The calendar has officially flipped to February. Most baseball fans see the excitement and anticipation building to when pitchers and catchers report. However, there are some people that are not necessarily excited. One of the interesting phenomena from the past several years has been the disappearing market for aging players.
Every year, all kinds of publications release their top 50 free agents and most of them are down to the final three. There is one more prominent free agent that also is without a job. Unfortunately for them, the list of available jobs is also dwindling. None of us were in the room when these players were negotiating with teams, so we don’t necessarily know every deal they have turned down, but suffice it to say, they probably wish they took some of them at this point.
Possible Destinations: St. Louis, Boston
Reportedly, Roy Oswalt turned down a one year offer from the Tigers for ten million dollars. The Tigers would only confirm that they made an offer. If Oswalt wants to rebuild his value, going to Detroit would be a really good situation. They have a spacious ballpark, deep bullpen, and a potent offensive attack. What they don’t have is proximity to his family in Mississippi.
Oswalt’s problem is an unrealistic list of demands. He wants a team that is close to his Mississippi home. After that he would prefer a contender. Of course, not to be outdone, he still feels he deserves the ten million. When we look at teams that fit the proximity portion we come to St. Louis, Texas, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, and Tampa Bay. We can eliminate Houston because they aren’t contenders. Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Miami have full rotations. That leaves St. Louis and Texas and they also have full rotations. Oswalt could be an upgrade over some of their starters, but why pay ten million dollars when you have what you need now?
Texas has nine legitimate candidates for the rotation, so they have bowed out. That leaves St. Louis as the only possible suitor. They are trying to clear salary room to make the fit, but this is where Oswalt will need to budge. If he wants to pitch close to home he will have to take less money. If he wants the money he will have to expand his list to include Boston and Toronto.
Possible Destinations: New York
Johnny Damon is a Scott Boras client, so we continue through the Boras dance. Say what you will about Boras, he usually gets what he wants and Damon has been seeking five million. This is where we run into problems. He cannot play in the outfield full-time, so the National League is all but out. No one in their right mind would give a part-time player five million dollars. So, that leaves open DH positions.
Every team has someone penciled in at the position except for the New York Yankees. Damon obviously has played for the Yankees and would fit there. He could platoon with Andruw Jones and occasionally play in left field. It wouldn’t be the perfect situation for him reaching 3000 hits, but it is the only situation he has left.
Possible Destinations: Home
Every year there is a prominent free agent that prices himself out of the market. The first to do it was Jermaine Dye several years ago. He was coming off of a shaky season and wanted starting outfielder money. Teams offered him opportunities to compete for a starting role and a salary commensurate with that. He turned them down and is still out of the game. It’s happened to pitchers like Pedro Martinez.
Last season was not a good season for Guerrero and he is still seeking five million. No one has bit. He could possible sign a deal with a team looking for a part-time DH. Detroit could still end up signing him since they plan on moving Miguel Cabrera to third. Baltimore could bring him back to share the DH duties with Wilson Betemit. Oakland could add him to possibly supplant the likes of Brandon Allen and Chris Carter. That would all entail Guerrero taking less money and agreeing to share plate appearances with someone else.
Possible Destinationa: Milwaukee
A lot of people seem to think that Derrek Lee will be the guy left holding the bag. The difference is that he can both DH and play first base. With Casey Kotchman signing in Cleveland, that leaves Milwaukee as the only destination seeking a first baseman. Derrek Lee is the last first baseman left. This makes way too much sense not to happen, but sometimes the obvious doesn’t come to pass.
Lee will have to swallow hard and take what the Brewers are willing to give. It’s not a bad situation at all. The Brewers are still a contender in the NL Central and Lee would be joining a solid lineup. The Brewers could use his solid defense and passable offensive production. It’s a marriage that needs to happen.