Free agency is upon us. It's been 15 days since the Yankees hoisted the World Series trophy, and with that, players on the market can officially begin discussing deals with teams other than the one they played for last season.
Yes, it's the unofficial opening of Hot Stove season, a time when dollar figures dance around the imagination and anything seems possible for all 30 teams (OK, maybe not for the Nationals, Royals or Pirates). It's a season that's almost as much fun as the regular one, so why not kick it off with a look at the top commodities available.
After the jump, FanHouse's in-house professional scout Frankie Piliere ranks the top 50 free agents on the market this year. Get the skinny on the best talents, bargains and potential busts.
1. JOHN LACKEY, SP
Age: 31 | Throws: R | Height: 6-6 | Weight: 205 | '09 Team: Angels
2009 Stats: 11-8 W-L | 3.83 ERA | 176 1/3 IP | 139 SO | 47 BB
Status: Agreed to five-year, $82.5M deal with Red Sox (Dec. 14)
The Skinny: You can find all the characteristics of an ace in Lackey. He has the big-game experience, has thrived in that environment, and the ability is obviously there. You can bet all the usual suspects will be in on the action for the 6-foot-6 right-hander. This isn't a guy you need to worry about falling flat after he signs either. Lackey is a pitcher who isn't afraid of adjustments. He knows how to change things on the fly and fight through his struggles.
2. MATT HOLLIDAY, LF
Age: 29 | Bats: R | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 235 | '09 Team: Cardinals
2009 Stats: .313 AVG | 24 HR | 109 RBI | .394 OBP | 14 SB
Status: Agreed to seven-year, $120M deal with Cardinals (Jan. 5)
The Skinny: Should anyone be concerned about Holliday's less-than-spectacular American League experience last year? Probably not. He made some mechanical adjustments to his swing, and it appears safe to say his troubles were nothing more than a blip on the radar screen. Some scouts prefer Jason Bay, but being younger and a better all-around player, it will be Holliday who draws the bigger dollars. That doesn't mean he'll get the Mark Teixeira money he's seeking, but he'll still be a rich man.
3. JASON BAY, LF
Age: 31 | Bats: R | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 200 | '09 Team: Red Sox
2009 Stats: .267 AVG | 36 HR | 119 RBI | .384 OBP | 13 SB
Status: Agreed to four-year, $66M deal with Mets (Dec. 29)
The Skinny: Holliday is probably the most complete position player on the market, but Bay is the most dangerous hitter. As Yankee and Red Sox fans can tell you, Bay had no trouble adjusting to the big stage. He didn't just adjust, but thrived on it. There should be a horde of bidders for his services, and there are probably fewer doubts about where he can play and be successful than the only position player above him on this list.
4. ANDY PETTITTE, SP
Age: 37 | Throws: L | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 235 | '09 Team: Yankees
2009 Stats: 14-8 W-L | 4.16 ERA | 194 2/3 IP | 148 SO | 76 BB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $11.75M deal with Yankees (Dec. 9)
The Skinny: It may be a pipe dream to think any team besides the Yankees can really sign Pettitte this winter -- he figures to return to New York or just retire -- but, in the event he does entertain other offers, you'd be hard pressed to find a pitcher with a better pedigree and this much left in the tank. Pettitte still has more than enough stuff to pitch at a high level. Don't think long-term. For 2010, this is a very valuable arm.
5. CHONE FIGGINS, 3B
Age: 31 | Bats: S | Height: 5-9 | Weight: 155 | '09 Team: Angels
2009 Stats: .298 AVG | 5 HR | 54 RBI | .395 OBP | 42 SB
Status: Signed four-year, $36M deal with Mariners (Dec. 8)
The Skinny: Figgins is a difficult guy to put a value on. He doesn't fit your typical third base profile -- he does not hit for power -- but his teammates or anyone who played against him will tell you he has been a key player over the years for the Angels. He'll be tough to put an actual price on, but whether he stays in Anaheim or goes elsewhere, Figgins will continue to be very valuable.
