2008 Top 50 Free Agents Rumors


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.



Keith Law's Top 50 Free Agents

Keith Law's second annual Top 50 Free Agent list is now available at ESPN.com.  I'm not sure what level of it is available for free, but an ESPN subscription is easily worth the annual $40ish fee.  Here are a few interesting notes from Law.

  • Kosuke Fukudome, Law's tenth-ranked free agent, is expected to sign a three-year, no-arbitration contract.  That means he'll become a free agent after three years of MLB service time instead of the usual six.
  • Law compares Aaron Rowand's upcoming contract to that of Gary Matthews Jr.  He considers Rowand "a good fourth outfielder who's about to be paid like an above average starter."
  • Scott Boras client Brad Wilkerson is surprisingly ranked 18th (he was just an honorable mention for me).  Law feels Wilkerson is an upside play and could even be passable in center field.
  • Law suggests the team signing another upside play, Bartolo Colon put a weight clause in the contract (it might take a two-year deal).  Michael Barrett and Randy Wolf are also considered part of the upside group.  I really think teams should see if Barrett could play a league average third base. 
  • Law seems to believe it's time for Tom Glavine to retire.
  • Another list to check out: Jeff Passan of Yahoo ranks free agents by position.



2008 Top 50 Free Agents

Time for the second annual MLBTradeRumors.com Top 50 Free Agents list!  (You can see last year's here).  Check out the list of available free agents here.

1. Alex Rodriguez - Angels.  Keith Law recently termed the Angels a "ridiculously good fit" for A-Rod.  It's true.  Despite what Arte Moreno says, the Angels can afford him, don't hate Scott Boras, have a third base vacancy, are expected to win in 2008, and have a low-pressure fan-base.

2. Jorge Posada - Yankees.  Which team is more likely to throw an unreasonable amount of money at Posada, the Yankees or Mets?  The Yankees are more desperate to save face.  Plus, as Buster Olney recently noted, they can move him to DH in a few years and the contract might not look terrible.

3. Mike Lowell - Red Sox.  They'll come in around four years and $48MM.  Such a deal might be colored slightly by emotion but shouldn't be too damaging.  If some team is crazy enough to pony up five guaranteed years, all bets are off.

4. Torii Hunter - Rangers.  The White Sox present serious competition, but the Rangers seem dead-set on Hunter.  And of course, he has a home near the Ballpark in Arlington.

5. Andy Pettitte - Yankees.  A rare case where a player exercises a reasonably priced player option.  Pettitte is a different breed of ballplayer. 

6. Mariano Rivera - Yankees.  Mo has postured about the Yankees being just one of 30 teams.  In the end, he'll retire a Yankee.

7. Barry Bonds - Padres.  I tried hard to make Barry fit on an AL team, and couldn't do it.  He's not going to finish his career as DH for the Royals.  While the Padres have a decent left field platoon in Scott Hairston and Jason Lane, this would be a Kevin Towers type of move if Bonds would sign for $12MM.

8. Aaron Rowand - White Sox.  They'll flirt with Hunter but get Rowand.  You could make a case that this contract will be no worse than Hunter's, given the age and slight salary difference.  Bringing Rowand back would be a fan-pleasing move.

9. Carlos Silva - Mets.  Silva is going to have tons of suitors.  The Mets will come up with a reliable starter one way or another, and Silva might fit.  I was originally going to put Livan Hernandez in Queens.  But if you're the Mets, why not tack on another year and $11MM to get the superior, younger guy? 

10. Andruw Jones - Dodgers.  This is a questionable match given Ned Colletti's feelings about Scott Boras.  And Juan Pierre in left field, ugh.  But I could still see this happening for, say, four years and $64MM.  Colletti has been willing to overpay a bit to keep the term shorter.   

11. Curt Schilling - Phillies.  You all know about his target list.  The Phillies don't have a ton to trade and bringing Schilling back would invigorate the fan base more than signing Silva.

