Many very good players were recently non-tendered. That means that their former team decided against offering a contract to a player that is arbitration eligible. These non-tendered players will now become free agents. MLB.com has the entire list of non-tendered players. There will be a few more useful players entering the free agent market.
- Takashi Saito. He is by far the most interesting name cut loose. After dominating the entire league the last 3 seasons, he had a platelet-rich plasma injected into his elbow last year. He’s a big question mark, but I still think the Dodgers should have tendered him a contract. I mean, the guy has a career ERA under 2.00. That’s about as dominant as it gets. He might be able to get a closer’s job somewhere, but it’s possible that he doesn’t because of the great market for closers. This guy is a huge upside play, and I think that all 30 teams should consider him.
- Ty Wiggington. I’m very surprised that the Astros decided to cut him loose. He was a very solid third baseman for their team, and also has the versatility to play second base, first base, or the outfield corners. If the ‘Stros knew that they wouldn’t be able to afford him, then why didn’t they just trade him? There had to be a solid market for Ty; he’s probably a better player than Casey Blake while coming on a 1 year deal. I just can’t believe that no team was willing to take him on. Now that he’s reached free agency, there is probably going to be a large market for him. The Twins look like the perfect fit if you ask me. I’m predicting that Wiggington gets 2 years, 14 million from Minnesota.
- Joe Nelson. He had an ERA of 2.00, yet still got non-tendered. Money must be really tight in Florida. What I don’t understand is why they didn’t trade him. He is a useful reliever with a high strike-out rate. I can’t believe that no team was willing to take him on. Nelson should be able to nab a 2 year deal somewhere. He joins an already impressive corps of free agent relievers.
- Daniel Cabrera. I agree with Andy MacPhail on this one. They already know what Cabrera is, and he’s not worth the 4 million he would have received in arbitration. I guess that there were no teams interested in trading for him, but it might have just been because everyone knew he would be cut loose. He still has a lot of upside, and would make some sense for teams like the Nationals or Pirates.
- Tim Redding. I thought he would have brought something good back in a trade. He looks like a solid #4 or #5 starter, and I don’t understand how he is much worse than any of their other starting pitching options. Look for the Rockies to be a major player for him; they almost traded Willy Taveras for him before the two were non-tendered.
- Willy Taveres. I guess that it’s smart to non-tender Taveras. He’s not a starter on their team, so it makes no sense to pay him around 3 million to be a fourth outfielder. I thought he would be traded, but I guess there were no interested parties. He could be an interesting option for teams looking for speed like the White Sox or Reds. By the way, I hate the Nationals as a suitor now that they’ve aquired Josh Willingham.
- Joey Gathright. He is pretty much just like Taveras; lots of speed, low average, low OBP. Like Taveras, teams like the White Sox and Reds could make inquiries.
- Jonny Gomes. I agree with the decision to non-tender him; the Rays had better options. He still has a lot of pop, and destroys lefties. This guy could make a lot of sense for a non-contending team looking for some power. The Pirates come to mind, as he would make a solid fourth outfielder for their team.
- Chris Capuano. He was a very good pitcher in 2005 and 2006. 2007 might have been a fluke, but he was flat-out bad during that season. He missed all of last year, but could be resigned by the Brewers. The two sides seem to have mutual interest. Capuano still has a lot of upside.
The Indians have signed Kerry Wood to a 2 year, 20 million dollar contract. This looks like a really nice signing to me. Woody can come in a be the great closer that the Indians need. It eats up 10 million of the 15 million they had available this offseason, but I think that it’s worth it. This guy was very good last year and has the stuff to be a completely dominant closer. This is a great move on the Indians part.
Now that there is only 5 million left to spend, it looks like the Tribe will look for an infielder. Mark Grudzielanek could make a lot of sense if he is convinced the Indians can compete. Orlando Hudson now looks like he’s out of their price range. Ray Durham would be an OK aquisition if Grudzielanek cannot be had. There’s not much left at second base past those two. Not many shortstops either unless the Tribe can afford Rafael Furcal or Orlando Cabrera, which is unlikely. Joe Crede or Ty Wiggington make a lot of sense for the third base hole, but those players might also be out of the Indians price range.
If no infielder can be aquired, the Tribe could look at a cheap starting pitching signing. There is not much depth in that rotation. Freddy Garcia, or maybe even a return of Paul Byrd could make a lot of sense. Brad Penny could be another option.
Kerry Wood was a good signing by the Indians as they attempt to compete for the AL Central crown next year. This division should be wide open.
I’m just upset that Wood didn’t return to my Cubbies.
The Indians have 3 big holes to fill this offseason, but limited resources. Can 15 million buy a quality player for the rotation, infield, and bullpen? The Indians will have to get creative with trades or free agent signings. It doesn’t seem like the Tribe’s way to spend big money on a starter, so expect most of the money to go toward the bullpen and/or infield. Instead of paying for a top notch closer like Francisco Rodriguez or Brian Fuentes, it would be smarter to give the job to a set-up man like Juan Cruz. Trevor Hoffman is the exception because he is a possible bargain. So, 4-7 million goes toward the ‘pen. A reclamation project could be imported on the cheap. Freddy Garcia could make sense for 5 million. With the remaining money, a guy like Mark Grudzielanek or Joe Crede could be added on a short-term deal. This could be the way it happens; they sign Hoffman, Grudzielanek, and Garcia all to short-term contracts. It seems like the thing Mark Shapiro would do: no risk, some upside.
A big free agent could be signed, however. Orlando Hudson finds himself in a bad market for second baseman, and could come at a below market price. Maybe for 8 million or so he could make sense. Then use 7 million on Hoffman and hope for the best with your starting pitching. Maybe even sign a guy like Jon Garland. Use the remaining money on Grudzielanek or Cruz and settle with internal options for the other positions.
The other possibility would be to make a trade. Kelly Shoppach could be moved to fill one of the holes. With so many teams interested in catching help, he could draw something nice. If they believe that Michael Bowden can make a good impression in his rookie year, he could be aquired for Shoppach. Ty Wiggington from the Astros is an option if other pieces are involved. Don’t bring up Jose Valverde; he will cost the same as Trevor Hoffman for the same amount of years, one. The Tribe would be much better off with Hoffman and Shoppach rather than Valverde and Ryan Garko. A deal could be worked out if the Tigers offered Placido Palonco, but that makes little sense for Detroit. So maybe it would be smarter to just keep Shoppach.
In that case, the other catcher could be moved. Victor Martinez has two years left on his contract and could be a very appealing option to many teams. He’ll earn only 5.2 million next year, so it wouldn’t clear much salary, but think about the possible return. I recently wrote about how Victor Martinez for Mike Lowell made sense.
So it looks like Indians’ GM Mark Shapiro will have a very busy offseason in front of him. He will have to get creative if he truly wants to fill all of his holes.
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