Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Options for the Remaining 2012 Free Agents


Thanks to mlbtr.com, a comprehensive list of the year's remaining free agents is always available. A few weeks ago, after the Mariners gave major league deals to Hong-Chih Kuo and Shawn Camp, I was intrigued enough to want to try my hand at predicting where and for how much the remaining free agents will sign. Here's a whirl at it:

Catchers
  • Ramon Castro (36) - minor league deal with FLA, reuniting with a former team, manager, and pitcher whose perfect game he caught
  • Jason Kendall (38) - reportedly injured for the entirety of the 2012 season 
  • Ivan Rodriguez (40) - minor league deal with MIN; if unable to beat Drew Butera for the roster's third catcher spot, he'll at least get to spend camp with his son, Dereck Rodriguez, who's an outfielder in the organization 
  • Jason Varitek (40) - retirement; if the Red Sox won't have you back, please at least walk out of baseball as one, it just seems right, as Jorge Posada understood
First basemen
  • Ross Gload (36) - minor league deal with PHI; he's cheap, left-handed insurance for injuries at 1B, LF, or pinch-hitting behind injury-prone Ryan Howard and Jim Thome or less-than-reliable Laynce Nix and Dominic Brown 
  • Derrek Lee (36) - major league deal with MIL @ 1 yr/$2.5m; Lee becomes a platoon partner with Mat Gamel or hopefully more for the Brew Crew, replacing out-of-options Frankie De La Cruz or Tim Dillard on the roster
  • Xavier Nady (33) - minor league deal with SF, providing right-handed depth at 1B and the corner outfield positions, since the only other current roster option is Brett Pill, who doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence
Second basemen
  • Felipe Lopez (32) - minor league deal with MIL, an organization with whom Lopez already has some familiarity with and can add some AAA depth to 
  • Julio Lugo (36) - minor league deal with CLE; come on, the Tribe has already handed out over twenty invites to Spring Training, you don't think they can hammer out one more? 
  • Aaron Miles (35) - major league deal with PHI @ 1 yr/$.625m; Miles played well enough in 2011 to earn a big league deal, no matter how cheap it is, and he'll provide insurance in case Michael Martinez fails to impress, and a DFA of C Eric Kratz seems worth it
Shortstops
  • Edgar Renteria (35) - minor league deal with CIN, becoming potentially valuable injury insurance; with Miguel Cairo and Wilson Valdez aboard, Paul Janish is seemingly out of the Red's plans and Chris Valaika is the only projected AAA depth currently on the team's 40-man roster 
  • Miguel Tejada (38) - minor league deal with BAL; providing infield insurance in case Brian Roberts or Ryan Flaherty aren't up to speed when camp breaks
Third basemen
  • Eric Chavez (34) - major league deal with NYY @ 1 yr/$1.5m; I know GM Brian Cashman is making a show of being unable to stretch his mammoth budget to afford Raul Ibanez and Chavez at million-dollar deals, but come on, Chavez's play last year does not deserve a pay-cut, so the Yankees will find a way at the end of the day to field the best team they can, no matter the cost, plus a spot and cash for Chavez would open up with this proposed trade
  • Wes Helms (36) - minor league deal with ATL, because Helms is too classy a veteran to have to retire with the season's end he had last year; the Marlins villainized him and his return to Atlanta to help Fredi Gonzalez was cut short by injury, so let's give him one more chance
Left fielders
  • Johnny Damon (37) - major league deal with CHC @ 1yr/$2.5m, with more analysis here; not many places make sense but I guess Damon could serve a mediocre one-year stint here, perhaps replacing Adrian Cardenas on the 40-man
  • Jay Gibbons (35) - minor league deal with ATL; I wouldn't say Atlanta's outfield has "depth" right now by any means, though I'm not sure a Gibbons signing would provide any more of that either
  • Ibanez (40) - major league deal with NYY @ 1 yr/$1.25m; this would require Ibanez to sign for a hair over one-tenth of his 2011 salary, but for a chance to win I think both sides would want to do this, even if it meant losing the Rule V rights to Cesar Cabral or Brad Meyers to open a roster spot
  • Hideki Matsui (38) - minor league deal with SEA, forming an all-Asian squad of Matsui, Hisashi Iwakuma, Kuo, Chih-Hsien Chiang, Ichiro, and Munenori Kawasaki to take to Japan in March to face the A's as well as potentially adding a little pop to a punchless lineup 
  • Marcus Thames (35) - minor league deal with DET, providing depth in the corner OF and DH spots and at 1B; there would be a need if a Clete Thomas trade were to happen, since the Tigers would have six big-league outfielders on their 40-man, two of which (Ryan Raburn and Don Kelly) figure to see significant time in the infield
Right fielders
