Tag:2012 free agency
Posted on: October 24, 2011 12:02 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 4:50 pm
 

Free-agent position rankings: Thin catcher crop

Molina, Hernandez, Barajas

By Evan Brunell


The catcher's market is extraordinarily bad, and will get even worse once the top name on the board comes off. Yadier Molina is the obvious class of the market, but he has a club option and it's going to be very difficult to envision the Cards not picking it up. After that, the pickings are slim with one obvious candidate for best backstop, but even he isn't excellent. If teams are looking for an upgrade at catcher, they'd be advised to look elsewhere.

Molina1. Yadier Molina: Molina is the class of the free-agent market, but it would be shocking if the Cardinals didn't at the very least pick up Molina's $7 million option. Molina is a wizard defensively and enjoyed his best offensive season at age 29, hitting .305/.349/.465 in 518 plate appearances with 14 homers. It's anyone's guess if Molina can keep up this kind of production, but if he does, it puts him in a very rare class, indeed. If Molina sinks back to previous levels, he's still among the best catchers in the league. If St. Louis improbably lets him walk, several big-market teams will be extremely interested.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Phillies

Hernandez2. Ramon Hernandez: Barring a surprise and Molina hitting the market, Hernandez will be the class of the catcher's market... and really, that's not saying much. Don't get me wrong, Hernandez is a quality catcher. But he's also 35 and hasn't reached triple digits in games caught for three straight seasons, so he better profiles as a caddy. He could be headed to the AL where he could toggle between catcher, DH and first base. The Reds may even be interested in bringing Hernandez back to oversee Devin Mesoraco's development, although the team will likely stick with Ryan Hanigan. As a Type-A free agent, Hernandez could bring back an elite prospect for Cincinnati should he decline arbitration. It's possible he and the team have a deal whereupon Hernandez will reject arbitration, but that will chill his market as teams won't be willing to give up top picks for someone like Hernandez.
Potential teams
: Dodgers, Red Sox, Reds, Marlins, Royals, Pirates, Rays

Barajas3. Rod Barajas: Barajas isn't anyone's idea of a quality catcher but with so few available in free agency, Barajas is rated high virtually by default. He does have some pop and could bang 20 homers given a full season's worth of at-bats, but he also can't get on base to save his life either. In such a poor market, Barajas will land somewhere, but he's just not anyone's idea of a strong catcher. That could lead some clubs in the market for catching to play more aggressively on the trade market once Hernandez comes off the board. The Dodgers might bring him back, but seem more interested in an A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz pairing.
Potential teams
: Dodgers, Marlins, Astros, Pirates, Royals, Rays

Doumit4. Ryan Doumit: Doumit's in a tough spot. On one hand, this is a guy that can rove all over the diamond and is able to catch, too. That's valuable. He can also hit -- the 30-year-old cranked out a .303/.353/.377 line when he was able to get in the lineup. The negative, though, is that Doumit has been plagued with injuries and his defense is so poor behind the dish that he gets exposed over a full season. Still, with the catcher's market as poor as it is, and his ability to play first and right, he should attract some interest from a team interested in using him all over the field. Heck, even a team with little to no catching could stick him behind the plate all season.
Potential teams
: Astros, Royals, Pirates, Twins, White Sox, Athletics, Mariners, Cubs, Dodgers

Posada5. Jorge Posada: Posada spent all season DHing for the Yankees, but this is a guy whose heart still belongs behind the plate. He may be able to find a spot, but it's probably only going to be a bench player who can fill in at catcher, first and DH. Posada doesn't quite deserve full playing time, but he did hit right-handers well and could work in a platoon situation. Still, his market might be so weak, or his options so limited and unappetizing that he may simply opt for retirement.
Potential teams
: Orioles, Royals, Athletics, Marlins, Dodgers

Snyder6. Chris Snyder: Snyder is a pretty good catcher, he just can't seem to catch a break. After three consecutive solid years in Arizona and inking a three-year deal prior to his last good year, Snyder was one of the better catchers in the game. Alas, injuries and ineffectiveness caused him to be a salary dump just a year and a half after inking his lucrative extension. This season, in Pittsburgh, he looked like he was recovering his lost value... until he was felled by injury. He'll draw interest from teams looking for a low-risk, high-upside investment. At worst, Snyder is a quality backup.
Potential teams
: Red Sox, Pirates, Brewers, Reds, Cubs, Astros, Rockies, Mariners, Twins

Shoppach7. Kelly Shoppach: Shoppach had a beyond-awful year offensively, the second straight year he's done so. And yet... that power bat is awfully tantalizing from a catcher. It's tough to tell whether or not Shoppach can recover to be a catcher who can slug 20 homers, but he's a lot more exciting than the likes of Barajas and Posada, especially to teams that might be looking to capture a bit more upside at the expense of instant production.
Potential teams
: Rays, Pirates, Royals, Mariners, Astros
Rodriguez
8. Ivan Rodriguez
: OK, we're really getting into the dregs here. Rodriguez would love a chance to get hit No. 3,000, so given he already has a World Series ring, might prefer to go somewhere where he can get the bulk of the starts and march toward 3,000, just 156 away. With a good year, he could reach it. At the same time, Rodriguez can reach that mark over a period of a couple seasons, and with his leadership and defense should hang on for a couple more years. Here's betting he goes after a starting job to all but ensure reaching No. 3,000 even if he doesn't do so this year, but we'll list a couple places he could land as a backup.
Potential teams
: Royals, Astros, Phillies, Brewers, White Sox, Rays

