Merry Christmas -- and happy holidays! It's Christmas morning and there are plenty of free agents still available on the market. Today I bring you a four-some of free agents with a dash of holiday cheer.
For a full rundown of free agents still available, be sure to check out MLB Depth Charts' Updated Top-40 Free Agent Rankings. Have a safe and happy holiday, and go easy on the eggnog. Cheers!
The Bike Under the Tree
This is the big one. (WARNING! SPOILER!!!) The one you wrote to Santa even after you found out there was no Santa. Maybe your "bike under the tree" was a puppy. Or a Big Wheel. Mine was always the newest video game system. My favorite Christmas gift of all time was Nintendo 64; I played Super Mario 64 the entire day until my eyes closed involuntarily.
This year, I hope to wake up to a Christmas morning miracle of the Rakuten Golden Eagles' announcement to post 25-year-old starter Masahiro Tanaka. The NPB ace's arrival would likely jump start the current free-agent market of starting pitching that includes Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Matt Garza, and every team with a $20 million bid to spare -- so, pretty much everybody -- will have interest in luring the premiere international free agent to its city. Tanaka would instantly become a front-of-the-rotation starter.
Free-agent prediction: Yankees
**UPDATE: My Christmas morning miracle was made official Tuesday night, as Tanaka will officially be posted.**
The Stocking Stuffer
In my family, stocking stuffers are reserved for the goofiest, most impractical and -- often times -- most controversial gifts on Christmas. It once led to my sister moping around after she received Snowed In, a Christmas-themed CD by Hanson -- you know, the "MMMbop" guys. I received *NSYNC's Home for Christmas, which I still own today, and my oldest sister received XMAS! The Beatmas, a CD filled with Christmas parodies by a Beatles cover band (I recommend this one).
The biggest stocking stuffer left on this year's market is Fernando Rodney. The roller-coaster reliever followed a historically good 2012 with a historically bad 2013, and -- after losing Jim Johnson to Oakland and Grant Balfour to bad medicals -- the Orioles are reportedly interested in bringing in the 36-year-old vet. This is one stocking stuffer that could lead to multiple ninth-inning meltdowns and subsequent tears.
Free-agent prediction: Orioles
The Lump of Coal
I've never actually received a lump of coal; do socks count? Every now and then you receive a present you must fake smile your way through, but remember: you've likely been on the giving end of the equation, too. Every year, for example, I give my mom a calendar and re-use the same wrapping and bow, so I'm a prime example of coal giver. Sorry, mom.
I had to think long and hard about this one, but my free-agent lump of coal is A.J. Burnett. After posting his best ERA (3.30) since 2002, the 36-year-old right-hander is pondering retirement and making his NL-only owners frown. Both Pittsburgh and Baltimore are hoping he comes back for one more turn, but it's possible he's pitched for the last time. Burnett, of course, has had a fantastic 15-year career, winning 147 games and striking out more than 2,100 batters. That's an accomplished piece of coal.
Free-agent prediction: Staying home
The Gift Card
I love a good gift card. No, they don't require much thought from the giver, but have you ever not used a gift card? The best kinds are the prepaid ones that can be used anywhere, but sometimes you receive a store-specific one -- like a Starbucks card to a non-coffee drinker -- that you quickly re-gift to your aunt.
Nelson Cruz best exemplifies this season's gift card. The Rangers outfielder blasted 27 home runs and was on pace to set a career high before being hit with a 50-game suspension for his involvement to Biogenesis. Any team signing Cruz must weigh the possibility that they are receiving a watered-down version of Cruz, so there's always a chance of getting stuck with an expired $15 gift certificate to Circuit City. The Mariners are the front-runners.
Free-agent prediction: Astros
What free agents do you hope find a home this holiday season?
- Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Top 100 Hitters for 2014
- MLB Trade Rumors: Masahiro Tanaka to be posted, target in all drafts
- Deep League Drafting: Shortstop
- Fantasy Baseball Chat: The Holiday Edition
- The 2014 All Bounce Back Team: AL-only leagues
- 2014 Dynasty League 1st Round Results
- The 2014 All Bounce Back Team: NL-only Leagues