Bartolo Colon

2012 Top 111 Free Agents: Nos. 60-41

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Honorable mentions
Nos. 111-81
Nos. 80-61

Part three of the top 111 free agents takes up through No. 41. This portion of the rankings includes several veteran bats nearing the end and some pitchers who will need to finish strong if they hope to land multiyear deals.

(All ages as of April 1, 2012)

* denotes players with contract options

60. Omar Infante (30 – Marlins): A stunning All-Star as a utilityman for the Braves last season, Infante has flopped as a regular so far this year, hitting just .254/.295/.311 for the Marlins. He is better than this, and I think he’ll bounce back enough in the second half to get another gig as a starting second baseman next year. However, he has a long way to go if he’s going to get another multiyear deal.

59. Brad Penny (33 – Tigers): Penny gave up eight runs in his Tigers debut and had an 8.44 ERA after four starts, but he’s gone 5-4 with a 3.62 ERA in his last 11 turns. Penny has gotten more and more grounders through the years, so even though his strikeout rate has collapsed, he’s still a decent bet going forward. Of course, he’s never really put together six good months and he isn’t likely to start now. What will continue to get him paid is that he can be an above average starter for three months at a time.

58. Jeff Francoeur (27 – Royals)*: Was there really any reason to expect this year would be different? Francoeur has followed up his hot April by posting a .675 OPS in May and a .562 OPS so far in June. For the season, he’s still been a somewhat above average regular, and if he can end the year with 20 homers and 20 steals, he may well find a team willing to pay him $5 million next year. Really, though, he’s a glorified platoon player. The mutual option on his deal is worth $3 million and can be voided by either party.

57. Johnny Damon (38 – Rays): Still trucking along, Damon has hit .267/.318/.413 with eight homers in 281 at-bats for the Rays this season. Assuming that he stays healthy, he should finish the season with about 2,730 hits, putting him on pace to reach 3,000 in 2013 if he can find a team willing to keep playing him regularly.

56. Joe Nathan (37 – Twins)*: There’s still time for him to turn it around, but Nathan’s first year back from Tommy John surgery has been a big struggle, as he’s given up 15 runs — 13 earned — in 15 1/3 innings. The Twins are sure to decline his $12.5 million option for 2011 even if he does return as a quality closer in the second half, but they’ll likely have quite a bit of interest in re-signing him.

55. Magglio Ordonez (38 – Tigers): The Tigers re-signed Ordonez for $10 million after he hit .303/.378/.474 in 323 at-bats last year, but he’s fallen all of the way to .172/.232/.224 in 116 at-bats this season. Obviously, he’s going to have to prove it’s an aberration if he’s going to command even half that salary next year.

54. Aaron Harang (33 – Padres)*: Harang made the right call last winter, signing with San Diego in an attempt to resuscitate his career. He’s 7-2 with a 3.71 ERA after 13 starts. Still, one wonders if he’ll be looked at it much the same way Jon Garland was last winter, especially if his road ERA ends up close to his current 4.84 mark. He’d be best off sticking with the Padres if they want him back and are willing to pay him a competitive salary. His deal includes a $5 million mutual option.

53. Derrek Lee (36 – Orioles): The Orioles gambled $7.25 million on the idea that Lee would bounce back from a down 2010 season, but it looks like his 30-homer power is gone forever. He should improve the further removed he gets from offseason thumb surgery, and I don’t think he’s done as a league-average first baseman. Injuries do seem to be following him around, though. He missed time with a sore wrist this spring and went on the DL with an oblique strain last month.

52. Vacated: So, this was supposed to be Jason Bartlett’s spot, but I forgot that Bartlett signed a two-year deal with the Padres back in January. Therefore, the Top 111 FAs will actually turn out to be a top 110.

51. Bobby Abreu (38 – Angels)*: Abreu’s $9 million option for 2012 kicks in with just another 124 more plate appearances, so barring a catastrophic injury, he’s not going to be a free agent this winter. Given their payroll issues, the Angels would probably prefer not to have him back at that price. Still, he has been an asset this year with his current .288/.399/.377 line.