Laird9. Gerald Laird: Laird is coming off a solid year with the Cardinals. There isn't much to know about Laird -- he's a strong defender who struggles with the bat. He's pretty much settled into the backup phase of his career and there are so many options when you get this low in the market. Laird will probably return to St. Louis, and it seems like both sides have been a good match, but really, he could go anywhere.
Potential teams
: Cardinals, any other team

10. Jason Varitek
: The Captain may have seen his time run out in Boston. If so, it's doubtful that 'Tek will play for another team. Varitek has all the money he could ever need and two World Series rings. He doesn't need to play out the string for a lousy team. The only way Varitek will return is if it's in Boston, potentially hometown Atlanta (if they trade backstop David Ross) or if another team throws enough money at him (not happening). Varitek's bat is largely gone, but his power still shows up from time to time. He's never had a good arm, but his ability to work with pitchers and game preparation is unmatched.
Potential teams
: Red Sox, Braves

Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 23, 2011 3:20 pm
 

Jamie Moyer, 49, hopes to pitch in 2012

MoyerBy Evan Brunell

It's easy to forget players who haven't been heard from all season, but there are some out there still lurking that could return in 2012 and make an impact after taking a year off.

Jamie Moyer, who turns 49 in November, hopes he's one of them.

“I’d like to pitch again," the veteran left-hander told CSNPhilly.com. "I’d like to have the opportunity to walk away from the game healthy and on my own terms, and I’m willing to earn it."

Moyer was last heard from in July of 2010 as a member of the Phillies rotation. He made 19 starts, posting a 4.84 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP, the latter number the best mark he had posted since 2002, when he he was 39 and had a 3.32 ERA over 230 2/3 innings as a starter. Moyer sprained his elbow and required Tommy John surgery, which wiped out the second half of 2010 as well as all of 2011. But he's nearing a return.

“If this were the middle of July, I’d be at the stage where one more good bullpen session and I’d be ready to go out on a [minor-league] rehab assignment,” Moyer said. “I’ve gone through this rehab knowing that my arm and body will stop me if they have to. So far they haven’t.”

Moyer has never been known for his velocity, but has built a career out of being durable, with a rubber arm and spotless command. All this from someone who seemingly washed out at age 29, missing all of 1992 after a weak showing in his first six seasons in the bigs, spent with the Cubs, Rangers and Cardinals. But he bounced back with Baltimore in 1993, where he remained for three years before briefly passing through the Red Sox and landing with the Mariners in a trade. That's where Moyer took off and made his name, before joining Philadelphia partway through the 2006 season and earning a ring in 2008, when he made three starts in the team's postseason race to the World Series title. Now, he's looking to play in his 25th season.

“All I can do is offer a chance to come evaluate me,” Moyer said, noting he wants any opportunity to be "serious" and not a publicity stunt. “Some clubs will say, ‘He’s 49 years old,’ but some will say, ‘Let’s give it a shot. Let’s not make any assumptions until we see him throw.’ Evaluate on what you see instead of what you think.”

Moyer was able to spend three weeks with the Phillies in their spring training home of Clearwater, Fla., working with coaches and trainers despite technically being a free agency. GM Ruben Amaro allowed Moyer to spend some time in the facility but would not promise even a spring-training invitation.

“It was very gracious of the Phillies,” Moyer said. “There were no expectations. I just wanted to be overseen by people who had seen me throw before. [Athletic trainer] Scott Sheridan knows me well and was kind enough to set up a six-week protocol for me to follow. I’m just finishing that up. I appreciate what the staff and organization did for me.”

It will be difficult for Moyer to get a job, and much of his market will likely be limited to National League teams given his pitching style. He'll probably have to compromise on what type of team he signs with, as he may have to settle for a spot on a noncontending team to pitch, or agree to start the year in the minors if he can't win a spot out of spring training for whichever teams he ends up on. The Padres might be one option, as Moyer and his family live near the city and the Padres can always use low-cost options for the rotation.  It's not clear if he would accept a minor-league assignment, but Moyer realizes what he needs to do to get a spot.

"Whatever you get in this game, you have to earn. I know I need to earn it.”

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: October 23, 2011 3:20 pm
 

Jamie Moyer, 49, hopes to pitch in 2012

MoyerBy Evan Brunell

It's easy to forget players who haven't been heard from all season, but there are some out there still lurking that could return in 2012 and make an impact after taking a year off.

Jamie Moyer, who turns 49 in November, hopes he's one of them.

“I’d like to pitch again," the veteran left-hander told CSNPhilly.com. "I’d like to have the opportunity to walk away from the game healthy and on my own terms, and I’m willing to earn it."

Moyer was last heard from in July of 2010 as a member of the Phillies rotation. He made 19 starts, posting a 4.84 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP, the latter number the best mark he had posted since 2002, when he he was 39 and had a 3.32 ERA over 230 2/3 innings as a starter. Moyer sprained his elbow and required Tommy John surgery, which wiped out the second half of 2010 as well as all of 2011. But he's nearing a return.

