A Few Notable Unsigned Free Agents
(originally written 1/20/16; 2015 team in parentheses)
OF Dexter Fowler, 30 by Opening Day (Cubs) - The ex-Rockie returned to leadoff in 2015—the Astros had him batting cleanup in stretches the season before—and set multiple career highs. Early on, Fowler had been sought by San Francisco as well as the Cubs, but both have since signed alternatives. A hangup: he rejected the Cubs qualifying offer, meaning he'll come at the cost of a draft pick.
SP Yovany Gallardo, 30 by Opening Day (Rangers) - ex-Brewers ace went 13-11 for Texas in '15, but did not top 6 IP in a start after June 27. Texas is not going to pay to retain him, but Baltimore might.
SS Ian Desmond, 30 (Nationals) - Among the anticipated 2015-16 FA-to-be, no one had a more disappointing year (.233, 187 K) than this ex-All-Star, who might have been traded by the '15 deadline had he been playing better. According to ESPN, Desmond is marketing himself at several positions; the Padres still have high interest in him as a SS. Desmond was Washington's final link to the Montreal days; the Expos drafted him in 2004.
OF Yoenis Cespedes, 30 (Tigers/Mets) - The big Cuban's market changed with Jason Heyward's mega-deal from Chicago, otherwise he's probably no longer available by now. Coming off easily his best of four strong MLB regular seasons, the Nationals have reportedly made a sizable offer (even though they currently have a starting outfield.)
RP Tyler Clippard, 30 (Athletics/Mets) - He proved last year he can still close if needed; all his 2015 ratios except for K/9 were on par with or only slightly down from his career norms. New York wants him back, but only on a one-year deal, which Clippard wants no part of.
SP Mat Latos, 28 (Marlins/Dodgers) - Miserable 2015 will cost him the big payday he was in line for. Entered the season with three 14-win seasons and a lifetime 3.33 ERA. Still has received plenty of free agent interest, including from the champs, but don't expect big years or dollars.
1B Justin Morneau, 34 (Rockies) - For the second time in three seasons, Morneau watched more than 2/3 of the season from the sidelines. Though far from MVP-caliber anymore, Morneau still produces when healthy and could help a team in win-now mode. Returns to either Minnesota or Colorado are possible...at a low price (the latter declined his $9M option in November.)
SP Doug Fister, 32 by Opening Day (Nationals) - Among the NL's best in 2014, Fister was pushed out of pitching-rich Washington's rotation last August, no doubt hurting his value. Still, several clubs have been in contact including Philadelphia and Miami, though that was earlier in the off-season. Fister may choose a "pillow" deal, signing for one year to re-establish his value—he was a top guy not long ago, remember.
SP Alfredo Simon, 34 (Tigers) - All-Star and 15-game winner in 2014 sank his value with an absolute brutal second half of 2015, finishing 13-12, 5.05 while pitching hurt. We've uncovered no off-season news regarding potential suitors for Simon.
Sources for potential suitors include ESPN, MLB.com, the MLB Network and MLBTradeRumors.com
NOTABLE OFF-SEASON MLB RETIREMENTS
SP Mark Buehrle, 36 (2000-15; 214-160, 3.81 lifetime)
SP A.J. Burnett, 38 (1998-2015; 164-157, 3.99 lifetime)
SP Dan Haren, 34 (2004-15; 153-131, 3.75 lifetime)
SP Tim Hudson, 40 (1999-2015; 222-133, 3.49 lifetime)
SP Barry Zito, 37 (2000-15; 165-143, 4.04 lifetime)
RP Jeremy Affeldt, 36 (2002-15; 3.97 ERA, 28 SV, 774 G lifetime)
OF Torii Hunter, 40 (1997-2015; 5x All-Star., 353 HR lifetime)
OF Michael Cuddyer, 38 (2000-15; 2x All-Star, 197 HR lifetime)