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Jim Class: Ex-GM forecasts top free agent moves

Duquette weighs in on where coveted players will go and how much they'll earn
MLB.com

As the postseason played out through October, Major League front offices worked hard to create their free-agent "wish" lists. And now that any free agent can sign with any team, the job of each general manager has become a lot more hectic.

Below are my free-agent rankings for the 2015-16 offseason and opinions on where each player might fit best. I also have projected the parameters of each player's next contract -- in terms of dollars and years. A free agent's cost is based primarily on his past performance and his value in relation to similar free agents from recent offseasons. Both of these factors were kept in mind as this piece was written.

As the postseason played out through October, Major League front offices worked hard to create their free-agent "wish" lists. And now that any free agent can sign with any team, the job of each general manager has become a lot more hectic.

Below are my free-agent rankings for the 2015-16 offseason and opinions on where each player might fit best. I also have projected the parameters of each player's next contract -- in terms of dollars and years. A free agent's cost is based primarily on his past performance and his value in relation to similar free agents from recent offseasons. Both of these factors were kept in mind as this piece was written.

• Hot Stove Tracker

David Price, SP, (entering age-30 season)
There are only a few suitors who can afford his price tag, as Price will be as expensive as Max Scherzer was last year -- north of $200 million over seven seasons. But as a bonus, the signing team will not have to forfeit a Draft pick, because Price is one of a few free agents who was ineligible to receive a qualifying offer after being traded during the past season.
Interested teams: Cubs, Giants, Cardinals, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Dodgers
Duquette's prediction: Red Sox

Zack Greinke, SP, age 32
Greinke will receive attention from many of the teams interested in Price, and he will likely end up with a shorter contract than the left-hander, given that Greinke is two years older. But Greinke will still command a large average annual salary, perhaps as much as $30 million per over five years. Such was his plan when he opted out of the final three years and $71 million on his Dodgers deal.
Interested teams: Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, Cardinals
Duquette's prediction: Giants

Video: Price, Greinke highlight a strong free agent class

Chris Davis, 1B, age 30
Davis has been an impact player in two of the past three seasons, and his versatility between first base and the corner outfield positions makes him even more attractive. Expect him to get a big deal, perhaps as much as $140 million across seven seasons.
Interested teams: Orioles, Cardinals, Tigers, Padres
Duquette's prediction: Orioles

Jason Heyward, OF, age 26
Young for a free agent, the athletic Heyward will be an attractive option for teams that covet players who excel on both sides of the ball. In fact, the defensively gifted Heyward could play center field for some clubs. With this in mind, look for him to sign a huge deal, perhaps as long as seven years at $20 million per.
Interested teams: Mets, Orioles, Angels, Cardinals, Tigers
Duquette's prediction: Cardinals

Jordan Zimmermann, SP, age 30
After turning down a significant offer to stay with the Nationals, Zimmermann hits free agency as a potential No. 1 or No. 2 starter for some teams. Expect him to get a deal similar to the one Jon Lester signed last offseason (six years, $155 million).
Interested teams: Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs, Giants, Blue Jays
Duquette's prediction: Cubs

Yoenis Cespedes, OF, age 30
Cespedes has all of the physical tools that teams covet, and he has recorded more than 100 RBIs in each of the past two seasons. However, the total value of his next contract could be affected by his streakiness, and the fact that he was traded three times in a one-year span (July 31 and Dec. 11, 2014, and then again on July 31, 2015). Still, look for Cespedes to earn just over nine figures across five years.
Interested teams: Mets, Orioles, Angels, Padres
Duquette's prediction: Padres

Justin Upton, OF, age 28
A signing team will need to sacrifice a Draft pick to bring Upton into the fold, but it will be worth it, as Upton would be an impact bat in any lineup. Expect him to get somewhere in the ballpark of six years at a shade under $20 million per.
Interested teams: Tigers, Padres, Mets, Orioles, Royals, Angels
Duquette's prediction: Angels

Alex Gordon, OF, age 32
The four-time American League Gold Glove Award winner declined the player option on his deal with Kansas City, and interest will be high on him, given his strong two-way play. Look for the outfielder to get around $90 million over five years.
Interested teams: Orioles, Royals, Angels, Padres
Duquette's prediction: Royals

Video: Yost, Moore are set on bringing Gordon back to KC

Johnny Cueto, SP, age 30
Cueto saw his value take a major hit after he was traded to the Royals in July, as he posted an ERA well over 4.00 with Kansas City. Regardless, his track record is still good enough for teams to have a high level of interest, even if he doesn't command ace money. And given that Cueto has some injury risk, teams may be wary of committing to him for more than five years at around $100 million -- right in the ballpark of what James Shields got last year from San Diego.
Interested teams: Royals, Blue Jays, Twins, Mariners, Astros
Duquette's prediction: Blue Jays (Note: You'll notice that the Blue Jays are listed as the best fit for three starters, Cueto included. However, this does not mean that I believe Toronto will sign all three, just that they will be aggressive among the second tier of starting pitchers.)