  • J.D. Drew (36) - minor league deal with ARI, having a chance to earn a spot on a team with his brother, Stephen Drew; he might be considered disinterested and detached, but a guy with his natural abilities could still improve most teams
  • Magglio Ordonez (38) - minor league deal with DET, this going along with the Thames argument and for the sake of familiarity and Jim Leyland sentiment
Designated hitters
  • Vladimir Guerrero (37) - minor league deal with TOR, providing some organizational depth at DH behind Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion, joining and tutoring David Cooper and Mike McDade in Las Vegas
  • Ramirez (40) - minor league deal with OAK; I'm more curious of a Ramirez signing with the A's than I was with his deal with Tampa, plus I'm actually thinking such a deal brings decent value to Oakland
Starting pitchers
  • Kyle Davies (28) - minor league deal with TOR; they gave him a shot at the end of last season, why not again
  • Doug Davis (36) - minor league deal with CHW; like Davies, Davis got a shot with this team's top affiliate last year and actually provided nine good starts for them
  • Rich Harden (30) - reportedly injured for the entirety of the 2012 season, which is too bad, his K/9 rate makes him an intriguing bullpen arm as it always has
  • Scott Kazmir (28) - minor league deal with NYM, allowing him to reunite with the team that traded him as a top prospect for a few middling seasons of Victor Freaking Zambrano
  • Sergio Mitre (31) - minor league deal with OAK, giving them some AAA long relief or starting depth
  • Mark Prior (31) - minor league deal with MIN; his propensity to injury requires this to be a cheap deal, but wouldn't it be interesting for Prior to give his last shot at a comeback with the only team that passed on him in the draft (taking a lot of flack for drafting Joe Mauer instead...)
  • Roy Oswalt (34) - major league deal with CIN @ 1 yr/$7.5m; isn't this a fair deal for both sides, allowing Oswalt to pitch (in an important role) for a contender and the Reds a Hall-of-Fame calibar pitcher as they go all in for the year, thus filling out their roster while still keeping their payroll under $89m and only a reasonable $8m more than ownership has ever spent on a payroll there
  • Ben Sheets (33) - reportedly injured for the entirety of the 2012 season
  • Rick VandenHurk (27) - minor league deal with OAK, giving them some
  • Javier Vazquez (35) - retirement; so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu...and you ended on a good year too 
  • Tim Wakefield (45) - retirement; while knuckleballers can pitch forever, Wakefield is no longer wanted by his long-time Boston club, plus he has some pretty numbers he can hang his Red Sox hat on as he exits: a 200-180 record, 1.35 WHIP, 6.0 K/9 rate, and an All-Star selection 
  • Brandon Webb (33) - minor league deal with CIN; coming cheap, Webb makes sense financially for the Reds, while they make sense geographically and competitively for him, since Cincinnati is close to Webb's Kentucky home and is a contending team he'd like to pitch for (if that ever happens again)
  • Chris Young (33) - minor league deal with NYM, returning to provide his team with four stellar starts or a third straight year; if only he could wait to get injured in October, not that the Mets will be playing then
Right-handed relievers
  • David Aardsma (29) - minor league deal with DET; looking at the 40-man roster and knowing Al Alburquerque is injured, I can't see a whole lot of bullpen depth/upside for middle innings, making Aardsma an intriguing risk to take
  • Danys Baez (34) - minor league deal with a Mexican AAA squad; sorry, it's hard to envision any other scenario for this guy
  • Jason Isringhausen (39) - major league deal with LAA @ 1 yr/$1.5m; Izzy's threatened not to take another minor league deal, and I think his performance last year earns him a big-league spot, with Anaheim making sense as they replace Andrew Romine with him
  • Tony Pena (30) - minor league deal with CHW; they paid Pena last year and have some depth concerns this year, so at a discount price it may be worth seeing if he can bounce back from injury
  • Michael Wuertz (33) - minor league deal with MIN, giving the Minnesota native a place to rebound and possibly fill an important need
Left-handed relievers
  • Mike Gonzalez (34) - major league deal with TEX @ 1 yr/$2.4m; he would be the finishing touches to yet another Texas team primed for a return to the World Series, easily worth a DFA of Brandon Snyder or Cody Eppley
  • Damaso Marte (37) - minor league deal with KC; fearing (or knowing) Jose Mijares won't succeed may convince the Royals to take a flyer on this oft-injured southpaw
  • Arthur Rhodes (41) - minor league deal with NYY; there's Boone Logan and (if only) Pat Venditte, so Rhodes could be a fit here

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