After looking at the latest updates on the remaining unsigned starting pitchers and position players, we have one more group to examine: the relievers. Earlier in April, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes named some relief pitchers who could be dealt this season, and that list is certainly more intriguing than the current free agent market. But for teams looking to take an inexpensive gamble, there are a handful of recognizable, if not overly exciting, names available. Here are a few:
- Juan Cruz: After a disappointing stint in Kansas City, the 31-year-old was released by the Royals a week ago. Now that clubs won't have to assume the $3.25MM figure he's owed this season, the right-hander certainly looks more like a risk worth taking. In 2007 and 2008, Cruz appeared in 110 games for the Diamondbacks, posting a 2.88 ERA and striking out 12.6 batters per nine innings. It's unlikely he'd regain that form this year, but he could be a bargain at a league-minimum salary. The Diamondbacks don't appear interested in bringing him back though, and the Marlins, often willing to take on cheap bullpen reclamation projects, probably won't take the plunge either.
- Russ Ortiz: The veteran righty elected free agency last week after being designated for assignment by the Dodgers. Although he pitched poorly for Los Angeles this April, allowing eight runs in seven innings, his career numbers as a reliever (3.33 ERA over 78.1 IP) are respectable. While there hasn't been any reported interest in him yet and he won't be an integral part of anyone's bullpen, he'll probably be able to land a minor league contract soon.
- Russ Springer: We know Springer would like to pitch this year, preferably for the Cardinals, but we haven't heard much more than that lately. The right-hander was extremely effective in two seasons in St. Louis, posting a 2.24 ERA and 8.6 K/9 in 146 appearances in 2007 and 2008. His ERA rose to 4.11 last season, but his ratios were still excellent. Even at 41, Springer could be a worthy addition to quite a few bullpens around the league, but perhaps he's holding out for an offer from the Cards.
- David Weathers: Like Springer, Weathers was reasonably effective in 2009 (3.92 ERA), despite turning 40 last September. However, his peripherals declined and there hasn't been a whole lot of reported interest in the righty this spring. The last we heard, Weathers was still open to pitching this season for a contender, though he'll probably retire if the right situation doesn't arise.