“If this were the middle of July, I’d be at the stage where one more good bullpen session and I’d be ready to go out on a [minor-league] rehab assignment,” Moyer said. “I’ve gone through this rehab knowing that my arm and body will stop me if they have to. So far they haven’t.”

Moyer has never been known for his velocity, but has built a career out of being durable, with a rubber arm and spotless command. All this from someone who seemingly washed out at age 29, missing all of 1992 after a weak showing in his first six seasons in the bigs, spent with the Cubs, Rangers and Cardinals. But he bounced back with Baltimore in 1993, where he remained for three years before briefly passing through the Red Sox and landing with the Mariners in a trade. That's where Moyer took off and made his name, before joining Philadelphia partway through the 2006 season and earning a ring in 2008, when he made three starts in the team's postseason race to the World Series title. Now, he's looking to play in his 25th season.

“All I can do is offer a chance to come evaluate me,” Moyer said, noting he wants any opportunity to be "serious" and not a publicity stunt. “Some clubs will say, ‘He’s 49 years old,’ but some will say, ‘Let’s give it a shot. Let’s not make any assumptions until we see him throw.’ Evaluate on what you see instead of what you think.”

Moyer was able to spend three weeks with the Phillies in their spring training home of Clearwater, Fla., working with coaches and trainers despite technically being a free agency. GM Ruben Amaro allowed Moyer to spend some time in the facility but would not promise even a spring-training invitation.

“It was very gracious of the Phillies,” Moyer said. “There were no expectations. I just wanted to be overseen by people who had seen me throw before. [Athletic trainer] Scott Sheridan knows me well and was kind enough to set up a six-week protocol for me to follow. I’m just finishing that up. I appreciate what the staff and organization did for me.”

It will be difficult for Moyer to get a job, and much of his market will likely be limited to National League teams given his pitching style. He'll probably have to compromise on what type of team he signs with, as he may have to settle for a spot on a noncontending team to pitch, or agree to start the year in the minors if he can't win a spot out of spring training for whichever teams he ends up on. The Padres might be one option, as Moyer and his family live near the city and the Padres can always use low-cost options for the rotation.  It's not clear if he would accept a minor-league assignment, but Moyer realizes what he needs to do to get a spot.

"Whatever you get in this game, you have to earn. I know I need to earn it.”

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: October 23, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Free-agent position rankings: Ortiz top DH



By C. Trent Rosecrans

One of the toughest positions for a free agent to land a big contract got a little tougher after Adam Dunn's terrible 2011. Teams are already skittish on spending big bucks (and maybe more importantly, tying those dollars up for years) to a DH, plus with only 14 of the 30 teams having the position, it's difficult for any free agent DH to have leverage. Most of the teams already have a DH under contract, so the possibilities here are going to be pretty repetitive.

1. David Ortiz: Big Papi created a stir when he said he may be interested in playing for the Yankees, but it's unlike the Yankees would want to spend that kind of money on Ortiz. Instead, they expect to have Jesus Montero as their main designated hitter in 2012 and beyond. Ortiz struggled early in 2011, but finished with a .309/.398/.554 line with 29 homers and 96 RBI. Even though he didn't start his career with the Red Sox, it's tough to imagine him in any other uniform. 
Possible teams: Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Angels, Mariners

Edwin Encarnacion2. Edwin Encarnacion: The Blue Jays have a $3.5 million option on Encarnacion, who has been a frustrating player to watch. Just when you think he's done, he goes on a hot streak, and he can really hit when he's hot. After the All-Star break, Encarnacion hit .291/.382/.504 with 11 homers and 36 RBI. Encarnacion played third base and first base, but DH is his best defensive position.
Possible teams: Blue Jays, Mariners, Athletics

Johnny Damon3. Johnny Damon: Damon will be 38 next season and he's more or less finished in the outfield, even though he did play some first base with the Rays last season. In 150 games, he hit .261/.326/.418 with 16 home runs and 74 RBI. The Rays are considering bringing Damon back, but he'd have to cost less than the $5.25 million he made in 2011. Damon is 277 hits shy of 3,000 for his career and would likely need two more seasons to reach the milestone. It could be difficult for him to find a place to do it unless he decides to take a pay cut. 
Possible teams: Rays, Mariners, Athletics

Jim Thome4. Jim Thome: There was a report that the White Sox were considering offering Thome their hitting coach position, but did not. However, that may be a sign of which way Thome may be leaning in his decision for 2012. Thome did say he was leaning toward playing, and although he was used mostly against right-handers, his splits were pretty even -- .257/.352/.470 against right-handed pitchers and .253/.385/.493 against left-handers. Thome seemed energized after joining the Indians, hitting .296/.390/.479 in Cleveland. Even if he doesn't return, he will have solidified his Hall of Fame resume, hitting his 600th home run in 2011. 
Possible teams: Indians, Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Athletics, retirement

