Players Who May Be On The Move
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
PLAYER TEAM AGE POS STATUS 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
Corrections: * changed to free agent from player option ** changed to team option from mutual optionTom 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.