Baseball BeatAugust 31, 2006
Players Who May Be On The Move
By Rich Lederer

At the risk of getting ahead of myself here as baseball enters the final month of regular-season play, I decided to take a sneak peek at the upcoming crop of free agents as well as those who will be subject to team and/or player options.

Interestingly, Maury Brown recently reported that "teams may no longer receive draft picks as compensation for free agents who leave as part of the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement." If this is indeed the case, clubs such as the Nationals and Rangers could wind up with nothing to show for free agents Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee. Stay tuned.

The following table lists most of the starting position players and pitchers along with a number of the better-known relievers. It also includes a couple of injured stars (Eric Gagne and Kerry Wood) who most likely will be forced to sign incentive-laden contracts to catch the attention of their current or prospective employers. In all, I have gathered 84 names that run the gamut from fringe everyday players to All-Stars to future Hall of Famers.

FA=Free Agent
TO=Team Option
MO=Mutual Option
PO=Player Option
Moises Alou        SF    40   OF    FA*
Rich Aurilia       CIN   34   UT    MO
Rod Barajas        TEX   30   C     FA
Miguel Batista     ARI   35   SP    FA
Ronnie Belliard    STL   31   2B    FA
Craig Biggio       HOU   40   2B    FA
Barry Bonds        SFG   42   LF    FA
Aaron Boone        CLE   33   3B    MO
Mark Buehrle       CWS   27   SP    TO
Jeromy Burnitz     PIT   37   OF    MO
Mike Cameron       SD    33   CF    TO
Sean Casey         DET   32   1B    FA
Frank Catalanotto  TOR   32   UT    FA
Royce Clayton      CIN   36   SS    FA
Roger Clemens      HOU   44   SP    FA
Francisco Cordero  MIL   31   RP    TO
David Dellucci     PHI   32   OF    FA
Mark DeRosa        TEX   31   UT    FA
J.D. Drew          LAD   30   RF    PO
Ray Durham         SF    34   2B    FA
Jermaine Dye       CWS   32   RF    TO
Adam Eaton         TEX   28   SP    FA
Jim Edmonds        STL   36   CF    TO
Pedro Feliz        SF    31   3B    FA
Cliff Floyd        NYM   33   LF    FA
Eric Gagne         LAD   30   RP    TO
Nomar Garciaparra  LAD   33   1B    FA
Tom Glavine        NYM   40   SP    MO
Luis Gonzalez      ARI   38   LF    TO**
Alex Gonzalez      BOS   29   SS    FA
Eddie Guardado     CIN   35   RP    FA
Jose Guillen       WAS   30   OF    FA
Shea Hillenbrand   SF    31   1B    FA
Aubrey Huff        HOU   29   OF    FA
Torii Hunter       MIN   31   CF    TO
Adam Kennedy       LAA   30   2B    FA
Byung-Hyun Kim     COL   27   SP    TO
Carlos Lee         TEX   30   LF    FA
Cory Lidle         NYY   34   SP    FA
Mike Lieberthal    PHI   34   C     FA
Ted Lilly          TOR   30   SP    FA
Kenny Lofton       LAD   39   CF    FA
Mark Loretta       BOS   35   2B    FA
Julio Lugo         LAD   30   SS    FA
Greg Maddux        LAD   40   SP    FA
Jason Marquis      STL   28   SP    FA
Gary Matthews, Jr. TEX   32   CF    FA
Gil Meche          SEA   27   SP    FA
Bengie Molina      TOR   32   C     TO**
Jamie Moyer        PHI   43   SP    MO
Mark Mulder        STL   29   SP    FA
Mike Mussina       NYY   37   SP    TO
Trot Nixon         BOS   32   RF    FA
Tomo Ohka          MIL   30   SP    FA
Vicente Padilla    TEX   28   SP    FA
Jay Payton         OAK   33   OF    FA
Andy Pettitte      HOU   34   SP    FA
Mike Piazza        SD    37   C     MO
Juan Pierre        CHC   29   CF    FA
Brad Radke         MIN   33   SP    FA
Aramis Ramirez     CHC   28   3B    PO 
Joe Randa          PIT   36   3B    FA
Mark Redman        KC    32   SP    FA
Dave Roberts       SD    34   OF    FA
Jason Schmidt      SF    33   SP    FA
Gary Sheffield     NYY   37   OF    TO
John Smoltz        ATL   39   SP    TO
Alfonso Soriano    WAS   30   OF    FA
Shannon Stewart    MIN   32   LF    FA
Jeff Suppan        STL   31   SP    FA
Frank Thomas       OAK   38   DH    FA
Steve Trachsel     NYM   35   SP    FA
Jose Valentin      NYM   36   UT    FA
Tim Wakefield      BOS   40   SP    TO
Jeff Weaver        STL   30   SP    FA
David Wells        BOS   43   SP    FA
Bob Wickman        ATL   37   RP    FA
Bernie Williams    NYY   37   OF    FA
Woody Williams     SD    40   SP    FA
Craig Wilson       NYY   29   OF    FA
Preston Wilson     STL   32   OF    TO**
Kerry Wood         CHC   29   RP    MO
Gregg Zaun         TOR   35   C     FA
Barry Zito         OAK   28   SP    FA
 * changed to free agent from player option
** changed to team option from mutual option
Tom Glavine has a unique situation with the Mets. In a contract that was restructured in May, he agreed to reduce his 2006 salary to $7.5 million (with $5.25M deferred at 6% interest) while adding a 2007 player option at $5.5M (which increases by $1M each for 180, 190 and 200 IP in 2006) with a $3M buyout; or a $12M club option (increases by $2M with 180 IP in 2006) with a $3M buyout.

