|Weak Free Agent Market in MLB Off-season|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on November 12, 2007
SS/3B Alex Rodriguez – It should come as no surprise that Rodriguez opted out of his contract. There is too much money floating around baseball and too many general managers willing to spend it. Whatever team splurges for Rodriguez will be getting a perennial MVP candidate who would take up at least 1/5 of a team’s payroll. Can a team win with that much money stuck on one player? Not yet, they haven’t.
JUST A HUNCH: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Yankees are adamant about not wanting Rodriguez back, Boston is too likely to re-sign Mike Lowell, and there are no other clubs with the money and need for a powerful presence on the left side of their infield.
3B Mike Lowell – Lowell may be getting up their in age -- he’ll be 34 next season, after all -- but he might have a couple of good seasons left in him. Last season, Lowell hit 21 homers and set career highs in RBIs with 120 and on-base percentage with .378. Don’t expect him to hit .324 again, but a couple of seasons at .280/20/90 could reasonably be expected.
JUST A HUNCH: The Boston Red Sox can’t let Lowell go, so they’ll end up offering a three-year deal worth around $40 million. If he chooses to leave Boston, the Yankees may be courting him the most. Lowell came up through their farm system.
CF Torii Hunter – Hunter put together another normal season for him in 2007: .287/28/107 with a mediocre on base percentage due to his weak strikeout to walk ratio. He can steal a few bases and is a decent contributor, but not a guy teams want in the middle of their lineup. Defensively, some scouts are posturing that Hunter may have lost a step or two, even though he won a gold glove.
JUST A HUNCH: It was widely assumed that Hunter would be wearing a Texas Rangers uniform not so long ago, because he makes his home rather close to the ballpark. However, with the team in its current condition, that might leave the Chicago White Sox first in line. Hunter probably would want a 5-6 year deal worth upward of $15 million a season.
SP Andy Pettitte/SP Roger Clemens – These two are lumped together because their fates are probably entwined. Pettitte declined a $16 million player option for 2008, despite having a decent season: 15-9, 4.05 ERA, and two strikeouts for every walk allowed. Clemens, who signed a prorated contract valued at $28 million last year, finished the year looking like his career was over. It may be time for the 45-year-old to finally call it quits.
JUST A HUNCH: Both players retire. Pettitte declined a $16 million player option, despite saying the Yankees were the only team he’d pitch for. It doesn’t seem as if his heart is still in it. On the other hand, Clemens told the Astros he’s ready to begin his personal-services contract, which puts him in a consultant role with the team.
OF Kosuke Fukodome – Who? Fukodome, 30, will be coming over from Japan as a free agent, so teams will not have to pay any sort of fee to negotiate with him. It is difficult to translate his Japanese stats into what he could potentially do in the major leagues, but a guess is .280/.360/.500 with 20-25 homers. In other words, he’s quite comparable to Nick Markakis of the Baltimore Orioles or Nick Swisher of the Oakland A’s.
JUST A HUNCH: Expect the bidding for him to be fierce. The White Sox, Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers, and Giants could all be in the bidding for his services. An early estimate of his value is a three year deal worth around $7-9 million per season.