While he no longer has 30-steal speed, Cameron's other offensive skills haven't declined all that much. He had a 107 OPS+ in 2000, a 109 OPS+ in 2002, a 108 OPS+ in 2003 ... and a 108 OPS+ in 2009. He also remains a terrific outfielder (according to UZR, he ranked defensively behind only Franklin Gutierrez and B.J. Upton among center fielders last season). The Yankees have long been interested in him, and he could fit in nicely even if they re-sign Johnny Damon. Damon could DH most of the time, Melky Cabrera could play left and Cameron could play center -- but he'd give Joe Girardi a lot of room to futz with his lineup, something Girardi would enjoy.
CURRENT TEAM: BREWERS BEST FIT: YANKEES
2009 Stats: .283/.329/.479, 20 HR, 89 RBI, 8 SB
He hit twice as many home runs last season as he ever has before, but he's been an above-average major leaguer for three full years now, and one who can comfortably play all three outfield positions. The White Sox could use outfielders, now that they've cut ties with both Jermaine Dye (no. 31) and Scott Podsednik (no. 49), and Byrd could prove an intelligent signing.
CURRENT TEAM: RANGERS BEST FIT: WHITE SOX
2009 Stats: .295/.334/.460, 15 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB
Now we begin a string of aging sluggers who can still hit a little, but whose ability to play in the field is questionable at best. A postseason in which he hit .378 demonstrated that Guerrero can still swing -- and swing, and swing -- the bat. But he looks creaky, and the best he might be able to do will be a one- or two-year deal, with a team that needs a DH -- a team like Detroit.
CURRENT TEAM: ANGELS BEST FIT: TIGERS
2009 Stats: .274/.367/.509, 28 HR, 90 RBI, 0 SB
Matsui's MVP performance in the World Series will allow him to close out his productive seven-year career in New York on a very positive note, as his physical limitations -- he simply cannot be used in the outfield anymore -- and that inflexibility will likely lead the Yankees to big him a fond farewell. He'd fit best on a team that could use an offensive boost and has a hole at DH. The Mariners could use him.
CURRENT TEAM: YANKEES BEST FIT: MARINERS
2009 Stats: .298/.393/.521, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 0 SB
Delgado, even at his advanced age, remained one of the NL's top hitters before a hip injury felled him in April (he hit 38 homers and drove in 115 runs in '08 and finished ninth in the MVP balloting), and he'll be looking to prove that he can still perform at that level in 2010. The Braves have 20-year-old first baseman Freddie Freeman developing on the farm, but he's likely not ready for the big leagues just yet. A short-term deal for Delgado, who will fill a need until Freeman arrives and will get a chance to show whether he can still hit, would be mutually beneficially.
CURRENT TEAM: METS BEST FIT: BRAVES
2009 Stats: .250/.340/.453, 27 HR, 81 RBI, 0 SB
Even though Dye last season clearly appeared to be on his career's downslope, he still showed some real power at times. Still, he's now a defensive liability and will be another aging free agent to sign a short-term, incentive-laden deal with a team that could use some veteran power, like the Rangers.
CURRENT TEAM: WHITE SOX BEST FIT: RANGERS
2009 Stats: .289/.329/.495, 16 HR, 55 RBI, 3 SB
San Francisco likes Uribes (remember Jose?) and they particularly liked this one during the season's final two months, when he slugged 12 of his homers and drove in 33 of his runs. Uribe has said that he'd like to "test the market," but the market for a slow 30-year-old infielder shouldn't be too active. He'll probably return to the Giants.
CURRENT TEAM: GIANTS BEST FIT: GIANTS
2009 Stats: 15-12, 3.49 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 4.4 K/9
The good news for Pineiro is that he bounced back from a miserable 2008 (7-7, 5.18 ERA) to have his best season since he was a Mariner in 2002. The bad news is that he still doesn't strike anyone out, and that other teams are well aware of the effect that Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan can have on otherwise subpar hurlers. Pineiro should try to stay with Duncan, at all costs.
