We're only five and a half weeks away from Indians pitchers and catchers reporting to Goodyear for spring training. We can make it, people! With two thirds of the no-baseball portion of the calendar gone, most of the notable free agents this offseason have already found a new contract. Two of the very biggest are still out there though, and they're not alone. A look at the top players still available, and what their status seems to be:
A couple days ago it was reported that a source inside the Tigers said they "have to have" Scherzer. Scott Boras must have enjoyed seeing that. Scherzer is looking for seven years and something close to $200 million. There are only so many teams that can swing a contract like that. In addition to Detroit, both LA teams have that kind of money, but neither seems to be in pursuit of Scherzer. The Same is true of Boston and San Francisco. That leaves the Yankees, who have both the money and the interest. I expect to see Scherzer back with the Tigers or instead in the Bronx. Yuck.
Shields is looking for five years and something in the ballpark of $110-120 million, making him a more affordable consolation prize for teams that might like Scherzer but get outbid, or run out of patience for Scherzer. Kansas City is still hoping it can keep Shields, but that'd be a big financial commitment for them.
After those two comes a massive drop off. It's possible that there's not a single other player who'll land a multi-year deal. Among starting pitchers, there's also Ryan Vogelsong, Carlos Villanueva, and Kyle Kendrick, each of whom might be a worthwhile #5 starter.
Pickings are incredibly slim if you're looking for a position player:
The Orioles have been in talks with Rasmus, and seem likely to sign the 28-year-old outfielder. A one year deal for something like $8 million seems possible at this point, which seems like sort of a bargain to me, given that Rasmus was very good in 2013 before putting up only average numbers in 2014.
If you find yourself thinking, "Wait, how can Aoki be #4 on this list?" well, that's the state of the free agent market at this point. Aoki, who isn't especially good in any aspect of the game but was something like league-average in each of the last two years, should draw interest from any team still looking to add a corner outfielder. Maybe there's enough demand there to get him a two-year deal, or maybe he's at the "one year at a time" phase of his career, where most 33-year-old free agents find themselves.
Those are the only two position players I expect to be signed as starters. Anyone else still out there with a bat is either a backup or a minor league deal waiting to happen.
There are a few interesting relief pitchers still out there though:
Francisco Rodriguez (33): 3.04 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 9.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 68 IP
- I'd call him the best available reliever. The huge difference between his ERA and FIP is due to his having given up a lot of home runs last year. The strikeouts and walks look good.
Rafael Soriano (35): 3.19 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 8.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 62 IP
- After a big decline in his strikeout rate in 2013, Soriano bounced back last season.
Casey Janssen (33): 3.93 ERA, 4.14 FIP, 5.5 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, 45.2 IP
- He was much better in 2013, but missed some time last year with a back strain.
Joba Chamberlain (29) : 3.57 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 8.4 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 63 IP
- Not bad. I want nothing to do with him though.
Anyone mentioned here (or not mentioned) that you think is a viable target for the Indians and whom you think they'd be wise to pursue? I'm content to hope for one or two interesting minor league deals, because what upgrades are available don't seem worth the cost to me.