Hideki Matsui5. Hideki Matsui: The A's loved Matsui, if not his production. A solid influence on younger players, Matsui hit just .251/.321/.375 in 2011, but rebounded hit hit .295/.353/.425 in the second half of the season. Matsui would have to accept less than the $4.25 million he earned in 2011, but that doesn't seem to be too much of an issue. Most expect him to return to Oakland, especially with the A's agreeing to open the season in Japan against the Mariners.
Possible teams: Athletics, Mariners, Japan, retirement

Jorge Posada6. Jorge Posada: One of the "core four" is probably done as a Yankee. If Posada wants to keep playing, he'll do it in a different uniform. The Yankees will be moving on with Montero as their DH who can also catch. Posada hit a career-worst .235/.315/.398 with 14 homers in 2011, but did go 6 for 14 in the NLDS against the Tigers, starting all five games. He struggled against left-handers this season, hitting .092/.169/.108 against lefties. With few DH spots available, he may not find any takers and will retire a Yankee, not by choice, but because there's nobody out there willing to let him play for another team.
Possible teams: Athletics, retirement

Vladimir Guerrero7. Vladimir Guerrero: Guerrero has said he'd like to play two or three more seasons, but it could be the end of his career, as well. Guerrerro hit .290/.317/.416 in 2011, but had just 13 home runs in 145 games for the Orioles. Guerrero passed Julio Franco for the most hits by a Dominican-born player late in the season and finished the season with 2,590 hits and 449 home runs. Guerrero didn't get a contract until Feb. 18 last year, but did get the money he was looking for -- that could be tougher this season. Still, there are teams out there that could use him.
Possible teams: Orioles, Athletics, Mariners, Blue Jays, Rays, retirement

Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

Free-agent overall rankings: Position players | Pitchers

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 22, 2011 3:28 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 4:51 pm
 

Free-agent position rankings: Papelbon leads RP



By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

With the free agent reliever market, it always seems to be buyer-beware, but every year teams overspend for closers and setup men. While not exactly a bumper crop this year, there are some good arms available, even if the top closers would all prefer to stay with their current teams. Still, we all know those preferences can go out the window when a higher offer comes.

Jonathan Papelbon1. Jonathan Papelbon: After a disappointing 2010, Papelbon returned to form in 2011, despite recording his lowest save total (31) since becoming the Red Sox closer. Not only was his ERA (2.94) down from 2010, he had his best strikeout rate (12.2 per nine innings) since 2007 and lowest walk rate (1.40 per nine innings) since 2008. His xFIP was 2.16, the lowest of his career. At 31, he's still an elite closer and the best available on the market. The Red Sox had been said to be interested in bringing him back and they still have the payroll to absorb a high-priced closer. Still, don't expect Papelbon to take a home-town discount.
Possible teams:  Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Phillies

Heath Bell2. Heath Bell: When the Padres decided not to trade Bell during the season, it appeared he would be staying in San Diego. However, when the season ended with Bell not getting an extension, things became less sure. Now, Jed Hoyer is off to the Cubs and Josh Byrnes is in as the new GM. With this much change, things could easily change for Bell, who has said all along he'd prefer to stay in San Diego. The Padres may prefer to spend their money elsewhere. Bell is 34, but coming off his third straight 40-save season. One thing that could be troubling for a team is his falling strikeout rate. After striking out 10.2 per nine innings in 2009 and 11.1 in 2010, he struck out a career-low 7.3 per nine innings in 2011. His strikeout-to-walk ration was a career-low 2.43, although that was due to the lower strikeout numbers instead of more walks. Any team considering spending big money on him will have to seriously think about his age and if he's worth what he may command based on gaudy save numbers. He's also been aided by pitching at spacious Petco Park. The Padres may decide they don't need an All-Star closer and their money could be better spent elsewhere. Bell has said he would accept arbitration if offered.
Possible teams: Padres, Cardinals, Phillies, Mets, Orioles

Ryan Madson3. Ryan Madson: After several attempts earlier in his career to serve as a closer, Madson finally showed the ability to close out games in 2011, finishing with 32 saves in 34 opportunities. He's said he'd prefer to stay in Philadelphia, but that's easy to say during the season. A Scott Boras client, the Nationals have to be considered in the mix for Madson, who struck out 62 batters in 60 2/3 innings, while walking just 16 batters.
Possible teams: Phillies, Nationals, Red Sox

Jose Valverde4. Jose Valverde: The Tigers hold a $9 million club option on Valverde, which is pretty reasonable for a guy who led the majors with 49 saves and didn't blow a single save all season. Valverde's last outing was far from ideal, allowing four earned runs in 1 1/3 innings of Game 4 of the ALCS, but he's still an elite closer (if not exactly the most comfortable guy to watch). Valverde would command big bucks on the open market, but it seems highly unlikely he'll be there.
Possible teams: Tigers

Francisco Cordero5. Francisco Cordero: The Reds probably won't pick up his $12 million option, but he could still stay a Red. Cordero's been a stabilizing influence on the Reds bullpen in his four years in Cincinnati, but for a team like the Reds, it makes little sense to have a closer as the highest-paid player. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty and Cordero have both publicly said they'd like to work out an extension for him to stay in Cincinnati. It's similar to what the Reds did with Bronson Arroyo last offseason. The team is moving Aroldis Chapman to the rotation, so there's no real in-house candidate to fill in for Cordero if he leaves, so it makes sense to work out a deal. That said, someone could still pop in and make a bigger offer. The Brewers thought they had a deal with Cordero before he left for the Reds, so history could repeat itself.
Possible teams: Reds, Nationals, Mets, Orioles, Blue Jays

