Free Agency Wrap Up 2009

By Chris Blake

The 2009 edition of BRASSWORLD Free Agency went off with fewer issues than

previous years. There were a few spurious bids by last minute bidders adding

too many zeroes, and a mysterious time-display problem some folks

encountered, but overall it was a success.

Annadale and Taggart had the big bankrolls and were in a race to spend it. In

the end, Robert Smith pulled ahead spending an enormous $118 Million in

guaranteed money over the next 5 years. Mark’s Taggart came in a close

second with $106 Million.

For it’s money, Annadale got premier lefty Johan Santana with the premium

$11M per season pricetag. In fact, Robert picked up a lot of pitching help, also

signing John Garland to a long term contract , John Grabow, and Heilman. He

also won out on injured shortstop Furcal, who was possibly the best shortstop

in this year’s free agent class, and center fielder Aaron Rowand who had a bit

of a down year in spacious SF. Annadale signed 11 players.

Taggart also signed a premier starter to head is rotation for the next 5 years,

inking CC Sabathia to a $50M contract. He’ll not only provide an instant bump

to the rotation, but his bat should help as well. Brian Roberts was one of the

premium infielders on the market and Mark got him for a fairly steep $7.5M a

year. Others of note: fallen ace Barry Zito will try a comeback and provide

innings, Jody Gerut had a good season on a pitiful San Diego team, and AAA

slugging champion Dallas McPherson will try to turn those minor league

numbers into major league success with Taggart. They signed 12 players.

Aspen was next with $96 Million guaranteed, and a boost of $25.3M in 2009

payroll. Rene got the multi-talented Orlando Hudson and his gold glove

defense (and good bat, as well) for a reasonable 5Y-$4.6M – provided he returns

from injury as good as new. Other signings were super utility man Chone

Figgans, and the solid Japanese import starter Hiroki Kuroda. Aspen signed

quite a bit of pitching including Mike Adams – who has rotator cuff damage, the

resurgent Jeff Karstens, closer BJ Ryan, Stults, and Darren Oliver. At $2.5M

over 4 seasons, Rene is hoping Balfour repeats his 2008 success, rather than his

previous seasons when we went unsigned. Aspen signed 9 players.

Lafontaine Park signed 14 players to $74M in guaranteed money, lead by 1

year rentals Mike Mussina and Greg Maddux. Both will provide excellent

innings, but Mussina has already retired so the $4M 2010 contract will be

wasted. Ramon Ramirez will provide great bullpen help vs righties. Leo Nunez

will be a great setup man, and Zobrist can play LF and Short with better than

usual offense this season. Pierzynski was the only full time catcher in the draft

and he provides above average offense for his position. Hinske will provide

good power, at least for 2009, but is only on a 2-year deal. Lowry could be OK

if he recovers from his injury.

Plum Island signed $47.6M in guaranteed money, most going to Starter Tim

Wakefield and 1st baseman Adam Laroche. Wakefield is a knuckleballer and

could pitch another 5 years, and had his best season in years in 2008. But in his

40s, he could also decide to hang it up at any time if the grind becomes too

much. Laroche provides good power and solid D at first and is still in his prime.

Also signed was Jorge Cantu, who wasn’t on anyone’s roster in 2008. He

regained his offense from 3 years ago and had a great season. Henry is hoping

he stays at that level for the next 5 years. Jerry Hairston rejuvenated his

career as well with solid offensive numbers in a utility role. The rest are fillers

Erstad, Bard, Lieber, Wright, Mota, Stairs and Glavine. They are not signed

long term and are flyers.

Northwoods signed 2 blue chippers in Brandon Phillips and JP Howell, both for

reasonable contracts (3.75M, and 3.5M) but for long deals. Phillips is worth it.

Howell could be too if he stays healthy. Marte had a decent year and was

signed for a 1.3M 3Y deal. The rest are roster filler, Branyan giving his usual

awesome power versus righties and awesome strikeout numbers. Corey spent

$44.4M guaranteed, $12.8M in 2009 payroll.

Palm Harbor had little money to spend and picked up underrated Ted Lilly for

4Y at 4.9M/year. Good innings and a fairly reliable starter. The rest are

position filler. Fred spent $30.5M, $8 in 2009 for 4 players.