CURRENT TEAM: CARDINALS BEST FIT: CARDINALS
2009 Stats: .285/.331/.396, 10 HR, 72 RBI, 7 SB
Polanco is, according to baseball-reference.com, the only one of 37 professional baseball players with his last name ever to play in the big leagues. More significantly, his offensive skills are discernibly eroding, even as he remains a strong defender -- his UZR was in '09 the best among second basemen. The Tigers have a young prospect named Scott Sizemore who seems ready to take over for Polanco, but Sizemore recently had surgery to repair a fractured ankle, and signs are that the demand for Polanco might not be as great as he and his club once anticipated. He could return to Detroit for another year or two.
The right-hander emerged as an extremely reliable setup man in '09, his performance impressively consistent against both right-handed and left-handed batters: he held both to a .205 batting average against. That's a rare skill for a reliever, and one reason why the Tigers are reportedly more concerned about re-signing him than they are closer Fernando Rodney (no. 40).
CURRENT TEAM: TIGERS BEST FIT: TIGERS
2009 Stats: .286/.310/.429, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB
Nady felt a sharp pain in his right elbow early in the season, and ended up having to undergo his second Tommy John surgery. That will just mean that he will have very little leverage in contract negotiations, but will retain a significant upside, as his 2008 campaign (25 HR, 97 RBIs for the Pirates and Yankees) suggests. The Cardinals will likely be looking to replace Holliday's bat, and they could give Nady, with whom they're familiar from his days in the NL Central in Pittsburgh, a try.
CURRENT TEAM: YANKEES BEST FIT: CARDINALS
2009 Stats: .249/.280/.384, 10 HR, 47 RBI, 1 SB
Pudge leads a very weak class of free-agent catchers. None of them can really hit, so he's at no disadvantage there, and he remains one of the best defensive backstops in the game, as he demonstrated last season in stints with Houston and Texas. He could represent a perfect fit in San Francisco, where he could both mentor and spell the phenom and 2008 first-round pick Buster Posey.
How is it that Oliver, a 16-year veteran, had his finest season at age 38? It's hard to say, the fact is that he was quite simply the Angels' best reliever in 2009. He probably won't want to go anywhere else, and the Angels probably won't want him to either.
CURRENT TEAM: ANGELS BEST FIT: ANGELS
2009 Stats: .277/.325/.451, 10 HR, 39 RBI, 3 SB
He puts the 'belly' in Belliard, but he did produce after coming over from the Nationals, and he seems to be beloved by Joe Torre. That should be enough to ensure that he'll fill the Dodgers' second base position in, at least, 2010.
Despite his inordinately high ERA and WHIP, Rodney somehow managed to convert 37 of his 38 save opportunities in '09. He appears to pitch better with a save on the line. The Astros, who will likely lose Jose Valverde, will need a closer, and Rodney's stuff should play better in the NL than in the AL.
CURRENT TEAM: TIGERS BEST FIT: ASTROS
2009 Stats: 11-9, 4.88 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 5.7 K/9
After a terrible 24 starts with the Red Sox, Penny signed with the Giants and was excellent thereafter: 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA in six starts. There are warning signs here, though, in that the sample size with the Giants was small, he was highly motivated and his strikeout rate was low (4.3 K/9). Still, if he's inexpensive enough, the Giants could use him as veteran insurance in a young and talented rotation that doesn't yet know what it will receive from phenom Madison Bumgarner.
CURRENT TEAM: GIANTS BEST FIT: GIANTS
2009 Stats: .231/.285/.387, 11 HR, 38 RBI, 4 SB
The Cubs have long coveted a lefty hitter with power, and while the Milton Bradley experiment hasn't worked out, Ankiel comes at a much lower risk. Two years ago he hit 25 home runs, before last season was ruined by a number of injuries (shoulder, groin), and he should come pretty cheap.
