2008 MLB Free Agents Rumors


Odds and Ends: Perez, Lowe, Garland, Swisher, Neshek

Some Tuesday evening links:



Tigers Interested In Beimel

Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free Press reports that the Tigers are interested in LHP Joe Beimel, according to Beimel's agent.

Biemel, 31, posted a 2.02 ERA for the Dodgers in 2008. He's only allowed one home run over the past two seasons, while pitching a combined 116.1 innings. However, he did give up 50 hits in 49 innings last year.

Morosi mentions that the Tigers are also in the hunt for a closer, making it clear that Beimel isn't the answer for the 9th inning in Detroit. Darren Oliver and Arthur Rhodes also appear on the Tigers' short list of interesting free agent relievers.



K-Rod Takes A Physical

MONDAY, 8:55am: Matthew Cerrone sorts through this mess at MetsBlog.  Seems that K-Rod took a physical, but not for the Mets or any specific team.  The whole thing is getting confusing, but it's safe to say he's not close to signing.

SUNDAY, 7:34pm: A variety of sources, including MLB.com, have quoted Rodriguez' agent Paul Kinzer directly as saying that the following rumor, posted earlier this evening, is inaccurate.

7:25pm: According to a report issued by Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, Francisco Rodriguez has visited doctors in New York City for a physical. The move may be interpreted by some as a step forward in ongoing negotiations between Rodriguez and one of his most interested suitors, the New York Mets.

Matthew Cerrone at MetsBlog mentions an instance last season where El Nuevo Dia had reported that the Mets had signed Livan Hernandez, when in fact they had not done so. Despite this, the story certainly qualifies, at the very least, as a rumor.



Closer Roundup: K-Rod, Fuentes, Wood, Hoffman

Joel Sherman of the New York Post takes a look at the sudden surplus of potentially available closers in major league baseball, a situation that certainly benefits the Mets considering their need to upgrade the bullpen this offseason.

Two free agent closers that seemed destined to retire with their 2008 teams, Trevor Hoffman and Kerry Wood, now appear to be more available than was expected in October. That pair, along with Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes, give the Mets and other teams several options in free agency.

Other relief pitchers with experience in the 9th inning have been recently mentioned in trade rumors. The list includes Huston Street, who may move again before the 2009 season begins, along with JJ Putz, Jose Valverde, and Bobby Jenks, mentions Sherman.

Sherman also provides a short list of teams, beyond the Mets, that may need a reliever with closing experience for 2009. The Texas Rangers, seemingly always short on pitching these days, may be a good fit for Kerry Wood; the Detroit Tigers, the St. Louis Cardinals, and most recently the Milwaukee Brewers, faced with the sudden retirement of Salomon Torres, are also in need of 9th inning help.

Sherman suggests Fuentes may be the favorite for the Mets' closing job at this point.



Dayan Viciedo Defects From Cuba

12:45pm  Baseball America's John Manuel has a solid write up on Viciedo and his free agent status.  Agent Jamie Torres says, "He was processed at the end of May. To me, he was not drafted and should be an undrafted free agent. We’ll see if the union agrees with me." The catch here is whether or not Viciedo is subject to the rules of the draft now that he's in the U.S.  Had he gone to the Dominican Republic, for example, he could be a free agent. Since teams weren't informed of his eligibility to be signed or drafted, his status remains to be determined.  Manuel also presents mixed reviews of Viciedo's potential, but his hitting ability is not in question.

According to Jorge Ebro and Wilfredo Cancio Isla of the Miami Herald, Dayan Viciedo, a 19 year old Cuban ballplayer, has defected from his home country and arrived in Miami with renewed motivation.  This is a new name for me, but Ebro and Cancio shed some light on the arrival of a promising new talent: 

"Born March 10, 1989... Viciedo is regarded as the best Cuban baseball player in the past eight years after Kendry Morales, who defected in 2004 and now plays in the Los Angeles Angels' system.

'Dayán is going to spark a lot of talk in the majors,'' said his agent, Puerto Rican lawyer Jaime Torres, 'He has arrived with youth, he is very versatile and his conditioning is exceptional. We will soon see him wearing the uniform of a major league team.'"

Viciedo is 6'2", 202 lbs capable of playing SS, 3B, and OF.  According to the Havana Journal, at 16 he was the youngest Cuban All Star in history.  At 18, he was chosen to play in the World Baseball Classic in the U.S. and is often compared to Omar Linares, one of the greatest Cuban players of all time.  Baseball in Cuba has been on continued decline without motivated players.