Francisco Rodriguez6. Francisco Rodriguez: After being traded to the Brewers, Rodriguez was not used as the team's closer, and said as a free agent, he'd like the opportunity to close again. That's not going to come in Milwaukee, where John Axford has established himself as the Brewers closer. However, after the Brewers' loss in the NLCS, owner Mark Attanasio made sure to point out just how important Rodriguez was to the team's bullpen and how much the club appreciated what he brought to the team. Although he's clearly not going to be the closer in Milwaukee, money talks -- and enough money and he may decide he can set up Axford. Sure, he spoke of being frustrated about not closing in Milwaukee during the year, but seeing the market could open his mind to other propositions.
Possible teams: Brewers, Cardinals, Orioles, Nationals, Phillies

Kyle Farnsworth7. Kyle Farnsworth: Fransworth more than lived up to his one-year deal last season, rewarding the Rays for taking a chance on him with 25 saves and a 2.18 ERA. He struck out 51 in 57 2/3 inning and had a career-best 0.988 WHIP and also his lowest walk rate of his career (1.9 BB/9). He made $2.6 million last season and the Rays have a $3.3 million club option (with a $650,000 buyout). It's basically a no-brainer to pick it up. Even if he doesn't repeat his 2011 numbers, he has the type of arm some team will want at the deadline to fortify a bullpen.
Possible teams: Rays, Mets, Marlins

Joe Nathan8. Joe Nathan: It's unlikely the Twins pick up Nathan's $12.5 million option -- that's just too rich for a guy pitching in just 48 games after missing the entire 2010 season because of Tommy John surgery. Still, both the Twins and Nathan are said to have interest in the closer returning to Minnesota. The 36-year-old has 260 of his 261 career saves in a Twins uniform and it's hard to imagine the two sides not working something out.
Possible teams: Twins

Kerry Wood9. Kerry Wood: The 34-year-old has already said he will either return to the Cubs in 2012 or retire. Count on the former. Wood was steady in the bullpen in 2011, striking out 57 in 51 innings and also showed no need to be the closer. Steady set-up men are something every team needs, and the Cubs as much as any other team. Wood took a below-market deal to return to the Cubs last season, earning just $1.5 million, and he may be open to doing it again. If so, it seems like a no-brainer to bring him back.
Possible teams: Cubs, retirement

Jeremy Affeldt10. Jeremy Affeldt: Affeldt is a left-handed reliever, but he's not just a left-handed specialist. Sure, his numbers against lefties are better (they hit just .144/.206/.200 against him), but he can also stay in and do a good job against right-handers. That versatility adds to his value on the mariet. He's been part of the very good Giants bullpen and expect him to stay there. San Francisco has a $5 million option on him after he earned $4.5 each of the past two seasons. He's earned the pay bump with his solid numbers. If the Giants don't exercise his option, they'll likely work out a multi-year deal with the team.
Possible teams: Giants

Jonathan Broxton11. Jonathan Broxton: Coming off a disappointing 2010, the hard-throwing right-hander appeared in just 14 games and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow in September to remove a bone spur and loose bodies. Once an All-Star, Broxton's first year of free agency will likely end with a one-year, incentive-laden contract. Broxton is just 27, but if he's no longer throwing 99 mph, what exactly is his worth? It's unlikely he'll get a job as a closer, but will have the opportunity to prove himself in the spring. The Dodgers appear ready to wash their hands of Broxton, despite the right-hander's statements he'd like to return.
Possible teams: Anyone but the Dodgers

Arthur Rhodes12. Arthur Rhodes: Rhodes has said he wants to pitch one more season and then retire. Rhodes has pitched for nine clubs in his career, including two this season -- the Cardinals and Rangers. While disappointing in Texas, Rhodes has rebounded with the Cardinals after being designated for assignment by the Rangers. Tony La Russa loves playing matchups, so it wouldn't be a shock to see him stay in St. Louis. 
Possible teams: Cardinals, Reds, Cubs, Orioles, Blue Jays

Jon Rauch13. Jon Rauch: Rauch had 11 saves for the Blue Jays, pitching in 53 games for the Blue Jays this season. Toronto has a $3.75 million option on the 6-foot-10 right-hander, which is affordable enough. Rauch gave up 11 home runs, the most he's allowed since 2008. While a former closer, he's not exactly anyone's idea of a closer going forward. 
Possible teams: Blue Jays, Twins, Braves, Nationals

Darren Oliver14. Darren Oliver: The 41-year-old left-hander has said he'd like to pitch one more year. His 2011 proves he can still do it, appearing in 61 games and putting up a 2.29 ERA. His splits against left-handers and right-handers weren't too far off, with only his strikeout rates really spiking against lefties. He had 23 strikeouts of lefties in 94 plate appearances and 21 against right-handers in 121 plate appearances. Righties had an OPS of .594 against him, lefties .587. He's spent 10 of his 18 seasons in Texas in three stints. It seems like a perfect fit for him to return.
Possible teams: Rangers, Cardinals