CURRENT TEAM: CARDINALS BEST FIT: CUBS
2009 Stats: .241/.310/.384, 15 HR, 85 RBI, 0 SB
Huff got some MVP votes and won a Silver Slugger award in 2008, but his '09 season started poorly in Baltimore and ended much worse after he was traded to the Tigers (he hit .189 with two home runs in 40 games in Detroit). He remains, however, a versatile player, and could be a nice veteran addition to a young club like the Pirates.
CURRENT TEAM: TIGERS BEST FIT: PIRATES
2009 Stats: 0-1, 3.60 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 7.4 K/9
He's thrown five innings in the past two seasons. In '07, though, he went 18-4 with a 3.40 ERA. At worst, a team would sign him to an incentive-laden deal and he wouldn't be able to pitch, at little cost. But maybe he'd be able to contribute out of the bullpen (he saved 38 games as a Blue Jay in 2002). And maybe he'd be able to start a few games. That sort of moderate gamble might be worth it to the Phillies, who need help both in the bullpen and the rotation.
CURRENT TEAM: ANGELS BEST FIT: PHILLIES
2009 Stats: 14-12, 5.10 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 6.6 K/9
This is perhaps the only free agent that we know, with 100 percent certainty, the Yankees will not be signing. But his strong performance against New York in Game 3 of the ALDS (7 IP, 2 ER) likely got him even more attention than did his generally solid, and injury-free, regular season. He really could thrive on an NL team that needs starting-pitching depth, such as the Brewers.
CURRENT TEAM: TWINS BEST FIT: BREWERS
2009 Stats: .251/.347/.520, 31 HR, 76 RBI, 2 SB
A herniated disc prematurely ended a season in which Branyan still set career highs in homers and RBIs, and proved himself to be a good fit with the Mariners. He strikes out a lot (149 times in '09). So what? He still gets on base at a good clip, and that's something he should continue to do as a Mariner next season.
CURRENT TEAM: MARINERS BEST FIT: MARINERS
2009 Stats: 9-9, 3.78 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 5.1 K/9
He was, in 2009, the anti-Cliff Lee. The Phillies acquired Lee from the Indians on July 29 to give their rotation a boost, and he led them to a World Series appearance. The Tigers picked up Washburn from the Mariners on July 31, when Washburn was 8-6 with a 2.64 ERA, but things quickly soured: his ERA nearly tripled in Detroit (to 7.33), and he won a single game. A return to Seattle, and its skilled defenders and capacious ballpark, could be in the cards.
CURRENT TEAM: TIGERS BEST FIT: MARINERS
2009 Stats: 15-13, 4.04 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 4.8 K/9
Marquis was leading the NL in wins for a good stretch of the season (he finished fourth), but didn't even pitch at all in the NLDS. That's because he's another one of those low-strikeout starters (like Jon Garland and Joel Pineiro) who scare managers. Still, he can win games in the dog days for you, and the Mets could use someone -- especially a native New Yorker -- who can do that.
CURRENT TEAM: ROCKIES BEST FIT: METS
2009 Stats: .304/.353/.412, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 30 SB
His speed was thought to be gone, his bat dead, after a two-year stretch in which he stole 24 bases combined and hit .247. His bounceback with the Sox was a surprise, but not enough of a surprise for them to extend his deal. So he's on the market and could wind up with the Royals, who could use a savvy veteran like him.
CURRENT TEAM: WHITE SOX BEST FIT: ROYALS
2009 Stats: .291/.351/.380, 2 HR, 31 RBI, 1 SB
As we mentioned previously, there are no good free-agent catchers out there, but Torrealba is probably the best of what remains -- better than, for instance, Bengie Molina or Rod Barajas, both of whom have more power than him but who have a terrible time getting on base (Molina's '09 OBP was .285, Barajas' .258). So Torrealba it is, probably for the Mets, who almost signed him two years ago but pulled out at the last minute. Omar Minaya probably wishes he hadn't.
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