Meet the free agents. Courtesy of MLB.com.
3B Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
Nov. 19: Rodriguez’s negotiations with the Yankees are not yet complete, but the newly crowned American League MVP said that there is a finish line in sight. Speaking on a conference call with reporters, Rodriguez declined to comment in specifics about his new contract with the Yankees, the framework of which will pay the All-Star a reported $275 million over the next 10 seasons.
OF Aaron Rowand, Phillies
Nov. 28: Rowand appears to be in no hurry to find a home next season, and will continue to weigh offers. "I’m actually enjoying it," he told the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday. "We’ll know when the time is right. Whatever happens, happens. Right now I’m just enjoying my offseason workouts and my time with my family. I let my agent [Craig Landis] handle that other stuff." The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Rowand priced himself out of the range of the White Sox. The report said the two sides chatted but the discusssion didn’t progress beyond the number of years.
OF Barry Bonds, Giants
Nov. 15: Bonds’ status for 2008 is in doubt after he was indicted by a federal grand jury seated in San Francisco on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice for allegedly lying when he said he did not use performance-enhancing drugs in testimony given before another grand jury nearly four years ago. Bonds has been ordered to appear in court on Dec. 7, the U.S. Justice Dept. announced.
OF Andruw Jones, Braves
Nov. 21: Jones has told some of his friends that he’ll only take a one-year deal if it’s his last option. His agent, Scott Boras, says that won’t be an option. Despite Jones’ dismal performance last year, Boras remains confident that he’ll gain his client a highly lucrative deal. "You’re talking about a guy with 10 Gold Gloves in a row and 25 home runs 10 years in a row," Boras told ESPN.com. "The fact is, this guy in his worst year had 26 home runs, 94 RBIs and a Gold Glove. When you go back and look at the best center fielders out there today, Andruw’s year of [power] production is very close to theirs. And this was his worst year."
RHP Eric Gagne, Red Sox
It just didn’t work in Boston for Gagne and the career closer will go back to doing just that after his ill-fated setup situation with the Red Sox. Gagne got off to a bad start with the Red Sox after the July 31 trade and things snowballed from there. It’s hard to know exactly what led to such a sharp decline in performance after his early-season success with the Rangers.
RHP Carlos Silva, Twins
Despite his losing record in 2007, Silva was one of the most durable and consistent starting pitchers for the Twins. With his sinker back in form and a history of durability, Silva could provide many clubs with the No. 3 or No. 4 starter they are seeking. At just 28, Silva is experienced and the Twins would love to have his presence amidst a young rotation. But in a pitching market that’s lacking proven workhorses, Silva’s price tag should rise — right out of the Twins range.
OF Mike Cameron, Padres
Nov. 29: Various reports have linked Cameron to the Giants, which isn’t surprising. The Giants are well-acquainted with the multi-talented veteran, who has spent his last two seasons with division rival San Diego and obviously knows manager Giants Bruce Bochy, who was previously with San Diego. Cameron will be 35 by Opening Day, which doesn’t fit the Giants’ announced emphasis on youth, but he retains his impressive five-tool ability.
C Paul Lo Duca, Mets
Nov. 28: Though the Rockies appear close to bringing back Yorvit Torrealba to catch in 2008, the deal will not be final until a physical is complete. The team says it is still eyeing Lo Duca and free-agent catcher Michael Barrett, who played for San Diego in 2007. Lo Duca’s agent, Andrew Mongelluzzi, said that Lo Duca wants to play for a team committed to winning.
RHP Bartolo Colon, Angels
Nov. 14: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that the Mariners might make a pitch for Colon. But the 34-year-old has a recent history of arm problems and committing more than a year might be too much for the Mariners, who have plenty of cash to spend on free agents this offseason. Colon could have interest to the Nationals, according to the Washington Times, and the Padres, according to the North County Times. At 34, Colon is coming off a season marred by shoulder and elbow issues that limited him to 18 starts and a 6-8 record with a 6.34 ERA. He has a relationship with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel from their days in Cleveland, too.
LHP Andy Pettitte, Yankees
Nov. 20: With Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera back in pinstripes, the only remaining major player the Yankees would like to have back is Pettitte, who insists he would only pitch for the Yankees in 2008 but is contemplating retirement. The Yankees have left the door open for Pettitte with a standing one-year, $16 million contract offer. At 35, Pettitte still looks like he’s got enough left physically to help the Yankees open their new ballpark in 2009.