6. RICH HARDEN, SP
Age: 27 | Throws: R | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 180 | '09 Team: Cubs
2009 Stats: 9-9 W-L | 4.09 ERA | 141 IP | 171 SO | 67 BB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $7.5M deal with Rangers (Dec. 9)
The Skinny: Everyone knows the curious case of Rich Harden: If he can stay healthy, his arm and stuff are as good as they come. For that reason, he will be considered a valuable commodity on the open market. If you are a GM, you try to hoard as much talent as possible, and Harden is the type of talent you take a chance on.
7. RANDY WOLF, SP
Age: 33 | Throws: L | Height: 6-0 | Weight: 194 | '09 Team: Dodgers
2009 Stats: 11-7 W-L | 3.23 ERA | 214 1/3 IP | 160 SO | 58 BB
Status: Agreed to three-year, $29.75M deal with Brewers (Dec. 9)
The Skinny: Assuming Andy Pettitte will never be a viable option for teams in the market for a southpaw, Wolf will be high on many teams' shopping lists. A team like the Mets, which is desperate for some depth in their rotation, would be a logical destination.
8. JOHNNY DAMON, LF
Age: 36 | Bats: L | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 175 | '09 Team: Yankees
2009 Stats: .282 AVG | 24 HR | 82 RBI | .365 OBP | 12 SB
Status: Free agent
The Skinny: Despite his agent's desire for a long-term deal, it would be an awfully big risk at this stage in Damon's career for a team to go down that road. It'd also be dangerous for a National League club to have to depend on him as an everyday outfielder. Damon is still a superb hitter with pop, and he still has some spring in his legs, but his defense and throwing arm are now severe liabilities.
9. JOSE VALVERDE, RP
Age: 30 | Throws: R | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 254 | '09 Team: Astros
2009 Stats: 25 SV | 2.33 ERA | 54 IP | 56 SO | 21 BB
Status: Agreed to two-year, $14M deal with Tigers (Jan. 14)
The Skinny: It's a pretty quiet year for closers, so Valverde may do pretty well on the open market. His velocity may have been better than it's ever been in 2009, and he now has a solid closing resume in his back pocket to use as a selling point. The Phillies seem like an almost too logical suitor.
10. AROLDIS CHAPMAN, SP
Age: 21 | Throws: L | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 180 | '09 Team: N/A
2009 Stats: Did not play in major leagues
Status: Agreed to six-year, $30M deal with Reds (Jan. 10)
The Skinny: Unlike any of these other coveted free agents, there's not a lot to go on with Chapman. However, the consensus among talent evaluators is pretty clear. The stuff and talent is for real. He is going to command premium money on the open market, whether he is big-league ready in 2010 or now. You won't find many people in baseball that doubt his talent.
11. MARLON BYRD, CF
Age: 32 | Bats: R | Height: 6-0 | Weight: 225 | '09 Team: Rangers
2009 Stats: .283 AVG | 20 HR | 89 RBI | .329 OBP | 8 SB
Status: Agreed to three-year, $15M deal with Cubs (Dec. 31)
The Skinny: The Rangers' center fielder may be the most underrated player in this entire free-agent class. One of the more unheralded standouts in a Texas lineup that boasted several players with impressive numbers, Byrd quietly put together a strong offensive campaign in 2009 and played well in the field. He's been a steady performer with Texas, and if the Rangers don't hold onto him, a team could swoop in and get a top performing center fielder for a reasonable contract.
12. RAFAEL SORIANO, RP
Age: 29 | Throws: R | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 175 | '09 Team: Braves
2009 Stats: 27 SV | 2.97 ERA | 75 2/3 IP | 102 SO | 27 BB
Status: Accepted arbitration; traded to Rays (Dec. 10)
The Skinny: A healthy Soriano proved all the scouts that have loved his stuff for years right in 2009. It's hard not to love his arsenal and he has an impressive strikeout rate to match. It will be fascinating to see how the market plays out for a setup man of his caliber.
13. MIGUEL TEJADA, SS
Age: 35 | Bats: R | Height: 5-10 | Weight: 170 | '09 Team: Astros
2009 Stats: .313 AVG | 14 HR | 86 RBI | .340 OBP | 5 SB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $6M deal with Orioles (Jan. 23)
The Skinny: The power numbers are not going to be what they once were, but Tejada still brings a lot to the table offensively. At 35 years old, he's unlikely to get more than a two-year deal, and staying with Houston might be his best and most realistic option.
