Possible Free Agents: OF
Moises Alou - San Francisco Giants
Moises is 40, but it's hard to argue that he's undeserving of more playing time. This season, he hit .301 (his career average), hit 22 HR, and picked up 74 RBI's. He did all of this for $6 million, which turned out to be a bargain. Alou will find work somewhere, probably on a 2 year deal for around the same $6 million/year. I don't think it will be with the Giants, who let go his father as manager and now are likely to part ways with him as well.
Barry Bonds - San Francisco Giants
Clearly, this is one of the most intriguing free agent situations in all of baseball. Bonds just made $18 million, and for that money he hit .270 with 26 HR's and 77 RBI's. Those are decent numbers, and normally Bonds would be jumped on by teams who would want him to break Hank Aaron's record in their uniform. But Bonds is nuclear, and it's unclear who will have interest and at what price. I don't think Bonds will return to the Giants (they need to move on and get younger in the outfield), and Bonds is most likely to end up in the American League where he can concentrate on being a DH. My guess is that Bonds ends up in Anaheim, on a 1 year contract for about $8 million. I don't think he'll make more than that, anywhere.
Jeromy Burnitz - Pittsburgh Pirates (Mutual Option)
Burnitz will turn 38 a couple of weeks into the 2007 season. Last season, he hit .230, with 16 HR's and 49 RBI's. The Pirates are unlikely to pick up the option on Burnitz because $6 million is just too much to spend for a team that needs to get younger and not waste space on declining veterans. In the right situation, Burnitz could help a team - he still has some power, and for a team that needed a left-handed bat off the bench, he could be useful. He's probably not worth more than $3 million, but he'll get work somewhere.
Mike Cameron - San Diego Padres (Team Option)
Cameron hit .268, with 22 HR's and 83 RBI's. He'll be 34 at the start of next season. The option for 2007 is for $7 million. Add all of this up, and I think Cameron will be staying in San Diego. That price, in this off-season, is a bargain for the kind of production that Cameron can provide (although he is only a career .252 hitter, so he over-produced by quite a bit this season).
Frank Catalanotto - Toronto Blue Jays
Catalanotto is a pretty good player, hitting .300 with 7 HR's and 56 RBI's for $2.7 million in 2006. He'll be 33 a month into the 2007 season, which is still in the "productive" range of a players career (for the average player). He should get a tidy raise this off-season, because he could be an important player for a contending team. Whether the Blue Jays will pursue him or not, I don't know - but I expect Catalanotto to get a lot of attention and to make at least $4 million per for about 3 years.
Jose Cruz, Jr. - Los Angeles Dodgers (Team Option)
Cruz has been, mostly, a bust. He'll be 33 a month into the 2007 season, which means he's probably not going to get any better than he's been. Last season, Cruz hit .233 with 5 HR's and 17 RBI's. He's just a .249 career hitter. The Dodgers would need to pay him $4 million if they picked up his option, and I don't see that happening. Cruz will probably continue to get chances, because he does, after all, have 198 career homeruns. However, I don't think he'll get much more than his current salary of $2.91 million per, and probably only a 1 year deal.
Dave Dellucci - Philadelphia Phillies
Dellucci put together a pretty nice, high value season this past year. He hit .292 with 13 HR's and 39 RBI's over 264 at-bats. Those aren't huge numbers, but considering that he made just under $1 million this year, he was a great value. Dellucci is about to turn 33, and with the numbers he just put up he should get a nice job - his starting days are probably over, but he can still be a very effective platoon player.
Mark DeRosa - Texas Rangers
DeRosa hit .296 with 13 HR's and 74 RBI's this season, and made just $0.675 million - making him also a pretty solid buy. He's more an infielder than an outfielder (I'm listing him here because this is where he's listed on Cot's Baseball Contracts website), and he'll be just 32 when the season starts. I suspect the Rangers will try to keep him, but he'll find work (for a better salary, likely) whether they do or not.
Jim Edmonds - St. Louis Cardinals (Team Option)
This is a tough call. The Cardinals have a $10 million option on Edmonds, with a very high $3 million buyout. Edmonds just put together a mediocre .257/19/70 season. He'll turn 37 midway through the season, and is no longer the player he once was. Nevertheless, with the market that will be confronting teams this off-season, I suspect that the Cardinals will pick up this option, recognizing that for all intents and purposes they will be paying Edmonds just $7 million (the buyout is a sunk cost). Edmonds is probably the best they'll get for that price in the coming market.
Carl Everett - Free Agent
Everett was cut by the Mariners in the middle of the season, and found no takers in the stretch drive. That's probably related to his woeful .227 batting average, although he did hit 11 HR's before being fired. Everett has probably reached the stage in his career where he'll have to sign a minor league contract, and there's no way he'll make the $3.4 million that he made last year.
Steve Finley - San Francisco Giants (Team Option)
Yep, another San Fran outfielder who is over 40 - Finley will be 42 when the 2007 season starts. The Giants have a $7 million option on Finley, and his .246/6/40 numbers make it hard to justify picking it up (the buyout is $1 million). Of course, this means I've now advocated that the Giants completely turn over their entire starting outfield for 2007, and that may be a difficult task. Nevertheless, I think that's the best route. Finley is close to the age and production level where he should retire.
