MLB Free Agency 2012: Top Free Agents Left on Market
The MLB offseason is slowly coming to a close with spring training just around the corner—but that doesn't mean there aren't some good free agents left on the market.
Right now is the time for teams to make that one last signing in order to push them over the edge; he may not be a big name, but he may come up with a key hit or strikeout at some point in the season. That's why it's so important to keep hunting for the best players up until the first pitch of the 2012 season.
Let's take a look at some of the best players still available.
Edwin Jackson, RHP
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Edwin Jackson is one of the top two free agent starting pitchers still available.
In 2011, he split time between the Chicago White Sox and the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals with a 12-9 record and a 3.79 ERA.
Jackson has never been the elite pitcher the Los Angeles Dodgers thought he would be as a prospect, but Jackson has been a very solid starting pitcher throughout his entire career, even throwing a no-hitter.
Manny Ramirez, DH
Manny Ramirez retired last season after it came out that he would be suspended for 50 games following a failed drug test. In his five games with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011, he hit .059 with one RBI.
If Manny signs with a team for the 2012 season, he will have to sit out the first 50 games but he can undoubtedly produce once playing again. And if he doesn't, he can be cut because there is no way that he signs a large contract.
It's a low risk signing with a potential high reward.
Eric Chavez, 3B
Eric Chavez hasn't put up great numbers since 2005 but last season he proved that he can still play well when not injured.
In 58 games with the New York Yankees, Chavez hit .263 with a .320 OBP and 26 RBI. While it's unlikely he can put up numbers better than that, he can bring a solid veteran presence to any team at little cost.
Johnny Damon, DH
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Johnny Damon had a solid year with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011 and it's a bit of a surprise that he hasn't been signed yet.
Last season he hit .261 with a .326 OBP and 73 RBI. He, much like Chavez, can provide good veteran leadership and would be a good addition to any contending team.
Roy Oswalt, RHP
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Roy Oswalt is the premiere free agent pitcher left on the market.
He does have a history of back problems, but when healthy, he is a top of the line starter. Last year with the Phillies, Oswalt finished an uncharacteristic 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA.
On the right contender, he can be a great addition to a starting rotation.
Casey Kotchman, 1B
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Casey Kotchman has had a solid MLB career to date.
He has never been a break-out star but last season he hit a career-high .306 to go along with 48 RB for the Tampa Bay Rays. He doesn't have great power numbers for being a corner infielder, but he can make for that with his outstanding defense.
Kotchman can be a starting first baseman for any team in need of one or be a solid backup for a playoff team.
Hideki Matsui, DH
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Hideki Matsui is certainly coming close to the end of his career at the age of 37. But he can still hit the ball pretty well as shown by his stats last year in Oakland.
With the A's he hit .251 with 72 RBI and 12 home runs. Those aren't spectacular numbers, but given his age and the fact that the O.co Coliseum is a black hole, they were pretty good.
The addition of Matsui would come with little risk and a good amount of Japanese media attention, neither one a bad thing.
Derrek Lee, 1B
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Derrek Lee can undoubtedly still be a fairly solid contributor for a major league franchise even at the age of 36.
You can't expect much from him in 2012, but he still hit .269 with 59 RBI last season, with most of his production coming in the first half.
Rich Harden, RHP
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Rich Harden has had more than his fair share of injuries throughout his nine year career.
When he's healthy, he is one of the best pitchers out there—in 2008, he went 10-2 with a 2.08 ERA. Last season with the Oakland Athletics, he battled injuries but looked good enough in his starts to warrant serious trade interest from the Boston Red Sox at the deadline.
Harden will sign for cheap and could be a great addition to the end of any rotation that looks playoff-bound in 2012.
Yoenis Cespedes, CF
The wild card. Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes.
Cespedes is officially a free agent and a potential five-tool player. He has shown all of the skills necessary to be a superstar during his career in Cuba; in the 2010-11 season, he hit .333 with 99 RBI, 89 runs, 33 home runs in 90 games.
At only 26 years old, he could be a great player to build around.