Possible Free Agents: C
Sandy Alomar, Jr. - Chicago White Sox
Is he REALLY still in the big leagues? Well, yes, and he's not a bad guy to have around if you need a veteran. He hit .278 this season and made just $650,000, so with all of the experience that he brings to a team, I think he's a solid buy. If he wants to continue playing, someone will probably bring him back at the same price (or thereabouts) to fill the same role next year.
Paul Bako - Kansas City Royals
He's 34, he hit .209 last year, and is a career .236 hitter. This guy must be great at defense. Guys like this always get a job somewhere, and at $700,000 he's affordable.
Rod Barajas - Texas Rangers
Barajas is coming off of a $3.2 million deal. For that price, his .256/11/41 is probably a bit disappointing. He'll probably make a similar salary next year nonetheless, and might get a chance to be a regular catcher somewhere.
Gary Bennett - St. Louis Cardinals
See Bako, Paul above. Same story, different name, for $100,000 more.
Henry Blanco - Chicago Cubs
Blanco is coming off of a $1.5 million contract, and he delivered for the price, with a .266/6/37. He's a good solid backup and will find a good job next year.
Todd Greene - San Francisco Giants
Greene hit .289 last season, which is 37 points above his career average. He's really another Bako/Bennett kind of guy, as his $700,000 contract proves. Last year, he was forced to accept a minor-league deal, but after a solid season, I'm guessing he'll get a major league deal as a backup next year.
Mike Lieberthal - Philadelphia Phillies
Lieberthal still has what it takes to be a stater for somebody. He his .273 with 9 HR and 36 RBI's last year, and I can't imagine him not being a Phillie - I'm guessing he'll return, although probably for less than the $7.5 million he made last year. In fact, he'll probably have to take in the neighborhood of $4 million.
Javy Lopez - Boston Red Sox
Well, OK, he isn't really with the Red Sox anymore - they fired him on September 9. Lopez was dreaful for the Sox down the stretch, and put up a .251/8/35 - not terrible, but keep in mind that he made $8.5 million this season. Yuck. I doubt that Lopez is done, but he'll probably have to settle for being a DH/backup C type for an American League team - and it's not going to be one of the competitive teams.
Damian Miller - Milwaukee Brewers (Mutual Option)
Miller is 37 years old, and put up a .251/6/38. The option is for $3.75 if the team picks it up, and is structured so that if the team declines it, Miller can still accept it for $2.25 million. I'm guessing that the Brewers will turn down the option knowing that Miller probably will have to accept the $2.25 million - it's doubtful he'd get more in free agency.
Doug Mirabelli - Boston Red Sox
$1.4 million for a 36 year old who hit .191? *ahem* - crazy. As for his chances next year? See Bako, Greene, Bennett . . .
Chad Moeller - Milwaukee Brewers
Moeller has chosen to become a free agent, but as a career .227 hitter will almost certainly be relegated to a minor league contract somewhere. He's a placeholder for an organization that doesn't have enough high-level minor league catching talent.
Bengie Molina - Toronto Blue Jays (Team Option)
Molina proved himself worthy of the $5 million contract he signed in the off-season, hitting .284/19/57. The club has a $7.5 million option on Molina, and early rumblings suggested they were going to turn it down. I probably would turn it down if I were J.P. Ricciardi, because while Molina's numbers were probably worth $5 million, I don't think he's worth $7.5 million. Even if the option is turned down, however, Molina should do just fine in free agency.
Mike Piazza - San Diego Padres (Mutual Option)
Piazza made $1.25 million this year, and the mutual option for next year is for a whopping $8 million. His .283/22/68 numbers are slightly better than Molina's, but again I don't think they're good enough to warrant that kind of money. The Padres should turn down the option and gun for Molina or Lieberthal, or Piazza if he'll come back for less money.
Todd Pratt - Atlanta Braves
Soon to be 40, with a .207/4/19? Yep - Bako, Bennett, Greene, Mirabelli . . .
Kelly Stinnett - New York Mets
Soon to be 37, with a .209/1/9? See above.
Javier Valentin - Cincinnati Reds
Valentin isn't a bad backstop, and will be eligible for free agency for the first time this off-season. He's coming off of a .269/8/27, and made $1.15 million. He'll probably get a little bit of a raise, and is a suitable guy for a platoon assignment. I wouldn't be surprised if the Reds kept him around to continue his platoon with Jason LaRue.
Chris Widger - Baltimore Orioles
Wow, did he have a bad year at the plate. In 93 at-bats, Widger hit .172 with 1 HR and 9 RBI's. That would seem to make even the $650,000 he made this year seem too high. Widger's career might be over - but as I said before Catchers seem to always be able to find work if they want it.
Gregg Zaun - Toronto Blue Jays
Zaun might be the winner if the Jays decide to let Bengie Molina go - he'll be much more affordable this off-season, as he's coming off a $1 million contract. His numbers are respectable - .272/12/40 - and it wouldn't surprise me at all if they handed him the starting job next year with a 2 year deal for about $1.5 million per.