Taking a look at my Top 50 Free Agents list from November 2nd, only nine players remain. So far I’ve guessed correctly on 14 of the 41 signees (34%). That’s already an improvement on last year, but I have to admit there were a lot of no-brainers.
More importantly, let’s take a look at the nine leftovers and assess the possibilities.
4. Barry Zito – The Mets will meet with Zito this week. The Angels recently dropped out of the bidding. The Rangers have already made an offer, and the Giants seem to be on the fringe. If Zito craves the big stage, he’ll become a Met. If it’s all about the money, it seems that the Rangers will have the top offer. Would the Mets add a sixth year?
7. Roger Clemens – The Rocket will decide whether to pitch after the new year, and he’ll choose between the Astros, Red Sox, and Yankees for a possible 2/3 season. Sound familiar? The Red Sox may be strapped for cash, but leaving Jon Papelbon at closer and adding Clemens could make them the favorite in the AL East. If things are still up in the air in May or June, perhaps an injury among the five Yankee starters could put them back in the game. But right now, Houston is still the favorite.
27. Jeff Weaver – Last year’s one-year contract/Boras ploy didn’t work out, but Weaver can still get a multiyear deal in this market. The Cardinals might want him back; not many other suitors have emerged. Perhaps the Giants or the loser of the Zito sweepstakes will get involved. Last year, Weaver didn’t sign until February.
28. Jeff Suppan – Arguably the second best free agent starter remaining. The Giants, Brewers, Pirates, Royals, and Blue Jays are still in the running for him. He’ll wait for Zito to sign first.
35. Trot Nixon – He hasn’t been terribly popular this offseason. The Pirates have made an offer, and the Orioles have some interest. The A’s or Phils could still jump in if the price is right. One year, $7MM might get it done.
39. Mark Mulder – Mulder just got married this weekend. Congrats, Mark! I’m sure his new wife doesn’t want him on the phone with his agent on the honeymoon, so a decision isn’t forthcoming. He wants a two-year deal and the D’Backs, Cards, Rangers, Padres, Indians, Devil Rays, Orioles, or Giants could sign him. He’s already got offers in hand from Texas, Arizona, and St. Louis despite the uncertainty of his shoulder.
46. Aubrey Huff – The last reliable, fairly young bat. The Pirates have been surprisingly disinterested, but the Orioles, Astros, or Phillies could make an offer. Houston doesn’t have a ton of room for him though, and the O’s signed Jay Payton. He might have to reduce his demand to a two-year contract and could be a bargain.
47. Craig Wilson – The only team to show even mild interest so far has been the Yankees. They’re currently checking Doug Mientkiewicz’s medical records and seem to be leaning that way. That leaves Wilson floating around as a poor man’s Huff, unable to play any position well. Perhaps he should don the tools of ignorance again and market himself that way.
48. Ryan Klesko – Why wouldn’t the Mariners sign a guy like this instead of trading for Jose Vidro? Klesko’s said to be feeling good, and he could provide 20 HR and a nice OBP as a DH. The Giants and Orioles are the only interested parties right now.