RHP Livan Hernandez, D-backs
Nov. 16: The Tigers have expressed interest in Hernandez, his agent told the Detroit Free Press. Hernandez could be an alternative for the club if it fails to re-sign Kenny Rogers. Hernandez broke into the big leagues a decade ago pitching for manager Jim Leyland and president/GM Dave Dombrowski on their world championship team in Florida, and he has built a track record since as one of baseball’s more durable starters. FoxSports.com reported that the Cardinals may be one of the teams with interest in Hernandez.
C Michael Barrett, Padres
Nov. 21: The Blue Jays may not be in on Barrett after all. Toronto has talked to Barrett’s agent, but the club is very hesitant to surrender a draft pick in order to sign the catcher. "We’ve had talks with Michael Barrett but it’s less likely that we’d sign a Type A [free agent]. We don’t want to give up a first-round pick," Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi told the Toronto Sun.
RHP Kyle Lohse, Phillies
Philadelphia went 9-4 in Lohse’s 13 appearances, with the right-hander personally going 3-0. He’s durable and has a live arm in a soft market for starting pitchers, so there’s likely to be interest. He’s not likely to give a home-team discount, though he’d be open to returning to the Philadelphia.
SS David Eckstein, Cardinals
The biggest remaining question for the Cardinals, as far as returnees, is Eckstein. His personal assets are certainly well-known — popular with fans, loved by teammates and coaches, loves to play. The question, though, is how his production and his health will hold up over the coming two or three years, since Eckstein turns 33 before Opening Day. It’s a limited market for shortstops in free agency, so Eckstein may make out well, but questions about durability are certainly fair.
RHP Roger Clemens, Yankees
Looking back, a pro-rated $28 million investment in Clemens yielded just six victories and one aborted AL Division Series start — hardly the return the Yankees were looking for. Such is the risk when you commit to a 45-year-old pitcher, and now that Clemens is finally beginning to experience significant arm troubles, this could be the end of the line. Clemens hasn’t said if he’ll pitch again, but he did tell the Astros that he was ready to begin his 10-year personal-services contract with the team and that, if healthy, he’s interested in pitching for Team USA in the 2008 Olympics.
OF Milton Bradley, Padres
When healthy, he can swing it. He helped keep the Padres afloat in the late summer before being felled by a hamstring and an oblique injury. He suffered a torn ligament in his right knee in the final week of the season after a run-in with an umpire. He won’t be ready for the start of the season. Like Barrett, Bradley is a Type A free agent.
2B Tadahito Iguchi, Phillies
Iguchi arrived a day after Chase Utley broke the fourth metacarpal on his right hand, and he batted .301 in the 27 games Utley missed. The veteran infielder then hit .320 in 29 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter. The team asked Iguchi after the season if he’d be interested in giving third base a try, and were told no, meaning Iguchi will seek employment elsewhere.
DH/C Mike Piazza, A’s
Piazza, signed to a one-year, $8 million deal last winter and essentially told to put his catcher’s gear away to focus on being a full-time designated hitter, suffered a shoulder injury in May that limited him to 83 games. While Piazza was out, the A’s acquired journeyman Jack Cust, who led the team’s regulars in homers, RBIs, on-base percentage and slugging to establish himself as Oakland’s DH of the future. Piazza, 39, batted .275 with eight homers and 44 RBIs in 309 at-bats, and is said to be contemplating retirement.
LHP Kenny Rogers, Tigers
Nov. 20: The Tigers’ talks with Kenny Rogers heated up Monday, according to the Detroit News. The 43-year-old Rogers remains the Tigers’ top priority for filling the vacant veteran’s starting job. The paper reports that the Tigers’ offer to the left-hander, who fired agent Scott Boras last week, is somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 million, which was his salary the last two seasons.
OF Luis Gonzalez, Dodgers
He was brought in to be a bridge to the kids, but when the kids took over, he didn’t take the loss of playing time well. Statistically, he delivered pretty much what the Dodgers expected, and after a shaky first week, was no embarrassment on defense, even with an aging arm. He still considers himself an everyday player and envisions 3,000 hits, but at age 40 and 498 hits short, it’s an ambitious goal.
OF Geoff Jenkins, Brewers
Nov. 30: The Rays are pursuing Jenkins as a potential replacement for the traded Delmon Young in right field, according to a report on ESPN.com. But the team must first decide whether or not it already has adequate personnel to man the position in Rocco Baldelli, Elijah Dukes and Jonny Gomes. The Brewers declined Jenkins’ $9 million option and effectively cut ties with their longest-tenured player. He has hit at least 20 home runs in seven different seasons. He strikes out a lot but could be a nice fit for a team looking for some corner outfield pop and a solid defender.
