Continuing with our look at the Type B free agents available on the market right now, we will now venture into the land of offense. Eleven eligible free agent hitters were classified as Type B players by Elias this year. We will cover six of them now, and the remaining hitters tonight. The players of interest right now are: Moises Alou, Garret Anderson, Milton Bradley, Luis Gonzalez, Ken Griffey Jr., and Mark Grudzielanek. Bradley is the youngest of the bunch, but that isn’t saying much given his age of 31. This group has also experienced its fair share of injuries and decline.
Last season, their salaries ranged from Gonzo’s $2 mil with the Marlins to Griffey’s $12.5 mil from the 9-yr deal he signed back in 2000. Anderson made a lusty $12 mil as well, while Alou received $8.5 mil for very limited duty and Grudzielanek made $4 mil to play the keystone for the Royals. Bradley produced the best season of these six players and made just $5.25 mil. Suffice it to say, those on the high end of this group will receive lesser contracts while Bradley should see a somewhat significant raise. How do they look for the 2009 season?
Health has been an issue for Alou in recent years, as he has not played 150+ games since the 2004 season with the Cubs. Since then, he has participated in 123, 98, 87, and 15 games respectively. The guy can still rake, as evidenced by wOBA marks exceeding .385 from 2004-07, but his inability to stay on the field vastly reduces his value. If Moises can play around 90 games next season while amassing 300 PA, he could be worth around +0.80 wins.
At fair market value, that amounts to a one-year deal worth $3.7 mil. Unfortunately for Alou, the wide array of corner outfielders on the market this season drives down the price, meaning players like Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreu, who have better health histories and projections, could be had for much cheaper fees than, say, last season.
Garret Anderson has been covered here a couple of times, but he is the lone corner outfielder who actually projects better in the field than as a designated hitter. His defense projects more positively than his offense moving forward which says more for his offensive decline than defensive prowess. Anderson projects to be worth +0.75 wins next season, good for $3.6 mil. Something tells me he will sign somewhere for more than that, but given the amount of available outfielders, his price may legitimately be driven down this far.
Bradley produced a stellar season with the stick in 2008, despite missing some time with injuries. He is somewhat of a conundrum when it comes to the defensive side of valuations. See, Bradley has talent with the glove, as his UZR numbers will show, but it seems that playing the field fuels the injury fire and keeps him off the field and out of the lineup. Regardless, he has by far the sunniest projection for next season, at around +2.9 wins.
This calls for a $13.9 mil salary for a one-year deal. Again, given the amount of outfielders available, as well as the deal Pat Burrell recently signed for (AAV of $8 mil), it isn’t likely that Milton will earn anywhere near that fee. The Cubs have shown the most interest, and a 3-yr/30 mil deal similar to that recently signed by Raul Ibanez may be in the cards. He will have to prove himself capable of staying on the field long enough to play the field before his eventual contract can truly be evaluated.
Next up comes Luis Gonzalez. Gonzo has had a solid career that I will, in no way, try to detract from. However, after a 2008 season in which he actually cost the Marlins money, it is time to hang up the cleats. With a +0.50 win projection and a fair market value of $2.3 mil, not enough upside exists to merit signing him for anything other than veteran leadership and/or backup outfielder/pinch-hitting duty. Teams may be better-served to simply call up a prospect to fill the latter void.
As much as it pains me to say this: Griffey is now virtually a replacement player. He has been awful defensively lately while showing a strong decline with the bat. His representatives are attempting to pin a poor 2008 showing on a persisting injury kept hidden, but he currently projects to just +0.10 wins. Even if his supposed injury hindered his performance, I cannot imagine it bumps his projection up to anything more than +0.50 or +0.60 wins. These figures are still well below average. He is a no-doubt first ballot Hall of Fame player, but unless he is willing to accept a fee of $3 mil or under, not even his leadership will cause the deal to make sense.
Lastly, we have Mark Grudzielanek, who looks like a +1.6 win player in 2009. This would match his 2008 win value, even though his projection calls for around 90 games and 450 PA. He is a half-win below average on offense while playing close to +5 run defense at second base. He made $4 mil in 2008 and has tossed around the idea of retirement, but would be worth near $7 mil at fair market value. While players like Gonzo or Griffey realistically should retire, but likely won’t, Grudzy may be the opposite.
Tonight, we will review the remaining five Type B free agent hitters and come up with our end value rankings. So far, Milton Bradley is far and away the leader, with second place Mark Grudzielanek coming in at about 1.3 wins less valuable.
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