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MLB - Fun With Free Agency

By Sean Rogers
Sunday, October 21st, 2001

Being an A's fan, it is time to look towards next year, following the loss to the Yanks. Of course, next year, we may very well be without Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, and Jason Isringhausen, so maybe we should look to, umm, 1988? Anyway, if your team is not hurt by the lack of a salary cap (Hey, Mr. Steinbrenner. More sugar in your coffee, Mr. Murdoch?), here are the top free agents this year.

Starting Pitchers

1. Ismael Valdes, Anaheim: Valdes, a few years ago, was considered one of the best young pitchers in the league. Valdes a few years ago was like what Freddy Garcia is today. But, like all good things, Valdes began to struggle. A few injuries later, he found himself on the Angels and had a moderate improvement in his performance. He should be able to command a midlevel player amount of $3-4 million.

Teams interested: Anyone in need of a pitcher.

2. Hideo Nomo, Boston: Believe it or not, the man from Japan was the Red Sox's most consistent starter not named Pedro this year. He had a solid ERA, but without a doubt, his no-hitter against Baltimore in his first start was the most memorable thing that he did. His agent is expecting a $7 million dollar clip, but I doubt he'll get more than $5 or $6 million.

Teams interested: Boston, of course, Texas, and anyone in need of a pitcher.

3. Sterling Hitchcock, San Diego: I might be the only one who thinks this, but I would take a risk on Sterling Hitchcock returning to his old form any day. Hitchcock might get $3 million from a team looking for a vet to anchor a staff or a team needing a risk.

Teams interested: Boston, Texas, Oakland, Cincinnati, Baltimore

4. Aaron Sele, Seattle: Sele made a serious Cy Young run this year, and he deserved the press that he got. He, however, is nothing more than average. He is an above average starter, but certainly not an ace. That being said, why wouldn't a team like Boston or Texas want him? He has proven to be consistent and could improve any team's pitching staff, even the Yanks.

Teams interested: Boston, Texas

5. Albie Lopez, Arizona - Lopez should be affordable. He is an average starter who came out of the Tampa Bay system. Perhaps with a good shot he could match what Cory Lidle did for Oakland this year?

Teams interested: Milwaukee, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, Boston

6. Pete Harnisch, Cincinnati: In the movie Sense and Sensibility, Willoughby said of Colonel Brandon, "Everyone talks well of him, but no one remembers to talk to him." Pete Harnisch is the Brandon of baseball. Everyone brings up his name when they need a pitcher, but no one actually trades for him. Does anyone want this guy? How should I know?

7. Terry Adams, Los Angeles: Adams never did anything until this year, when he was pressed to be a starter for the Dodgers. He did pretty good for them. He probably goes under the Cory Lidle/Albie Lopez category. Versatile, can also relieve.

8. Chan Ho Park, Los Angeles: In spring training this time around, I thought Chan Ho Park would get more money than Jason Giambi or Barry Bonds. That being said, Chan Ho Park is probably the best starting pitching investment that could be made. He is young, and he has tasted success. Might be a nice staff anchor for Texas, if Hicks wants to throw some green.

Teams interested: Texas, N.Y. Mets, Los Angeles, Anaheim, St. Louis, Arizona

Relief Pitchers

1. Bob Wickman, Cleveland: Wicky never really was the best closer, nor will he ever be. But he is still a very solid closer, and a team in need for closing help (Minnesota?) may be interested in him. He wants to be the head honcho: no more of this sharing with John Rocker stuff. He's not flashy, and he should get an average but unspectacular salary of $3-4 million.

Teams interested: Cleveland, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Baltimore

2. Todd Jones, Minnesota/Detroit: Jones isn't exactly the greatest closer, but he's a good community guy, and he probably won't demand too much. Could be a nice fit in Oakland, where GM Billy Beane looks at character before anything else.

Teams interested: Same as Wickman.

3. Jason Isringhausen, Oakland: The Izz is probably the best closer here, but he is more inconsistent than almost any other closer. When he is on, he is nasty. When he is off, he is plain old disgusting. He said that he "couldn't feel his legs" after closing a game in Yankee Stadium. Some composure.

Teams interested: Everyone needing a closer.

4. Steve Karsay, Atlanta: Poor Steve Karsay. He was a great rookie starting pitcher for Oakland, and then he got hurt, and was traded for Mike Fetters, of all people. He did a nice job closing for Cleveland, until Bob Wickman came along. But don't worry, Steve! You can close in Atlanta? What? John Smoltz wants to close? Sorry, Steve. Karsay will go anywhere to be the man.

