So many top level talents are still free agents this offseason. Andy Pettitte finally signed an incentive laden deal with the Yankees yesterday, which can be worth as much as $12 million, but as little as $5.5 million. With under 3 weeks until pitchers and catchers report for spring training, have a look at the big names who are still available.
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez- an eventual Hall of Famer
Jason Varitek, a mainstay with the Red Sox for, well, ever...still remains unsigned
Bobby Abreu, a steady numbers guy and former all star
Adam Dunn, 40 or more homers for 4 straight years
Ken Griffey Jr, more HoF names on the list
Manny Ramirez, another Hall of Famer with a monster bat
Garret Anderson, .296 career avg. and 84 RBI last year
Jim Edmonds, 20 homers last season is worth consideration
Tom Glavine, surely another HoF lock
Ben Sheets, has talent but is an injury concern
Oliver Perez, lefty has big K potential
Jon Garland, multiple 18-win seasons in this guy's career
Pedro Martinez, yes ANOTHER sure Hall of Famer on this list!
Randy Wolf, solid lefty and a former all star with our Phillies
Nomar Garciaparra- former all star, versatile fielder
Frank Thomas- 500-HR club member, still has power
What does this weak market mean for players? Some insiders have proclaimed it's collusion by teams to drive down the values of players. I can't say I disagree with that sort of collusion. When the guy (Ryan Howard) who set the record for highest salary awarded in an arbitration case, just last year, at $10 million, comes back the very next season and asks for 80% MORE than that record, it's very telling that some players' concepts of their own values are way off.
Waiting it out for discounts is smart for the teams and owners. With just a few teams suited as fits for a guy like Manny Ramirez, there are even less teams who could actually afford him. Possibly the only one on that list is the Dodgers. The Dodgers offered Manny a contract at the winter meetings (2 yrs, $45 million), which was rejected, and now a newer offer would likely be lower than, considering the dwindling options for Ramirez.
When asked, executive director of the players' union, Donald Fehr, won't comment about collusion, but says he'd be surprised if a market advantageous to the players didn't develop.
Players listed above who don't sign with teams in the coming weeks probably won't feel pressure to sign on for bottom dollar deals in order to get a pay check either. These are mostly guys who've gotten huge deals in their pasts, and are already millionaires. An in-season free agent market could be something that develops in 2009, like it never has before. Starting pitcher Paul Byrd has already announced his intentions to take the first half of the season off, and then make himself available to sign mid-season and help a contender. This is the way that Roger Clemens operated in the final years of his career. We could see more than a few guys using this strategy to their advantages this year. If the right market doesn't develop for players such as Bobby Abreu, Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine and Manny Ramirez, before April, these free agents could be setting their own prices once again as the playoff races develop during the 2009 season.