Spring training seems right around the corner, and while the baseball world waits to see where the marquee free agents like Rafael Soriano, Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse will end up, there are a few established free agents who are still looking for work and may end up providing huge rewards for the team that finally gives them a chance. Here are five under-the-radar free agents with the ability to contribute to a team.
The 42-year-old Thome is adamant that he is not ready to retire and feels that he can still contribute to a big league team. Thome is right in his assessment. He can still contribute and give a team a good at bat and maybe drive some balls out of the ballpark.
He's obviously suited to play in the American League as a DH, and a team like the Tampa Bay Rays should consider him.
Lyon had a pretty nice season, posting a 3.10 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 61 innings between playing for the Houston Astros and the Toronto Blue Jays. Lyon may remain unsigned because he might be looking for something comparative to the $5 million that he made last season. Lyon isn't overpowering, but he keeps the ball in the ballpark and competes.
Teams aren't gonna get a high batting average from Inge. They also know that he is going to have his share of strikeouts. However, Inge is also good for at least 12 or 13 home runs, plus at least two clutch plays per season. Inge can still play solid defense at third base in a limited role, and can be a stabilizing veteran influence on a club.
Johnson is known for his above-average power at second base (108 career home runs, including 16 last year with Toronto). He also has underrated speed, with an average of 14 stolen bases per year the past three seasons.
The problem is that Johnson is not a contact hitter, striking out an average of 156 times per year over the last three seasons with a .243 combined batting average. Regardless, Johnson will be on somebody's team next season.
The Arizona Diamondbacks chose to add a declining and overpaid Heath Bell instead of sticking with Lindstrom, who posted a 2.53 ERA in 10 innings after coming over from the Baltimore Orioles. Lindstrom's power sinking fastball still hits the mid 90s, so expect this guy to be some team's setup man this season.