50. Vladimir Guerrero (37 – Orioles): Vlad just hasn’t been able to get it going this year, though I expect that to change once interleague play comes to an end. He should have a couple of years left as a viable designated hitter before his loss of bat speed robs him of his ability to still chase bad pitches and end up with hits. It isn’t at all likely that he’ll make $8 million again next year.

49. Jon Garland (32 – Dodgers)*: If Garland had come around five years earlier, his durability and slightly above average pitching would have gotten him a big four- or five-year deal during his first go in free agency. Unfortunately for him, teams are getting smarter and Garland has been forced to accept one-year pacts. Garland went 14-12 with a 3.47 ERA for the Padres last season, then settled for a one-year deal with an option to return to Los Angeles with the Dodgers. If he pitches 190 innings (a total he reached every year from 2002-10), he’s guaranteed $8 million next year. However, since he’s currently on the DL with shoulder inflammation, it looks like he’ll head back into free agency.

48. Ryan Ludwick (33 – Padres): Ludwick is going to have to hope teams will look past his year and a half of Petco-influenced numbers when he becomes a free agent this winter. He leads the Padres with nine homers and 45 RBI, but it comes with a modest .255/.322/.393 line in 267 at-bats. On the road, he’s doing somewhat better, having hit .279/.324/.419. A trade might put him in a friendlier environment this summer.

47. Bartolo Colon (38 – Yankees): Colon’s amazing comeback had resulted in a 3.10 ERA and a 72/18 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings before his recent hamstring injury. He wasn’t going to last 200 innings anyway, so it might be for the best that he went down with a leg problem and gave his arm a couple of weeks off. If Colon can keep it going and finish with an ERA in the 3.50 range, then he may well earn $8 million-$10 million from a contender next year. However, the odds are against this being his only DL stint of the season.

46. J.D. Drew (36 – Red Sox): Some suspect that Drew will just up and retire with his five-year, $70 million contract coming to an end. Others suspect he already has, given that he’s collected just 18 of Boston’s league-high 386 RBI this year. He’s actually remained pretty healthy the last three years, and he’s still a fine defender in right field at age 35. He would have something of offer if he wanted to continue his career.

45. Alex Gonzalez (35 – Braves): Even having lost a step, Gonzalez remains a rock-solid defender. Offensively, he’s the same player he’s always been, having hit .254/.290/.387 with seven homers so far this year. I certainly wouldn’t recommend signing him to a multiyear deal, but it’d be a surprise if he doesn’t end up with a two-year contract. The Braves will likely try to re-sign him.

44. Coco Crisp (32 – Athletics): Crisp has managed to stay in the lineup this year, but his OPS is down 100 points from last year’s .779 mark. On the plus side, he’s still a quality defensive center fielder and excellent basestealer. If he can stay off the disabled list, he might land a two-year, $10 million deal this winter.

43. Jason Marquis (33 – Nationals): After going 2-9 with a 6.60 ERA in 13 starts during a 2010 season in which he was plagued by an elbow injury, Marquis has bounced back to start this year 7-2 with a 3.86 ERA. His ERA is due to rise, but if he stays healthy, he has a chance of landing another contract similar to the two-year, $15 million deal he’s currently finishing up.

42. Cody Ross (31 – Giants): Ross is making $6.3 million this year in his final season as an arbitration-eligible player. Since missing the first three weeks of the season with a strained calf, he’s hit .264/.348/.438 in 178 at-bats. Because of his career .255/.313/.413 line against right-handers, I view him as a borderline regular. However, given his relative youth and 20-homer power, he’ll be in demand. I’d expect something like $12 million for two years.

41. Carlos Pena (33 – Cubs): Yeah, Pena is still just 33, though given his skill set, he seems unlikely to last a whole lot longer as a quality regular. It looked like he might be done six weeks ago, but he’s shaken off a horrible start — he hit .159 with one extra-base hit in April — to bat .221/.352/.432 with 13 homers though 213 at-bats. If he keeps improving, he might match the $10 million he’s making right now. The Cubs, though, should attempt to snag a bigger fish at first base.

Jenrry Mejia: “It is not like they say. I am sure that I did not use anything.”

