Patience is a virtue for teams looking to bring in talented players without paying through the roof.

The beginning of the MLB free-agent period usually features a rash of quick signings for a lot of money. While this often makes the market more competitive as teams get desperate, treating free agency like Christmas Eve shopping is not the smartest decision.

This strategy seems to be paying off for those looking for an elite pitcher or a veteran shortstop. These players still are likely to get a big contract, but the past few weeks have seen the market cool for each.

Here is a look at the latest buzz and predictions for some of the bigger names still available.


James Shields, SP

After anchoring the Kansas City Royals rotation last season, James Shields is ready to cash in somewhere. The question is which team is willing to pay up to bring in the veteran pitcher.

ESPN Insider’s Jim Bowden noted (subscription required) the San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers were the most likely to sign the 33-year-old player.

However, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Giants are “not likely to get another big-ticket addition” after re-signing Sergio Romo. At the same time, the Rangers have publicly stated they are out of the race.

“He would be a great addition, but it would probably take us making a trade or two to free up some money to truly play on those types of players,” Texas assistant general manager Thad Levine told MLB Network Radio, via The Score.

While we can’t always trust front-office personnel, what we do know is that a deal for Shields will not come cheap, according to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe:

The final Shields numbers are expected to be close to the five years and $110 million remaining (if the option is picked up) on the Cole Hamels deal, according to one major league source who was privy to Shields’s demands. The Giants and Red Sox are in the picture, and the Yankees may be another suitor.

Although Boston has already made a bunch of moves this offseason, the Red Sox still make the most sense as a team that has a need for a front-line starter while having the money to afford one.

Considering Shields has topped 200 innings pitched in each of the last eight years, including over 220 in the last four, the risk is relatively low. Boston would be smart to make a deal to help compete in the AL East.

Prediction: Boston Red Sox


Max Scherzer, SP

Few pitchers in baseball can compete with the numbers Max Scherzer has put up over the past two seasons. The 2013 Cy Young winner has accumulated a 39-8 record in this stretch, consistently pitching deep into games to give his team a great chance to win.

While you could make an argument on behalf of Jon Lester, Scherzer appeared to be the best player on the free-agent list this winter.

Despite this fact, the former Detroit Tigers pitcher is still unsigned and doesn’t seem to be close to a deal any time soon. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post explained how teams are going out of their way to say they are not involved in the race:

Many clubs, among them the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants and Dodgers, have been vocal about their disinclination to enter the Scherzer sweepstakes. The Angels are sending signals they’re good to go with their current starting rotation. The Tigers and Nationals, two favorite destinations for Boras clients in the past, also say they aren’t going there.

The Yankees could end up having to pay even more money than the others thanks to the luxury tax, according to Jack Curry of YES Network:

That being said, has money ever stopped the Yankees in the past? New York wants to field the best team possible, and while the front office has done a good job of getting younger this offseason, high-level talent is still needed.

Scherzer is a legitimate difference-maker for a team that needs help filling the rotation with consistent, healthy producers. The Yankees might wait for the cost to drop, but they are still the most likely to fork over the cash to complete a deal.

Prediction: New York Yankees


Asdrubal Cabrera, SS

With the ability to play shortstop or second base, Asdrubal Cabrera has a lot of value on the open market as an offensive-minded middle infielder. 

Despite seeing his production drop significantly since being an All-Star in 2011 and 2012, his 14 home runs still ranked sixth in the majors among shortstops while his 61 RBI ranked eighth. Yes, he played almost exclusively second base after being traded to the Washington Nationals, but only four players at that position had more long balls than Cabrera. 

While there are a bunch of teams interested in the 29-year-old player, Jerry Crasnick of provides a look at a new entry in the sweepstakes:

This fit actually makes sense after the Philadelphia Phillies dealt long-time shortstop Jimmy Rollins away in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Jesse Spector of Sporting News jokes about the fact Cabrera wouldn’t make too much of a difference:

Despite this mindset, the veteran shortstop would certainly provide a boost to an offense that ranked 23rd in the majors in runs scored last season. It’s definitely better than just giving up on a year like their neighbors, the Philadelphia 76ers.

Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies


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