12. Kosuke Fukudome - Giants.  They have a lot of free cash.  With Barry out of the picture and A-Rod unlikely, snagging the best available Japanese player could still generate some buzz.  Plus, the Giants must have identified OBP as a problem by now.

13. Francisco Cordero - Brewers.  Letting Cordero go makes sense, since the Crew could snag a sweet first-round draft pick as compensation.  However the Brewers can fit him into the budget and the free agent closer alternatives are uninspiring.   

14. Greg Maddux - Padres.  Mad Dog is one Boras client who doesn't always chase top dollar.  He's comfortable in San Diego and could probably do this for another five years.  He only needs 27 more wins to establish himself as third all-time ahead of Christy MathewsonWalter Johnson's 417 is out of reach. 

15. Mike Cameron - Astros.  The Astros seem all about adding a center fielder and pushing Luke Scott out of the organization.  They are one team that could handle Cameron's 25-game suspension without major issues. 

16. Tom Glavine - Braves.  Most folks seem to agree that Glavine will retire with his original team.  They need rotation depth and this makes sense.

17. Hiroki Kuroda - Cubs.  The Cubs don't seem content to give 40% of their starts to Jason Marquis and Sean Marshall.  There's been a lot of buzz early on about the Cubs dipping into the Japanese market.  Maybe they can get Kuroda for something like three years, $27MM (way more than he could earn in Japan).

18. Bartolo Colon - Mariners.  This was U.S.S. Mariner's idea.  He's a guy who could pair with Felix at the front of the rotation but wouldn't cause the Ms to break the bank or trade away young talent.   

19. Jason Jennings - Rockies.  This would be a solid replacement for the consistent 5.00+ ERA of Josh Fogg.  Jennings has shown he can get it done in Coors. 

20. Eric Gagne - Tigers.  You have to think Scott Boras is trying to convince the Tigers to take a flier on Gagne right now, given Joel Zumaya's injury.  They could also be a contender for Francisco Cordero

21. Tadahito Iguchi - Mariners.  He's a good fit here - the comfort of a huge Japanese following, a need to challenge Jose Lopez with a veteran.

22. Paul Byrd - Indians.  HGH or not, he's worth $8MM on a one-year commitment. 

23. Jose Guillen - Cardinals.  Could La Russa keep Guillen in line?  He didn't cause any clubhouse problems in Seattle.  The Cards could use a right fielder with 25 HR pop, and he might be the only qualifier. 

24. Kyle Lohse - Cardinals.  I was going to put him with the Astros but then remembered Drayton McLane's strong dislike of Scott Boras.  The Cardinals are seeking one solid starter.  Lohse almost qualifies, in this market.

25. Roger Clemens - Retirement.  Some say The Rocket could never go out like this.  But coming back for a possibly injury-plagued '08 won't make it better.  His usual three options are the Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros.  Only the Astros could really entertain it, but they might prefer to close the book on him. 

26. Livan Hernandez - Mariners.  The Ms brought in Jeff Weaver, Horacio Ramirez, and Miguel Batista last year.  Only Batista stuck.  Livan is similar, an innings eater who puts guys on but wiggles out of jams. They had trade interest in him during the summer.  If the Mariners sign Colon they'll need someone reliable to complement him.   

27. Hitoki Iwase - Reds.  It was tough for me to decide what the Reds will do.  Will they sign Silva?  Fill a hole with an Adam Dunn trade?  The idea of signing a crack Japanese closer seems kind of out there for the Reds, but what the hell.  Iwase is going to be popular this winter.

28. Kenny Rogers - Tigers.  He's said it's the Tigers or retirement.  He's still effective enough to keep going. 

29. Kenshin Kawakami - Royals.  How about an under-the-radar Japanese pitcher for the Royals?  New manager Trey Hillman is perfect for this.

