Heading into the 2009-10 free-agent market, the conventional wisdom was that the three big stars in their prime would get big bucks, and that the vast majority of players in the middle and lower ranks would mostly struggle to land a decent contract. And while it has been as rough as predicted for many players -- several good ones are still looking for work (see below) -- the market also yielded some surprising success stories.
In fact, even in an environment with a tight economy and many owners seemingly determined not to repeat the rich mistakes of the past, it wasn't just the vaunted trio of
This was far from the best and richest free-agent market ever, but it just may have been the weirdest. Several serviceable or better players had to settle (and many others haven't even been that lucky), and it has been especially good to utilitymen, defensive specialists, talented players returning from injury and even so-so catchers (at least the ones who had the foresight to sign quickly).
Every year there is a re-thinking of player value. But never was it more stark than this winter, when teams seemed to be short on cash and in many cases decided to spend what little they had in some unpredictable ways. It was a weird winter indeed.
• There's no word of progress in the arbitration case of
• There are still a lot of good players available. MLBtraderumors.com made up a virtual All-Star team of unsigned players. Here are some of the better ones:
• The Tigers would seem most likely to sign Damon at this point, perhaps followed by the Braves, who are known to have made a one-year offer. The Rays are called by someone familiar with their situation to be a "long shot'' in the Damon derby, while the Reds and Jays are two more teams to have shown some interest.
• The Twins have quietly done a nice job this winter. Some suggested that Orlando Hudson had a bit of trouble with the fastball late last year, but the numbers don't tell that story at all, and he is definitely an upgrade for them.
• The Twins are also doing the right thing by trying to lock up superstar
• The Padres have done well with some of their cost-efficient pickups lately, including
• The Mets, Giants, Dodgers, Red Sox, Pirates and Padres are among the teams looking at former Yomiuri Giants left-hander
• The Mets did at one point offer
• The Nationals appear to be the favorites to land Chien-Ming Wang. Dodgers executives Ned Colletti, Logan White and Bill Mueller watched Wang throw on Wednesday at a workout in Phoenix, but according to a source, the Dodgers are out, leaving the Nationals as the most likely destination for Wang. Sources indicate it's between the Nationals and one other team and a decision is expected within 10 days.