An updated top 50 free agents

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Taking into account recent signings and some new arrivals courtesy of the non-tender deadline, here’s a new list of the top 50 free agents available. Posted Japanese players Yu Darvish and Norichika Aoki are not included. Darvish, a right-handed pitcher, would come in at No. 2 on the list, while Aoki, an outfielder, would slide in right around No. 25.

(A note: this is more a list of how I believe teams view the free agents than how I view them myself. Personally, I’d slide Carlos Beltran and Josh Willingham above Michael Cuddyer.)

Top 50 Free Agents

1. Prince Fielder (1B Brewers)
2. Yoenis Cespedes (OF Cuba)
3. Jimmy Rollins (SS Phillies)
4. Ryan Madson (RP Phillies)
5. Edwin Jackson (SP Cardinals)
6. Michael Cuddyer (OF Twins)
7. Carlos Beltran (OF Giants)
8. Hiroki Kuroda (SP Dodgers)
9. Josh Willingham (OF Athletics)
10. Roy Oswalt (SP Phillies)
11. Jorge Soler (OF Cuba)
12. Javier Vazquez (SP Marlins)
13. Joe Saunders (SP Diamondbacks)
14. Carlos Pena (1B Cubs)
15. Francisco Cordero (RP Reds)
16. Paul Maholm (SP Pirates)
17. Wei-Yin Chen (SP Japan)
18. Derrek Lee (1B Pirates)
19. Hisashi Iwakuma (SP Japan)
20. Jason Kubel (OF Twins)
21. Coco Crisp (OF Athletics)
22. Casey Kotchman (1B Rays)
23. Tsuyoshi Wada (SP Japan)
24. Johnny Damon (OF Rays)
25. Joel Pineiro (SP Angels)
26. Bartolo Colon (SP Yankees)
27. Cody Ross (OF Giants)
28. Vladimir Guerrero (DH Orioles)
29. Ryan Ludwick (OF Pirates)
30. Jason Marquis (SP Diamondbacks)
31. Wilson Betemit (3B Tigers)
32. Darren Oliver (RP Rangers)
33. Luke Scott (OF Orioles)
34. Brad Lidge (RP Phillies)
35. Rich Harden (SP Athletics)
36. Hideki Matsui (DH Athletics)
37. Kerry Wood (RP Cubs)
38. Hong-Chih Kuo (RP Dodgers)
39. J.D. Drew (OF Red Sox)
40. Jeff Francis (SP Royals)
41. Jeff Keppinger (2B Giants)
42. Yuniesky Betancourt (SS Brewers)
43. Casey Blake (3B Dodgers)
44. Chad Qualls (RP Padres)
45. Juan Pierre (OF White Sox)
46. Kosuke Fukudome (OF Indians)
47. Brad Penny (SP Tigers)
48. Andruw Jones (OF Yankees)
49. Mike Gonzalez (RP Rangers)
50. Chris Snyder (C Pirates)

A few notes:

– The 19-year-old Soler comes in at No. 11 even though he’s likely a couple of years away from contributing. There’s talk of the power-hitting outfielder getting a deal worth more than $20 million. Cespedes, on the other hand, will be expected to make an impact immediately.

– Vasquez is still believed to be leaning towards retirement.

– Non-tenders come in at No. 13 (Saunders), 33 (Scott), 38 (Kuo) and 41 (Keppinger). Ryan Theriot was a near-miss. I also like Clay Hensley and would have put him in a personal top 50, but he may have to settle for $1 million or less after his rough year.

Minor League Baseball accuses MLB of making misleading statements

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Yesterday several members of Congress, calling themselves the “Save Minor League Baseball Task Force,” introduced a resolution saying that Major League Baseball should drop its plan to eliminate the minor league clubs and, rather, maintain the current minor league structure. In response, Major League Baseball issued a statement accusing Minor League Baseball of refusing to negotiate and imploring Congress to prod Minor League Baseball back to the bargaining table.

Only one problem with that: according to Minor League Baseball, it has been at the table. And, in a new statement today, claims that MLB is making knowingly false statements about all of that and engaging in bad faith:

“Minor League Baseball was encouraged by the dialogue in a recent meeting between representatives of Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball and a commitment by both sides to engage further on February 20. However, Major League Baseball’s claims that Minor League Baseball is not participating in these negotiations in a constructive and productive manner is false. Minor League Baseball has provided Major League Baseball with numerous substantive proposals that would improve the working conditions for Minor League Baseball players by working with MLB to ensure adequate facilities and reasonable travel. Unfortunately, Major League Baseball continues to misrepresent our positions with misleading information in public statements that are not conducive to good faith negotiations.”

I suppose Rob Manfred’s next statement is either going to double down or, alternatively, he’s going to say “wait, you were at the airport Marriott? We thought the meeting was at the downtown Marriott! Oh, so you were at the table. Our bad!”

Minor League Baseball is not merely offering dueling statements, however. A few minutes ago it released a letter it had sent to Rob Manfred six days ago, the entirely of which can be read here. It certainly suggests that, contrary to Manfred’s claim yesterday, Minor League Baseball is, in fact, attempting to engage Major League Baseball on the issues.

In the letter, the Minor League Baseball Negotiating Committee said it, “is singularly focused on working with MLB to reach an agreement that will best ensure that baseball remains the National Pastime in communities large and small throughout our
country,” and that to that end it seeks to “set forth with clarity in a letter to you the position of MiLB on the key issues that we must resolve in these negotiations.”

From there the letter goes through the various issues Major League Baseball has put on the table, including the status of the full season and short season leagues which are on the chopping block, and implores MLB not to, as proposed, eliminate the Appalachian League. It blasts MLB’s concept of “The Dream League” — the bucket into which MLB proposes to throw all newly-unaffiliated clubs — as a “seriously flawed concept,” and strongly counters the talking point Major League Baseball has offered about how it allegedly “subsidizes” the minor leagues:

It is simply not true that MLB “heavily subsidizes” MiLB. MLB teams do not pay MiLB owners and their partner communities that supply the facilities and league infrastructure that enable players under contract to MLB teams the opportunity to compete at a high level and establish whether they have the capability to play in the Major Leagues. MLB just pays its OWN player/employees and other costs directly related to their development. MLB does not fund or subsidize MiLB’s business operations in any form and, in fact, the amounts funded by MiLB to assist in the development of MLB’s players far exceed anything paid by MLB to its players, managers, or coaches at the Minor League level. Through the payment of a ticket tax to MLB, it is arguable that MiLB is paying a subsidy to MLB. Either way, talk about subsidies isn’t helpful or beneficial to the industry. The fact is that we are business partners working together to grow the game, entertain fans, and develop future MLB players.

You should read the whole letter. And Rob Manfred should probably stop issuing statements that, it would appear, are easily countered.