When the free agent classifications are issued at the end of the season, of immediate interest are the players who garner the Type A and Type B status. After all, these players comprise the tops of their respective positions. Additionally, signing and/or losing them may result in draft picks acquired or lost. For the most part, teams have been much less willing to spring for the Type A free agent this season given the current economic climate and the fact that they will lose a draft pick. Otherwise it makes little sense that players like Orlando Hudson and Orlando Cabrera still do not have a place to call home.
There are other free agents, however, who do not receive much attention. These players clearly did not have as great of a 2008 season as others, but still have some potential value. Let’s take a look at a few unranked free agents who might be able to help teams next season.
Joe Crede played just 97 games for the White Sox last season, mostly due to an injured back. In that time he hit 17 HR with a .330 wOBA and posted a +5.5 UZR rating. Even though he missed significant time, he still produced +1.8 wins, right around the mark of a league average player. If his injuries are healed and he can regress to somewhere between 2006 and 2008, there is no reason why Crede could not be a +2.5 win player.
Ray Durham, 37, is one of the elder statesmen of this group. Still, in 41 games with the Brewers to end the 2008 season, Ray hit .280/.369/.477, a .363 wOBA. He even played +2 defense at the keystone corner. He might not be able to handle a full season’s workload, but teams could do much worse than he as a pinch-hitter/spot starter. Of course, if Durham feels he should be starting then some contract issues will arise.
Cliff Floyd spent last season with the Tampa Bay Rays, serving as their designated hitter. The 36-yr old hit to the tune of a .349 wOBA, resulting in +0.6 wins. While it doesn’t seem like much, Floyd managed just 80 games. With Pat Burrell now slated to be their everyday DH, Floyd needs to find some new digs. He might be a liability in the field but can still hit. If he signs with a senior circuit team, a similar role to that of Daryle Ward‘s would make the most sense.
Chuck James is the most interesting of this group. His strikeout rate has hovered around the 6.7 mark for the last three years, but in 2008, his walk rate skyrocketed to 6.1. Suffice it to say, he and his 8.36 FIP struggled to stay in the major leagues. James is just 27, however, and he is a lefty who has experienced past success. Sure, Oliver Perez has a better reputation and more “proven” results, but he, himself, is a 27-yr old lefty who has yet to establish the combination of quality and consistency. Maybe James needs to utilize a pitch other than his fastball or changeup but it strikes me as odd that nobody has signed him to a minor league deal with an invitation.
Lastly, we have Pedro Martinez, one of the most dominant pitchers of all time. The issue is that his dominance has faded, but he doesn’t realize that. Well, at least to some extent he doesn’t. Realistically, Martinez is now a #4 or #5 starter on a very good team, perhaps a #3 on a bottomfeeder. His ego likely projects him as a #2 who will rebound from a crappy 2008 campaign. He very well may put together a solid season but there just are not teams out there who are that willing to pay a #5 pitcher #2 money. He eventually will sign somewhere and I would expect him to be better than last year, but the last year or so are ones you kind of wish never took place, so we can keep his dominant years in mind.
These five free agents did not garner Type A or Type B classifications, will not result in draft picks lost or acquired, but could still potentially help a team next season.