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Major League Baseball has insisted that it will start the season on time on April 1st, and will start training camps in Arizona and Florida on Saturday, February 27.
Sure, things could still change, but as of now, the league is trying to do what it can to keep its players safe so that they can take the field for a full 162-game season. Depending on how long the World Series lasts, the season could extend all the way to November 3rd.
With just over three weeks till the start of training camps, there’s a number of high profile players still out there on the open market, and while some players like Kolten Wong and Eddie Rosario are starting to get scooped up, there is still plenty of talent out there for the taking.
Today, we take a look at the players who are still available and attempt to explain why they haven’t inked a deal yet.
If you’ve followed the news about the current NL Cy Young Award winner, you know that there aren’t many teams that he has NOT been connected to since he hit the free agent market.
The latest on the former Red and Cleveland Indians hurler is that he’s heading for one of the two biggest media markets in the country. The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets have reportedly both sought his services.
Per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Tampa Rays have shown interest in signing Ozuna. He’s got a lot of value. Last season, he led the NL with 18 homers, 56 RBI and 145 total bases in 60 games. He also finished sixth in National League MVP voting.
The 30-year-old also set career-highs with a .338 batting average, .431 on-base percentage and .636 slugging percentage.
The 36-year-old hit .307 and four homers last year for the World Champion Dodgers. Reports say that as many as four teams have interest in Turner: the Braves, the Dodgers, the Toronto Blue Jays and a fourth mystery team.
Two seasons back, Turner hit .290 with 27 homers and 67 RBI, so he clearly could be an asset to some team out there in 2021.
Two seasons ago, Odorizzi was an All-Star for the Minnesota Twins, going 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 30 starts. This past season, Odorizzi was hit by a comebacker in late August, and he recorded only four starts after that. He went 0-1.
Odorizzi could be the consolation prize for a team that doesn’t get Trevor Bauer.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports: “Jake Odorizzi is drawing broad interest, and his market could crystallize once Trevor Bauer signs. The Angels, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Giants, and Twins have been in contact, sources say, with the Mets a possibility if they don’t sign Bauer.”
Jackie Bradley Jr.
The 30-year-old hit .283 in 55 games for the Red Sox in 2020, and rumor has it that the New York Mets have been looking to see what it might take to sign Bradley Jr for 2021.
He hit just .225 in his last full season two years ago, playing in 147 games for Boston. However, he then quietly had a nice bounce back season in 2020, which should earn him a payday somewhere.
His defense is going to be the biggest selling point once a team gets serious about signing him.
The market has been mostly quiet for Paxton this offseason, but back on January 22nd, Jon Heyman reported that the Blue Jays have been doing their homework and may bring in the 32-year-old former Seattle Mariner and New York Yankee.
Paxton started just five games last year, going 1-1 with a 6.64 ERA. He also had back surgery in February 2020 and suffered a strained flexor tendon in his left forearm during the season.
His velocity was down as well, and he’s never made more than 29 starts or thrown more than 160 1/3 innings in a season. All of which may be scaring teams off.
The 28-year-old was dealt from the Mariners to the Jays back on August 27th, and in 11 starts last year, he went 4-3 with a combined 2.70 ERA.
He looked good in Toronto, going 2-1 with a 1.37 ERA in six starts for the Jays.
Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto said last year when they dealt Walker that they could turn around and bring him right back this offseason, but they have yet to make him a serious offer. The Ms might not have enough cash left to do a multi-year deal for Walker though.
Many still have Molina pegged to make a return to St. Louis, but there’s word that the Blue Jays are also kicking the tires on the 38-year-old catcher who is set to appear in his 18th season of action in 2021.
Molina hit .262 in 42 games for the Cards last year, and it’s the only organization he’s played for in his nearly 20-year career, which is why many think he’ll wind up back in St. Louis.
The nine-time All-Star’s bat has slowed down a little, but he’s still a solid backstop for any team. Catchers who are good defensively and who can hit are not easy to come by.
Last season, Rosenthal played for both the Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres, and in 23 combined appearances, was an impressive 1-0 with a 1.90 ERA. In eight MLB seasons (six with the Cardinals), he’s 12-25 with a 3.36 ERA.
Some say that Minnesota, who needs pen help, would be a perfect match for Rosenthal, but so far, if there’s been much discussion, it has yet to progress. The sides are not budging much at this point.
Rosenthal still has value though, so it will be interesting to see where he winds up in 2021.
Last season, Colomé was 2-0 with a stout 0.81 ERA in 21 appearances out of the pen for the Chicago White Sox. So he could help out a team that is looking for pen help in 2021 and beyond.
In eight seasons, he’s 28-23 with an impressive 2.95 ERA, and his value is such that if he can get two or three teams interested, he can likely get a team to pay him what he wants.
As with Rosenthal, rumor has it that the Twins would love to add Colomé to their pen.
Now four years removed from going 22-4 and winning the Cy Young Award with the Boston Red Sox, Porcello is looking for a new home to try and show he’s still got it at age 31.
Last year was a nightmare for Porcello. He went 1-7 with a 5.64 ERA for the Mets, starting 11 games and allowing 37 runs in 59 innings of work.
He’s still durable for his age, and just two years ago he started 32 games, going 14-12 for the Red Sox. So teams might be willing to give him a pass for last year’s awful season in New York.
The Tigers are a team that has talked about bringing him in. Any team that wants him as a number four or five starter can probably get him on the cheap for one-year at about $5-6 million.
Gonzalez has a couple teams that are interested in his services as a utility guy, with the Red Sox and Phillies being at the top of the list.
Last season, Gonzalez struggled at the plate. He hit just .211 with five homers and 22 RBI. He is a lifetime .261 hitter and with his ability to play multiple positions, there’s a team out there that is going to want his services.
He’s 31 years old and still has plenty to give to a team that is looking to add a versatile player.
Hamels, 37, has thrown for four different teams in his 15 years in the Majors. Most memorable was the decade he spent with the Phillies. He helped them win a World Series going 14-10 and beating the Rays in 2008 four games to one.
Those days are long gone, and like Porcello, Hamels may need a team to take a chance on him as a fourth or fifth starter.
It was reported back in late December that the Phillies had interest in bringing their former ace back into the fold, but only if Hamels was healthy.
He made just one start in 2020, though the Braves still paid him a cool $18 million. He had told the team that he had “shoulder fatigue,” which was why he had to be shut down.
Health will be the biggest reason Hamels does or doesn’t get an opportunity in 2021.
The 29-year-old second baseman hit .278 for the Tigers last season, hitting eight homers and driving in 23 runs in 44 games.
Known for his six seasons with the Orioles, Schoop might be down to slim pickins. since there aren’t many teams that still need a second baseman.
The Phillies might be looking to bring in a second baseman. Milwaukee was shopping for one, but they filled that role Wednesday when they signed Kolton Wong from the Cardinals.
Look for Schoop to get a gig, but it likely won’t be till late in camp.