14. BENGIE MOLINA, C
Age: 35 | Bats: R | Height: 5-11 | Weight: 210 | '09 Team: Giants
2009 Stats: .265 AVG | 20 HR | 80 RBI | .285 OBP | 0 SB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $4.5M deal with Giants (Jan. 19)
The Skinny: Contracts for aging catchers are a tricky proposition, but finding a catcher with defensive abilities that can hit as well as Molina is equally as tricky. It's no secret that the Mets have eyed him several times over the years, so that could be a landing place. But, even with his good power numbers and hands behind the plate, it would be risky to give him a multi-year deal at this stage.
15. ADAM LaROCHE, 1B
Age: 30 | Bats: L | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 180 | '09 Team: Braves
2009 Stats: .277 AVG | 25 HR | 83 RBI | .355 OBP | 2 SB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $5M deal with Diamondbacks (Jan. 14)
The Skinny: Almost silently, LaRoche proved to be a quality offensive player once again, taking off after his short stint with the Red Sox to put up very solid numbers. He's not a high-profile guy, but he produces year after year. He could be a bargain pickup for someone with a hole at first base.
16. VLADIMIR GUERRERO, DH/OF
Age: 34 | Bats: R | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 235 | '09 Team: Angels
2009 Stats: .295 AVG | 15 HR | 50 RBI | .334 OBP | 2 SB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $5M deal with Rangers (Jan. 9)
The Skinny: Let's not make the mistake of sleeping on Guerrero just yet. He looked as dangerous as ever in the playoffs and still put up solid numbers on the season. This may be a case where a once-dominant force at the plate has one more big year on the horizon. If he can DH every day and stay healthy, Guerrero still has the physical tools to be a presence.
17. HIDEKI MATSUI, DH/OF
Age: 35 | Bats: L | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 210 | '09 Team: Yankees
2009 Stats: .274 AVG | 28 HR | 90 RBI | .367 OBP | 0 SB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $6.5M deal with Angels (Dec. 14)
The Skinny: Some, including his agent, have said that playing the outfield might be a possibility for Matsui, but the reality is that he's a DH. He moves much too gingerly to seriously be considered for playing time in the outfield, but clearly he can still hit at a high level. This is still a premium, star-level bat that would be a tremendous boost to an AL club looking for offense.
18. JON GARLAND, SP
Age: 29 | Throws: R | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 175 | '09 Team: Dodgers
2009 Stats: 11-13 W-L | 4.01 ERA | 204 IP | 109 SO | 61 BB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $5.3M deal with Padres (Jan. 26)
The Skinny: He'll never be a lights-out type pitcher, but the reality is that Garland is one of the most consistent pitchers in the game today. He'll throw 200 innings, have an ERA around 4.00 and stay healthy. Best of all for his suitors, he probably will not command premium money.
19. MARCO SCUTARO, SS
Age: 34 | Bats: R | Height: 5-10 | Weight: 170 | '09 Team: Blue Jays
2009 Stats: .282 AVG | 12 HR | 60 RBI | .379 OBP | 14 SB
Status: Agreed to two-year, $10M deal with Red Sox (Dec. 3)
The Skinny: Finally able to break out of his utilityman role, Scutaro flourished as an everyday player for Toronto last year. But, how will the 34-year-old be viewed on the open market? Boston might be a logical landing place, and a good fit for both sides.
20. ORLANDO HUDSON, 2B
Age: 31 | Bats: S | Height: 6-0 | Weight: 185 | '09 Team: Dodgers
2009 Stats: .283 AVG | 9 HR | 62 RBI | .357 OBP | 8 SB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $5M deal with Twins (Feb. 4)
The Skinny: The season didn't end well for Hudson, who despite a strong year overall, was on the bench for most of the Dodgers' playoff run. The slump was simply ill-timed, however, as Hudson is still a valuable everyday player. He would fit well with a number of teams and should get a better deal than he did a year ago.