RHP Jason Jennings, Astros
Would the Astros be interested in bringing Jennings back on an inexpensive, heavily incentive-laden contract that would protect them in case the right-hander doesn’t recover properly from elbow surgery? Perhaps. But would Jennings be interested in returning to Houston? That remains to be seen. Considering he will forever be known as the main component in one of the worst trades in club history, Jennings may feel there would be too much of a stigma attached if he stayed. He may just want to wipe the slate clean and start over somewhere else.
OF Shannon Stewart, A’s
Nov. 16: A’s GM Billy Beane reiterated that he’s expecting Shannon Stewart, whom the A’s would like to bring back at the right price, to "explore his options" on the open market before a decision is made on presenting Stewart with an offer Stewart. Coming off a series of foot injuries that forced him to hold a "workout day" to prove himself to prospective employers last winter, Stewart signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the A’s and was expected to be a platoon player. He ended up being one of the team’s few regulars to stay healthy all season, and he led the team in batting (.290) while holding down the leadoff spot for much of the year.
LHP Jeremy Affeldt, Rockies
Nov. 21: The New York Post reports that the Yankees are interested in Affeldt and fellow left-hander Trever Miller. After being acquired in a 2006 trade with the Royals, Affeldt became effective in a relief role with the Rockies, who would like to hang onto him. A former starter with a conventional motion, Affeldt is more suited to true middle relief than specialist duty.
RHP Antonio Alfonseca, Phillies
Overall numbers aside, the right-hander’s greatest contribution came from May 26-July 24, when he posted a 2.12 ERA and eight saves in 18 games, allowing the bullpen to weather the losses of Tom Gordon and Brett Myers. The Phillies are open to the right-hander returning.
C Sandy Alomar Jr., Mets
That Alomar spent most of what he had said would be his final season playing in the Minor Leagues is a testament to his appreciation of the game and his desire to have a chance to experience October baseball one more time. At age 41, he appeared in seven games in the big leagues, batting .143 in 21 at-bats.
RHP Tony Armas, Pirates
Armas pitched his way out of the Pirates’ future plans by the end of May, something that even a surprising bounce-back in the second half couldn’t undo. Though he pitched out of the bullpen for the first time in his career, Armas will want to sign on as a starter. The right-hander has stumbled further down the ERA ladder the last four seasons, but did prove that with the necessary mechanical adjustments, he can be an effective back-of-the-rotation guy.
C Paul Bako, Orioles
Bako looked like he might have a solid offensive season when he hit a three-run home run in his fourth game, but then he drove in just five more runs all year. The veteran will be looking to catch on somewhere as a catch-and-throw backup catcher, a pursuit that has brought him to seven different teams since 2000.
C Rod Barajas, Phillies
The Phillies signed Barajas to provide veteran insurance in case Carlos Ruiz wasn’t ready to catch every day in the Major Leagues. The plan was for Barajas to start 90 games, but he only managed to appear in 48. The team turned again to Chris Coste as their backup and Barajas will seek employment elsewhere.
IF Tony Batista, Nationals
He was a pleasant surprise off the bench for the Nats in 2007, leading Washington in pinch-hits (14) and pinch-hit RBIs (12). General manager Jim Bowden said he would like to have Batista back on the team.
RHP Armando Benitez, Marlins
The former closer struggled staying healthy and his season came to an end on Sept. 1 because of back problems. The wear and tear of 754 career appearances and 772 2/3 innings may have taken its toll on the veteran right-hander, who was obtained in late May in a trade with San Francisco for Randy Messenger. Benitez was used as an eighth-inning setup reliever in Florida, and his velocity at times was down. He ended up allowing 28 runs (21 earned) in 33 innings.
C Gary Bennett, Cardinals
Bennett struggled at the plate and he had a hard time throwing out runners — a bad combination. He saw his playing time diminish at the end of the year, losing even backup duty to Kelly Stinnett. Still, he remains well-regarded as a teammate and pitchers enjoy working with him. But Bennett may be at the point in his career where he has to fight even for a backup job.
RHP Kris Benson, Orioles
Benson’s shoulder bothered him before Spring Training even began, and he shut himself down after a monthlong strengthening program to repair the problem. Benson eventually had surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff and Baltimore declined to exercise an option in his contract. Now, the right-hander will likely be trying to prove to teams that he’s healthy so he can sign an incentive-laden deal to get back on the mound.
IF Aaron Boone, Marlins
Boone provided experience off the bench and as a spot starter at first base or third. But the 34-year-old had his season cut short by a knee injury, which required surgery in early September, to repair a partially torn meniscus. He appeared in 69 games and batted .286 with five home runs and 28 RBIs. A career third baseman, Boone was making a successful transition to playing first base. The surgery was to the same knee that kept him out the entire 2004 season. He says right now he is ready to play, and he expects to be at full strength at the start of Spring Training.
