Possible Free Agents: SS
Royce Clayton - Cincinnati Reds
Clayton is yet another aging (soon to be 37) middle infielder whose time has passed him by. Clayton hit .258 with 2 HR and 40 RBI's this past season with Washington and Cincinnati, and made $1 million. He signed with Washington under a minor-league contract last off-season, and that means that teams have already determined Clayton is a marginal player who will be forced to play his way onto a team every spring until he retires. If he comes back next season, this will almost certainly be the way he's forced to go again.
Alex Cora - Boston Red Sox
Cora is in his prime, but sadly that doesn't mean much. He's never been much of a hitter (career .244), so his .238 average in 2006 wasn't much of a surprise. Nevertheless, he's coming off of a year in which he made $1.4 million. He's not worth even a million, but he will find a job as a backup for somebody.
Craig Counsell - Arizona Diamondbacks
I confess - I don't understand the fascination with Counsell. He made $1.75 million last year, and did exactly what you'd expect, hitting .255 BA with 4 HR and 30 RBI's. Nevertheless, he got 372 at-bats. If the Diamondbacks are smart, they will move on and give someone else a chance to play full time. Counsell is still a capable player, and his 15 steals indicate he still has some speed. He'd make a good backup middle infielder for a slow team that could use him as a pinch runner as well.
Chris Gomez - Baltimore Orioles
Gomez only had 132 at-bats this season, but he made the most of them, hitting .341. He made $850,000 this season, and should make a similar amount next year. I'm going to guess that he ends up back in Baltimore.
Alex L. Gonzalez - Boston Red Sox
Gonzalez signed a 1 year, $3 million deal last year, and underperformed with the Red Sox, hitting .255 with 9 HR and 50 RBI's. He'll be 30 when the season starts, and there is still likely a belief that he can handle a starting job. The Red Sox will probably cut ties with Gonzalez, but he should end up somewhere with one last (probably) chance to prove that he's a starting shortstop.
Julio Lugo - Los Angeles Dodgers
Lugo is the prize shortstop on the market this off-season, and the bidding will likely be all out East, with the Blue Jays and Red Sox probably fighting it out for him. He hit .278 with 12 HR and 37 RBI's this past season with Tampa and LA, and he's about to be 31. That to me suggests he's not worth the $4.95 million he made last season. Nevertheless, there will probably be some heavy bidding on Lugo's services, so I'm guessing 3 years at about $6 million per.
Ramon E. Martinez - Los Angeles Dodgers
Ho hum, yet another mediocre veteran. Martinez made just $600,000 this year but played better than Royce Clayton, for one. Martinez hit .278 this season in 176 at-bats, but he's already been relegated to the minor-league contract situation. Same thing will be coming around next year.
Jose Vizcaino - St. Louis Cardinals
He'll be 39 when the season starts. He hit .232 this season in 142 at-bats. For some reason, he was paid $1.23 million for his services. I hate to say it, but Vizcaino should hang it up. Why do I hate to say it? Because I can remember Vizcaino from back in my formative days when baseball first started to be compelling to me - he broke into baseball in 1989. Seventeen season later, it's time to call it a career.