21. ADRIAN BELTRE, 3B
Age: 30 | Bats: R | Height: 5-11 | Weight: 170 | '09 Team: Mariners
2009 Stats: .265 AVG | 8 HR | 44 RBI | .304 OBP | 13 SB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $9M deal with Red Sox (Jan. 4)
The Skinny: His tenure with Seattle was a bit of a rollercoaster ride, but throughout his career Beltre has been a victim of high expectations. He's not a star player, and if you can accept him for what he is, he can be a steady bat who plays an outstanding third base.
22. FELIPE LOPEZ, 2B
Age: 29 | Bats: S | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 175 | '09 Team: Brewers
2009 Stats: .310 AVG | 9 HR | 57 RBI | .383 OBP | 6 SB
Status: Free agent
The Skinny: After a couple of down years in Washington, it looks like Lopez is back in top form. As long as he has been around, it's easy to forget that he is still only 29 years old. Where he may end up is unclear, but he should give his new team a .300 hitter with some pop.
23. ERIK BEDARD, SP
Age: 30 | Throws: L | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 186 | '09 Team: Mariners
2009 Stats: 5-3 W-L | 2.82 ERA | 83 IP | 90 SO | 34 BB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $1.5M deal with Mariners (Feb. 6)
The Skinny: Injury problems aside, Bedard is one of the most talented pitchers in baseball. No one is going to break the bank on a multi-year deal for the left-hander, but he could be one of the steals of this free-agent class if he can stay on the mound.
24. BEN SHEETS, SP
Age: 31 | Throws: R | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 195 | '09 Team: N/A
2008 Stats: 13-9 W-L | 3.09 ERA | 198 1/3 IP | 158 SO | 47 BB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $10M deal with Athletics (Jan. 26)
The Skinny: If teams are convinced he's going to come back healthy and in top form, Sheets could obviously leapfrog several spots on this list. When he's right, Sheets has some of the best stuff of any starter in the game, and he has proven he can be a true No. 1. Someone out there could get quite a bargain here.
25. PLACIDO POLANCO, 2B
Age: 34 | Bats: R | Height: 5-10 | Weight: 168 | '09 Team: Tigers
2009 Stats: .285 AVG | 10 HR | 72 RBI | .331 OBP | 7 SB
Status: Agreed to three-year, $18M deal with Phillies (Dec. 3)
The Skinny: Polanco is another example of a safe commodity. He is not a star-level player, but you know what you're going to get. His good defense and outstanding bat control would fit well anywhere, but at his age he likely won't command a lengthy contract.
26. NICK JOHNSON, 1B
Age: 31 | Bats: L | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 224 | '09 Team: Marlins
2009 Stats: .291 AVG | 8 HR | 62 RBI | .426 OBP | 2 SB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $5.5M deal with Yankees (Dec. 18)
The Skinny: No one has ever doubted that Johnson brings a lot to a club, including outstanding plate discipline. Can he stay healthy? That's something teams interested in him are going to have to weigh. Some clubs may value him and trust his health far more than others.
27. MIKE CAMERON, CF
Age: 36 | Bats: R | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 170 | '09 Team: Brewers
2009 Stats: .250 AVG | 24 HR | 70 RBI | .342 OBP | 7 SB
Status: Agreed to two-year, $14-16M deal with Red Sox (Dec. 14)
The Skinny: Cameron is, in his own way, rather predictable. No one is ever in love with his skill set, as he does strike out a lot and he doesn't hit for average. But, he still plays a strong center field and can hit for some power. He is a good fit for teams looking to fill a gap, but not looking to commit long-term in center.
28. BRAD PENNY, SP
Age: 31 | Throws: R | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 200 | '09 Team: Giants
2009 Stats: 11-9 W-L | 4.88 ERA | 173 1/3 IP | 109 SO | 51 BB
Status: Signed one-year, $7.5M deal with Cardinals (Dec. 8)
The Skinny: Things went poorly, to say the least, for Penny in Boston. But with his nice rebound in San Francisco and his apparent new focus on conditioning, Penny could be a nice fit for National League clubs. It's clear he's more comfortable in the NL, so it would be a surprise to see him to go back to the American League.