No word on interested teams yet.  Anyone have any more insight on Viciedo?

By Nat Boyle



2008 MLB Free Agents

Here's a look at what's left of the 2008 free agent class.

I've categorized them by position; the player's 2008 age is in parentheses.  This post will be updated throughout the offseason and available as a permanent sidebar link.

Updated 3-13-08

Catchers
No starters available.

First basemen
No starters available.

Second basemen
No starters available.

Shortstops
No starters available.

Third basemen

Corey Koskie (35)

Left fielders
Barry Bonds (43) - Type A
Reggie Sanders (40)

Center fielders

Kenny Lofton (41) - Type B

Right fielders
Reggie Sanders (40)

DHs
Barry Bonds (43) - Type A
Mike Piazza (39) - Type B
Sammy Sosa (39)

Starting pitchers
Roger Clemens (45)
Freddy Garcia (32) - Type B
Rodrigo Lopez (32)
Eric Milton (32)
Russ Ortiz (34)
John Thomson (34)
Jeff Weaver (31)
David Wells (45)

Closers
Bob Wickman (39)

Middle relievers
Antonio Alfonseca (36)
Jose Mesa (42)
Akinori Otsuka (36)
Aaron Sele (38)



Which Free Agents Will Retire?

Jerry Crasnick has a piece up on ESPN.com regarding the remaining free agents. Specifically, he looks at the possibilities for Barry Bonds, Kyle Lohse, Livan Hernandez, Tony Clark, Sean Casey, Mark Sweeney, Kris Benson, Pedro Feliz, and Shannon Stewart.

These players have been talked about at length on MLBTR over the course of this off-season. The collective youth movement in MLB is really hurting these guys. Teams are beginning to replace them with younger, cheaper talent, and making vets work for their spots in the lineup and rotation.

True, many of the remaining free agents are going to catch on somewhere. Lohse, for instance, isn't going to begin the season unemployed. He'll end up taking what the market bears for his services. However, to me the most interesting part of Crasnick's article was a one-sentence paragraph:

Don't be surprised to see a few retirement announcements mixed in with the signings over the next few weeks.

So instead of looking at where each of the remaining free agents will land, let's talk about who might opt for retirement. I'll throw up my list, and you guys can add or subtract in the comments.

Damian Miller, Ryan Klesko, Corey Koskie, Luis Gonzalez, Reggie Sanders, Shawn Green, Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza, Mike Sweeney, Sammy Sosa, Eric Milton, David Wells, John Thomson, Bob Wickman, Russ Ortiz, Antonio Alfonseca, Joe Table, Rudy Seanez, Aaron Sele, Ron Villone

I wanted to include Kenny Lofton, but I figure that some team will give him a shot at some playing time. Trot Nixon crossed my mind, as he's been not so good over the past couple of years. But he could bide his time and catch on when the inevitable injury strikes in Spring Training. I included Milton and Ortiz because while they're not at the typical retirement age, their performances over the past few years are poor enough that no team should even think about giving them a shot.



2008 MLB Free Agents

Presenting...your 2008 free agent class.

I've categorized them by position; the player's 2008 age is in parentheses.  Also Type A or B status is included; otherwise there's no compensation.  If I saw someone as a possibility at more than one position I put them at both.  I'll keep this post updated throughout the offseason and make it a permanent sidebar link.

Updated 2-22-08

Catchers
No starters available.

First basemen
No starters available.

Second basemen
No starters available.

Shortstops
No starters available.

Third basemen
Corey Koskie (35)

Left fielders
Barry Bonds (43) - Type A
Reggie Sanders (40)
Shannon Stewart (34) - Type B

Center fielders
Kenny Lofton (41) - Type B
Corey Patterson (28)

Right fielders
Shawn Green (35) - Type B
Reggie Sanders (40)

DHs
Barry Bonds (43) - Type A
Mike Piazza (39) - Type B
Sammy Sosa (39)

Starting pitchers
Roger Clemens (45)
Bartolo Colon (35)
Freddy Garcia (32) - Type B
Kyle Lohse (29)
Rodrigo Lopez (32)
Eric Milton (32)
Russ Ortiz (34)
John Thomson (34)
Jeff Weaver (31)
David Wells (45)

Closers
Armando Benitez (35)
Bob Wickman (39)

Middle relievers
Antonio Alfonseca (36)
Jose Mesa (42)
Akinori Otsuka (36)
Aaron Sele (38)



Remaining Top 50 Free Agents

On November 5th, I posted my Top 50 Free Agents list.  Let's take a spin through to see what remains.  I've included my old predictions for reference. 

