Who Could Be Released This Year?

Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, and Carlos Silva suffered the indignity a year ago of being paid to go away, as the three were released with $31.5MM remaining on their contracts in total.  Here are some big money players who stand a chance of being cut at some point in 2012.

  • Vernon Wells, Angels: three years, $63MM.  The contract gives Wells first crack as the Angels' starting left fielder.  With Mike Trout waiting in the wings, Wells needs to produce in the first half.  Bobby Abreu, owed $9MM this year, seems more likely to be traded than released.
  • Alfonso Soriano, Cubs: three years, $54MM.  There is plenty of positive talk about Soriano this spring, but the Cubs' new management team might not let him finish the season if his on-base percentage remains around .290.
  • Barry Zito, Giants: two years, $46MM.  Zito is penciled in as the Giants' fifth starter, but he's probably on a short leash.  
  • Alex Rios, White Sox: three years, $38MM.  Adam Dunn, White Sox: three years, $44MM.  The Sox might as well see if Rios and/or Dunn can bounce back to some extent, but if either has an awful first half, the team could move on.
  • Jason Bay, Mets: two years, $35MM.  Those looking for signs of life from Bay can point to his final month last year.  But if his performance matches the other five months (.234/.318/.342) the Mets could pull the plug.
  • Carlos Zambrano, Marlins: one year, $18MM.  The Cubs picked up most of the tab on Zambrano, so if he becomes a disruption despite the chance of scenery, the Marlins could let him go.
  • Chone Figgins, Mariners: two years, $17MM.  The Mariners aim to rejuvenate Figgins by giving him a shot to bat leadoff in 2012.  If that fails, he could be released.
  • Juan Uribe, Dodgers: two years, $16MM.  Uribe is hoping to wipe the slate clean and stick as the team's starting third baseman.
  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Twins: two years, $6.25MM.  Nishioka is competing for a utility infielder job, and if he doesn't make the cut the next step would be Triple-A.
  • Brandon Inge, Tigers: one year, $6MM. Inge is currently in the mix for second base and will probably be needed to back up Miguel Cabrera at third.  The Tigers removed Inge from the 40-man roster last July, but re-added him a few weeks later.
  • Kevin Gregg, Orioles: one year, $5.8MM.  Though the Orioles don't seem to project Gregg for a key role in 2012, releasing him now would be harsh.
  • Brandon Lyon, Astros: one year, $5.5MM.  There's plenty of room in Houston's bullpen for Lyon to reclaim a late-inning role.  That's the best case scenario.

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