10 MLB Stars Who Will Be Looking For Work By Spring Training
When MLB spring training commences in 2013, some big names may not be present. Every year free agency and cuts leave players who have given their lives to the game out on the street. Most of the time it is men who are coming to the end of the line and this year is no different.
Thanks to free agency and expansion, the number of star players without jobs when spring training starts has dwindled. If a player can not find work when there are 1,200 jobs available, then he is either injured, too old, washed up or asking for too much money. If one is experienced and can help a major league team in any way, someone will find a place for them.
This list looks at 10 players whom there is a very good chance will not be employed when spring training begins. Some are past their prime and hoping to get another year or two in before retiring. Others still have something left in the tank, but teams are being cautious and do not want to sign them unless they absolutely have to. In some cases, a player may be coming back from injury and not quite ready to play.
At the time of this post, none of the players on this list have found a home for 2013. All of them could be signed at any time so this is only speculation. No one knows what the future holds, especially an observer from the outside. In all honesty, some names that were on the original list signed as recently as this week.
So without further ado, here are 10 star players who may very well be unemployed by spring training.
10 Jim Thome
The Baltimore Orioles brought Thome aboard last season in hopes that he would give them some left handed power at the plate. He was used as a designated hitter and pinch hit from time to time. After 22 years in the game, Thome says he wants to return for another season. He's not getting any younger, but an AL contender in need of a bat may take a flyer on him.
9. Jason Giambi
The 42 year old Giambi is in the same boat as Thome. After 18 seasons in the big leagues, Giambi still feels he can contribute. He spent 2012 with the Colorado Rockies. Teams looking for a left handed bat may choose between Giambi and Thome. Since Giambi actually played defense last season, he may get the nod.
8. Bobby Abreu
Abreu is another player who has bat and will travel. The question is does anyone want to give him a one way plane ticket to spring training? Los Angeles was his home last season as he started the year with the Angels and finished with the Dodgers. At 38, Abreu may have to wait until the season starts to find a place to play this year.
7. Freddy Garcia
A pitcher with four years of post season experience, Garcia is on the open market. The New York Yankees did not resign him after last season. Garcia finished 7-6 last season and will get a chance to pitch somewhere. The question is when and with whom?
6. Livan Hernandez
Hernandez seems to always be unsigned going into spring training. Before the Washington Nationals became good, he was their standby starter called upon to fill a place in the rotation. Last season, Hernandez was called on to do the same for the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves. It would not be a surprise to see someone sign him late in spring training or after the season starts.
5. Carlos Lee
Lee spent 2012 playing for two of the worst teams in baseball, the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins. Along the way he had one of his worst seasons as his power numbers were down across the board. However, the 14 year veteran could probably still help someone and it would not be a stretch to see him signed before or early in spring training.
4. Carlos Zambrano
Like Carlos Lee, Zambrano was part of the disastrous Miami Marlins 2012 season. Zambrano was never on his game last season and ended up in the bullpen. Thus, his option was not picked up and he is now on the open market. One has to believe that the 32 year old still has a couple of good years left in him. It would be somewhat of a surprise to see no one sign him before opening day.
3. Roy Oswalt
It has been reported that Oswalt, who spent 2012 with the Texas Rangers, says he might come back for another year, but on his terms and only for half a season. If he does not sign until after the All-Star break this means he will naturally be baseball unemployed in the spring. There are some teams willing to sign Oswalt, but questions about his desire to continue pitching have caused them to proceed with caution.
2. Grady Sizemore
Sizemore has not played a full season since 2008 as injuries have slowed down this once promising talent. The Cleveland Indians outfielder is coming off of knee surgery and says he will not return until completely healthy which is projected to be mid season. Because of this, teams may back off until they know the 30 year old Sizemore is at full speed.
1. Jose Valverde
This is an interesting one in that until the end of last season, the Detroit Tigers closer could pretty much right his own ticket anywhere. However, he could not get anyone out in the post season and the Tigers lost confidence in him. Now Valverde has to prove he is still capable of saving 40 plus games again. Of all the people on this list, Valverde is the most likely to have a job come spring training, but right now he does not. His 2012 finish will allow teams to low ball him in contract talks and Valverde may have to settle for less than what he wants. Until he does, he will be unemployed.