Veteran MLB Free Agents Who Still Have Plenty Left in the Tank
Sifting through the 2015-2016 MLB free-agent market, there's just no one quite like Bartolo Colon.
Simply put, the right-hander is an ageless wonder.
Even with his 43rd birthday looming in May, Colon is still a viable free-agent option for a club that is aiming to round out its rotation. And, Colon isn't the only big league vet who proved in 2015 that his tank isn't empty just yet.
On the list that follows, there's also room for a couple of position players who are primed for rebounds in 2016 and a couple of relievers who put together stunning comebacks during the season that was.
Nori Aoki, LF
2016 Opening Day Age: 34
Nori Aoki only appeared in 93 games for the San Francisco Giants in 2015 thanks to a couple of stints on the disabled list.
But it's not like Aoki, who will be 34 by the time the 2016 season arrives, is breaking down. Instead, he just caught a couple of bad breaks.
Both of his trips to the DL were the product of getting hit by pitches. Back on June 20, Aoki fractured his fibula after getting drilled. Then on Aug. 9 he suffered a concussion after getting hit in the helmet. That concussion is no longer an issue, as his agent Nez Balelo explained to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports: "He feels great. He has been cleared medically. He's 100 percent."
With a little better luck on the health front, Aoki should regain his form as a highly productive table-setter in 2016. With a .287 average and a .353 OBP in four seasons in the majors, Aoki is an ideal target for any club that is looking to snap up a quality leadoff man this offseason.
Logical Landing Spots: Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers
Trevor Cahill, RP
2016 Opening Day Age: 28
The 2015 season was a strange year for Trevor Cahill.
The right-hander spent time with four different organizations before it all fell into place when he ended up in the bullpen at Wrigley Field in late August. In 11 relief outings for the Chicago Cubs, Cahill was flat-out nasty.
The former starter compiled a 2.12 ERA and racked up 22 strikeouts in just 17 innings of work while limiting the opposition to a .143 average. Back in the middle of October, Cahill gave credit to the Cubs' brain trust for helping to get his floundering career back on track.
"It just says a lot about [Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein] and them for signing me," Cahill said, per Tony Andracki of CSN Chicago. "I was in a place where I didn't think anybody wanted me. I was pitching batting practice in Triple-A."
Thanks to his late-season surge with the National League Central squad, plenty of teams will want to sign up Cahill for a prominent bullpen role in 2016.
Logical Landing Spots: Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics and New York Mets
Alexei Ramirez, SS
2016 Opening Day Age: 34
The Chicago White Sox declined Alexei Ramirez's $10 million team option for 2016 after the Cuban checked in with just a .249 average last season.
According to Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago, the South Siders are interested in bringing back the right-handed hitter at a lower price tag, but general manager Rick Hahn admitted that doing so might not be possible.
"He’s a proven commodity and [you have] a decent idea of what you’re going to get going forward," Hahn said, per Hayes. "Again, it’s a fairly scarce position, so I’m sure his market will be strong."
So far, Hahn's assessment is spot on. As Hayes noted, the New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Rays are all "believed to interested" in the 34-year-old.
Part of the reasons that Ramirez has drawn so many suitors is that he turned in an impressive second half after wobbling into the All-Star break. Ramirez was the owner of a .224 average and a .541 OPS when the Midsummer Classic rolled around, but in his final 70 games he hit .277 with a .757 OPS.
Logical Landing Spots: Chicago White Sox, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Rays
Ryan Madson, RP
2016 Opening Day Age: 35
Ryan Madson authored one of the most unexpected comebacks in baseball last season.
Out of the bigs since 2011, the righty parlayed a minor league deal into a prominent role in the filthiest bullpen in the game. Madson reeled off a 2.13 ERA in 68 outings for the Kansas City Royals and just kept getting stronger as the season wore on.
“This guy’s gotten better and better all year,” pitching coach Dave Eiland told Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star in the midst of the Royals' run to the World Series title.
After earning $1 million with Kansas City in 2015, the 35-year-old is about to cash in. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs predicted that Madson will haul in a three-year deal worth $15 million. That would be quite the payday for a guy whose career looked done before a remarkable bounce-back campaign in 2015.
Logical Landing Spots: Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, New York Mets and Washington Nationals
Bartolo Colon, SP
2016 Opening Day Age: 42
There's just no stopping Bartolo Colon.
Set to enter his 19th season in the bigs in 2016, the right-hander has made at least 30 starts and has thrown at least 190.1 innings in each of the past three campaigns. The key to his continued success is his remarkable command. Last season, Colon dished out just 24 free passes in 194.2 innings of work.
In addition to his production on the mound, Colon is also a respected leader in the clubhouse. Just ask Jeurys Familia, the All-Star closer for the New York Mets.
“I’ve got an opportunity to be close to [Colon] and learn from him, because he’s been in baseball a long time,” Familia told Ted Berg of USA Today. “Whatever question I have about baseball or life, I ask Bartolo. For me, he’s like another brother.”
It doesn't look like Familia will have the luxury of drawing on his brother's vast wealth of experience in 2016. According to Adam Rubin of ESPN.com, assistant general manager John Ricco said the team would like to bring Colon back as a reliever but expects he'll opt to start elsewhere.
Logical Landing Spots: Oakland Athletics, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies
If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.