It’s now late January. We are about three weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting and 68 days from Opening Day. There are still quite a few good free agents on the market. There are so many, in fact, that you can make a roster of them and likely have a team that would contend. Just for fun, I made that roster. You are welcome.
1. Yovani Gallardo
Gallardo will be 30 next month and is coming off of one of the best seasons of his 9 year career. In his only year with the Texas Rangers, he went 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA in 184 innings in 2015. He might not have “ace” stuff but he will take the hill every 5th day and give you his best. He has started at least 30 games in each season since 2009. He brings experience (6 appearances in playoff games over 3 postseasons) and if you like the National League, he is not too shabby with the bat (12 career home runs, 83 hits).
Rumored destinations: Rockies, Orioles, Astros
2. Doug Fister
Fister had a rough 2015 after a 16-win 2014 season. He fought injuries all year and logged just 103 innings. Before that, he had three straight double-digit win seasons. He was supposed to be a huge part in the mega-rotation the Nationals thought they had last year. He was 5th in WHIP in 2014, finishing ahead of the likes of Madison Bumgarner and his former teammate Stephen Strasburg.
Rumored destinations: Astros, Marlins, Rockies
3. Mat Latos
Latos did not do himself any favors in 2015. With rumored locker room issues combined with an ERA near 5 with three separate teams, it’s no secret why he is still on the market in late January. There must be some team willing to take a risk when they look at his previous seasons. He had an ERA under 3.50 in every season between 2010 and 2014. He was in the Cy Young discussion in 2010 with the San Diego Padres. Some teams are scared to sign Latos but the talent is there. He may just need the right locker room. If he can stay healthy, he makes any rotation better.
Rumored destinations: Orioles and Royals
4. Cliff Lee
Lee will be 38 before this upcoming season is over. He’s had a really tough two seasons, battling through injuries and didn’t pitch at all in 2015. His last full season was 2013 when he was an All-Star for the Phillies, winning 14 games, striking out 222 batters and a 2.87 ERA. He has some left in the tank. He’s rumored to not be 100% healthy yet but there will be a team willing to risk it. He has logged 82 innings of playoff baseball and has 143 wins. Veterans are always needed on a rotation.
Rumored destinations: Yankees
5. Tim Lincecum
Lincecum won two straight Cy Youngs in 2008 and 2009. He has battled some injuries and struggles on the mound in the last few seasons. Perhaps a change of scenery would do him well. He only logged 76 innings in 2015. His WHIP was the highest of his career. He is only 31 so it’s not to say he can’t turn things around. He could start at the back of this rotation and be a solid plug-in guy for now. Before 2015, he logged 7 straight seasons of double-digit wins and he also boasts three World Series rings. Any staff could use that experience.
Rumored destinations: Padres and Marlins
In Morales’ only year with the Royals in 2015, he was a vital part to their World Series run. In 67 appearances, he had a 3.18 ERA. He struggled a bit in the playoffs but he has a track record as a solid late-innings guy. He is a lefty, which ups his value. He has experience in many ballparks in both leagues, having pitched 6 seasons in the NL and 4 in the AL. A team could always use a veteran lefty out of the ‘pen. Morales can be that guy.
Rumored destinations: Twins, Red Sox and Royals
Burke Badenhop, Middle Relief
Badenhop has appeared in at least 63 games in four straight seasons, including 68 last year. He posted a 3.93 ERA and finished 17 games for the Reds last season. He has pitched for 5 different teams and held an ERA under four for all but one of them. He won’t blow you away or become the next Trevor Hoffman but he is a steady hand that any shaky bullpen would love to have.
Rumored destinations: Tigers
Neal Cotts, Middle Relief
Cotts finished last season with the Twins. He had a 3.41 ERA in 68 games for the Twins and Brewers. He has pitched 141 games in the last two seasons. He is a lefty that has pitched for 10 seasons. He is a 2005 World Series champion and has pitched for both Chicago teams in the playoffs.
Rumored destinations: Twins and Cubs
Tommy Hunter, Setup Man
Hunter finished the season as apart of the Cubs after being dealt from the Orioles. He can get you a save every now and then but is mostly a 7th or 8th inning guy. He posted a 4.18 ERA in 58 total appearances in 2015 with a 4-2 record.
Rumored destinations: Mets and Orioles
Ryan Webb, Setup Man
Webb appeared in just 40 games for the Indians in 2015 but pitched well. He had a 3.20 ERA and when healthy, can be a viable setup guy for a depleted bullpen. He’s not a big strikeout guy but he will get the job done.
Rumored Destinations: Tigers and Indians
Tyler Clippard, Closer
Clippard is the only legitimate closer left on the market. He notched 19 saves last year as he bounced around from the Washington Nationals in 2014 to the Oakland A’s to start 2015 only to be dealt to the Mets at the deadline to aid their playoff run. He was an All-Star in 2014, posting a 2.18 ERA in 75 games. He had a 2.92 ERA in 2015 with both teams. He has appeared in at least 69 games in every season since 2010. For a team looking for a closer, the 30 year-old Clippard is likely the best option available.
Rumored destinations: Yankees
1. Dexter Fowler, CF
Fowler has gotten better and better in recent years. He has played at least 100 games every season of his career, which started in 2008. You can pencil him in for at least 7 triples, 15 home runs and right around 20 stolen bases. He is an excellent defender patrolling center field. He would serve as a good leadoff hitter, as that it what he has done for most of his 8-year career. He hasn’t had an on-base percentage lower than .346 since his rookie year. He is also coming off of a career high in home runs with 17.