Jason Frasor15. Jason Frasor: The White Sox hold a $3.75 million option for 2012, but the right-hander struggled after being part of the trade that sent him to his hometown at the trade deadline. Frasor was part of the massive three-team trade that sent Colby Rasmus to the Blue Jays and Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel to St. Louis. In 20 appearances for the White Sox, he had a 5.09 ERA, but did strike out more than a batter an inning (20 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings). He had a 2.98 ERA in 44 appearances for the Blue Jays. 
Possible teams: White Sox, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks

Brad Lidge16. Brad Lidge: The Phillies declined a $12.5 million option on their former closer, giving him a $1.5 million buyout. Lidge missed most of the season with a shoulder strain, but did pitch well upon his return, putting up just a 1.40 ERA in 25 appearances, striking out 23 in 19 1/3 innings. Lidge has said he's open to returning as a set-up man, but it appears his days of closing for the Phillies are done, even with Ryan Madson as a free agent. Still, Philadelphia needed several closers to get through the season and having Lidge back could be a good backup plan. Neither side has ruled out a return for Lidge at Citizen's Bank Park.
Possible teams: Phillies, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels

Dan Wheeler17. Dan Wheeler: The Red Sox hold a $3 million option on the right-hander who will be 34 next season. After coming over from the Rays, Wheeler put up a 4.38 ERA out of the Red Sox bullpen. Wheeler spent some time on the disabled list with  a calf strain and then was unavailable down the stretch with forearm stiffness. His health will be major issue Boston's decision to bring him back. If deemed healthy, it would seem he'd have a good chance of returning to the Red Sox. Wheeler had a better xFIP (3.71) than ERA, with a high BABIP (batting average on balls in play) than he did in either of the past three seasons (.272).
Possible teams: Red Sox, Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, Angels

Frank Francisco18. Frank Francisco: Francisco is a Type B free agent, and the Blue Jays will likely offer him arbitration. The 32-year-old right-hander came over in the Mike Napoli trade and picked up 17 saves for the Blue Jays, putting up a 3.55 ERA in 54 games. He struck out 53 in 50 2/3 innings, walking 18. He's not exactly anyone's first choice for a closer, but he could go into a camp and compete for that job, or at least be a fill-in while some team's closer is injured.
Possible teams: Blue Jays, Nationals, Astros, Padres, Phillies

Chad Qualls19. Chad Qualls: San Diego is expected to decline the $6 million option on Qualls. Qualls appeared in 77 games for the Padres in 2011, putting up a 3.51 ERA in San Diego. The Padres are reportedly interested in bringing him back, just not at $6 million. He thrived at Petco Park, earning a 2.09 ERA at home and 5.05 on the road, so it's not a stretch to expect that he would have interest in returning to the Padres.
Possible teams: Padres, Diamondbacks, Nationals, Angels

Matt Capps20. Matt Capps: Just 28, the right-hander is a former closer for the Pirates, Nationals and Twins, but saw his strikeout rate (4.7 per nine innings) and fastball velocity (92.9 mph) drop this year and his ERA rise to 4.25, hardly the way you want to enter free agency. Capps made $7.15 million last season, earning 15 saves for Minnesota. He'll take a pay cut in 2012, likely signing another one-year deal, hoping to re-establish his worth. 
Possible teams: all of them

Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

Free-agent overall rankings: Position players | Pitchers

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 21, 2011 1:43 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2011 7:03 pm
 

Free-agent position rankings: Sabathia heads SP



By Evan Brunell


As you're going to quickly realize after going through the position-by-position rankings of free agents, the market is rather poor this year. There are a couple of intriguing options at any spot, but the overall quality and depth is severely lacking. That could lead to a healthy trade market. But these players have to sign somewhere. Let's take a look at the top 20 starting pitchers and what to expect in the market...

Sabathia1. C.C. Sabathia: Sabathia may not fetch what Cliff Lee did a year ago, but there's no arguing against the lefty here as one of the best pitchers in the game. Despite his weight, Sabathia has been extraordinarily durable and there are zero questions surrounding his ability to pitch in a big-league game. He has yet to have a transcendent season as a Yankee, but is always right there in the discussion for Cy Young votes. It's hard to imagine Sabathia not doing better than four years and $92 million, which is what is remaining on his deal.
Potential teams: Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Red Sox

Wainwright2. Adam Wainwright: It's difficult to imagine the Cardinals declining their 2012 and 2013 options on Wainwright, but if they do, he'll get a pretty good deal in free agency. Waino may be coming off Tommy John surgery, but the right-hander was one of the best pitchers in the game before injury and all indications have Wainwright's rehab being completely normal. If he hit the market, he would do rather well for himself, even beyond the $21 million due him in the options. That, or he would get a pricey one-year deal to re-establish his value. If Waino hits the market, teams will be throwing themselves after him.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Angels, Nationals

