Free agents shopping continues as we inch closer to MLB spring training. Here is the latest
Matt Holliday (Cardinals), Jose Valverde (Tigers), Adam LaRoche (Diamondbacks) are the most recent impact free agents to sign. Holliday makes the Cardinals an instant favorite in the NL Central, protecting Pujols and adding enough run production to help a stellar starting pitching staff. Valverde strengths an overhauled Tigers bullpen, including LHPs Phil Coke and Daniel Schleref, who will help lock down games for the formidable threesome of SPs of Verlander/Porcello/Scherzer. LaRoche will add some left-handed punch in the middle of the Diamondbacks lineup, but won’t help out their massive strikeout totals.
Here is the Five Tool Prospects’ list of impact free agents:
1. John Lackey (Red Sox) – Funny how 5-years and $82.5 million changes your attitude about a rival. Reportedly, Theo Epstein had to be convinced that Lackey would be interested in signed with the BoSox, apparently not even he realized the power of money.
2. Andy Pettite (Yankees) – He’s old, 37, but shows no signs of slowing down and is one of the best post-season pitchers of the past 20 years – one year, $11.75 million.
3. Randy Wolf (Brewers) – Kudos to the Brewers to open up the checkbook and sign a nice free agent starting pitcher, too bad they will trade him for prospects in year two of this three year deal – 3 years, $29.75 million.
4. Brand Penny (Cardinals) – Dave Duncan is the new Leo Mazzoni, turning mid-life crisis slumping pitchers into superstars. Brad Penny will be the next in line.
5. Rich Harden (Rangers) – He would be an ace if the big leagues used a 12-man starting rotation. Unfortunately, they don’t – one year, $7.5 million.
6. Joel Pineiro (FA) – Nice contract-year, Joel. You haven’t fooled anyone (yet), you’ll be back to normal in 2010.
7. Ben Sheets (FA) – Sheets will be another example that baseball makes so much money they can cut a check for a couple million bucks to a guy just on the small chance his arm can stay together for more than 10 starts per year.
8. Jon Garland (FA) – Not as good as Harden or Sheets, but at least he stays healthy, gives you starts, and will rack out somewhere around 200 innings per year.
9. Jason Marquis (Nationals) – All Marquis does is play for playoff teams, so why wouldn’t it be natural for him to play out the rest of his career with a perennial stinker? Two-years, $15 million with the Nationals.
10. Eric Bedard (FA) – Bedard make a Mike Hampton-like appearance in Seattle and is now back on the market for the next team to make a multi-million dollar mistake.
1. Rafael Soriano (Rays) – Power-arm with electric stuff, great pick-up for the Rays – one-year, $7.25 million
2. Mike Gonzalez (Orioles) – The deal isn’t official yet, but the report is the lefty is close to signing with the Orioles. The only question is… why? $12 million reasons. Two-year deal.
3. Billy Wagner (Braves) – Wagner came back at the tail end of 2009 and showed he could still chuck it. The Braves do a better job than most of handling pitchers, so he will probably last until the All-Star break before going down for the rest of the season – one-year, $7 million
4. Ryota Igarashi (Mets) – Mets got Japanese-import Igarashi on the cheap – two-years, $3 million. The hard throwing right-hander reportedly has a terrific split-finger fastball, as proven by his near 10 career strikeouts per nine in Japan. Too bad everything Omar Minaya touches turns to dog turds.
5. Jose Valverde (Tigers) – Valverde quietly had another very good year in Houston. He is an upgrade over Fernando Rodney and will be paid accordingly. Two-years, $14 million.
6. Fernando Rodney (Angels) – Rodney’s 41 walks in 70 innings last year caused a lot of heart-attack-like symptoms at Comerica Park last year. Two years, $11 million by the Angels still looks like a bargin.
7. Chan Ho Park (FA) – Greatly upped his stock with LA in 2008 by moving to the bullpen and continued to show he can still pitch at 35 at hitter friendly Citizens Bank Park.
8. Brandon Lyon (Astros) – Doesn’t have strikeout type stuff, but found a way to get it done for the Tigers last year and cashed in on it, by going to the Astros for 3-years and $15 million. T-minus 3 appearances to figure out Minute Maid Park ain’t exactly the spacious Comerica Park.
9. Darren Oliver (Rangers) – Darren is 39 year old lefty who, oddly enough, has more trouble with lefties than righties. Held RHH to .217 avg last year while LHH hit .263 off of him. But his age still put him in the bargain bin and the Rangers plucked him out – one year, $3.5 million.
1. Adam LaRoche (Diamondbacks) – A LHH with a career OPS of .834 and can pick-it at first base. The Diamondbacks got a steal for one-year and $4.5 million.
2. Nick Johson (Yankees) – Left-handed, oft-injured, first-basemen without power, but good eye at the plate, still spots a career OBP of .402. One-year, $5.75 million will be a stop-gap for the Yankees until next year’s free agent market.
3. Carlos Delgado (FA) – Future HOF who can still hit, if healthy. Age and health will make Delgado a great bargin-bin pick-up for a ML team.