Cliff Floyd - New York Mets
Floyd seems to be on the downside of his career. He'll soon be 34, and he struggled even when healthy last season, going .244/11/44. He made $6.5 million last year, and he might get a similar contract for next season (thanks to his past performance and the increasing amount of money out there for teams to spend), but it's unlikely that he'll get more than a 1 year deal.
Luis Gonzalez - Arizona Diamondbacks (Team Option)
The Diamondbacks already declined the option they held on Gonzalez, and he has already filed for free agency. Despite being 39, and putting up weak .271/15/73 numbers for the $11.5 million he made last year, Gonzalez is still generating interest. Shockingly, the Giants are reported to have already contacted Gonzalez - meaning they don't seem to be interested on getting younger in the outfield. He'll catch on somewhere next year, but he shouldn't make more than $6-7 million even in the inflated market.
Jose Guillen - Washington Nationals
Guillen had a horrible 2006 season, hitting just .216 with 9 HR and 40 RBI's. He'll be 31 in May, and keeps regressing. He made $4 million last season, and will probably make around the same amount next year somewhere. However, if I were a decent team, I would stay away from Guillen - he doesn't seem worth it at this point in his career.
Todd Hollandsworth - Cincinnati Reds
Not much to say - he's going to be 34 in April and is just a role player now. He made $900,000 last year, and put up .246/7/35 numbers. He'll find a place as a lefty bat off the bench/role player type, probably with a decent team.
Aubrey Huff - Houston Astros
Huff had a disappointing 2006, hitting .267/21/66. That didn't stop the Astros from making a move to get him for the playoff stretch, and it probably won't prevent him from attracting interest on the free agent market because he will be just 30 at the start of the 2007 season, and is a career .285 hitter with power. Honestly, if the Twins decided that they wanted a more traditional 3B (rather than Nick Punto), or wanted to have a DH/3B type, Huff would probably be a pretty good choice. The problem is, he'll be expensive. He made $6.75 million this year, and is likely to make $10 million per despite his off-season in 2006. The Twins probably can't afford him.
Brian Jordan - Atlanta Braves
He'll be 40 when the season starts, he made just $700,000 this year, and he put up .231/3/10 numbers in just 91 at-bats. Jordan is not a sure bet to make a team anywhere, and if he wants to come back it'll probably be under a minor-league contract or as a spring training invite.
Gabe Kapler - Boston Red Sox
Kapler is just 31, and put up .254/2/12 numbers this season. The Red Sox don't seem interested in bringing him back, and Kapler has already filed for free agency. Kapler isn't going to be a significant presence on any team, but he might make a team in a backup capacity.
Ricky Ledee - New York Mets
Ledee didn't do much this year, putting up .188/2/9 numbers. Why he continues to find work at the Major League level (and at $1.5 million last season) is beyond me.
Carlos Lee - Texas Rangers
Talk about someone due for a big raise; Lee hit .300/37/116 this season, and just about every team that's looking for outfield help will be in on the bidding. Lee will probably make $13-15 million per on a 3 or 4 year deal. He'd look good in a Twins uniform, but you can forget about seeing Lee play for the Twins next year - he's just going to cost too much.
Kenny Lofton - Los Angeles Dodgers
Lofton made $3.85 million last season, and did exactly what you would want from a leadoff guy, hitting .301/3/41 with 32 stolen bases. Lofton will make at least as much as he did last year, despite the fact that he'll turn 40 in the middle of the season. I would guess that he'll stay in LA.
John Mabry - Chicago Cubs
Mabry just turned 36, and put up bad numbers last year, hitting .205/5/25 in 210 at-bats. He's still useful as a backup player, and will probably make around the $1,075,000 he made last year.
Eli Marrero - New York Mets
He'll be 33 in November, and hit just .204/6/15 in 93 at-bats. Another expendable player, who will nevertheless find a job as a role-player, and probably for around the $750,000 he made last year.
Gary Matthews, Jr. - Texas Rangers
This is one of the most intriguing free agent stories of the off-season. Matthews was an All-Star in 2006, hitting .313/19/79, and has the good fortune of being a free agent this off-season. If he was a little younger, I think he'd have significant value, and would get a 4 year deal for $8-10 million. But he's not - he's 32. That's not old, exactly, but it's old enough to give teams pause before they commit to a lengthy deal. Don't forget that Matthews also is a career .263 hitter - that's write, he outperformed his historical average by a full .50 points, which is stunning. In other words, he's probably going to regress significantly next year. I predict a 2 year deal for about $7.5 million per. It's probably lower than he deserves, but with the risks it's also probably the best that he'll get.
Trot Nixon - Boston Red Sox
Another free agent Red Sox outfielder. Nixon made $7.5 million last year, and put up .268/8/52 numbers. I don't expect the Red Sox to bring him back, and I also don't expect him to end up with a starting job on a front-line team. Still, I think he can help a team in a platoon situation, and at 32 (33 in April) he is still in his prime.
