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MLB Free Agents 2012: Top 10 35-Plus Players on the Market and Where They'll Go

Chuck PlattCorrespondent IIDecember 2, 2011

MLB Free Agents 2012: Top 10 35-Plus Players on the Market and Where They'll Go

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    Some say baseball is increasingly a young man's game.

    Don't tell that to these fellas though. The 10 guys on this list are the best of geezers—the top 10 free agents 35 or older.

    While these players have more miles on their tires than their younger brethren, they all still have gas left in the tank.

    These older types can be attractive to teams, owing not only to their experience and veteran leadership, but often financial reasons as well.

    Here are the top 10 free agents 35 or older and where they'll end up for 2012.

Carlos Beltran, 35

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    Giants

    The Red Sox are perhaps the most likely suitor for Carlos Beltran besides the Giants. However it wouldn't be surprising if Boston takes Michael Cuddyer over Beltran.

    The Giants—even with a healthy Buster Posey—are desperate for offense and Beltran, if he's able to produce like he did in 2011, is a good bat at a good value.

Octavio Dotel, 38

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    Cardinals

    Octavio Dotel, a true journeyman reliever, may have found a home in St. Louis. He's eager to return to the Cardinals, who declined his $3.5 million option.

    Dotel would surely relish the chance to defend the Cardinals' World Series title, not to mention the chance to keep rocking the Cards' snazzy striped hosiery. 

Johnny Damon, 38

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    Rays

    Johnny Damon has quietly kept producing at the plate well into his 30s despite the constant evolution of his role on a team.

    While Damon's now essentially a full-time DH, he remains a durable player, having appeared in at least 140 games every season since 1995 (!).

    Rays GM Andrew Friedman would love to have Damon back on his roster, but he'll probably have to wait, as MLB Trade Rumors smartly speculates.

Francisco Cordero, 37

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    Mets

    Francisco Cordero is a big winner under the new CBA. Formerly a Type A free agent, Cordero is now considered a Type B. 

    As good as Cordero is at 37—he's made at least 65 appearances every season since 2003—teams will love that they no longer have to sacrifice a draft pick to secure his services.

    The Mets know they can't seriously compete, but they aren't looking to be doormats either. Cordero is the kind of low-cost option that could help keep the team hovering around .500, versus losing 100 games.

Darren Oliver, 41

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    Rangers

    Since 2007, Darren Oliver has a 2.85 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP over 303 appearances. 

    Say what?

    Oliver's career renaissance as a long-man began in Anaheim and has continued in Arlington. He would like to stay in Texas and make another run for a World Series ring.

    Oliver might be 41, but he will not be suffering from lack of motivation in 2012. He blew his chance to close out the Series—and likely his career—in the epic 10th inning of Game 6.

Raul Ibanez, 40

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    Marlins

    Raul Ibanez definitely hurt his value with a down 2011, however he's still a decent left-handed power option that's reasonably adept in the field, especially for his age. 

    The Phillies may indeed bring Ibanez back, but it would likely be in a platoon role with John Mayberry.

    The Marlins may be all set for starters in the outfield if they feel good enough about Bryan Petersen, but Ibanez might warm up to a reserve role in Miami, his hometown.

Takashi Saito, 42

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    Dodgers

    Takashi Saito has to be one of the more underrated free-agent relievers.  

    The Dodgers are borderline contenders but are not in position to spend big money this winter with their pending ownership transition.

    Saito is a nice, affordable fit. Saito is no spring chicken, but he's also shown no signs of letting up (though durability is a concern).

    Saito began his MLB career in LA, and that's where he figures to return in 2012.  

Vladimir Guerrero, 37

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    Blue Jays

    The Orioles did not offer Vladimir Guerrero arbitration, so it appears his time in Baltimore is all but over. 

    But retiring isn't on Vladdy's mind, nor should it be; while his power numbers didn't approach his 2010 output in Texas, Guerrero still hit .290 over 145 games.

    Guerrero is strictly a DH option. Scouring the AL, the Blue Jays turn up as likely a destination as any, namely because they've been linked to David Ortiz.

    Vladdy's now Big Papi at this point, but Toronto would love to get some big bats alongside Jose Bautista.

Hiroki Kuroda, 37

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    Angels

    Hiroki Kuroda isn't showing any signs of letting up at 36 after a 32-start 2011 in which he recorded a 3.07 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP.

    Last month, SI.com's Jon Heyman wrote that that Kuroda only will play for the Dodgers or Angels; of course, Kuroda could return to Japan. 

    Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, however, feels that the Dodgers are unlikely to bring back Kuroda at the price he'll want, which leaves the door open in Orange County.

    The Angels have the room in their rotation, but do they feel like bringing on Kuroda for around $10 million a year?

David Ortiz, 36

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    Red Sox

    Returning to Boston is what both the Red Sox and David Ortiz want. The team is set to meet with Ortiz's agent, Fern Cuza, next week at the winter meetings in Dallas.

    Ortiz is reportedly seeking a three-year deal, but don't be surprised if GM Ben Cherington is able to get Big Papi back on a two-year, incentive-laden deal with some sort of option for a third.

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