There are plenty of hot commodities on the Major League Baseball free agent market that have yet to find a new destination for the 2013 season. Some pose more severe risks than others but should ultimately be worth a gamble at some point.
Though voluntary reporting to spring training is just beginning, the rumor mill is buzzing and speculation is rampant about where these top options would best fit in the immediate future.
Here is a breakdown of what is currently going wrong for some of the best players out there, and also where they might ultimately land.
Kyle Lohse, P
The Red Sox don't seem concerned enough with their pitching rotation to take a shot at the 34-year-old Lohse, even though he is coming off of a very successful season with the St. Louis Cardinals. A team source shared that information with Nick Cafaro of the Boston Globe:
The remaining top free-agent pitcher, Kyle Lohse, is there for the taking, but for now the Red Sox don't feel a hamstring injury to Clay Buchholz and some soreness in Felix Doubront's shoulder are problematic enough to take the leap for Lohse, according to team source.
Lohse won 16 games in St. Louis last year and posted an exceptional 2.86 ERA, but time is dwindling for him and agent Scott Boras to cut a deal.
Another report by ESPN insider Buster Olney (subscription required) indicates that Boras has tried to shop Lohse to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as well. Unfortunately, that hasn't worked out either, as the aging right-hander's stock seems to be rapidly slipping.
Their rotation is considered their weakest link, and Boras has tried to engage them about Lohse repeatedly, according to one source. So far, they've passed. Because they signed Hamilton, they've already sacrificed a top draft pick.
According to Jayson Stark of ESPN, you can take the Washington Nationals out of the running as an interested party in Lohse's services:
A #Nationals source shoots down rumblings that the Nats could swoop in & sign Kyle Lohse, saying: "I don't see that happening."— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) February 12, 2013
The lack of interest in Lohse is somewhat surprising, considering he was the Opening Day starter last season for the club that had just won the World Series.
As pointed out by CBS Sports' Matt Snyder, Lohse turned down a $13.3 million qualifying offer to stay with the Cardinals. Now that he is still without a job, rejecting that offer to test the market seems to be a pretty big mistake.
Carlos Zambrano, P
The bizarre saga of the former Chicago Cubs star hurler continues. Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune has the latest development, which may signal Zambrano's departure from the MLB:
Source says Big Z may sign in Japan or Taiwan if he can't get major league deal. #Cra-Z— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) February 12, 2013
Big Z has seen his level of play drop drastically over the past two seasons, as he has failed to keep his ERA any lower than the 4.49 he registered with the Miami Marlins most recently.
Pairing a strong personality like Zambrano with a manager like Ozzie Guillen was pretty much destined to ignite in the first place, unless it was a raging success. There is hope that Zambrano could thrive with a more stable MLB team, but it doesn't seem anyone is willing to take a chance on him.
Resorting to playing overseas would be a sad end to what looked like such a promising career for the three-time All-Star.
Despite his status as such a big name, there isn't much upside on Zambrano if his recent history is any indication. He hasn't pitched 150 innings in the past three seasons, and it seems that his best baseball days are behind him.
Scott Podsednik, OF
There hasn't been all that much more from any bigger names than Podsednik, who is reportedly drawing interest but has teams hesitant to commit to him just yet.
FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal has the latest, which would have read as somewhat discouraging news when it was tweeted just days ago:
Teams like Podsednik, but he likely will need to wait for one that wants more help, suffers an injury or misses on a free agent like Bourn.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 9, 2013
Rosenthal's allusion to the Michael Bourn deal—which has since gone down after he signed with the Cleveland Indians this week—seems to indicate that teams may be coveting Podsednik's services sooner rather than later.
The speedy left-handed outfielder can play any of the three positions and is highly capable of getting on base—he is hitting the ball much better in his past two seasons in the league.
Podsednik was a World Series hero for the Chicago White Sox back in 2005, smacking a walk-off home run in Game 2 to ultimately drive the Sox to a decisive 4-0 sweep of the overmatched Houston Astros.
Having a veteran presence like Podsednik would do wonders for a locker room, and he could be a solid piece to potentially get a contending team over the hump.