perfectly for free agency, because it appears there will be nobody else like him on the market in the fall, assuming he doesn't sign with the Phillies. (And as of Thursday evening, his contract talks with the Phillies remain dormant.) Zack Greinke might be the second-best starter available this fall, and there are some big-market teams that will likely pass on him altogether because of questions about how he would adapt.
But the fall market for outfielders looks to be much more flush, with many accomplished players poised to cash in on free agency at a time when a lot of executives are re-evaluating the proper risk on long-term contracts and trying to determine appropriate prices.
This might not be a good thing for free-agent outfielders.
Less than two years ago, Carl Crawford got a seven-year, $142 million deal from the Red Sox, and Jayson Werth landed a seven-year, $126 million contract with Washington. Many club officials now consider those signings to be wildly outpriced -- yet it was just two weeks ago that Adam Jones, still more than a year from free agency, got a six-year, $85.5 million deal from the Baltimore Orioles.
What does all this mean for outfielders about to reach free agency? "I think the market is still trying to decide," a GM said Thursday.
But the number of alternatives may ultimately work against all of them, in one way or another.
The outfield free agents-to-be:
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