The always entertaining MLBTradeRumors recently predicted where each of the top 50 free agents would sign this offseason. The post isn’t that helpful for practical purposes but is a lot of fun, so I thought BluGrass Baseball could do the same with Kentucky free agents. Remember don’t take these predictions to the bank, but we’ll revisit them around Spring Training to see how poorly I did.
Scott Downs — The former UK left-handed pitcher has worked his way into one of the top left-handed set up men in baseball all while working in the most competitive division. So a top left-handed pitcher that has proven success against the Yankees and Red Sox doesn’t sound like a great candidate to make it past either big spender. The smart money here says he’ll sign with New York or Boston, and the official BluGrass Baseball pick is the Red Sox.
Jon Rauch — The former Morehead St. right-handed pitcher started the 2010 season as the Minnesota Twins’ closer and might be looking for a similar opportunity this offseason. Rauch is unlikely to find a closing job outright so his best case scenario might be with a team who will have an open competition in the Spring. The Braves seem committed to giving Johnny Venters, born in Pikeville, or Craig Kimbel the chance to close but could be interested in a veteran with closing experience as a backup. The BluGrass Baseball prediction is they look to Rauch for the experience.
Brandon Webb — The Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher appears unlikely to return to the Arizona Diamondbacks. In the past Webb has expressed interest in moving to a team closer to his Ashland home, which seems to make the Reds an obvious candidate. We haven’t heard Cincinnati connected to Webb, but the one team he’s been most closely connected to, the Nationals, is a geographic fit as well. Washington signed Ching Ming Wang last offseason after he missed the year with injury, so Webb looks like a good candidate for a similar deal.
Austin Kearns — After failing to see action in any playoff games the Lexington native looks unlikely to return to the Yankees. Kearns probably will have to compete for a starting job in the spring so he might catch on with a team in need of a right-handed platoon outfielder. Honestly Kearns could sign just about anywhere, but the official BluGrass Baseball pick is the Royals, who just opened up an outfield spot by trading David DeJesus.
Todd Wellemeyer — The former Bellarmine right-handed pitcher didn’t catch on with a team after being released by the Giants in August, so he may have trouble catching on with a team this offseason. If Wellemeyer finds a new team it will likely be on a Minor League deal like the one his signed with the Giants last season. The BluGrass Baseball prediction is he signs with a team like the Pirates who will be looking for as many veteran arms for Spring Training as possible.