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The Curious Case of the 2009 Unsigned Free Agents

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Blame the economy, collusion, or the alignment of the moon and the stars, this has been a very curious off-season.  With only a few weeks until spring training, many free agents, both big and small in name, remain unsigned.  This includes the Astros' free agents spurned by the team earlier this season, Wolf and Wigginton.

Walt Jocketty, GM of the Reds, had this to say about Wigginton as well as the unsigned Type A free agents:

"I talked to his [Wigginton's] agent," Jocketty said. "They're getting close to desperate stage. But we're really only looking at bench help. I think that's the only type of guys we'll bring in -- if we do that."

One thing to keep in mind about Type A free agents: If you sign them now, you lose a draft pick. If you sign them after the June draft, there's no compensation.

"It's a possibility that you'll see guys go until then," Jocketty said. 

(Fay Blog, Cincinnati Enquirer)

Fox Sport's Rosenthal raises the possibility of union sponsored free agent camps after spring training starts, wih this quote from the MLBPA 's Donald Fehr:

Fehr did not dismiss the possibility of the union setting up a training camp for unemployed players in Florida or Arizona. "We're considering all options," Fehr said, "and that certainly is one." The union arranged such a camp in Homestead, Fla., for the large number of free agents who were looking for work after the players' strike ended in 1995 ...

Rosenthal has also raised the possibility that big name free agents, particularly those with Type A designation who would cost a signing team's draft pick, might take the strategy of waiting unitl after June to sign.  He cites Ben Sheets as a good example of someone who might benefit:

Sheets, Hudson and Cabrera all are Type A free agents; as it stands, any team that signs them would forfeit a high draft pick. But, as first reported by ESPN's Buster Olney, draft-pick compensation vanishes after the June draft — all the more reason for certain Type A's to hold firm.

Roger Clemens already has proven that a starting pitcher, in particular, can succeed on a half-season plan.

Why shouldn't others follow?...

Sheets, 30, would be far more attractive, a potential No. 1 starter in waiting. While he still might receive an acceptable offer before spring training, imagine the frenzy if he suddenly became available at mid-season. Teams concerned about his history of arm trouble might actually prefer him for only 15 or 20 starts....

Such a strategy would not be without risk; the economy could become even more problematic for the industry, prompting mid- and low-revenue teams to shed expensive contracts and effectively flood the market with talent.

 

Well, maybe entropic can continue the Ben Sheets chant after all.  McLane might be more inclined toward an in-season acquisition...at least he has, in the past.  And what about Wigginton?  Is it possible that the Astros might still consider re-signing him?  I have to say that seems doubtful to me.  But it's an interesting thought, at a time when we have very little other off-season transactions to discuss.  I find it hard to believe that Wolf won't sign with someone in the next couple of weeks.  But, who knows?