Contracts are not being offered, a pair of pitching icons change scenery, and Corky almost falls off his unicycle.
Two months ago we looked at the top 25 players available on the free-agent market, and today, nine of those 25 are still looking for work. This year the market has developed much more slowly than usual, and 36 percent of the cream of that original crop (by 2008 WARP3 figures) remain unemployed.
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The contracts being offered, the teams in the mix, the players and their demands, and news and notes from around the major leagues.
On Friday the market for free agents officially opens when teams can begin making offers to players other than those who finished the season with other clubs. The Brewers and Dodgers got the ball rolling at this past week's general managers meetings in Dana Point, California, with the Brewers offering left-hander CC Sabathia five years and $100 million to stay in Milwaukee, and the Dodgers offering two years and $50 million in an effort to keep left fielder Manny Ramirez in Los Angeles.
Possible changes coming in the GM landscape, the Astros are irked, and Cubs players envy how the other half lives.
A few months ago, it appeared that there would be wholesale changes made among major league general managers in the offseason, but now that no longer seems to be such a certainty. One team that will definitely have a new GM in 2009 is the Phillies, as Pat Gillick has already announced that he is retiring at the end of the season. It is conceivable, though unlikely, that the Phillies could be the only team to change GMs.
Which Japanese players are able to slip across the Pacific without going through the posting system?
At the start of the 2007 season, I introduced a list of players possibly primed to make the jump from Japan to the majors. This list included both free agents and posting candidates that had been whispered about in the Japanese and American press. Free agency is a fairly straightforward process, where names are available for discussion well in advance of the seasons close. Posting, on the other hand, is highly subjective, and is essentially a guessing game. I will attempt to bring you some analysis in the piece centered on the free agent crop, and follow up at a future date with information regarding posting situations as they become more clear.
Looking at the free agents, I will organize the names according to tiers. Top-tier free agents are players who should command the attention of every MLB club, and who stand a good chance at contributing on an everyday basis with superior results. Think about Ichiro, Godzilla, Dice-K-first-name basis players. The second-tier free agents are players who will command limited but significant attention from major league clubs, and can play a valuable specialized role on a regular basis. Think Hideki Okajima, Kazuo Matsui, Akinori Iwamura, and Takashi Saito. Finally, tertiary-tiered free agents are players who might be on the radar of some clubs, but stand little chance to contribute on an everyday basis. Essentially, these players can play a role from the bench. Think So Taguchi.
Can the Astros farmhand make good his escape into minor league free agency and put together a big league career?
Following the World Series, and before the major league free agent market opens up, the list of minor league free agents is released. Oftentimes this can result in a shuffling of organizational soldiers and career minor leaguers, but on occasion potential late-start major leaguers slip through the cracks and end up available as well. One of the intriguing names on this year's list is former Astros farmhand Brooks Conrad. The 27-year-old Arizona State product struggled through most of 2007 during his third go-round at Triple-A, and failed to crack the majors this time around due to those struggles and also the ceremonial season-long Craig Biggio Death March, not to mention the signing of Mark Loretta. What can Conrad provide to a new employer in 2008 and beyond, and is he anything more than a solid Triple-A lifer?
The Rockies are off to a hot start, and Jonah sits down with one of the architects of the current team, Bill Geivett. On the menu: developing young talent, competing at altitude, and creative decision making.
Bill Geivett played several seasons in the Angels' minor league system before hanging up his cleats. He quickly caught on with the Yankees as an area scout. Geivett has logged multiple stops since then. He served as farm director for the Expos; he went to Tampa Bay before the Rays ever took the field; he spent two years with the Dodgers, ascending to the role of Assistant General Manager. Geivett joined the Rockies after the 2000 season. His tenure in Colorado started on the major league scouting side. After two years he took over minor league operations. For the last two years Geivett has held the title of Assistant General Manager, Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Rockies.