LHP Micah Bowie, Nationals
He was 4-3 with a 4.55 ERA as a starter and reliever for the Nationals, but missed a lot of time because of hip problems. Bowie isn’t expected back with the Nationals.
IF Russell Branyan, Cardinals
Branyan is the same player he’s always been. He has serious pop, strikes out a lot and is willing to take a walk. He can play third, first, or in a pinch, the outfield. You know what you’re getting with him. To the right team, Branyan definitely has value, but the Cardinals didn’t seem to have much use for him after they acquired him.
IF Miguel Cairo, Cardinals
Cairo is pretty limited offensively at this point in his career, but he’s defensively versatile and popular with teammates. The Cardinals were happy to bring him back when they had a series of injuries and other issues with their infield, but with a full complement of utility types back for ’08, it doesn’t make much sense for them to bring him back for another season.
1B Sean Casey, Tigers
Carlos Guillen’s move to first base sealed the exit for Casey, who was told at season’s end that the Tigers did not plan on bringing him back. However, there’s expected to be a home somewhere for Casey at age 32 coming off a .296 average. His struggles to hit for power are well-known, evidenced by his four home runs in 453 at-bats last year, but his 30 doubles allowed him to provide some run production near the bottom of the Tigers batting order. That said, his reliable glove and ability to reach for throws makes him more of a defensive option at first base on the open market.
IF Jeff Cirillo, D-backs
The D-backs acquired Cirillo as a waiver wire claim from the Twins in early August, and the 14-year veteran wound up playing a larger role than anticipated, serving as the team’s primary backup at third base and a key pinch-hitter after Chad Tracy underwent season-ending knee surgery. The moves allowed him to end the longest active Major League streak of games played without reaching the postseason at 1,617. He is not expected to re-sign with Arizon, and will try to hook on with another team in a similar backup/pinch-hitting role.
1B Tony Clark, D-backs
Nov. 27: The Los Angeles Times reported that the dodgers have expressed interest in Clark for a job as a reserve and pinch-hitter. Earlier, ESPN.com speculated that Clark would be a good pickup for the Giants, as well as for a handful of other teams. Clark, 35, could platoon with Dan Ortmeier or Rich Aurilia at first base with the Giants. As a switch-hitter, he’d be handy off the bench. And he’s renowned as a positive clubhouse presence. The veteran first baseman and clubhouse leader has said all along his preference is to remain with the D-backs, but he will listen to what other teams have to say.
RHP Matt Clement, Red Sox
Nov. 27: The Indians heavily pursued Clement before the 2005 season, but they lost out to the Red Sox in that chase. Now that Clement’s three-year deal with the Sox has expired and he’s looking to latch on with a new club after missing the last year and a half after right shoulder surgery, the Indians are reportedly interested again. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the Indians have contacted Clement’s agent, Barry Axelrod, though no offer has been made. Clement would likely be seeking a one-year, incentives-based deal, though it’s difficult to discern where he’d fit in on an Indians team already stocked with starting pitching.
RHP Shawn Chacon, Pirates
While the Pirates and Chacon mutually agree that they’d like to see Chacon back in Pittsburgh next season, differences in salary and contractual year expectations may differ too much for that to happen. Chacon’s versatility and past experience as a closer, setup man and starter increase his stock, and his veteran presence among young pitchers is undoubtedly an asset. He thrived more as a late-inning reliever this past season, though he has made it known that wherever he signs this offseason, he would like to do so with the expectation of starting in 2008.
OF Jeff DaVanon, A’s
DaVanon, who turns 34 in December, was acquired in August to help the team weather a storm of injuries to outfielders, but he batted .213 with six RBIs and zero homers in 39 games and isn’t expected back.
RHP Elmer Dessens, Rockies
Dessens lost his big league footing with the Brewers, who released him in August, but helped the Rockies immediately after arriving in a late-season trade. However, he was unable to pitch well enough to make the postseason roster. Still, he has experience and some value because he can work as a reliever or spot starter.
C Mike DiFelice, Mets
If he is again willing to return to the Mets, DiFelice probably will serve as a Minor League catcher and unofficial coach and provide off-the-roster depth for the big league team. He batted .250 with five RBI in 16 games (40 at-bats) with them at age 36.
RHP Octavio Dotel, Braves
Nov. 26: The Detroit Free Press reported that the Tigers are interested in acquiring Dotel, who fell off the Braves’ radar earlier this month when he told them he was interested in a multi-year deal. Dotel was acquired by the Braves at the trade deadline and then made just five appearances for them before being sidelined for more than six weeks with a right shoulder ailment. When he returned during the season’s final week, he’d regained his velocity on his fastball.