Wilson3. C.J. Wilson: Wilson has the numbers for a significant salary after posting a 2.94 ERA on the season in 223 1/3 innings pitched, but many around the game view him as more of a mid-rotation starter, which could depress his value.  While Wilson will never be an ace, those that are calling him a No. 3/4 long-term seem to be going overboard a bit. Over the last two years, Wilson has proven he should be considered a No. 2/3 team and this is someone who figures to see his market heat up once push comes to shove. Wilson has long been linked to one of the Los Angeles' teams given that's where he grew up, but he'll be looking for as much money as he can get.
Potential teams: Rangers, Angels, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Royals, Blue Jays, Nationals, Marlins

Kuroda4. Hiroki Kuroda: Kuroda is a fantastic pitcher, but also extremely loyal. He truly bleeds Dodger blue and many reports have him uninterested in pitching for any other MLB team. In fact, he is considering a return to Japan should the Dodgers not be interested, but they would be crazy to let Kuroda go. He's willing to work on a short-term contract and can be an important front-line starter as the Dodgers limp along in an uncertain financial future. Los Angeles could potentially see both Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp depart as free agents after 2012, so the Dodgers will be motivated to get as strong a team together as they can for 2012.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Japan

Buerhle5. Mark Buehrle: The left-hander has sort of flown under the radar when it comes to free agency, but Buerhle could be in line for a big payday if he doesn't restrict himself. Buerhle has long thought to be only interested in playing for the White Sox or his hometown Cardinals. However, Chicago seems to want to "play the kids," and might prefer the compensation picks that would come with Buerhle. If the Cardinals extend Albert Pujols, they won't have the money for Buerhle, so he may have to look elsewhere for a job. He won't have difficulty finding one, topping 200 innings a season for the 11th straight season, starting as a rookie.
Potential teams: White Sox, Cardinals, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Marlins, Rangers

Jackson6. Edwin Jackson: Jackson has been around the block, already pitching for his sixth team despite being 28 years old. He'll be looking for security and money in what will be the richest contract he'll ever get, which could open up some players beyond the top teams. Jackson is a No. 4 starter who tantalizes with No. 3 potential, which will be enough to get teams to open up their checkbooks once the bigger names on the market are gone. Jackson may not be a sexy pitcher, but plenty of teams recognize the fact that without depth in the rotation, there's nothing.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Angels, Dodgers, Marlins, Royals, Twins, Rangers, Cubs, Nationals, Rockies

Oswalt7. Roy Oswalt: Oswalt has threatened retirement and his back problems plagued his season in Philadelphia, so it would be a surprise to see his $16 million option exercised by the Phillies. Oswalt is certainly entering the phase in his career where he's going to be working on short-term injuries, especially with his back problems. It's difficult to imagine the righty deciding to hang up his cleats just yet, so should resurface somewhere on a one- or two-year deal. The Rangers, who figure to lose Wilson, could have interest in Oswalt to bring him back to Texas and have him mentor its young players.
Potential teams: Astros, Rangers, Phillies, Cardinals, Detroit, Angels, Dodgers

Dempster8. Ryan Dempster: Dempster holds a $14 million player option and it's hard to imagine him doing any better on the free-agent market on an annual basis, so you can expect this option to be picked up. If he does choose free agency, he'll command a contract similar to Edwin Jackson. The righty's ERA soared to 4.80 this season, but his peripherals were still strong, so you can bet on a bounceback season. Even though he will turn 35 next May, Dempster has shown to be very durable. There won't be any shortage of suitors for Dempster.
Potential teams: Cubs, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Marlins

Hisashi Iwakuma9. Hisashi Iwakuma: Iwakuma tried to come stateside last season, but when the Athletics won his rights via the posting system, talks fell apart between GM Billy Beane and Iwakuma's agent, Don Nomura. The lefty will be an actual free agent this season, not bound by posting rights, so any team will be able to talk with Iwakuma. That should help his market, and as a left-hander with strong control, would play well in a pitcher's park. Iwakuma will likely fly under the radar as teams like Boston and New York seek more sure things.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Angels, Mariners, Nationals

Bedard10. Erik Bedard: Bedard slogged through yet another injury-plagued season but when he was on the mound, pitched rather well for the Mariners and Red Sox. His market will be depressed by his constant injuries, but at the same time, he's shown that he can still be an important part of the rotation and if he could get a full season's worth of starts for the first and only time since 2006, whatever deal he ends up signing will be a steal. Bedard will likely fall into the hands of a market that couldn't afford to sign any of the better free agents.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Royals, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Brewers, Tigers

Vazquez11. Javier Vazquez: Will he retire or won't he? While it sounds like the righty could be departing, the second-half he had was incredible for Florida. It showed that Vazquez may finally return to normal after his second stint in New York went terribly and he looked kaput in the early going down south. If Vazquez does return, he's going to have a very short list of teams he will pitch for, and it may only have the Marlins on it. If he considers other teams, bet on it being in the NL.
Potential teams: Marlins, Nationals

Colon12. Bartolo Colon: Colon had a nice resurgence in New York before tailing off. What he did will easily secure him another go-round with a team, but it's probably not going to be back with New York. Given what his market will be, virtually any team could be in play for Colon. We're entering the part of the starting pitching market in which these pitchers will start seeing their market develop once the top names come off the board. From hereon out, you're more likely to see small-market teams or those with an outside shot at contending come into play for these type of pitchers.
Potential teams: Padres, Orioles, Tigers, Royals, Indians, Angels, Mets, Marlins, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Astros