New York Mets' Jenrry Mejia reacts after getting the last out against the Milwaukee Brewers during the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 25, 2014, in Milwaukee. The Mets won 3-2. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps
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Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia was permanently suspended on Friday after testing positive for a third time for a performance-enhancing drug. The right-hander is maintaining his innocence, as ESPN’s Adam Rubin notes in quoting Dominican sports journalist Hector Gomez. Mejia said, “It is not like they say. I am sure that I did not use anything.”

Mejia has the opportunity to petition commissioner Rob Manfred in one year for reinstatement to Major League Baseball. However, he must sit out at least two years before becoming eligible to pitch in the majors again, which would mean Mejia would be 28 years old.

Over parts of five seasons, Mejia has a career 3.68 ERA with 162 strikeouts and 76 walks over 183 1/3 innings. He was once a top prospect in the Mets’ minor league system and a top-100 overall prospect heading into the 2010 and ’11 seasons.

Bryce Harper on potential $400 million contract: “Don’t sell me short.”

Bryce Harper
AP Photo/Nick Wass
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Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is at least three years away from free agency, but people are already contemplating just how large a contract the phenom will be able to negotiate, especially after taking home the National League Most Valuable Player Award for his performance this past season.

When the likes of David Price and Zack Greinke are signing for over $200 million at the age of 30 or older, it stands to reason that Harper could draw more as a 26-year-old if he can maintain MVP-esque levels of production over the next several seasons. $400 million might not be enough for Harper, though, as MLB.com’s Jamal Collier reports. He said, “Don’t sell me short,” which is a fantastic response.

During the 2015 season, Harper led the majors with a .460 on-base percentage and a .649 slugging percentage while leading the National League with 42 home runs and 118 runs scored. He also knocked in 99 runs for good measure. Harper and Ted Williams are the only hitters in baseball history to put up an adjusted OPS of 195 or better (100 is average) at the age of 22 or younger.

Frankie Montas out 2-4 months after rib resection surgery

Chicago White Sox pitcher Frankie Montas throws against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Per Eric Stephen of SB Nation’s True Blue LA, the Dodgers announced that pitching prospect Frankie Montas will be out two to four months after undergoing rib resection surgery to remove his right first rib.

The Dodgers acquired Montas from the White Sox in a three-team trade in December 2015 that also involved the Reds. The 22-year-old made his big league debut with the Pale Hose last season, allowing eight runs on 14 hits and nine walks with 20 strikeouts in 15 innings across two starts. Montas had spent the majority of his season at Double-A Birmingham, where he posted a 2.97 ERA with 108 strikeouts and 48 walks in 112 innings.

MLB.com rated Montas as the 95th-best prospect in baseball, slipping a few spots from last year’s pre-season ranking of 91.

Athletics acquire Khris Davis in trade with Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers' Khris Davis swings on a home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday, July 23, 2013, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
AP Photo/Morry Gash
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The Brewers’ rebuild continues, as the club announced on Twitter the trade of outfielder Khris Davis to the Athletics in exchange for catcher Jacob Nottingham and pitcher Bubba Derby. MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports that the A’s have designated pitcher Sean Nolin for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster for Davis.

Davis, 28, was the Brewers’ most valuable remaining trade chip. He blasted 27 home runs while hitting .247/.323/.505 in 440 plate appearances this past season in Milwaukee. Adding to his value, Davis won’t become eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season and can’t become a free agent until after the 2019 season. In Oakland, Davis will give the Athletics more reliability as Coco Crisp was injured for most of last season and is now 36 years old. Though he doesn’t have much of a career platoon split, Davis split time in left field with the left-handed-hitting Gerardo Parra last season. It’s unclear if the A’s will utilize him in a platoon as well.

With Davis out of the picture, Domingo Santana is a leading candidate to start in left field for the Brewers, GM David Stearns said, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Nottingham, 20, started the 2015 season in the Astros’ system but went to the Athletics in the Scott Kazmir deal. He hit an aggregate .316/.372/.505 at Single-A, showing plenty of promise early in his professional career. With catcher Jonathan Lucroy on his way out of Milwaukee, the Brewers are hoping Nottingham can be their next permanent backstop.

Derby, 21, made his professional debut last season after the Athletics drafted him in the sixth round. Across 37 1/3 innings, he yielded seven runs (five earned) on 24 hits and 10 walks with 47 strikeouts. He’s obviously a few years away from the majors, but the Brewers are looking for high upside.