Free Agency Analysis: Top 10 Hitters

Free Agency Analysis: Top 10 Hitters

The hot stove is up and running, and that means our attention has turned to the free agent class. With some clubs hesitant to hand out the big dollars and others ready to open their checkbooks, it's shaping up to be a fascinating off-season. Here's a look at the ten best hitters on this year's free agent market.

1. Josh Hamilton, OF

There's no one near Josh Hamilton in terms of talent in this free agent class, and that just about goes without saying. But, you aren't hearing the rumors of teams simply throwing the massive proposals his way that his talent would lead you to believe. Make no mistake, Hamilton comes with baggage and significant risk and it's showing on the open market. Obviously, though, for the correct deal, someone is going to land one of the best handful of players in the game.

2. Michael Bourn, OF

Speed on the bases is making a comeback in baseball. The 40 home run bats are harder to come by than in the past, making impact base runners all the more valuable. Bourn is a 40 stolen base threat with elite defensive skills in the prime of his career. He should be able to land himself a comfortable three year contract.

3. B.J. Upton, OF

To say that Upton's career has been enigmatic would be an understatement. But, for all his ups and downs, Upton is a plus defender at a premium position, and he's capable of being a 30-30 player. And, at 28-years-old, the hope if you're a suitor is that you will be getting the prime years of his career.

4. Nick Swisher, OF

Yankee fans will bemoan his playoff failures, but if you're looking for a player that will allow you to pencil in his production numbers, look no further than Nick Swisher. He may not get the four years he reportedly is seeking, but you can feel comfortable that Swisher will deliver production wise over the course of a three year contract.

5. Adam LaRoche, 1B

Almost anonymously, Adam LaRoche is just shy of 200 home runs in his nine year career. And, 2012 was arguably the best year of that career. As quiet as he may go about his business, general managers are aware of his value. First base is a deep position in Major League Baseball, but there are still plenty of teams who could use a 30 home run left-handed bat who is also a plus defender.

6. Mike Napoli, C

Mike Napoli is probably somewhere in between what he did in 2011 and 2012. He likely will hit above .227 in 2013, but also will probably hit well below the .320 mark he hit in 2011. Perennial 20-30 home run bats who can catch will always be hot commodities though, and teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, and many others will do their due diligence on Napoli this off-season.

7. Angel Pagan, OF

This is a difficult free agent class to evaluate, loaded with enigmatic yet talented players. Pagan is a slightly different case, but is still a difficult case to get a handle on. He's a unique player that was somewhat of a late bloomer. He's a difference maker on the bases, is a more than capable outfielder, and he can provide timely hitting at the top of the order. You'll find that teams value him very different but he'll likely end up getting a $30-40 deal considering the state of the market and the uniqueness of his game.

8. Shane Victorino, OF

Victorino is hitting free agency at a pivotal point in his career. He'll be 32-years-old headed into spring training, coming off a very down years by his standards. Was it an off year or have we seen Victorino's best seasons already? He has a boat load of suitors that believe he's an affordable option, but only time will tell as to whether he'll be a bargain or not.

9. Torii Hunter, OF

Hunter has big market teams like the Dodgers and Yankees interested in his services, and that's not a coincidence. He'd fit neatly into a team with a collection of star players looking to contend. The question, however, will be whether 2012 was Hunter's last gasp. At 37, will he return to something short of the .765 OPS player he was in 2011, or does he have some more good years in his late 30s? And, if he does, clubs will have to decide just how many of those years they believe he has.

10. A.J. Pierzynski, C

True, most teams are not out there looking for 35-year-old catchers. But, Pierzysnki still retains solid value on the free agent market. His bat is as good as it's ever been, and he's yet to show any legitimate signs of deterioration health wise.

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