4. Aubrey Huff (San Francisco) – Had a down year in 2009, which affected his bottom line – one-year, $3 million from the Giants. AT&T ballpark is not exactly where you want to play after having offensive struggles.
5. Ryan Garko (FA) – Non-tendered by the SF Giants, who have Kung-Fu Panda holding down first, Garko is just 28 years old and can hit. But he will have to go back to the American League where he can mix in at DH.
6. Hank Blalock (FA) – Never really lived up to the hype in Texas, but has some utility to play 3rd base and is still only 29 years old. He won’t dominate a lot of money on the FA market in this economy and wouldn’t be a bad chance to take.
1. Marco Scutaro (Red Sox) – Had a career year in a contract year (weird) and cashed in on the inferiority of the weak-hitting FA class of middle infielders – two-years $12.5 million
2. Orlando Hudson (FA) – I have no idea why this guy doesn’t get any love on the FA market. Sure, he was a Type-A last year and no one wanted to give up the draft picks to sign him, but the guy can play.
3. Miguel Tejada (FA) – At 35 and a rapidly shrinking OPS due to the fact he hardly ever takes a walk, even a truck load of B-12 shots isn’t going to get Miggy the contract he is looking for.
4. Orlando Cabrera (FA) – The stats don’t pop out, but the guy is just a winner. Even with a little age on his legs he is still better in experience than most other free agents are in talent.
1. Chone Figgins (Mariners) – Figgins does all the little things it take to win, but was still a better value to a team when he was a movable part. As an everyday third basemen, he is still the top pick out there even though a bit over-valued – four-years, $36 million.
2. Adrian Beltre (Red Sox) – He can pick it, can he swing it? Expect his numbers to improve from Fenway, but the baseball world should be shocked the Sox can afford to spend $9 million at 3rd base where they are already spending $12 million for a hurt Mike Lowell in 2010.
3. Mark DeRosa (Giants) – Lesson for the kids who whine when they can’t play the position they want on the field – being a utility-man has value, big value. Two years, $12 million at the age of 35 value.
4. Juan Uribe (FA) – Another career year just in time for free agency, Uribe still has value in his ability as a utility-man, but after his offensive output last year in the graveyard they call a field in San Fran, he proved he can swing it a little, too.
5. Troy Glaus (Braves) – Glaus missed almost all of 2009, but make no mistake about it, he will hit, draw walks, and drive in runs. One-year, $2 million plus incentives.
6. Pedro Feliz (Astros) – Worth a one-year deal and that’s what he got – one-year, $4.5 million.
1. Bengie Molina (FA) – The ever increasing waist-line doesn’t stop him from gunning down runners, but the real surprise for those of us in EST that has never seen him play live – the dude can hit!
That’s it – all these catcher stink.
1. Matt Holliday (Cardinals) – He is 29 years old and proved that he can hit for power outside of Colorado. Cha-ching. Seven years and $120 million from the Cardinals. If Holliday doesn’t take it easy this off-season he is a better man than I – but I still expect this move to put the Cardinals back on top of the NL Central this season.
2. Jason Bay (Mets) – The Mets’ Citi Field isn’t exactly the dream location for a high-strikeout home run hitter to spend the waning years of his career, but leave it to Omar’s stupidity and union pressure to sign the big contract to force a good player into the obscurity of a terrible situation. Four years, $66 million.
3. Mike Cameron (Red Sox) – Who has a better career OPS and range factor than Jacoby Ellsbury? Yep. Mike Cameron. Hello big monster, hello big numbers – two-years, $15.5 million.
4. Jermaine Dye (FA) – Hasn’t gotten much attention on the FA market because of Bay and Holliday, but the guy can still smash the baseball.
5. Xavier Nady (FA) – Can hit, needs a chance… and to stay healthy.
6. Vladimir Guerrero (Rangers) – Being a bad ball hitter gets more and more over-rated as your eyes start to go from age, and that plus arm in the OF doesn’t really matter if your broken down knees can’t get you to the ball. He gets one-year and $5.5 million from the Rangers, and his numbers will improve in Arlington, but his knees won’t.
7. Coco Crisp (Athletics) – Discount center-fielder. One-year, 5.25 million, but I have to believe they A’s could have waited him out for less.
8. Randy Winn (FA) – Will take a huge pay cut, but will still make a nice addition for someone.
1. Hideki Matsui (Angels) – One aging outfielder with bad knees swapped out for another aging outfielder with bad knees. Big difference is that Matsui can draw a walk, hits left-handed, and costs half as much – one-year, $6.5.
2. Jim Thome (FA) -A career OPS just shy of 1.000 gets you traded to LA late in the season to be an every day pinch hitter? I don’t care how old he is, the dude can still mash. With that short porch in right field and the jet stream blowing out, why the heck haven’t the Yankees come calling?
3. Jack Cust (Athletics) – Big-time power potential, big-time liability in the field. Untendered by Oakland, then brought back for one-year, $2.65 million.