Rumored destinations: White Sox and Angels
2. Howie Kendrick, 2B
Fighting through injury last season for the Dodgers, Kendrick put together a good season at age 31. He hit .295 with 22 doubles and 9 home runs in 117 games. He is just a year removed from his best season in 2014, when he had a career high 181 hits. He gets the job done with the glove and will be a veteran presence towards the top of the order. Good hitting second baseman are always needed.
Rumored destinations: Diamondbacks
3. Justin Morneau, 1B
Morneau had a tough 2015 with injuries ending it early. He did finish with a .310 average in 49 games. Going back to his 2014 season, he led the league with a .319 clip and added 17 home runs and 82 RBI. The 2006 AL MVP has played 13 seasons in the bigs and has 241 career home runs. Granted, one could say he has had good numbers because he plays at Coors Field but that has been disproved before. He was a great hitter in Minnesota too. At age 34, he still has got some pop in that bat.
Rumored destinations: Rockies and Rays
4. Marlon Byrd, LF
Byrd might be 38 years old, but that hasn’t stopped him from totaling 48 home runs in the last two seasons. He finished 2015 with the Giants and combined with his numbers with the Reds, he hit .247 with 23 home runs and a .743 OPS. The guy can still slug it and could definitely be put in the cleanup spot. He was an All-Star in 2010 and hasn’t slowed down much since. In fact, his four career 20+ home run seasons have all come after the age of 30.
Rumored destinations: Rays
5. David Freese, 3B
Freese is mostly known for his clutch 2011 postseason for the Cardinals when he was NLCS and World Series MVP. Since then, he has quietly been a consistent presence at the hot corner. He hit 14 home runs last year while hitting a vanilla .257. However, he also racked up 27 doubles and had a .743 OPS. He still can provide a steady bat. He won’t blow you away with numbers but he will be there if you need him.
Rumored destinations: Pirates and Red Sox
6. Ian Desmond, SS
Desmond has been a constant in the rumors flying around many teams seeking a shortstop. And for good reason. Over the past four seasons, he has been one of the best offensive shortstops in the game. He has hit at least 19 home runs every season since 2012, when he was an All-Star. His numbers dipped a bit after a dreadful first half to 2015. He has hit 88 home runs in the last four seasons and is young enough to still be in his peak. He also has only missed 18 games in the last three seasons.
Rumored destinations: Rays and White Sox
7. Alex Rios, RF
Rios’ power has declined significantly in the past two seasons. In his last 236 games, he has hit 8 home runs. He can still hit, however, posting a .280 average in 2014 and .255 last season. He is likely a bottom of the order hitter now in his mid-30’s with no power. Now a World Series champion, there will be a clubhouse that will seek his experience in the outfield.
Rumored destination: Royals
8. Pedro Alvarez, DH
Alvarez is nothing short of a liability at first base, with 23 errors last season. That being said, his bat is worth putting in the lineup. He smacked 27 home runs last season and is just two seasons removed from a 36 home run, 100 RBI campaign in 2013. His average is usually below .250 but that power threat is tantalizing. As a full time DH, he could do some serious damage.
Rumored destinations: Brewers and Rays
Austin Jackson, OF
Jackson started the year as the centerfielder for the Seattle Mariners. He was then dealt to the Cubs to aid their playoff run. He played 136 games, hitting 9 home runs, stealing 17 bases and hitting .267. He’s a guy with plus defenses and speed that can get hot with the bat. He also will stay pretty healthy, as he has played at least 129 games in every season since he came to the league in 2010.
Rumored destinations: Cubs and Rangers
Will Venable, OF
Venable was traded from the Padres to the Rangers after the deadline. He’s a plus fielder that gives you the occasional pop (22 home runs in 2013). However, he’s only hit 14 dingers in the two seasons since then. He’s been a consistent .245 to .260 hitter most of his career. If you are looking for a cheap good fielder who is competent with the stick, Venable is the guy.
Rumored destinations: Orioles and Padres
Jimmy Rollins, SS
There is some doubt as to whether the 37 year-old Rollins can still play a good shortstop. His defensive numbers have actually been pretty steady in his mid 30’s. There will be a team that will take a chance on Rollins. He has 2,422 career hits along with 229 home runs. He won the 2007 MVP. Last year he struggled a bit with the bat, hitting just .224 with 13 home runs. He did score 71 runs (he is 4th on the active runs scored list). Teams will value his playoff experience (.673 OPS in 50 games).
Rumored destination: Angels
Ryan Raburn, DH, OF
Raburn has not played a full season since 2011. However, he did hit .301 in 82 games in 2015. He has a bit of pop (16 home runs in 2013, 82 in his career). He usually puts the ball in play (.936 OPS with just 44 strikeouts in 2015). He is a nice bat to have come off the bench and maybe fill in a spot every so often in the outfield.
Rumored destinations: Tigers and Indians
Juan Uribe, INF
Uribe is getting up there in age (will be 37 during Spring Training), but he still hit 14 home runs and helped the Mets reach the World Series after he was dealt from the Dodgers to the Braves and then to the Mets. He still scares pitchers enough to make a difference in a lineup.
Rumored destinations: Dodgers and Indians
Clint Barmes: SS, 2B
Barmes is getting up there in age but he still can serve as a veteran presence that can play everyday in a pinch. He hit just .232 for the Padres last year but had his highest slugging percentage (.353) since 2011. He’s a clubhouse guy and any young team would do well to have Barmes on the roster.
So there it is. The all-free agent team. It maybe could contend, depending on the division its in. There are plenty of good arms available and a few good bats. Expect signings to flurry in before Spring Training hits later next month.