J.D. Drew and Aramis Ramirez have the right to void their contracts this fall. Drew signed a 5 x $11M deal with the Dodgers prior to the 2005 season. He has three years and $33M left. Ramirez signed an extension with the Cubs in April 2005 and has $11M coming his way in 2007 and $11.5M in 2008 with a $11M mutual option in 2009. The latter year is guaranteed if Ramirez plays 270 games during the previous two campaigns.

Of the two, it would seem as if Ramirez (.289/.353/.559 with 31 HR) is the more likely candidate to opt out of his current contract. Teams such as the Angels and Padres are in need of a power-hitting third baseman and the Halos will have some money to spend when the approximately $8M contracts of Darin Erstad, Steve Finley/Edgardo Alfonzo, and Jeff Weaver run off the books.

David Wells is rumored to be going to San Diego in a trade that could be imminent (in order to beat the deadline and make him eligible for post-season play). I don't understand how the Padres could part with Triple-A catcher George Kottaras, but we will just have to sit tight until a deal is announced before analyzing its pros and cons.

The St. Louis Cardinals have the option of re-signing Jim Edmonds for $10M next season or they can buy him out for $3M. Tony La Russa has said that Edmonds has to prove he is worth $10M when, in fact, the eight-time Gold Glove winner only needs to show that he is a $7M player. The buyout money is a sunk cost so the Cards will only be out of pocket an additional $7M if they choose to bring Edmonds back--something that is looking less and less likely in view of the post-concussion syndrome that has limited his playing time and effectiveness.

While on the subject of the Cardinals and injuries, Mark Mulder underwent an MRI on his ailing shoulder yesterday. He may not return this season. If so, the left-hander has probably pitched his last game for the Redbirds.

Mulder is just one of four starting pitchers for St. Louis eligible for free agency. Teammates Jason Marquis, Jeff Suppan, and Weaver are in the same boat. It will be interesting to see which pitcher(s) general manager Walt Jocketty pursues this winter.

Brad Radke, who has been pitching with a torn labrum this season, is unlikely to draw the type of attention he might otherwise. Look for the 12-year veteran to work out a less than optimal deal financially to return to the Twins for perhaps the final years of his career.

A discussion of free agents would not be complete without mentioning the players who are being advised by Scott Boras. Among those listed above, Boras is expected to represent Gagne, Greg Maddux, Weaver, Bernie Williams, and Barry Zito. Speaking of Zito, how much is he apt to get in the aftermath of Roy Oswalt's new five-year, $73 million deal? Prediction: the Yankees ink him to a five-year, $75M contract.

In the past, Boras has also negotiated deals for free-agents-to-be Bruce Chen, Jose Hernandez, Danny Kolb, Travis Lee, Chan Ho Park, Scott Schoeneweis, and Ron Villone. Yes, Ron Villone. You see, Boras doesn't just handle $50M clients only. He also does some pro bono work, too.

References: Unofficial Major League Baseball and Cot's Baseball Contracts. Both sources have a more complete list of potential free agents. They also include player agents and show major league service time in years and days. Unofficial Major League Baseball even has details of free agents in 2007, 2008, 2009, etc.


I think Radke is on record as saying he'll retire when the season ends.

Radke is indeed on record saying he'll retire.

Of course, there have been others who have renegged on those kinds of statements...

Thanks, Kyle. I wasn't aware of that. In order to come back, Radke is going to need to undergo surgery. It sounds like he's not interested in doing that. One of the takeaways in the article is the possibility of his hometown Tampa Bay Devil Rays making an offer if Radke was inclined to return.

The Glavine deal is effectively a team option if he doesn't hit 180 IP. He's going to get at least $4m next year if he hits the free agent market, and on top of the $3m buyout, that means unless the player option hits $7m total, he has no reason whatsoever to consider it.

Once he hits 180, though, the team option is ridiculous -- $11m (plus a $3m in sunk cost). The Mets could use that money toward a season (almost) of Barry Zito or some other pitcher.

When he hits 200 IP -- and I don't think he will -- the coin flips again. Now, it becomes a player option. With Glavine now able to get $8.5m (including his passed-over) buyout, he may have to grab it. The cold hand and his age makes it difficult to assume he'd find a suitor that'd guarantee him over $5m for 2007.

I think it'll be an interesting game of economic chicken.

Tony LaRussa's comment had me convinced why he's not a GM. I reached your same conclusion even before reading your basic math calculation!

Just my opinion, I think the Yankees have interest in Barry Zito, but I think that interest may be overstated. I think he'll sign elsewhere, like Los Mets.

I'm very happy that the Sox were able to get a good prospect for Wells. Hell, I'm shocked.

Please add DARIN ERSTAD to your free agent list.

Please add DARIN ERSTAD to your free agent list.

I think the operative word in that sentence is *please*. As in, "Take my wife, please."

Darin is the Rodney Dangerfield of Free Agents, why not have Henny Youngman for an agent?

Bruce Chen is hardly more useful than Ron Villone ;) at least Villone is doing well for the Yankees this year. think he probably get to resign with them.

As for the Yankees, it'll be interesting to see, IMHO they are probably more interested in Matsuzaka, the M's really dont' have the cash to compete, and neither does just about anyone else.

what about lidge?