29. JOEL PINEIRO, SP
Age: 31 | Throws: R | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 180 | '09 Team: Cardinals
2009 Stats: 15-12 W-L | 3.49 ERA | 214 IP | 105 SO | 27 BB
Status: Agreed to two-year, $16M deal with Angels (Jan. 21)
The Skinny: The way the market unfolded last year, it's unlikely that anyone will get drawn in by one big season like Pineiro had in 2009. His numbers this year stack up well, but the track record in recent years just isn't there. He'd probably be best suited to stay in St. Louis, where he has clearly found a comfort zone.
30. JERMAINE DYE, RF
Age: 35 | Bats: R | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 210 | '09 Team: White Sox
2009 Stats: .250 AVG | 27 HR | 81 RBI | .340 OBP | 0 SB
Status: Free agent
The Skinny: Dye is an aging player who showed signs of offensive decline in 2009, but if you take a close look at the market there still aren't many bats available as good as his. Staying in the American League where he can DH would be best for Dye. He still figures to be a safe bet for 25 homers.
31. ORLANDO CABRERA, SS
Age: 35 | Bats: R | Height: 5-11 | Weight: 165 | '09 Team: Twins
2009 Stats: .284 AVG | 9 HR | 77 RBI | .316 OBP | 13 SB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $3M deal with Reds (Jan. 30)
The Skinny: For a player that seems to always find his way into playoff baseball and has the knack for coming up with a big hit, Cabrera moves around a lot. He makes a lot of throwing errors, but his good hands and clutch bat should fit in nicely with a handful of teams.
32. VICENTE PADILLA, SP
Age: 32 | Throws: R | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 200 | '09 Team: Dodgers
2009 Stats: 12-6 W-L | 4.46 ERA | 147 1/3 IP | 97 SO | 54 BB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $4M deal with Dodgers (Jan. 21)
The Skinny: The ending wasn't too pretty, but you can't look past the outstanding run Padilla had in the playoffs, and for that matter how good he was for the Dodgers down the stretch in 2009. His stuff looked outstanding, and if he can locate a mid-90s fastball with the type of movement he showed, he'll fit nicely into anyone's rotation. He can be a bit enigmatic, but his power stuff is worth the gamble.
33. RUSSELL BRANYAN, 1B
Age: 33 | Bats: L | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 195 | '09 Team: Mariners
2009 Stats: .251 AVG | 31 HR | 76 RBI | .347 OBP | 2 SB
Status: Free agent
The Skinny: Which Branyan is the real deal? If it's the one that had a huge first half, hitting 22 home runs before the break, then he should do well on the open market. If it's the one who hit .193 in the second half, then obviously the demand won't be so great. Most evaluators tend to believe that Branyan still is what he's always been, and that's a player who swings and misses too much and won't hit for average.
34. MIKE GONZALEZ, RP
Age: 32 | Throws: R | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 200 | '09 Team: Braves
2009 Stats: 10 SV | 2.42 ERA | 74 1/3 IP | 90 SO | 33 BB
Status: Agreed to two-year, $12M deal with Orioles (Dec. 16)
The Skinny: If you're a team looking for bullpen help, there are guys out there that are proven commodities and that can help. How the market develops for these relievers remains to be seen, but Gonzalez has developed a good resume and will be near the top of many a club's wish list.
35. CARL PAVANO, SP
Age: 33 | Throws: R | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 230 | '09 Team: Twins
2009 Stats: 14-12 W-L | 5.10 ERA | 199 1/3 IP | 147 SO | 39 BB
Status: Accepted arbitration with Twins (Dec. 8)
The Skinny: He will no longer incite bidding wars, but Pavano has firmly re-established himself as a steady, middle-of-the-rotation big-league starter. Plenty of teams will be looking to add some rotation depth, and Pavano may be able to get a two-year deal.
36. BILLY WAGNER, RP
Age: 38 | Throws: L | Height: 5-10 | Weight: 180 | '09 Team: Red Sox
2009 Stats: 1-1 W-L | 1.72 ERA | 15 2/3 IP | 26 SO | 8 BB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $7M deal with Braves (Dec. 2)
The Skinny: He's not hitting triple digits like he once did, but the reality is that in his return this year, Wagner showed some of the best pure stuff of any lefty reliever in the game. If he can live at 93-96 mph with any control, he can still pitch at the back of a good team's bullpen.
