Impressive roster of free agents remains
With Meetings over, plenty of Hot Stove action to come
The shopping season that began in earnest in Indianapolis is far from over, and the inventory of free agents remains stocked to the rafters.
An ace and two slugging outfielders have dominated the spotlight so far this offseason, but they are only part of what could be a full roster of free agents who can contribute to clubs.
A few good men -- from right-hander Rich Harden getting a fresh start with the Rangers and veterans like catcher Pudge Rodriguez and starter Randy Wolf -- have landed on rosters for next season.
There remains a lot of talent to be had, and plenty of shoppers who didn't get very deep into their checklist at the Winter Meetings in Indy.
Of course, there are also some big names available on the trade market, starting with Toronto ace Roy Halladay and including slugging second baseman Dan Uggla and right-hander Derek Lowe. There also will be another haul of free agents come Saturday, when some talented players such as Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins are not expected to be tendered contracts by the deadline to do so.
Whatever this year's class of free agents might lack in chart-topping largesse compared to a year ago, the current group already makes up for in depth.
At the top tier, starter John Lackey and sluggers Matt Holliday and Jason Bay likely won't be ringing the same financial bells CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira did a year ago. But then the field of free agents covers a little more ground right now than it did a year ago.
Enough to fill a team from scratch? Perhaps. Could be fun.
The Free-Agent 25-man RosterBelow is a 25-player roster culled together from the available remaining free agents.
OK, then, in the spirit of the shopping season, here's an empty, reusable shopping bag and a 25-man roster spree down the 2009-10 free agent aisle:
Starting pitchers (5): Lackey, Joel Pineiro, Ben Sheets, Justin Duchscherer and Aroldis Chapman.
Lackey's far and away the class of the group, and Pineiro is coming off a career year with the Cardinals. The rest of the group has potential issues, of course, as do other possible selections like Jon Garland, Erik Bedard, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Kelvim Escobar and Brett Myers. And Chapman, the 21-year-old Cuban defector? Why not?
Relief pitchers (5): Jose Valverde, Mike Gonzalez, Fernando Rodney, Octavio Dotel, Darren Oliver.
The Astros have moved on from Valverde, picking Brandon Lyon from the free-agent aisle and acquiring Matt Lindstrom via trade. Valverde stands out with two 40-save seasons preceding a 25-save campaign in '09. But the rest all could contribute.
Catchers (2): Bengie Molina, Rod Barajas.
With Pudge Rodriguez off the market with the Nationals now, the catcher most coveted on the market is (and was) Bengie Molina, who works a staff as well as anyone and hits well enough that he batted cleanup for the Giants (although that was a bit of a stretch). With Jason Kendall now snapped up, Barajas is a solid backup choice.
First baseman: Carlos Delgado.
If he's indeed healthy after hip surgery and he can return even to his 2008 form, Delgado could be big again in the middle of someone's lineup. He has 473 homers and 1,510 RBIs behind him, and probably a good number of each ahead of him if he's healthy.
Second baseman: Orlando Hudson.
What a difference a year makes, eh? Last year, he had to wait and wait for the call, but this year O-Dog is top dog among second basemen. His Gold Glove defense and all-around presence is something any team would covet.
Third baseman: Adrian Beltre
No, his last deal with the Mariners didn't exactly turn out the way everybody had hoped, but he did rally a bit after a horrendous start in Seattle. He'll be only 31 in April.
Shortstop: Miguel Tejada
Since Beltre's available, Tejada can stay at shortstop on this roster. Having regained some of his dominant form while with the Astros, Tejada is one of the more coveted bats on the market.
Outfielders (5): Holliday, Bay, Johnny Damon, Mike Cameron, Jermaine Dye.
Holliday and Bay will get big deals, because they're both big-deal guys -- a lot of pop from the right side. After that, Damon and Cameron can still fill a lineup spot for pretty much any team, and Dye remains a solid choice for right field and DH if needed. That bumps Vladimir Guerrero, who could fill a similar role to Dye as long as he's healthy after a rough 2009 in that department. Gary Sheffield, Randy Winn and Rick Ankiel are other considerations. This configuration leaves out the World Series MVP, Hideki Matsui -- who does have some NL interest in him, despite more DH credentials.
Utility: Mark DeRosa
He'll literally play anywhere, any day. In fact, that might limit teams interested in him, simply because his value might not fit their need for a multi-position player. We'll take him, for sure.
Corner infielders: Nick Johnson, Troy Glaus
Would be nice to have a first baseman of Johnson's caliber around especially if Delgado's the starter, and Glaus can deliver some pop off this bench.
Middle infielder: Felipe Lopez.
Orlando Cabrera has made the rounds, and they've won pretty much everywhere he's gone. But Lopez gets an edge here because he brings experience to the table at both middle spots and he's younger.
OK. That's 25.
But, hey, that's just one way to fill the free-agent shopping bag.
Point is, there is still plenty of inventory for those shopping GMs.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.