OF/1B Darin Erstad, White Sox
Erstad said he felt "cheated" during what looks to be his lone season with the White Sox, losing most of June and July to a severely sprained left ankle. In 87 games, covering 310 at-bats, Erstad hit .248 with four home runs and 32 RBIs. The White Sox held a $3.5 million option on Erstad but instead made him a free agent by exercising a $250,000 buyout. Erstad still desires a job where he can play full time as a starter.
OF Alex Escobar, Nationals
He never played a game for the Nationals this season because of shoulder and ankle problems. Escobar briefly showed in 2006 that he has five-tool potential, but that Nationals grew tired of him getting hurt all the time.
C Sal Fasano, Bue Jays
The 36-year-old catcher signed a Minor League deal with the Blue Jays last offseason, and he split time with the big-league club and with Triple-A Syracuse. Fasano could have another Minor League contract in store or he could serve as a backup or third-string catcher in the Majors. Fasano provides a solid clubhouse presence and he boasts a strong arm.
3B Pedro Feliz, Giants
Feliz had a chance to leave the Giants last year but signed a one-year contract. He seems more likely to shop around this offseason. Feliz’s defense is underappreciated — he possesses one of the strongest and most accurate throwing arms in the National League, complemented by soft, sure hands and decent range. At the plate, what you see is what you get with Feliz. You know he’s good for around 20 homers and 70-85 RBIs, but you also know he’ll drive you nuts with his free-swinging tendencies.
1B/OF Robert Fick, Nationals
He is coming off one of his worst seasons of his career, having spent most of the season hovering around the Mendoza Line. He needed a hot September to get his average up to .234. It’s 50-50 that he returns to the Nationals. If he does, it will be on a Minor League contract.
OF Cliff Floyd, Cubs
The Cubs declined to pick up the $5 million option on Floyd for 2008, which wasn’t surprising since the Cubs are expected to look for a younger player to be the everyday right fielder and the club wasn’t interested in having Floyd as a fourth or fifth outfielder at that price.
RHP Josh Fogg, Rockies
Fogg performed well in September and had his moments during the playoffs. The performance may have put him beyond what the Rockies are willing to pay in terms of years and money. The Rockies will make their bid, but there will be several other suitors.
1B Julio Franco, Braves
The ageless wonder has said he wants to play until he’s 50 and will do so if he’s still playing on Aug. 23 of next year. But in order to get back to the Majors, the 49 year-old first baseman will likely have to earn a roster spot after signing a Minor League contract. He compiled only 90 total at-bats with the Braves and Mets last year and hit just .222. He did hit .258 in 37 pinch-hit at-bats.
RHP Freddy Garcia, Phillies
Thought to be the missing piece for the rotation, Garcia went 1-5 with a 5.90 ERA in 11 starts before finally succumbing to right shoulder pain. He made his final start as a Phillie on June and had surgery in late August after rehabilitation didn’t work. General manager Pat Gillick has already said the Phillies will make no effort to resign him.
IF Chris Gomez, Indians
Nov. 13: The New York Post reported that the Yankees have shown some interest in Gomez to be a utility player. Gomez, 36, played with the Orioles and Indians this year, hitting .297 with one home run and 21 RBIs in 222 at-bats while playing every infield position. He would have value to any club looking to boost its bench.
IF Tony Graffanino, Brewers
He was one of the Brewers’ most versatile and underrated players before a freak knee injury ended his season in August. Graffanino needed a bone graft before he underwent the second ACL surgery of his career, and will not be recovered until May or June. He says he will attempt a comeback.
OF/1B Shawn Green, Mets
If the Mets’ regular first baseman batted right-handed, Green could serve as a well-suited backup at first and in the outfield. With Carlos Gomez and Lastings Milledge batting right-handed, coupled with the likelihood that Moises Alou will miss time and that Gomez or Milledge may have to start games in left, there could be a place for Green anyway, but not at the $9.5 million salary he earned last season. Green’s strong finish — a .411 average with 12 runs in 56 at-bats in September — nonetheless produced only eight RBIs. His run production was an issue most of the season — 130 games (117 starts, 10 at first base), 446 at-bats, 62 runs, 46 RBIs, 10 home runs, a .291 batting average and 11 stolen bases in 12 attempts. He turns 35 in November.