Jay Payton - Oakland Athletics
Payton made $4 million this season and put up .296/10/59 numbers. He'll be 34 in November, and just isn't productive enough to warrant a big contract. Nevertheless, he should still be useful as a starter for a couple of years, and I think he'll get a 2 year deal for about $5 million per, quite possibly back with Oakland.
Eduardo Perez - Seattle Mariners (Team Option)
The Mariners could exercise a $1.825 million option on Perez for next season, but I'm not sure he's worth it. He put up .253/9/33 numbers in 186 at-bats, so it looks like he still has a little bit of power. I'm leaning against the option being picked up by Seattle, but I think Perez will get a $1.5 million deal next year to be a bench player.
Juan Pierre - Chicago Cubs
How much is Pierre worth? He made $5.75 million last year, and hit .292/3/40 with 58 steals. There is going to be a bidding war for his services. At just 29 years old, he's the perfect age to get a max contract. But what exactly is a max contract for a leadoff hitter who, even one with a .303 career average? I'm guessing he's going to get a 4-5 year deal for somewhere in the neighborhood of $9-10 million, but that's completely a guess. I have no idea what teams will think he's actually worth. All I know is that he's going to get a very, very nice contract.
Dave Roberts - San Diego Padres
Roberts hit .293/2/44 last season and made just $2.25 million. I think the Padres will make a move to keep him, but he'll probably get a decent raise and make somewhere closer to $5 million next year. The difference between him and Juan Pierre comes in just one category - age. Roberts is 34, and will turn 35 during the season. Otherwise, I think there would be a nifty market for him. As it is, he'll get a decent deal despite his age.
Tim Salmon - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Salmon will probably retire, or at least that's what I've heard (sorry, no cite - this is just information that I picked up somewhere along the way during the course of the season). He made just $400,000 last year, and was actually fairly productive, putting up a .265/9/27. Still, he's 38, and can't get around like he used to. If he wants to come back, someone will give him a shot as a bench player, but I think he'll hang it up.
Alfonso Soriano - Washington Nationals
Get ready for a bidding war. Soriano hit .277/46/95 last season, with 41 steals. As a second baseman, those would be ridiculous numbers. As an outfielder, they're very good. Soriano is going to make a whole lot of money this off-season (forget about the Nationals re-signing him - I just don't believe that they have the money). I'm guessing he'll get a 4-5 year deal, and probably for somewhere around $15-17 million per. That's a lot of cash, but he's the single biggest prize on the market, and someone will pay - quite possibly the Angels.
Shannon Stewart - Minnesota Twins
Hard to tell what Stewart will make next year. He made $6.5 million last year, and will be 33 in February. His regular injuries over the last few years make him a gamble. I'm predicting a 1 year deal, probably with a team that has an outside chance of competing (those are the teams most likely to take a chance on Stewart). I can say pretty confidently that he won't be returning to the Twins. Incidentally, Stewart filed for free agency on Saturday.
Daryle Ward - Atlanta Braves
Ward made just $700,000 last year, and hit .308/7/26 in just 130 at-bats. He'll be just 32 next summer, and probably earned himself a reasonable contract offer next year - a 1 year deal as a role-player/platoon type.
Rondell White - Minnesota Twins
There are a lot of rumblings that the Twins will at least seriously considering bringing White back in 2007. He made $2.5 million this year, and actually played fairly well in the second half, with .246/7/38 numbers. He'll be 35 years old in February. If he comes back for the same money, I think it would be a reasonable expense - he played well enough to justify a roster spot late in the season, after he seemingly fixed the problems that plagued him earlier in the season. White still has the ability to contribute, whether with the Twins or elsewhere.
Bernie Williams - New York Yankees
I thought Bernie was going to retire after last season, but he came back for $1.5 million and put together a solid .281/12/61 season. It seems to me like he'll probably return to the Yankees if they're willing to have him, and for that kind of salary, I don't know why they wouldn't. I expect Bernie to come back for one more year.
Craig Wilson - New York Yankees
Wilson made $3.5 million last year, splitting time between the Pirates and Yankees. He's not a huge average hitter (.251 in '06, .265 career), but he's got some pop, hitting 17 homers in 2006. He'll get a good job, hopefully in the American League where he can play outfield, DH, and maybe a little 1B. Salary-wise, he'll probably get around $5 million per.
Preston Wilson - St. Louis Cardinals (Team Option)
Wilson hit .263/17/72 last season, and will be 33 in the middle of next summer. The Cardinals have a huge, 3-year/$24 million option. Is Wilson worth $8 million per? Tough call. He can be a solid player, and comparable options will probably cost a lot of money. Nevertheless, committing to Wilson for 3 years is probably too much. The buyout is just $500,000 - a small price to pay for avoiding the obligations of such a daunting option. Wilson will get a decent job next year, and maybe even for $8 million per. I just don't think it will be with the Cardinals, and it definitely won't be on the terms set by this option. Or at least, so I think.