|Beyond the Reiter 50: Best of the Rest|
|If only the National League allowed its teams to use designated hitters. Then the scores of aging sluggers who will soon become available on the free agent market -- players who are still capable of producing on-base-plus-slugging percentages in excess of .800, even though their tendons and ligaments seem liable to snap like guitar strings at the mere sight of a fielder's mitt -- would all easily be able to find extended and well-compensated employment this winter. |
As it stands, however, only fourteen clubs are permitted to regularly play designated hitters, and most of those clubs already have the position filled. That means that some very big men with very big bats (Jim Thome, Troy Glaus, Jason Giambi) will have to compete this offseason for short deals that will pay them far less than they used to make, as they watch slightly more attractive options (Hideki Matsui, Vladimir Guerrero, perhaps Carlos Delgado and Jermaine Dye) snap up the few open jobs.
As SI.com's list of the Top 50 free agents made clear (and 168 players had filed for free agency as of Monday), this year's class has few, if any, superstars, but it is fairly deep. It includes plenty of options who might not lift clubs to the World Series, but will allow them to fill a few holes. Included among them are all those designated hitters, as well as a number of players who, due to injuries or poor contract years, will not command the free agent deals that they once anticipated they'd receive. There will, in other words, be bargains to be had, boom-or-bust types who will probably be forced to settle for incentive-heavy contracts, at little risk to the clubs that sign them.
Nothing, really, has changed vis-à-vis the Reiter 50 since we posted it last Tuesday, and nothing is likely to change until 12:01 a.m. on Friday, when teams will be permitted to begin negotiating with free agents other than their own. As you wait for that moment with baited breath, here are 20 free agents outside the Top 50 -- listed alphabetically, and not necessarily numbers 51 to 70 -- who are, at the least, intriguing.
|Top 50 Free Agents|