Teams interested: Oakland, Tampa, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Baltimore

5. David Weathers, Chicago: Nobody has heard of David Weathers, but its not due to a lack of talent. Weathers is probably the premier setup-man on the market this year, but he was overshadowed while in Milwaukee. His stuff can be plain old nasty. Perfect for a team like the Yankees looking for that one last setup man.

Teams interested: Everyone.


1. Gregg Zaun, K.C.: He's okay? Maybe $1.5 million a year. He's a vet, too.

Teams interested: Anyone in need of a backup catcher.

2. Charles Johnson, Florida: Johnson isn't the greatest of all catchers, but he is definitely solid. Seemed to find his niche in Florida. I'd expect him to re-up with the Marls.

Teams interested: Florida

First Basemen

1. Tino Martinez, N.Y. Yankees: Tino has been pretty solid during his entire career. That being said, there are rumors that Baltimore will offer double digits for him to play 1B for them. Take it, Tino! Why not just trade for Eric Karros?

Teams interested: Baltimore, N.Y. Yankees

2. Jason Giambi, Oakland: This man right here is the cream of the crop. He will slug his way to earning the most money of anyone in this free agent crop. Does he deserve it? You bet! If Johnny Damon can get $15 million, Giambi deserves $30 million. The question, will he stay with the A's, or will he move on? He says he likes the West. Could he be wearing Dodger blue?

Teams interested: Los Angeles, Oakland, Anaheim, Texas, Boston, N.Y. Mets, N.Y. Yankees, Arizona

3. Mark McGwire, St. Louis: I included Big Mac so that no one would complain that I left out the guy with all the homeruns, but Big Mac really only has two choices: return to the Cardinals for a salary cut, or retire. Mac, stop embarrassing yourself, hang up the spikes.

Second Basemen

1. Bret Boone, Seattle: Bret Boone had a great year this year. He has never had a year like it before. Do you want to put $10 million on that? He's having an awful postseason, too, which must scare teams off. If he's going for $5 million or so, expect a team like Oakland needing a 2B to jump all over him.

Teams interested: Anyone needing a 2B.

2. Eric Young, Chicago: Eric Young is the man. Speed, average, heck, he's Johnny Damon at second base! The knock on him was always that his contract was far too large. Good thing he's a free agent. Any team that can snag him under $5 million and needs to 2B/leadoff hitter will be thrilled to get him. C'mon, Oakland!

Third Basemen

1. Scott Brosius, N.Y. Yanks: Brosius is solid, and after playing for New York, he should command more money than he deserves, around $3.5 million. New York will probably sign him, though, because they hate to take chances on their prospects, like Drew Henson. What we can do with money...

Teams interested: Yankees


1. Marty Cordova, Indians: Cordova staked his claim to the Comeback Player of the Year award by being a dependable starter for the Indians. Then again, Cordova never has been the nicest player to deal with, so who knows what he is thinking in terms of salary. He should expect to get about $2 million from a team needing a third or fourth outfielder.

Teams interested: Mets? Anyone needing an outfielder.

2. Juan Gonzalez, Indians: Gonzo went bonzo in 2001, helping to soften the blow of losing Manny Ramirez. That being said, he costs a lot of money, and nobody is saying that Cleveland wants him back. It is a mutual option, and if Gonzo wants back, he wants back. Gonzalez will probably bank on being about to get more money than he is currently getting, and he's probably right. He should command about $12 million, a bargain compared to guys like Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi that we are about to talk about.

Teams interested: Yankees, Red Sox, Mets

3. Roger Cedeno, Detroit: Cedeno has interest all around the league. So much interest, in fact, that he will probably go to a huge market team, because bidding on him will get very high. He is a speedy player who can hit, steal, and play some D. Good enough for me. Cheap alternative to Johnny Damon.

Teams interested: Yankees, Mets

4. Johnny Damon, Oakland: Damon is the cream of the fast, speedy outfielders crop. That being said, he got $7 million dollars a year off of a season where he hit .300, stole 50 bases, and hit 20 homeruns - and this year he hit .260 with 12 HRs. And Scott Boras says he should command $15 million this year. Interesting.

Teams interested: Stupid teams (Damon: "I think Texas will win the W.S. this year")

5. Moises Alou, Houston: Tough year to be Moises Alou. Nearly an MVP season, and yet, you are the consolation prize behind Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds, and maybe even Johnny Damon! Any team that gets Alou will get a proven bat.

Teams: All that would like Giambi or Bonds, but can't afford them.

6. Barry Bonds, San Francisco: Last, but certainly not least, Barry Bonds is the cream of the crop. He is old, though. He'd fit in perfectly with the Yankees and probably help them to win the next three World Series before they are forced to quickly rebuild.

Teams interested: N.Y. Yankees, N.Y. Mets, San Francisco

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