LHP Eddie Guardado, Reds
The Reds are still trying to keep Guardado at a lower price after they turned down his $3.5 million club option. If the theory holds true that pitchers are better the second season after Tommy John surgery, then Guardado could be a steal. The 37-year-old, who had September 2006 reconstructive elbow surgery, returned in August. The first outings were rough, but he put together a 0.93 ERA over the final 10 games and didn’t allow a run over the last seven outings. Guardado has 183 career saves wants to be a closer again but could still be dependable in a setup situation.
OF Jose Guillen, Mariners
Nov. 27: According to the Kansas City Star, the Royals are dismissing a report originating in the Dominican Republic that they are close to an agreement with Guillen. GM Dayton Moore declined to comment. The Royals are known to have interest in Guillen after losing out on Torii Hunter in their quest for a right-handed power hitter.
IF/OF Jerry Hairston, Rangers
He is looking at a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training after hitting just .189 for the Rangers in 2007. It has been years since Hairston has played regularly at second base and his best hope is for a shot at a utility role. He does have the advantage of being able to play just about any position and can even be used as an emergency catcher.
LHP Tim Hamulack, Dodgers
He was kept in the organization as an insurance policy, having a left arm capable of throwing 90 mph. But he blew out the elbow at Triple-A Las Vegas and required Tommy John surgery, so there’s no guarantee he can still throw hard.
RHP LaTroy Hawkins, Rockies
Nov. 30: Hawkins’ agent, Larry Reynolds, told the Detroit Free Press that the Tigers have had "preliminary" discussions with him regarding his client and "may or may not" be in touch as the offseason continues. Reynolds said four or five teams could make offers on the right-hander during next week’s Winter Neetings.
RHP Matt Herges, Rockies
Nov. 28: The Rockies reached agreements Wednesday with two of the players that were keys to their success in the National League playoffs — catcher Yorvit Torrealba and Herges. The agreements are pending physicals. An official announcement is expected Thursday. Herges, 37, has agreed to a one-year offer with a club option for a second year.
RHP Roberto Hernandez, Dodgers
He’s 43 now, he still takes the ball and his fastball still has some life. That said, the command isn’t what it used to be, and when he misses, he gets punished. They’ll probably have to tear the jersey off him, but the ERA north of 6 is reason for concern.
1B/3B Shea Hillenbrand, Dodgers
He was an emergency play when Nomar Garciaparra went down, but once Andy LaRoche returned from Triple-A Las Vegas, Hillenbrand pretty much disappeared. He was a model citizen in the clubhouse, but he showed very little pop with the bat. Three organizations in one year is not a good sign.
1B/3B Eric Hinske, Reds
Hinske was a good clubhouse guy who never griped about his role and seemed to make contributions for the Red Sox during his limited opportunities. But he’ll probably go somewhere that offers a few more at-bats than the Red Sox going forward. Hinske is useful left-handed bat to have in reserve.
IF D’Angelo Jimenez, Nationals
Jimenez got off to a slow start this past season, but finished with a .245 batting average and a .379 on-base percentage. Jimenez is considered shaky on defense, which is the No. 1 reason he will not be back with the Nationals.
RHP Jorge Julio, Rockies
Julio, a former closer, struggled with the Marlins before being dealt to the Rockies. He put in a solid season in a setup role, and was especially effective when Brian Fuentes was out with injury. But he missed the postseason with a trapezoid muscle injury. Julio might attract offers from teams that would be inclined to use him as a closer or primary setup man.
OF Bobby Kielty, Red Sox
Nov. 26: Kielty, who hit a crucial home run for the Red Sox in Game 4 of the World Series, is in the process of deciding if re-signing with Boston is his best option. Kielty told the Boston Herald that part of the decision could hinge on whether the Red Sox — as has been speculated — trade Coco Crisp. If Crisp is dealt, that could pave the way for more playing time for Kielty.
RHP Byung-Hyun Kim, Marlins
He logged some valuable innings and won some big games in his split-season stint in Florida. Obtained from the Rockies for Jorge Julio in May, Kim was claimed off waivers by Arizona in early August, only to return as a free agent signing later in the month. Kim went 9-5 with a 5.42 ERA in 23 appearances for Florida, including 19 starts. If he returns, he would be in the mix for the fifth-starter spot. Overall, he was 10-8 with a 6.08 ERA and he became the second South Korean-born pitcher to win at least 10 games in the big leagues. Chan Ho Park is the other.
LHP Ray King, Brewers
After making his mark as a lefty specialist with Milwaukee from 2000-2002, King returned to the Brewers for the final month of 2007. His 4.77 ERA with the Nationals and Brewers was disappointing, but the numbers teams looking for lefty relief will focus on is .187 — left-handed hitters’ average against King. For his career, King has held lefties to a .213 average. He will turn 34 in January.