Bloomington was next at $25.6M in guaranteed money, $9.7M in 2009. They

got Colorado shortstop Barmes for 3Y at $1.7M per year. Clint was an injury

fill-in and can’t hit away from Denver, so Vaughn is hoping he becomes the

utility man and can keep hitting at home. Geary is a nice pickup giving reliable

relief versus righties. Tatis came back from nowhere to post good numbers in

2008. Edmonds was a reasonable $1.3M signing and Durham was a steal at

$800K. Cruz could be a steal if he can regain his stuff. At $1M per it is a good


Alaska was next at $25.5M guaranteed, $8.7M for 2009. Little money room to

play with, Alaska had to settle for whoever could give innings. They signed

Brian Moehler, a mediocre pitcher but with 150 much needed innings for 2Y at

$2M per, and relievers Bell, Crain, and Chan Ho Park. All are OK, and Chris is

hoping Heath Bell at 5Y, $1.8M per year stays a good setup man. Vazquez gives

the Hot Stoves some needed Shortstop at bats to try to replace Furcal. Other

attempts at getting short stop at bats ended in getting outbid. Kapler and Ross

are filler, Kapler a good deal at $667K

West Oakland was next at $21.8 Guaranteed, most to one player Mark Buehrle,

who Bill signed for 5Y at $4M per year. Bill is hoping he returns to form and

keeps being a workhorse, innings-eater. The rest are filler.

Dublin is next with $20M guaranteed, $5.4M in 2009. The Gael Force got a

bargain in Jack Wilson at 3Y $905K per year. Dana Eveland was the big

purchase at 5Y $2.8M per year. Dana is young and did well in his shot in 2008.

Doug is betting he’ll continue progressing.

Gotham City is next at $16M guaranteed, $5.9 in 2009. Wayne picked up a

number of serviceable guys, making the most of short money. He picked up 10

players, most notably Cameron and Emil Brown in the OF, bullpen help Grilli,

Shouse, and Rusch, and a flyer on Shealy.

Virginia signed only 4 players ($15.3M), but all middle tier with Marlon Byrd

heading the list (3Y $2.7M/yr). Bullpen help was needed and Mike added 3

decent ones in Billy Wagner, Chad Bradford and Reyes all on short contracts.

Williamsburg was next at $14M, picking up Griffey for the year at $3M, Florida

reliever Joe Nelson, who had a great year coming back from injury at 3Y

$1.25M, and utility guy Amezaga (everyone needs one of those guys) at $800K.

The rest were decent value signings Romero, Eckstein, Torrealba, and Jay


The Metz signed only 2: Melky Cabrera at 5Y $1.7M and Chad Gaudin 3Y $1.3M.

He might have overpayed for both, but he has plenty in the bank so why not

grab the guys you want?

Greenville signed 7 players for a total of $11M guaranteed. Paul Byrd was the

headliner at 2Y for $3.8M per. At that stage of the draft there was a scramble

for innings and Paul was the last decent starter available. The rest were filler,

all signed for close to minimum.

Montreal was next at $10.6M and picked up a bunch of pitching on the cheap.

10 players for $5.4M in 2009 – all are mediocre lead by Ponson (1Y $1.5M)

Waikiki followed a course similar to Montreal, signing a lot of players to short

money. 11 signings for $6.8M in 2009 ($10.2M guaranteed). Guillen is the

headliner, with decent players Sean Green, Inge, Weathers, Mike Lincoln,

Patterson, Howry, and filler.

Silver ($9M guaranteed) signed Mark Ellis to man 2B at $1.55M 4Y. and Jeff

Kent to a cheap $785K.

Mequon was next at $7.75M guaranteed to Ron Belliard (3Y $1.75 per) and 1

year rental Salomon Torres.

Georgia ($3.8M), Hoboken ($3.8M), and Palo Alto ($2.4M) all had very limited

cash, so picked up whatever cheap filler they could, most notably Chad

Cordero on Palo Alto.

The league spent a total of $727M in guaranteed money in this year’s free

agency. This was down from the $1.1B spent last year.