37. JASON MARQUIS, SP
Age: 31 | Throws: R | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 185 | '09 Team: Rockies
2009 Stats: 15-13 W-L | 4.04 ERA | 216 IP | 115 SO | 80 BB
Status: Signed a two-year, $15M deal with Nationals (Dec. 22)
The Skinny: There are plenty of solid arms to help fill out a rotation in this free-agent class, and Marquis is one of those guys. While he's obviously not someone to lead a staff, he's proven he can win with some consistency.
38. MARK DeROSA, IF/OF
Age: 34 | Bats: R | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 195 | '09 Team: Cardinals
2009 Stats: .250 AVG | 23 HR | 78 RBI | .319 OBP | 3 SB
Status: Agreed to two-year, $12M deal with Giants (Dec. 29)
The Skinny: DeRosa has been a favorite around the league for awhile now, and he should draw plenty of interest once again. He can fill a few different positions, and has some legitimate power in his bat. Guys who can fill multiple positions with power will always have value.
39. JARROD WASHBURN, SP
Age: 35 | Throws: L | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 187 | '09 Team: Tigers
2009 Stats: 9-9 W-L | 3.78 ERA | 176 IP | 100 SO | 49 BB
Status: Free agent
The Skinny: The second tier of pitching in this class is certainly not hurting for talent. Washburn is a perfect candidate to help fill out a rotation. The Brewers seem like a logical destination for him, but there should be plenty of other National League suitors for the left-hander.
40. SCOTT PODSEDNIK, OF
Age: 33 | Bats: L | Height: 6-0 | Weight: 170 | '09 Team: White Sox
2009 Stats: .304 AVG | 7 HR | 48 RBI | .353 OBP | 30 SB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $1.75M deal with Royals (Jan. 8)
The Skinny: Podsednik had his best season in 2009 since his breakout 2003 campaign. Teams will be careful not to overvalue one season of work offensively, as he hasn't showed this type of production in many previous years. With his wheels, however, if he can get on base at a .350 clip, as he did this year, he's a pretty valuable commodity.
41. JOSE CONTRERAS, SP/RP
Age: 37 | Throws: R | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 224 | '09 Team: Rockies
2009 Stats: 6-13 W-L | 4.92 ERA | 131 2/3 IP | 106 SO | 53 BB
Status: Free agent
The Skinny: He's certainly a dark horse on this list given his numbers in 2009. From a scout's point of view, the soon-to-be 38-year-old's stuff looked downright filthy when he moved into the bullpen in Colorado. If he can carry that stuff into 2010, some team may get a bargain if they settle on using him in the bullpen.
42. DOUG DAVIS, SP
Age: 34 | Throws: L | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 190 | '09 Team: Diamondbacks
2009 Stats: 9-14 W-L | 4.12 ERA | 203 1/3 IP | 146 SO | 103 BB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $4.5M deal with Brewers (Jan. 20)
The Skinny: Predictability. That's what Davis offers. Usually it's a bad word for pitchers, but in Davis' case, you know what he's going to give you and that's a positive. He's not going to overpower anyone, he'll have a record around .500 and eat up around 200 innings. He'd fit well on a young staff that just needs a stabilizer and help conserving the bullpen.
43. RAFAEL BETANCOURT, RP
Age: 34 | Throws: R | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 176 | '09 Team: Rockies
2009 Stats: 4-3 W-L | 2.73 ERA | 56 IP | 61 SO | 20 BB
Status: Accepted arbitration with Rockies (Dec. 7)
The Skinny: Betancourt is a Type-A free agent, and, as the past couple offseasons have shown us, that designation can hurt setup relievers. We might see him hang around for awhile as teams balk at losing draft picks for a guy who won't even close. Teams are also starting to stock bullpens more and more with the arms from their own farm system, so the days of lucrative contracts for relievers may be dwindling.
44. XAVIER NADY, RF
Age: 31 | Bats: R | Height: 6-0 | Weight: 180 | '09 Team: Yankees
2009 Stats: .286 AVG | 0 HR | 2 RBI | .310 OBP | 0 SB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $3.3M deal with Cubs (Jan. 26)
The Skinny: Someone out there is going to take a worthy gamble and pick up Nady this winter. If he can regain his health, he is going to hit. Of course, let's not underplay the gamble he is now that he has had two elbow surgeries. Still, his bat is above-average -- the kind teams usually wind up paying premium dollars for.
