A King Without a Kingdom
There's an elephant in baseball's living room. With pitchers and catchers due to report in less than three weeks, most teams have finished building their 2008 squads. There are still a fair number of available free agents, but most are old, infirm, or otherwise unproductive. There is one glaring exception, the last big name free agent who remains unsigned:
Bonds was indicted on perjury charges in November, and those charges, stemming from testimony regarding his alleged performance-enhancing drug use, combined with his age (43) and deteriorating knees, have kept him from finding a new team.
Still, he led the major leagues in walks and on-base percentage last year, and only five other players hit a home run more often than he did in 2007. Bonds was also fifth in Baseball Prospectus's Marginal Lineup Value rate among all players with 400 or more plate appearances in 2007, and 19th in the majors in their cumulative Value Over Replacement Player despite his reduced playing time.
Put simply, Bonds remains a difference-maker and is sure to have a significant impact upon whichever divisional race he enters. What's more, he's the perfect win-now addition as he's surely looking for nothing more than a one-year contract and can be discarded after the season at no cost. That said, not every team is close enough to contention to benefit from his production, and few contenders are likely to be willing to endure the assorted distractions and disapprovals that will accompany Bonds to his new team. Here's a look at where the Bonds market stands now.