As bluejays13 already pointed out, Snider and Thames netted us a pair of relievers under control through 2017, which is a big change from AA's previous philosophy of getting veteran stop gaps in the bullpen. I just want to expand on this by pointing out that in addition to having players in our system that can replace snider/thames, we can also see that the upcoming FA market features some high profile OFs, and not so much relievers.
First lets look at the relievers on the market:
- Brandon League - 29 y.o. 2.5 WAR last 3 years, unimpressive peripherals
- Mike Adams - 34 y.o. 3.5 WAR last 3 years, numbers less impressive this year than in past
- Joel Peralta - 36 y.o. 2 WAR last 3 years, excellent K/9 and BB/9
Rafael Betancourt - 37 y.o. 4.5 WAR last 3 years, no signs of slowing down
At first glance there are some pretty good relievers, however, many of these are probably seeking closer jobs, and it'll probably take at least upwards of 5 million over 3 years (ala Brandon Lyon) to secure their service without a closer job (since we already have ours secured). Pitchers in general are a volatile investment, and relievers are especially prone to backfiring. Further compounding the issue is that with the exception of League, the other relievers are pretty old and it makes giving a long term contract all the more risky (Then again, oliver is doing pretty well.. but dudes probably an exception).
Good outfielders entering/still in their prime:
- Michael Bourn - 30 y.o. 13.5 WAR last 3 years, excellent defense/speed on basepath and decent OBP (.340-.350). Basically a vastly better rajai
- Josh Hamilton - 31 y.o. 16 WAR last 3 years, MVP in 2010, great player when healthy (biggest knock on him)
- BJ Upton - 28 y.o. 9 WAR last 3 years, having a bit of an off year, some thinks he's a change of scenery guy/has untapped potential
- Melky Cabrera - 28 y.o. 7.5 WAR last 3 years, last 2 years have been doing very well
- Shane Victorino - 32 y.o. 11.5 WAR last 3 years, oldest of bunch but provides value across the board like Bourn.
- Nick Swisher - 32 y.o. 10 WAR last 3 years, consistently provides offensively
Anyone of these guys would look great in the outfield with Rasmus and Bautista (well, Upton is more of a risk than others). Crawford and Werth are precautionary tales, but unlike years past, I dont think we have nearly as much competition for prices to be driven up so high (supply might exceed demand like the closer market last year). Barring major trades, Yankees and Red Sox are out, the former want to stay under the tax, the latter have an abundance of OFers already. Phillies just dumped pence and victorino so they can pay howard and their pitchers. Angels have Trout/Trumbo and wells locked in. This leaves Giants, Nationals, maybe the Rangers (Olt could play in OF) as the other realistic suitors for the players' service. Regardless, if we do want to make a splash with Bautista and EE's prime, getting one of these guy would go a long way towards that.
Perhaps best of all, this frees up our OF prospects to be dangled in a trade for a starter or 2 as well (Garza, Lee, etc.). The starter FA market has much less appeal this year. LA is gonna try their butts off to sign Greinke, Hamels is gone, Marcum and Sanchez both have injury concerns. If we're planning to make a splash in the FA to add that missing piece, we should do that with an outfielder rather than a pitcher.