MLB Free Agency 2012: 5 Unsigned Players Still Looking for a Team
As Opening Day nears for teams all around Major League Baseball, some veterans still find themselves without a job.
These players may be past their prime, but can certainly help out a team in need of another bat or arm.
As injuries pop up, teams will be looking to fill the void with proven players. And these five players will be looking to step right in and fill that void if called.
1. Vladimir Guerrero
At the height of his career, Vladimir Guerrero was one of the most feared hitters in the game.
Now, nearing the end of his career, Guerrero is looking to land with a team to prove he has something left in the tank.
Just two seasons ago with Texas, Vlad hit 29 home runs, had 115 RBI and had a .300 batting average. Those numbers don't reflect a player on the downside of his career.
However, Guerrero's numbers dropped dramatically in the power category last season (.290/13/63) with Baltimore. A power hitter who can't hit for power anymore isn't very valuable.
But Guerrero can still contribute to an American League team willing to use him at DH.
Guerrero reportedly had his sights set on the Yankees, but New York decided to sign Raul Ibanez instead. Now, Vlad will have to hope he gets a phone call so he can get back in time for the start of the season.
2. Derrek Lee
During the 2011 trade deadline, Derrek Lee was dealt from the Baltimore Orioles to the Pittsburg Pirates, who were making a run for the NL Central Crown.
Nowadays, Lee finds himself struggling to find a team to join.
Lee played well down the stretch for the Pirates, registering seven home runs with 18 RBI in just 28 games.
However, Lee is 35 years old and doesn't have many years left in his career.
As with Guerrero, Lee would be most productive in a DH role while filling in at first base if need be.
3. Johnny Damon
Although Johnny Damon is getting old, he still has a lot to contribute to an American League team.
Damon spent the 2011 season with Tampa Bay, where he was mainly used as the DH for Joe Maddon. Damon posted a batting average of .260 while belting 16 home runs and driving in 73.
Damon's agent, Scott Boras, talked to Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors a few days ago:
Johnny Damon was about the third-best DH in the AL. I'm sure there's a lot of clubs looking at youth, and by the time spring training ends they may be looking at it differently.
That may be Boras just being Boras, but he has a point.
Damon can certainly still help a team out with his veteran presence and his ability hit and run the bases.
4. Mike Gonzalez
Relief pitchers are usually in high demand. Unfortunately for Mike Gonzalez, he hasn't been so far this offseason.
Gonzalez pitched for the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers last season, only appearing in seven games for the latter.
Although Gonzalez has seen a drop-off in his performance since his earlier days in Pittsburgh and Atlanta, veteran relievers can provide valuable services in the bullpen.
Gonzalez would be a good addition to a team that needs another quality arm in the bullpen, if nothing else than just for depth and competition.
5. Roy Oswalt
Roy Oswalt has had an odd offseason to say the least.
He has had many contending teams interested in him including the Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals.
However, Oswalt has decided to wait until the middle of the season to sign on with a playoff-caliber team.
Oswalt, 34, could use this time to let his body rest after years of injuries and wear and tear.
When Oswalt decides he is ready to pitch again, teams will likely be lining up for his services and he'll have the luxury of joining a playoff team just before the start of exciting division races.