Spring training is just around the corner and there are still several notable free agents on the market. No one seems to know what is going to happen with them, or when we might expect a deal, so it makes for a lot of interesting rumors.
Last year, everyone was in a panic because Prince Fielder made it to January without securing a contract. Then Victor Martinez had knee surgery, so Detroit decided to give Fielder a nine-year contract.
While we won't see anything that extravagant with a player like Michael Bourn or Kyle Lohse, it is going to take some unique set of circumstances to get a deal that these players thought would be there when the offseason started.
Here are the latest rumors floating around about the top free agents still left on the board.
Michael Bourn will save the Mets
Bourn was supposed to be one of the most sought-after free agents this offseason as an elite defensive center fielder who has shown in the past that his approach at the plate allows him to hit for a high average and to maintain a good on-base percentage.
Things have not worked out the way Bourn hoped, likely due to the fact he has draft-pick compensation attached to him, but that isn't stopping his camp from trying to pull off one of the great sell jobs this winter.
According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, Bourn's people want to sell the Mets on the idea of being able to bring in more free agents next season.
Mike Puma @NYPost_Mets
Bourn's camp is trying to sell Alderson on the idea that signing Bourn would give Mets credibility when pursuing free agents next winter.1/29/2013, 5:07:52 PM
Fact or Fiction that Bourn will save the Mets?
As much as I like Bourn, the whole notion that one free agent will help bring in more the following offseason is garbage.
Most players are going to go where the money is, regardless of whether they have signed any top-tier free agents recently or not. Do you think Nick Swisher would have signed with the Indians if there was anyone else out there offering nearly that much money?
Plus, Bourn would be an odd fit for a Mets team that is still building and his skills (all of which are predicated on his speed) will not age well. Unless he is so cheap at this point it is almost insane to pass on him, I can't imagine the Mets would desire him.
Kyle Lohse is kind of worth a draft pick
Lohse entered free agency as arguably the No. 2 pitcher on the market behind Zack Greinke. Yet for all the teams out there that desperately seek starting pitching, Lohse hasn't been able to land a deal.
There are two very logical reasons for that. One, Lohse is represented by Scott Boras, who is going to make sure his client gets every dollar he believes he is worth. Two, like Bourn, Lohse has draft-pick compensation attached to him.
According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles, who could use starting pitching depth, could become interested if Lohse's price drops.
Yet I am still writing about him. Why (besides it’s a slow news week so far)?
Because every time I ask anyone in the Orioles' organization about Lohse, they say, “We like him, but not for what it is going to cost.”
But what if that cost comes down dramatically?
Fact or fiction: Lohse is worth giving up a draft pick to sign?
Again, price could make this answer change. But if Boras' history is any indication, the money is always a factor. (And I am not knocking Boras. His job is to get the best deals for his clients, which he so often does.)
Lohse is scary because he doesn't have dominating stuff. He gets by with a good sinker and command. At 34 years old, with the inconsistent results he had prior to last year in St. Louis, he is not likely to replicate his 2012 performance or come close to it.
Jose Valverde may or may not be coming to Miami
Valverde's implosion in the playoffs has shone a light on something a lot of baseball statheads knew for a long time: He really got overrated because of the almighty save stat.
The lack of action on Valverde this offseason is not a surprise. What is a surprise is the report from Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes that he was close to a deal with the Miami Marlins.
Enrique Rojas/ESPN @Enrique_Rojas1
Jose Valverde and #Marlins close to one year contract, source said to http://t.co/gVQLCrjJ2/4/2013, 4:18:19 PM
However, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that Valverde is talking to multiple teams and nothing is on the horizon.
Jon Heyman @JonHeyman
jose valverde is talking to a few teams, including the #marlins. no deal seems imminent.2/4/2013, 5:34:08 PM
Fact or fiction: Valverde will sign with the Marlins?
Having no hard inside information to base this on, I will say, why not?
Despite Heyman's report, there doesn't seem to be a lot of teams knocking down the door to sign Valverde. He is still effective enough, though probably not as a closer, for a team like the Marlins to sign on a cheap one-year deal.
Plus, signing Valverde would give the Marlins an opportunity to say that they are out there spending all that money they saved. Surely there will be someone out there who might buy that.