1B/OF Ryan Klesko, Giants
Last season was a success for Klesko in that the shoulder injury that sidelined him for most of 2006 season rarely flared up. But his power totals suffered at AT&T Park (three homers in 203 at-bats), which is death on left-handed batters. Thing is, Klesko wasn’t much better on the road (three homers in 159 at-bats). His days as a regular appear to be over, although he still could help in a platoon or as a pinch-hitter. Defensively, Klesko is more adept at first base than most observers realize, although he’s merely adequate in left field.
IF Corey Koskie, Brewers
The veteran has not played since July 2006, when he hit his head sliding for a foul popup. Koskie still suffered from post-concussion syndrome when the 2007 season ended and could do little more than walk on a treadmill. He couldn’t watch from the bench because bright lights and large spaces trigger symptoms of dizziness, nausea and fatigue. If the symptoms persist into January 2008, he said he may call it a career.
IF Mike Lamb, Astros
In his three years with the Astros, he was viewed as a bench player who could provide power in crucial pinch-hit situations. He did share playing time at third base over the years and also played some first last season, but ultimately, the club did not view him as permanent solution as a starter. Ed Wade was not with the club when the Ty Wigginton trade was made, but it looks as though he’s comfortable with Wigginton manning third next year and beyond.
RHP Jon Lieber, Phillies
His season began and ended on the disabled list — with a bullpen stint and serious June struggles mixed in — making the final season of a three-year deal a lost one for Lieber. His surgically repaired right foot is expected to be healed, so it’s a matter of finding out which team needs a veteran right-hander to fill out its rotation. It won’t be the Phillies.
C Mike Lieberthal, Dodgers
It’s hard to tell what he has left in the tank. The way Grady Little played Russell Martin every inning of every game, all Lieberthal did was watch. He’s a class act with a great resume and his body pretty much had an entire year of rest. He could be well preserved.
OF Kenny Lofton, Indians
Lofton is no stranger to free agency or putting on a new uniform. He has played with 11 different clubs in his 17-year career, most recently wrapping up his third career stint with the Indians. Though his days as an everyday center fielder and leadoff man appear to be over, Lofton, even at 40, still has great value against right-handed pitching, and he’s still a threat on the base paths. While with the Indians in the last two months of ’07, he showed he’s willing to move to left field and a different spot in the order, under the right circumstances, and he raised his game to another level in the postseason.
RHP Rodrigo Lopez, Rockies
Lopez pitched well early for the Rockies, before elbow problems slowed him and ultimately forced him to undergo season-ending elbow surgery in August. Because there was tendon and ligament damage, he may not pitch until August. The Rockies are monitoring his rehab, and hope to sign him when he’s ready.
IF Mark Loretta, Astros
Nov. 30: The Rockies contacted the agent for Loretta, according to the Denver Post. But the Rockies didn’t like their chances, believing he will end up with the Yankees. If another team offers Loretta a starting job, though, he’d probably take that option instead.
LHP Ron Mahay, Braves
Nov. 20: According to the New York Daily News, the Yankees have interest in Mahay. The newspaper reported that the Yankees had not made an offer as of Monday evening. In addition, the Braves are in search of a left-handed reliever and will try to bring him back to Atlanta, but Braves GM Frank Wren realizes the cost will likely be much steeper than he’s willing to pay. There’s a good chance Mahay could earn an annual salary of approximately $3.5 million with the Yankees or another potential suitor.
LHP Mike Maroth, Cardinals
Nov. 15: The Marlins are expected to make a contract offer to Maroth, according to the Palm Beach Post. Surely Maroth is better than what he showed after his trade to St. Louis. The AL veteran was a bust in the NL, lacking both stuff and command. Whether the issue was health, something to do with tipping pitches, or whether Maroth just fell off a cliff, remains to be determined. He’ll be looking for a clean slate somewhere.
IF Ramon Martinez, Dodgers
He’s got the defensive skills to play all over the infield, but what made him valuable over the years with a lively bat, which wasn’t the case in 2007. In part he was limited with a bad back, but a slugging percentage of .225 is cause for alarm. For trivia buffs, he had more RBIs (27) than hits (25).
RHP Jose Mesa, Phillies
The 19-year veteran had a good 27-game run shortly after arriving as a waiver claim, posting a 2.42 ERA from June 16 to Aug. 21. He posted an 11.57 ERA in his final 12 appearances and doesn’t figure to return to the Phillies.
