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Free Agent Fantasy Impact: Jermaine Dye

The Chicago White Sox declined Jermaine Dye‘s $12MM option for 2010, officially making him a free agent. Dye was expected to be a free agent all season, and the White Sox’s acquisition of Mark Teahen all but sealed the deal.

At 35, Dye is on his last leg as a major league ball player. He hit .250/.340/.453 with 27 home runs and 81 RBI in 2009. Dye has officially developed his old person skills, with his walk rate 2.9% above his career average and above 11% for the first time in his career. He can still hit homers, so he has some value to fantasy owners.

He may even be able to give you a better average than anyone expects next year. His BABIP was .269, while his xBABIP was .295. His line drive rate was the second lowest of his career (16.9%), but even so, his BABIP will come closer to his .300 career average in 2010.

Because Dye is an abysmal defender, his options will be limited in free agency, and he will have to lower his asking price for teams to be seriously interested. Because the outfield market has big bats ahead of him (Jason Bay and Matt Holliday), Dye will have to settle for a lesser deal with a team looking for a veteran outfielder or DH.

The Giants may settle for Dye if they can’t get Bay, and Dye could welcome a return to the Bay Area. The Rangers have expressed interest in Dye, but it’s unclear if Dye is willing to DH. Atlanta is looking for a right handed bat, and Dye came up from the Braves farm system before being dealt to the Royals in ’97. If the Angels decide they don’t want to hang onto Vladimir Guerrero, then Dye could fill his role as the DH. He may not be able to play the field, but at least he can move better than Vlad can.

The best team for Dye from a fantasy perspective would probably be the Rangers. Their park is a home run hitters dream, and he would be surrounded by good talent, giving him plenty of runs and RBI opportunities. The Angels are the next best option, with the Giants and Braves falling behind, in that order.

Don’t expect too much from Dye in 2010, but value him higher than most owners will due to his BABIP. Don’t call him a sleeper, but he should be a decent value pick as a second or third outfielder in your next draft.

Thanks to the Hardball Times’ xBABIP calculator for xBABIP data