Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel are the most-talked players on the free-agent market for good reason. Both are highly accomplished pitchers (Kimbrel is the all-time saves leader through an age-30 season; Keuchel a former Cy Young Award winner) who could improve most any team in baseball. But, for as much as each deserves to be employed, they aren't the only potentially useful players who remain available. Earlier this week, word surfaced that James Shields was drawing interest from a number of teams. Similar stories will likely be penned in the coming weeks about others, including, perhaps outfielder-slash-designated-hitter Denard Span.

Prior to Matt Kemp's recent release, it was fair to describe Span as the best hitter left sitting on the sidelines. Last season, after all, he ranked 90th in OPS+ among batters with more than 400 trips to the plate. Everyone ahead of him, including Kemp, entered the season on a roster. Span, meanwhile, hasn't signed with anyone since his option was declined in October.

In fact, the only time in the six months since that Span's name has been connected to a club was in February, when Jon Heyman reported his market was heating up. There's no telling what caused the subsequent cooldown, but it's hard to believe Span was asking for a king's ransom considering he was already set to collect a $4 million buyout. Perhaps the issue, then, was that he was unwilling to accept a minor-league deal or non-roster invite -- and who could blame him for that?

Yes, Span is 35 years old and is best suited as a left-fielder-slash-designated-hitter. Yet he's toted a league-average or better stick in four of his last five seasons, as judged by adjusted weighted runs created (a metric that properly measures on-base percentage and accounts for ballpark). Moreover, Span hasn't been more than 10 percent below league-average since 2011, suggesting that he's a decent bet to be at worst a tolerable member of a lineup -- an assertion that preseason projections by most every notable forecast system tended to agree with.

At this point, the prolonged layoff and lack of spring training would likely have impacted Span's play for the worse. But his continued availability is a reminder of how certain teams failed during the winter -- particularly on the American League side of things. The Cleveland Indians, for instance, entered Thursday with five outfield-slash-DH types on the roster: none had an OPS+ better than 82. The Oakland Athletics, meanwhile, opted for Robbie Grossman, presumably due to his cheapness. They have received the production they paid for, as he came into Thursday with an 80 OPS+.

Few players, it seems, were harmed as much by the unbalanced AL as Span was. The top contenders had superior options at DH, while the plethora of teams content to bottom-feed had no willingness to pay an older, league-average player their worth. It stinks, but that's the reality of baseball right now -- and it's robbing the game of a number of competent players.