The buzzer has sounded and time is up for teams to tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players. Why do we care so much about this deadline? Because the market is about to get flooded with a few dozen new free agents.
Most will be marginal players destined to spend next season just fighting to get onto a big league roster, but there will also be handful of players who are actually useful but not at the price they would have earned had they gone to arbitration. Rather than waste your time sorting through all the detritus teams are cleaning from their roster, here are the more noteworthy guys to get kicked to the curb by their now former teams:
Luke Scott – Scott had a big 2010 season, but he missed half of 2011 with a shoulder injury and was cut loose rather than get paid north of $6 million. He joins a pretty crowded list of left-handed DH-types on the free agent market, so he’ll be lucky to make half of what he should’ve been paid. Plus with his outspoken views branding him as MLB’s most prominent birther, he should probably go looking for work in a red state, shrinking his market further.
Jose Mijares – He’s overweight, has problems throwing strikes and an expanding waistline. But he is also a lefty with a pulse, so someone will give him a shot.
Will Rhymes – Rhymes was a part-time starter at second for Detroit back in 2010 but quickly fell out of favor. He doesn’t have much of a bat, but has a shot at a big league job since that bat is a left-handed one at second, so some team desperate for a platoon mate might take chance on him.
Clay Hensley – Arm problems have taken a toll on this former closer, but some team will see those shiny saves on his resume and give him a chance to earn a roster spot in spring training.
Jeff Keppinger – The Giants essentially picked Mike Fontenot over Keppinger, but don’t weep for Jeff. He’ll find a home rather quickly since capable utility infielders have been getting overpaid in multi-year deals all off-season.
Hong-Chi Kuo – When healthy, Kuo is a lethal reliever with elite closer stuff. However, he is never ever healthy. He just underwent his fifth elbow surgery earlier in the off-season, but it wasn’t a major one, aside from the fact that it was his FIFTH ELBOW SURGERY. But at least he also has an anxiety disorder. He’ll get paid, but if anyone gives him more than a one-year deal, they are making a big gamble.
Micah Owings – Owings was a serviceable reliever last season with the added bonus that he can hit enough to be a pinch-hitter. On novelty alone, he’ll get a look by some NL clubs.
Ronny Paulino – As an experienced catcher, he’ll likely find work somewhere as a veteran back-up, even though he isn’t much of a defender and can’t hit for anything but an empty and mediocre average.
Jo-Jo Reyes – Apparently teams don’t have much need for a guy who set a record for most consecutive starts without a win. Who knew?
Joe Saunders – Say hello to the biggest name of the non-tender process. He simply got too expensive for the Diamondbacks but he could still end up there. Of course, he has already been linked to several other teams including the Red Sox, so they will face stiff bidding for a guy they already decided was too expensive. No doubt some fans will go crazy about this because Saunders once won 33 games over two seasons, thinking he is some kind of steal. Other fans will go crazy because he is going to get paid a lot of money for a guy who barely fans over 5 batters per nine innings, gives up lots of homers and has a lousy career FIP. This should be hilarious.
Ryan Spilborghs – The Rockies finally gave up on waiting for Spilborghs to have that long awaited breakout season. A capable outfielder with good on-base skills and some pop in his bat, he should be able to land a bench job somewhere, but don’t get too excited about him as he has always struggled to hit outside of Coors Field. In other words, he is a standard Rockies cast off.
Ryan Theriot – As an infielder that can steal bases and hit for a decent average despite not being able to get the ball out of the infield, Theriot should have a solid market awaiting him. As long as nobody plans on letting him embarrass himself at shortstop again, they should be alright.
A few other names might hit the market too since a handful of teams apparently felt that having the entire off-season to make these contract decisions still isn’t enough and have thus delayed announcing their decisions. Thanks, lazy teams.