Top remaining free agents
Ken Davidoff gave his starting lineup of the top remaining free agents in the Majors. Among the notables? Johnny Damon and Pedro Martinez.
Catcher: Rod Barajas
I confess, I would've guessed that his 2009 numbers were better than they actually were. A .258 on-base percentage? Yeesh. Nevertheless, considering how much less guaranteed money he's likely to get than Bengie Molina (who, you'd still think, will eventually sign with the Mets), I'm curious to see how he does, on a likely one-year deal. Once the Mets and Molina agree to terms, San Francisco and Texas are expected to pursue the remaining catchers most aggressively.
First base: Russell Branyan
A tease of a big-league career hit a new high in 2009, in Branyan's age-34 season. But if you look at the breakdown, you'll see that he slowed down considerably in the second half, after a terrific first half. The Mets expressed an interest back around the time of the winter meetings. With Carlos Delgado reportedly not unimpressive in winter ball, would it make sense for the Mets to take a flyer on Branyan?
Second base: Orlando Hudson
Respected and beloved throughout the industry...except when it's time to pay him. Amazingly, Hudson appears in line to sign his second straight, under-market contract, unless the Mets somehow find a taker for Luis Castillo (extremely unlikely, it appears) and then sign Hudson. The Nationals appear to be Hudson's most likely landing spot.
Shortstop: Orlando Cabrera
Like his fellow Orlando, he's in his second straight year of waiting out a good offer. But also like his fellow Orlando, he doesn't have the "draft-pick compensation issue hovering over him, as it did for both him and Hudson last year. Cabrera isn't that good anymore, but that he always seems to be in the playoffs - yes, of course he has benefited from some luck - makes him one to watch.
Third base: Miguel Tejada
It seems inevitable that he's going to switch from his longtime position of shortstop, but even such open-mindedness isn't exactly burning up Tejada's phone line, as ESPN's Jorge Arangure notes. The Cardinals, with one last medium-sized purchase in their budget, seem like the best candidate.
Leftfield: Johnny Damon
Who else? He is the slam-dunk candidate to be this year's Bobby Abreu, although the Yankees didn't want Abreu back a year ago the way they wanted Damon back back in December. People of course still think that Damon and the Yankees will wind up back together, and never say never. Yet I think that the Yankees, while they would have gladly taken Damon back for the right terms, are partially relieved that they have one less aging player on their roster. I know the Braves are saying they'll pass, but this potential marriage, given Atlatna's potential offensive problems and Damon's living so close to the Braves' spring-training site, makes so much sense.
Rightfield: Xavier Nady
We know the deal with pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery. With outfielders? Not as customary. Nady would be a perfect complement to Brett Gardner on the Yankees, but I don't think Brian Cashman, with his eye on next year's free-agent crop, will spend a penny over his 2010 budget, so that Hal Steinbrenner will let him go to town for 2011.
Designated hitter: Jim Thome
While he turns the big 4-0 in August, there's little reason to think he's done producing runs. According to this MLB.com story, Tampa Bay has made contact with Thome. For certain, Thome has a severe pay cut coming from last year's $13 million.
Starting pitcher: Pedro Martinez
What makes Martinez so intriguing is that he's Pedro Martinez.