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Thursday, February 5, 2009

What teams should sign the remaining free agents?

While pitchers and catchers are getting ready to report to camp, many others players are still searching for a team.  I already discussed the puzzling unemployment of Adam Dunn, Manny Ramirez, and Bobby Abreu, but there are several others who have seen their stocks fizzle.  I'll do a quick run down of the top guys left and list where I think they'd find the best fit.
  • Orlando Hudson 2b - The proclaimed best defensive second baseman in the majors, stats show the O-dogs defense slipped last season but I think it's just a one year thing.  He has decent OBP and is a smart baserunner.  I think he'd be a great fit for the Mets, Dodgers, and obviously Arizona.  I think he ends up in Los Angeles.
  • Joe Crede 3b - Back issues have limited his playing time over the last couple of seasons.  When he's out there he offers an above average glove and good pop.  If the Twins don't sign him they're morons.
  • Kevin Millar 1b - Millar is the epitome of a "clubhouse guy" who plays an underrated first base.  Last season he hit .234/.323/.394 but a bounceback to .250/.350/.425 seems realistic.  Would make a good bench/platoon player for the Pirates but I doubt they're interested.  Cincinnati makes sense but now it appears Toronto is on the verge of acquiring him.
  • Mark Grudzielanek 2b - Has anyone heard anything about this guy during the offseason?  He's at least .271 for 10 straight seasons and at least .290 since 2003.  His defense is still excellent and would be a great role model for younger players.  I think he is the perfect fit for the White Sox.  Frankly, if they don't sign him it's a mistake.
  • Rich Aurilia inf - Aurilia can play first and third and when his manager is on crack gets to play second and short too.  Last season he owned lefties to a .321/.377/.526 so that's likely to get a GM's attention.  Don't expect him to hit quite that well against them this season but he's still a good play versus the tough ones.  Again, is a great fit for the Reds considering all the lefties in the division.  Offensively challenged Arizona also makes sense.
  • Luis Gonzalez LF - Aside from his 57 homer season in 2001, Gonzalez has never been a big power hitter.  Well, now he's not even a medium power hitter totaling 38 over the past three seasons.  Combined with declining outfield defense and last season's dreadful performance against southpaws, Gonzalez should probably hang 'em up.  What's more likely is he begs someone for an spring NRI to try and catch on when the club heads north.
  • Orlando Cabrera SS - It's no surprise Cabrera wasn't retained after the White Sox made no secret of their displeasure with his me-first attitude.  What is a surprise is that Edgar Renteria has been employed for nearly two months while Cabrera--whose offense is more consistent and defense is substantially superior--hasn't gotten more than a sniff.  I guess carrying that Type A free agent label will do that (teams with an unprotected first round pick forfeit that pick to Chicago if they sign him).  Oakland makes sense but I doubt they want to give up their first round pick.  The same is probably true for Detroit, St. Louis, and Minnesota.  I think Detroit or Minnesota should just bite the bullet and grab him.
  • Ivan Rodriguez C - An outstanding defensive catcher whose offensive abilities no longer warrant everyday playing time.  In the last two seasons he's had 32 walks and 31 GDP's!  The Yankees appear to be the perfect match with Posada's health a question mark.  For some reason neither side appears to be interested.  The only other possible matches I see are Florida and perhaps Houston.
What really jumped out at me while I was compiling this list are the player ages.  One thing to remember about free agents is that players are typically on the back end of their careers.  Once a player makes his major league debut, his team has his contract rights for his first six seasons.  Since most players debut between the ages of 23-25 they spend the majority of their prime with their first organization.  ARod was the big exception and it allowed him to earn a $140+ million contract from Texas.  Last year's youngest major leaguer was Justin Upton at the age of 20.  In five years he too will be a free agent and I bet he is our next $100 million man.
 
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