Capuano13. Chris Capuano: Capuano's market got a bit of an uptick as the season wound to a close given the Red Sox's attempt to acquire him for the final game of the season. Other than coming back as a reliever late in the year for the Brewers last season, Capuano hasn't been heard of since 2007. The 33-year-old showed that he still had plenty left in the tank, and, in fact, had his best season yet according to the advanced pitching metric xFIP. Plenty of NL teams, and even some AL teams, will kick the tires on Cappy.
Potential teams: Mets, Dodgers, Padres, Cubs, Royals, Twins, Red Sox

Chen14. Bruce Chen: Like Capuano, Chen has rebuilt his value the last couple of years. He came off a solid 2010 with the Royals into a free-agent market that had no interest in him, probably because there wasn't any idea if Chen could repeat his season. Well, he did, so he should be looking at a couple two-year offers on his plate this winter, and could attract attention from some wannabe contenders. Chen is still a risk, but there's a lot to like here as a backend starter.
Potential teams: Mets, Dodgers, Pirates, Royals, Diamondbacks, Padres, Marlins, Athletics, Astros

Maholm15. Paul Maholm: The Pirates hold rights to Maholm for one year at $9.75 million, but Pittsburgh is expected to decline. That would be a mistake. While Maholm isn't quite worth that amount of money, it's not all that far off, plus it gives the club a solid lefty for the price of one season under contract. That's a no-brainer, but if he hits the market, might be able to finagle a three-year deal by virtue of being one of the youngest pitchers on the free-agent market.  The lefty has shown flashes of being a very good pitcher -- including this year, and one might even argue that Maholm belongs higher on this list.
Potential teams: Mets, Pirates, Angels, Royals, Nationals, Tigers, Cubs, Cardinals, Angels, Orioles

Harden16. Rich Harden: Harden, predictably, kept on having his injury problems but when he was on the field, actually pitched rather well with command not seen since 2005, when he was one of baseball's blossoming talents. Harden can still throw gas. He may no longer be able to stick as a starter despite teams giving him every chance possible, but he has the potential to impact a game whichever inning he ends up pitching in.
Potential teams: Athletics, Rangers, Cubs, Red Sox, Padres, Dodgers, Mets, Marlins

Harang17. Aaron Harang: Harang pitched rather well for the Padres, but it's pretty easy to figure out why. His home park of Petco Park helped him immensely, so he probably won't find many offers much to his liking out on the market. He may not care, as he's made very clear that he wants to stay in San Diego. Should the Padres decline his $5 million option, he'll return -- just at a lower price.
Potential teams: Padres

Padilla18. Vicente Padilla: The Dodgers seemed to be high on Padilla last year, hoping he could serve as both a starter and reliever. That got cut short when Padilla began the season on the DL recovering from elbow surgery, then needing neck surgery mere weeks after coming off the DL. It appears as if Padilla has found a home in Los Angeles after signing a below-market deal to remain with the club. Likewise, the club also seems to like Padilla, who has struggled for years among allegations he's a heavy drinker and poor clubhouse personality, so a reunion with the cash-strapped Dodgers makes sense. A handful of other teams could be interested, but it's doubtful they will be any more attractive than L.A.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Astros, Giants, Marlins, Athletics

Francis19. Jeff Francis: At this point, Francis is pretty far off the "Jeffrey Franchise" label given to him when coming up with the Rockies. Francis rebuilt his value in Kansas City after missing all of 2009 and making 24 starts with Colorado in 2010. The lefty was able to put together 31 starts, even if he tallied just 183 innings. While he has strong control, his lack of a putaway pitch is his main drawback, and at this point, he's nothing more than a No. 4 starter. He'll find a spot this winter, but won't receive much money.
Potential teams: Royals, Cardinals, Padres, Dodgers, Orioles, White Sox, Mets, Marlins, Pirates, Astros

Garcia20. Freddy Garcia: Garcia once looked like the man whose major-league career was dwindling. But now, after the comeback he's had the last two years -- and especially in New York, where he was a more than able starter for the Yankees -- he's assured himself of at least a few more years' run in baseball. The righty is strictly a back-of-the-rotation starter who could serve as a swingman. His willingness to serve in such a role with the Yankees could have him back as a long reliever.
Potential teams: Really, he could land with any team.

Bonus pick: Yu Darvish: If Darvish gets posted, it will give teams an opportunity to get the best pitcher on the free agent market. The only thing that will hold Darvish back is skepticsm as to how his game translates to America, but he is just 25 and put up video-game numbers in Japan, so even if teams talk Darvish down publicly, there will be no shortage of bids. He will also be attractive to teams who covet draft picks, as he won't cost one to sign. Anyone with funds will make a play, even teams who aren't currently competitive. Given his age, Darvish might even work best on a building club, as he would be able to debut on a team with minimal expectations and get his feet wet.
Potential teams: Blue Jays, Cubs, Mets, Nationals, Rangers, Red Sox, Royals, Yankees

Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

Free-agent overall rankings: Position players | Pitchers

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com