45. JIM THOME, DH
Age: 39 | Bats: L | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 220 | '09 Team: Dodgers
2009 Stats: .249 AVG | 23 HR | 77 RBI | .366 OBP | 0 SB
Status: Agrees to one-year, $1.5M deal with Twins (Jan. 26)
The Skinny: Thome wants to be an everyday player, but whether he gets that kind of opportunity remains to be seen. He can still bring a skill to the table that teams always seem to want to get their hands on -- left-handed power. His top value at this stage is probably coming off the bench, but he could be a nice fit for a team in need of some veteran leadership and offensive help. Look at what Cliff Floyd did for the 2008 Rays.
46. PEDRO FELIZ, 3B
Age: 34 | Bats: R | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 180 | '09 Team: Phillies
2009 Stats: .266 AVG | 12 HR | 82 RBI | .308 OBP | 0 SB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $4.5M deal with Astros (Dec. 10)
The Skinny: Playing in a lineup full of offensive stars, it's easy to see how Feliz got overlooked in Philadelphia. He's a a very solid complimentary player, and is as dependable at third base as anyone that's played the position this decade. He's not going to warrant the big money, and for a reasonable contract someone is going to land a steady player.
47. RONNIE BELLIARD, IF
Age: 34 | Bats: R | Height: 5-8 | Weight: 180 | '09 Team: Dodgers
2009 Stats: .277 AVG | 10 HR | 39 RBI | .325 OBP | 3 SB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $850,000 deal with Dodgers (Jan. 26)
The Skinny: He doesn't always make it look pretty, and he's been criticized for his lackadaisical style in the field, but look at Belliard's consistency. Year after year, you can usually rely on the much-traveled infielder. A lot of teams could use such a reliable bat on their infield.
48. JOHN SMOLTZ, SP/RP
Age: 42 | Throws: R | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 176 | '09 Team: Cardinals
2009 Stats: 3-8 W-L | 6.35 ERA | 78 IP | 73 SO | 18 BB
Status: Free agent
The Skinny: Smoltz is not done yet. He's not what he once was, but his stuff still stacks up well with anyone and would be graded out as above average on the 20-80 scouting scale. Many scouts believe Smoltz had to go through some transition to adjust to his not quite as electric raw stuff in 2009. This is a guy who knows what he's doing. Expect adjustments and a better version of Smoltz with an NL club in 2010.
49. JUAN URIBE, IF
Age: 30 | Bats: R | Height: 5-11 | Weight: 173 | '09 Team: Giants
2009 Stats: .289 AVG | 16 HR | 55 RBI | .329 OBP | 3 SB
Status: Agreed to one-year, $3.25M deal with Giants (Dec. 30)
The Skinny: Uribe quietly put together a pretty solid 2009 campaign, and he should come rather cheap for a team in need of infield help. He's even more valuable if he can come off the bench for a contending club, but he'd be more than serviceable as an everyday option as well. He still has some thump in his bat and dependable hands in the field.
50. PEDRO MARTINEZ, SP
Age: 38 | Throws: R | Height: 5-11 | Weight: 170 | '09 Team: Phillies
2009 Stats: 5-1 W-L | 3.63 ERA | 44 2/3 IP | 37 SO | 8 BB
Status: Free agent
The Skinny: With Pedro looking to pitch a full season in 2010, there should be plenty of suitors out there vying for his services. His stuff did appear to be slowing down near the end of the 2009 postseason, but with ample rest he's still as good as many of the other pitching options out there. Obviously he's at a year-to-year stage right now, so this could be a limited-risk proposition for a club looking for depth on their staff. He's not going to give you anything close to 200 innings, but there's plenty left in the tank, and more importantly, in that bag of tricks for him to be successful.
Frankie Piliere spent the last three seasons working as a scout, most recently in the professional scouting department for the Texas Rangers in 2009. He now serves as the National Baseball Analyst here at FanHouse.