The Week Ahead: Free-agent deals on deck
Starting pitchers Jimenez, Arroyo, Santana headline talented group still on market
Jason Hammel went to the Cubs. Bruce Chen re-upped with the Royals. Lance Berkman and Michael Young retired, A.J. Burnett apparently decided not to, Suk-Yin Moon threw for teams in California and the Seahawks beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl.
Got all that?
Good, because that was last week, and now baseball moves to the collective forefront of our sports-crazy country in The Week Ahead.
Spring Training camps begin in less than two weeks, or in the case of the Dodgers and D-backs, who will open the regular season in Australia, they get going this Thursday (Arizona) and Sunday (Los Angeles).
The urgency of the calendar, however, still hasn't prevented teams from being excruciatingly patient when it comes to the still-desirable and still-very-much-available free-agent players who have to be wondering where to ship their belongings for the six weeks of Grapefruit or Cactus League play.
Pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Bronson Arroyo, outfielder Nelson Cruz, shortstop Stephen Drew and first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales are all high-profile players up for the taking, and they're all likely hopeful that a deal gets done pretty quickly so they can acclimate to their new surroundings on the proper schedule. Clubs interested in their services are likely hopeful that the players will agree to contracts that are affordable and team-friendly. And so we continue to wait, although this week should bring about some action.
The delay on Jimenez might be because he's most likely looking for a high-dollar multiyear deal, and if the team that signs him is not the Indians, for whom he played last year, that team will have to give Cleveland a pick between the first and second rounds of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.
The Blue Jays have been mentioned as having interest in the right-hander, who rebounded from ERAs of 4.68 in 2011 and 5.40 in 2012 and an uneven beginning to the 2013 season to go 6-5 with a 1.82 ERA in 13 starts after the All-Star break.
Santana might also end up with Toronto or somewhere else. The same goes for Arroyo or any of the starting pitchers who remain available, including Chris Capuano, Barry Zito, Tommy Hanson, Jake Westbrook and Paul Maholm.
In the position player market, it's likely that Cruz will be snapped up soon. The latest speculation is that the market is getting busy for the right-handed slugger, who played for Texas last year, and that while Cruz might not get the five-year contract he was rumored to be seeking at the beginning of the offseason, there are multiple teams interested this late in the game, so a small bidding war could materialize and drive up his value.
As for Drew, the last we've heard is that the Red Sox haven't ruled out a return and that the Mets probably won't be signing him.
"We haven't ruled it out, but I think doing anything is unlikely," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "I think that Stephen will always have other opportunities. We continue to monitor his situation. We're looking at other free agents that are still available, and [we're] trying to judge their status and how they might fit with us. I know there's been a lot of speculation about Drew and the Mets, but at this point, that's what it remains -- speculation."
That also could be said for Morales, for whom the market has been slow but could quicken in a hurry.
And they're not the only ones waiting to call moving services and apartment complexes in warm spring climates.
Veterans Placido Polanco, and Juan Pierre are still out there, as are closers Fernando Rodney, Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, Rafael Betancourt and Kevin Gregg, righty relievers Luis Ayala, Kyle Farnsworth, Frank Francisco, Matt Guerrier, Carlos Marmol and Brett Myers, Francisco Rodriguez and lefties Mike Gonzalez and Oliver Perez.