10 35-and-Older MLB Free Agents with Plenty Left in the Tank
Baseball is a game of longevity. In contrast to basketball or football in particular, baseball players can play well into their 30s and have a great deal of success. Every now and then, you even get a guy like Jamie Moyer or Julio Franco who makes it almost to 50.
Interestingly, there are many free agents who will be in this position this winter. They may be at least 35, but they seem to have plenty of gas left in the tank if 2013 was any indication.
(Note: ages listed are for the upcoming season.)
Carlos Beltran (37)
Carlos Beltran just keeps on going. He made another All-Star team this season and ended up with a .296 batting average, 24 home runs and 84 RBI. Beyond that, Beltran passed Babe Ruth in terms of career postseason home runs. Honestly, anytime your name is mentioned with one of the best players to ever play the game, you must be doing something right.
After struggling with injuries in 2009 and 2010, Beltran has bounced back and has appeared in almost every game over the past three years. If he can stay healthy, I don’t doubt that his production will be just as strong.
Bartolo Colon (41)
You are supposed to slow down as you get older. Bartolo Colon must have missed the memo. In 2013, he posted a 2.65 ERA. That was the best of his career. Beyond that, his 18 wins were tied for the second most of his career behind his Cy Young Award-winning season in 2005, when he won 21.
He has proven to be incredibly durable throughout his career, and even though he is getting older, I think he still has a few more seasons left in his arm.
Joe Nathan (39)
Moving to the Texas Rangers was a pretty good career move for Joe Nathan. Coming off a difficult 2011 season, he found his way back to the top of the field of closers. 2013 was quite possibly the best season of his career.
He appeared in 61 games, saved 43 of them and posted a ridiculous 1.39 ERA and 0.897 WHIP. Closers can be successful for a long time, so don’t be surprised to see him going for at least a few more years at a high level.
Raul Ibanez (42)
Raul Ibanez hit 29 home runs last season for the Seattle Mariners in only 124 games. To put that in perspective, in 2006 when he hit 33 home runs, he needed 159 games, and in 2009 when he hit 34, he needed 134 games.
I only mention that comparison because his power production last season was on par with the best he had ever done in his solid, yet often underappreciated career. That being said, if he keeps going like thiseven if he is underappreciated—he will certainly be able to find a job.
A.J. Pierzynski (36)
A.J. Pierzynski may be the most hated player in baseball, according to a survey conducted by Men's Journal (via USA Today), but he has been a solid catcher for a long time. Even though he did DH more than he ever has in 2012 (an entire 12 games), he has still proven to be dependable and has avoided major injuries throughout his career.
With a career batting average of .283, he is a consistent presence at the plate and a respectable defensive catcher. If he doesn’t return to the Texas Rangers, he will be one of the top performers on the market from behind the plate.
Hiroki Kuroda (39)
Hiroki Kuroda has a career record of 68-70. Last season, he was 11-13. However, even though he has had trouble putting the victories together, he posted a very respectable 3.31 ERA. It is hard to complain about that, and as a pitcher who does not rely on an overwhelming fastball, his savvy and technique will allow him to continue his career.
He is not a strikeout pitcher, and he does allow a good number of hitters to get on base. That being said, he gets results. I don’t see that slowing down.
Marlon Byrd (36)
I remember when Marlon Byrd was a young member of the Philadelphia Phillies and all of us fans were sure that he would become a great player.
Obviously, that did not happen while he was in Philadelphia, but as a 35-year-old this past season, he had what was probably the best campaign of his career. He hit .291 with 24 home runs and 88 RBI. That also included a midseason trade in which he went from the New York Mets to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Coming off his best season, I don’t see a reason why he should slow down.
Darren Oliver (43)
I feel I would be missing something if I did not include a pitcher who just keeps going. Darren Oliver has essentially become a one-inning type of guy, but it is worth mentioning that that was not his original role. Until 2003, he was a starting pitcher with limited success.
Moving into the bullpen helped him put up the best numbers of his career, and last season he posted a respectable 3.86 ERA. Also, it is interesting that right-handers only hit .211 against him. I guess that makes him a bit of an anomaly, but as long as he keeps getting outs, there will be a team that will value his experience out of the bullpen.
Grant Balfour (36)
Grant Balfour just posted his fourth consecutive season with an ERA under 3.00. Also, his 38 saves in 2013 more than doubled his previous career total. He has been a quality setup man and closer for a long time, and that trend should continue.
He is the type of pitcher who can average over a strikeout per inning, and he generally does a pretty good job limiting the number of hits allowed (48 in 62.2 innings). He very well might stay with the Oakland Athletics, and I think that franchise would benefit from keeping him around.
A.J. Burnett (37)
A.J. Burnett made his debut for the Florida Marlins way back in 1999. Since then, he has won 147 games and has certainly had his share of ups and downs.
2013 was definitely a positive point. Even though his record was only 10-11, his 3.30 ERA was better than ever before. His strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio was higher than it ever has been (9.8) and his walks-per-nine-innings ratio was almost a career-best as well (3.2). Coming off such a great season, I think there is plenty more where that came from for another few seasons.
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