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 Cardinals and Phillies have surfaced as frontrunners for Matt Holliday. I recently wrote about the Cardinals situation. Additionly, they are offering a package of Ryan Ludwick, Skip Schumaker and Mitchell Boggs. This package is very strong, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the Rox accept. Ludwick could play left field replacing Holliday, and Schumaker could share center field with Ryan Spilborhgs, replacing Willy Taveres if dealt. (which is very likely, especially if this trade goes down) The Cardinals open up two spots in the outfield corners by trading Ludwick and Schumaker. Holliday takes left, Ankiel moves to right, and top prospect Colby Rasmus takes over in center. I really like this trade a lot for both teams.
The Phillies are very interested as well. They can offer a lot, but not as much as the Cardinals. The Phils package would be Carlos Carrasco, Greg Golson, Joe Savery, and Lou Marson. This package is not very enticing to the Rox, however. Dextor Fowler is just as good as Golson is. Chris Iannetta is better than Lou Marson. Carrasco and Savery add depth, but you don’t trade Matt Holliday for just depth. I don’t see the Phillies working a deal out.
So both the Cardinals and Phillies are very aggresive in these trade talks. But the Cards have the undoubted lead.
After losing in the first round, the White Sox will try to improve their ball club for a run at 2009. The weakest link on this team is speed. The only problem is that there is no place to add it. All positions are locked in except second base (and third base if you don’t think Josh Fields can handle it). The only speedy second baseman available is Brian Roberts. I don’t know if the White Sox have the pieces to get him, though. Maybe Aaron Poreda and Fields would be enough. With not many contenders in need of a second baseman, and with the possibility that the Oriols could get nothing but draft picks when he leaves, they might have to take it. If the Sox can’t grab him, they could trade for Willy Tavares. They had interest in him in a possible Jon Garland trade back in 2006. Where would he play though. If they found a way to trade Paul Konerko I could see it, but that’s a bad contract and he has a no-trade-clause. Coco Crisp could be a trade target, but the Red Sox might want to keep him as insurance for JD Drew and Mike Lowell. David DeJesus is available, but there are the same problems there are with Tavares. If I squint, I could see the Sox trading Jermane Dye. Maybe to a team like the Braves for a ton of prospects. Then they could turn some of the prospects around in a trade for Brian Roberts, and also trade for Willy Tavares and platoon him with Brian Anderson. Nick Swisher would move to right field, replacing Dye. Or, maybe instead they look to trade Gavin Floyd for Brian Roberts and then sign a starter like Derek Lowe to replace him. I could see them in the market for a starter, even if they don’t trade Floyd, and then trade Jose Contreras. Frankly, I have no idea what they will do, but they’ll do something.
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I thought of a trade that could potentially help both the Rockies and the Reds. The speedy center fielder Willy Taveres for pitcher Bronson Arroyo and cash. The Rox don’t need Taveras because they have Ryan Spilborghs and Dextor Fowler making him very expendable and certain to be shopped this winter. Arroyo is expendable because if Micah Owings is the PTBNL in the Adam Dunn trade, it gives the Reds six pitchers for five spots. They could trade Homer Baily instead, but for a rebuilding team like the Reds, it would be smarter to deal Arroyo. This move would give the Reds a good leadoff hitter. It would give the Rox a good fourth starter. This move makes sense.