7. Barry Bonds - Padres. The Friars seem content to go with Scott Hairston/Jason Lane/Chase Headley in left field; I doubt they'll be signing Bonds.  With the A's effectively out of the picture I have no idea where he ends up.  But that 3,000 hit milestone is lingering for him.

15. Mike Cameron - Astros.  This won't happen; the 'Stros are set with Michael Bourn in center.  Possible suitors: Twins, Brewers, Cardinals, Reds, Braves.

18. Bartolo Colon - Mariners.  This still could happen.  Other possibilities: the Royals, Nationals, Mets, Rangers, and Phillies. 

19. Jason Jennings - Rockies.  I like the idea of Jennings returning to Coors, but the Rockies seem pretty full if they ink Josh Towers.  The Rangers, Astros, Nationals, Royals, and Mets are possible suitors (similar to Colon).

24. Kyle Lohse - Cardinals.  Will the Cards throw down $40MM to add an innings eater to their rotation?  Probably not.  Aside from the Mets the market for him has been dead so far.

25. Roger Clemens - Retirement.  Clemens could definitely still retire, or he could try to hook on with the Astros or Red Sox at a large discount.  Would he consider other clubs?

26. Livan Hernandez - Mariners.  The Ms got their innings eater in Carlos Silva.  Livan is a possibility for all of the usual suspects - Mets, Phillies, maybe the Astros and Reds.

27. Hitoki Iwase - Reds.  Just heard he'll stay in Japan on a one-year, $4MM deal.

29. Kenshin Kawakami - Royals.  According to RotoWire on December 3rd, Kawakami is a free agent and should decide sometime soon whether to jump over to MLB.  He makes an interesting sleeper if he does.

31. Freddy Garcia - Padres.  The Padres have reached their quota on rehabbers.  The Mets are eyeing Garcia; the Rangers don't seem interested.  Garcia had surgery to repair a frayed rotator cuff and labrum in August.

34. Shannon Stewart - White Sox.  This prediction ain't happening.  There has been almost no buzz on Stewart thus far.

35. Kazumi Saito - Not Posted.  Haven't heard anything about the Hawks posting him - he's not eligible for free agency.

38. Pedro Feliz - Yankees.  Oops, they'll go with the best hitter in baseball at third instead.  McCovey Chronicles doesn't want him back on the Giants, but it's still possible. 

42. Kenny Lofton - Twins.  I could still see this happening if the Twins don't get a center fielder via a Johan trade.  Otherwise Lofton can try to re-engage the Brewers.  Some interested club is bound to pop up once Cameron and Corey Patterson sign.

48. Luis Gonzalez - Twins.  This move probably won't be necessary with Delmon Young, Jason Kubel, and Michael Cuddyer all in tow.  Jerry Crasnick wrote a Gonzo article today, naming the Twins, White Sox, Rangers, Rays, Brewers, and Giants as teams that talked with his agent but didn't pan out.

50. Jon Lieber - Nationals.  He could end up in Washington if he'll take a one-year deal.  Talks apparently died with Houston, but the Mets, Reds, Royals, and Rangers are options.



Best and Worst Free Agent Signings

A mailbag question came in:

So far what do you think are the three best free agent signings, and the three worst? - John

Best

1. Alex Rodriguez - The best, most reliable player in the game. This contract will look better and better as salaries rise.
2. Andruw Jones - Low-risk two-year commitment to a possibly elite center fielder.
3. Mark Prior - Worst case, Prior fizzles and the Padres lose a million bucks.  Best case, they pay four mil for three or even four decent months.

Others I liked: Kosuke Fukudome, Mike Lamb, Masahide Kobayashi, Milton Bradley, Randy Wolf, Eric Gagne

Worst

1. Torii Hunter - Good timing makes Hunter an $18MM player.  Doesn't seem to fill a major need for the Angels, and now they have a glut of outfielders.
2. Kaz Matsui - What does he bring to the table?  Just the speed?  The Astros should've earmarked this money for starting pitching.
3. Scott Linebrink - Four years of a declining middle reliever.

Others I disliked: Luis Castillo, Geoff Jenkins, Tom Glavine









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