Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MARINERS: Are there any free agents left?

Written by Matthew Carlson

Long after the Adam Dunns, Carl Crawfords, and Cliff Lees, have ridden off into the sunset donning their new colors (and hefty paychecks); the free agent market isn’t a pretty place. In fact, most of the players fall into 3 categories: Old declining skilled veterans, players who took 2010 off (whether injury wise or by choice), and wandering players that can’t seem to fit in with any team. At this time, it is good to remember Aubrey Huff, who was basically picked out of the garbage by the Giants in February of last year. He became an integral part of the team’s World Series run, crossing the plate 100 times, smashing 26 homers, and totaling 86 RBI. So here's the question, is there any other free agents available for the Mariners to pick up? Keep reading and find out.
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3B, Willy Aybar Aybar enjoyed what he saw of the M’s in 2010 with the Tampa Bay Rays, but in all had a pretty disappointing season last year. He hit .230 with 6 homers and 43 RBI, and because of the emergence of Evan Longoria, Aybar has found himself looking for work in late February. He’d be a good candidate to bring in on minor league contract to see where he’s at, especially given that he has drawn little to no interest this offseason.

3B, Joe Crede After sitting at home watching baseball last year, Crede signed with Colorado on a minor league contract. Now, just barely a month later, he’s a free agent again after not reporting to Rockies spring training. Even though he’s an injury magnet (3 surgeries in 3 years), he has been productive over his decade long career. In only 90 games with the Twins in 2009, he belted 15 homers with 48 RBI. In his superb 2006 season, he blasted 30 moonshots, had 94 RBI, and batted .283 on his way to winning a Silver Slugger. The talent is definitely there, but the M’s would have to convince Crede he has a legitimate chance to make the team (so he decides to show up to camp), and would have to deal with the looming threat of injury.

SP, Jeremy Bonderman As probably the best pitching talent left on the market, Bonderman proves how dry the free agent market is at the moment. He’s never had an ERA below 4.00 in his 8 MLB campaigns, hasn’t lived up to the hype that has surrounded him throughout his career, and now of late seems to have been bitten by the injury bug. Considering Bonderman is a native of Kennewick, he’d probably enjoy coming “home” to pitch for his hometown team, but the rotation is already a jumbled mess, and the fact that he hasn’t had a great season or improved after nearly a decade of Major League Baseball also doesn’t bode well in his case.

1B/DH, Nick Johnson- If I were to tell you that Johnson was a hitter’s version of Erik Bedard, you would probably turn away in disgust. That said, despite that he played only 24 games for the Yankees last year, Johnson actually might be a good, low risk signing for the M’s. Johnson hit .297 in 2009, and draws a ton of walks, as evident by his .401 OBP. Obviously we can’t pay him 5.5 million for 72 at bats like the New York Yankees did last year, but maybe he’d take a pay cut for the chance of for some playing time in an M’s uniform. But again, health would be an ever present concern considering he’s had 6 major injuries in his career.

So, all this brings back the question, should the Mariners possibly sign these players? The answer is no. None of these players, if signed, would be anything more than bench players. It would be wiser to give younger guys those roster spots, not old, breaking down veterans.

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