1B Doug Mientkiewicz, Yankees
Though he missed 82 games with a broken wrist suffered in June, Mientkiewicz gave the Yankees pretty much everything they expected from him. His glove was as good as advertised, and his bat — cold more than it was hot — still didn’t cripple the team when he was in the lineup. Mientkiewicz said he feels at home in New York (certainly moreso than when he was a Met in ’05) but the Yankees just may not be able to offer him any playing time.
C Damian Miller, Brewers
A series of nagging injuries in 2006 plus Milwaukee’s addition of catcher Johnny Estrada pushed Miller into a reserve role for 2007 and he did about as well as expected. He has championship experience and pitchers like throwing to him, so he may get an offer to play one more year for a contender.
LHP Trever Miller, Astros
Nov. 21: The New York Post reports that the Yankees are interested in Miller and fellow lefty Jeremy Affeldt. Miller had a very average year, but the Astros are discussing bringing back the lefty specialist. He carries value in that he has experience and a track record, and he did post a solid second half in ’07 after struggling in the early months.
LHP Eric Milton, Reds
He had Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow in June, so any club that signs him wouldn’t have him for the start of the 2008 season. Milton was a signing gone wrong for the Reds after he inked a three-year, $25.5 million contract before the 2005 season. The left-hander went 16-27 with a 5.83 ERA in 66 starts for Cincinnati and was a frequent victim of the long ball in homer-happy Great American Ball Park.
C Doug Mirabelli, Red Sox
He is the master at catching the knuckleball, which would seem to make him more valuable in Boston than anywhere else. But do the Red Sox want to go with a younger option at backup catcher than Mirabelli, who is 37 years old? Mirabelli’s offensive production has diminished greatly the last couple of years. Leg woes nagged at him late in the season.
RHP Brian Moehler, Astros
Moehler’s overall numbers don’t look great, but he posted impressive results in August and September last year and could merit consideration as a long (a.k.a. mopup) reliever. Moehler allowed one run over 12 innings in August, spanning 10 games, and in September, he yielded three runs over 12 innings. His ability to throw multiple innings is a plus, too.
C Jose Molina, Yankees
Nov. 15: The New York Post reported that the Yankees are getting close to re-signing Molina to a two-year contract. Molina batted .318 in 29 games with New York this year and has expressed a desire to return. The Yankees were quite happy with the upgrades they made to their bench late in the season, which included acquiring Molina from the Angels for a borderline Minor League pitching prospect in July. Molina was pleased with New York as well; though he talked about the culture shock of changing coasts, he found the Yankees’ clubhouse atmosphere better than advertised.
LHP Mike Myers, White Sox
The sidearming reliever, known as a left-handed specialist, yielded a .295 average to left-handed hitters during the 2007 season. Myers was picked up by the White Sox in mid-August after the Yankees cut him loose during the season, but he finished with an 11.20 ERA in 17 games for his new team, allowing 28 baserunners over 13 2/3 innings. The team declined a $1.1 million option it had on Myers for the 2008 season.
OF Trot Nixon, Indians
Nixon is no longer the scrappy little hustler he was in his "Dirt Dog" glory days with the Red Sox. Injuries have slowed him down considerably. He had surgery to repair a bulging disc in his back last winter and was never quite the same in the ’07 season with the Indians. Defensively, he’s a bit of a liability in right field, and offensively, he never put together a consistent run of success with the Tribe. But he’s a valuable clubhouse asset to a young club, and he had some big hits for the Indians in the playoffs.
1B-OF Greg Norton, Rays
Norton had a great year for the Rays in 2006 and an injury-riddled year in 2007, which leaves Norton — and the Rays — in a precarious position. The veteran had successful offseason left-elbow surgery, which makes it tough for the Rays to renew his option at $1 million for 2008. If the Rays do not pick up Norton’s option, he will become a free agent. But don’t be surprised if the Rays try to bring him back. He’s a terrific influence in the clubhouse, he wants to return to the team, and he has a great approach at the plate. He could be a nice piece for the Rays’ young roster.
IF Abraham Nunez, Phillies
Though his option was declined, Nunez could still return to the Phillies. The switch-hitter hit .222 in his two seasons with Philadelphia, but his real value came in his defense. If Nunez doesn’t return, the Phillies will require an infielder capable of playing second, shortstop and third base.
RHP Ramon Ortiz, Giants
Don’t expect any offers to Ortiz, who’s expected to miss all of next season after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery. He’s still owed $8.5 million by Arizona in 2008, the final year of his four-year, $33 million deal.
OF Orlando Palmeiro, Astros
He’s in the top 10 all-time for pinch-hits, but it’s likely the Astros will say goodbye to the veteran outfielder. Palmeiro was an extra outfielder and the Astros will probably have better options to fill that role.