30. Geoff Jenkins - Tigers.  The Tigers are looking for a left-handed hitting left fielder, and Jenkins fits the bill.

31. Freddy Garcia - Padres.  I think the Padres could afford to add both Bonds and Garcia.  They've already expressed a willingness to bring in a rehab-type or two, as the front three in the rotation should be set once Maddux signs.  Matt Clement might be more likely but I could see Garcia for $6-7MM. 

32. Milton Bradley - Cubs.  Could Lou keep Milton happy?  Bradley could be their consolation prize if they don't win the Fukudome sweepstakes.  He's got pop and can help in center or right when healthy.  Plus, he's a switch-hitter.  They've had trade interest in him in the past. 

33. Luis Castillo - Mets.  I think the Mets will sign him for lack of a better option.  He did a nice job for them and wants to stay.

34. Shannon Stewart - White Sox.  I was considering the Tribe for Stewart but I know they want power in left field.  The White Sox seem like a team that could opt for defense over power at the position.

35. Kazumi Saito - Not Posted.  Just a hunch, but I feel that the Fukuoka Hawks will wait for Saito to have a healthy, effective season before posting him.

36. Kaz Matsui - Rockies.  My guess is that he'll realize that he needs Coors, and settle at a reasonable price.

37. Juan Uribe - Orioles.  I have Uribe as Miguel Tejada's replacement at shortstop.  Someone has to fill the void.  If the White Sox are intent on adding Eckstein I wouldn't expect them to want Uribe as a $5MM second baseman.

38. Pedro Feliz - Yankees.  I know, it's heresy to suggest the Yankees would settle for the defense and low OBP Feliz provides.  But beyond A-Rod and Lowell, what is there?  A Joe Crede trade seems quite possible as an alternative. 

39. Joe Borowski - Indians.  The Tribe seems reasonably happy with Borowski at $4MM next year.

40. Todd Jones - Braves.  If the Braves decide to stay in-house for their center field solution, they could use the excess cash to add Jones.  He wants to play there and could take a discount (granted, they already have Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez).

41. Yorvit Torrealba - Mets.  I don't see the Mets being crazy enough to give Posada five years.  Torrealba seems sufficient, no worse than the other options.  A Ramon Hernandez trade seems to be a popular alternative.

42. Kenny Lofton - Twins.  A trade for Coco Crisp to play center is plenty possible.  But otherwise there's always Lofton to step in and not embarrass you.

43. David Riske - Phillies.  I'm not sold on Riske being good for the next three years.  However he's healthy and had a very good 2007, and that will get him a nice contract.

44. Randy Wolf - Diamondbacks.  Part of me knows that the D'Backs really don't need more injury risk in their rotation. Still, Wolf is a smart signing and there are only so many innings-eaters to go around.

45. Michael Barrett - Marlins.  Barrett seems like the Marlins' type of bargain signing.  For $3MM, he could surprise.  Also, maybe he could play some third base if Miguel Cabrera is traded. 

46. Masahide Kobayashi - Devil Rays.  It wouldn't surprise anyone to see the Rays find a Japanese bargain.  Kobayashi's deceptive delivery could result in a year or two of MLB success.

47. David Eckstein - White Sox.  They've liked him for a while.  It's time for a change at shortstop, and Eckstein is at least someone different (and not lazy).  Kenny Williams could certainly make a trade instead. 

48. Luis Gonzalez - Twins.  He's unwanted, so he'll be affordable.  Adding Lofton and Gonzo wouldn't impress anyone, but the Twins aren't big spenders.  Maybe Bill Smith will opt for a Jason Bay trade instead.

49. Mike Lamb - Phillies.  The pickin's are slim at third base.  A Lamb/Helms platoon might be league average.  Otherwise I could see a Crede trade. 

50. Jon Lieber - Nationals.  They're looking for a veteran starter on a one-year deal.  I think Liebs could be that guy for $5-6MM.

Honorable mentions: Brad Wilkerson, Mike Piazza, Troy Percival, Kris Benson, Omar Vizquel, Scott Linebrink, Paul Lo Duca, Octavio Dotel, Ramon Castro, Corey Patterson









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