Daniel Murphy, 2B, age 31
There is plenty of debate regarding Murphy's market value, but the fact is he can hit and play multiple positions (third base, second and first) -- traits that are expensive on the open market. Look for him to get four years in the neighborhood of $60 million.
Interested teams: Yankees, Dodgers, Angels, Mets
Duquette's prediction: Angels

Howie Kendrick, 2B, age 32
Kendrick has played fewer than 125 games in two of the past three seasons, but that will not stop teams from pursuing him, since he is one of the more productive right-handed bats available. Look for him to get money similar to Murphy, but perhaps a drop less.
Interested teams: Yankees, Angels
Duquette's prediction: Yankees

Jeff Samardzija, SP, age 31
Entering the 2015 season, Samardzija could have commanded a contract north of $100 million. But after a down year in which his ERA was almost 5.00, the bidding may be a bit lower -- and interesting to watch, given Shark's obvious upside. Four years and $75 million could be the terms here.
Interested teams: White Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, Cubs, Cardinals
Duquette's prediction: Blue Jays

Ben Zobrist, 2B/OF, age 35
Zobrist has long been valuable for his versatility and plate skills, and his impressive postseason showing enhanced his market even more. A three-year deal at $16 million per could be enough to get this impressive veteran.
Interested teams: Mets, Royals, Dodgers, Angels
Duquette's prediction: Dodgers

Video: MLB Tonight on impact of Zobrist, Gordon for Royals

Ian Desmond, SS, age 30
Desmond knows that his market has taken a hit; the only question is how badly after he finished 2015 with career lows in almost every offensive category. Look for a team to buy low on this high-upside player. Four years and a shade under $60 million could get a deal done.
Interested teams: Mets, Twins, Reds, Mariners
Duquette's prediction: Mets

Matt Wieters, C, age 30
Wieters is also coming off a down year, but at least he should be fully recovered from the Tommy John surgery that delayed his 2015 season debut. As the top available catcher, he should be well compensated. Look for Wieters to cash in with $15 million per year over four seasons.
Interested teams: Rockies, Orioles, Braves
Duquette's prediction: Braves

Mike Leake, SP, age 28
Leake will be one of the more popular free agents, because he would upgrade any rotation from the middle to the back end and has a while to go before reaching his 30th birthday. Four years and $55 million could be enough to sign the eighth overall pick of the 2009 Draft.
Interested teams: Giants, Twins, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Cardinals, Tigers
Duquette's prediction: Tigers

Wei-Yin Chen, SP, age 30
One of the most consistent left-handed pitchers in baseball, Chen has shown that he can succeed in an AL East division filled with hitter-friendly ballparks and formidable lineups. Look for him to get a contract similar to that of Leake, with perhaps a bit less money per year.
Interested teams: Blue Jays, Orioles, Padres, Dodgers, Athletics, Cardinals
Duquette's prediction: Blue Jays

Yovani Gallardo, SP, age 30
Having succeeded in both leagues, Gallardo should garner plenty of interest as a middle-to-back-end starter. He could be worth $50 million over four years.
Interested teams: Blue Jays, Orioles, Rangers, Tigers, Astros
Duquette's prediction: Orioles

Video: MLB Now discusses the best targets in free agency

Scott Kazmir, SP, age 32
Kazmir is one of the few quality left-handers on the market, and he isn't tied to Draft-pick compensation after being traded from Oakland to Houston this past summer. Given those factors, multiple teams should be in the mix for his services. Three years and $36 million might get it done.
Interested teams: Astros, Athletics, Pirates, Mariners, Orioles
Duquette's prediction: Astros

Dexter Fowler, OF, age 30
Few leadoff hitters can also play center field. Fowler is one of them, meaning he can address two hard-to-fill holes. As a result, Fowler could command more than $40 million across three campaigns.
Interested teams: Cubs, Mets, Tigers, Astros
Duquette's prediction: Tigers

Marco Estrada, SP, age 32
No pitcher improved his free-agent stock this year more than Estrada. After his strong season, he could match Kazmir in contract years and total dollars.
Interested teams: Mariners, Jays, Pirates, Dodgers, Royals
Duquette's prediction: Royals

Hisashi Iwakuma, SP, age 35
Iwakuma would normally garner a lot of attention as one of the AL's most consistent starters, but many reports have suggested that he wants to stay in Seattle. Even with a restricted market, however, he has pitched well enough to earn a deal similar to Kazmir and Estrada, perhaps a shade less per season.
Interested teams: Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, Angels
Duquette's prediction: Mariners

J.A. Happ, SP, age 33
Happ really turned around his season after joining the Pirates at the non-waiver Trade Deadline and making some minor adjustments to his delivery. Given that, he could get a three-year deal worth $10 million per season.
Interested teams: Pirates, Dodgers, Orioles
Duquette's prediction: Pirates

John Lackey, SP, age 37
The Cardinals benefited from the final year of Lackey's contract, as he pitched for the minimum salary due to a clause that stipulated him to do so if he missed significant time from 2010-14 as a result of a pre-existing elbow injury. After last year's strong showing, the veteran should command plenty of interest -- especially from National League clubs -- on a shorter deal. Look for someone to commit for two years at around $14 million per season.
Interested teams: Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, Royals, Dodgers
Duquette's prediction: Cardinals

Video: Jim Duquette on Cardinals' qualifying offers

Colby Rasmus, OF, age 29
Rasmus had to sign a one-year deal last offseason after a difficult 2014 campaign. But given last season's improvements and his ability to play all three outfield spots, he should command a multiyear commitment -- perhaps at $13 million per year across two seasons.
Interested teams: Astros, Orioles, Mets, Padres, Angels, Royals
Duquette's prediction: Astros

Jim Duquette is an analyst for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Yoenis Cespedes, Wei-Yin Chen, Johnny Cueto, Chris Davis, Ian Desmond, Marco Estrada, Dexter Fowler, Yovani Gallardo, Alex Gordon, Zack Greinke, J.A. Happ, Jason Heyward, Hisashi Iwakuma, Scott Kazmir, Howie Kendrick, John Lackey, Mike Leake, David Murphy, David Price, Colby Rasmus, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Wieters, Ben Zobrist