With the sagging economy and overflow of young talent, many veterans on the free agent market have had a tough time finding jobs. Quite a few have signed minor league contracts with invitations to spring training.
Outfielder Jim Edmonds, who is considered one of the best defensive centerfielders of his time, did not play in 2009. Many thought he had decided to retire but he made it known this offseason that he wanted to play in 2010. The Milwaukee Brewers took a chance on the 39 year old. “…I’ll get to go in there with a chance to show them I can still play,” said Edmonds. Edmonds should provide veteran leadership to an otherwise young roster. Plus he is a left-handed bat that can add to a right-handed heavy lineup. He may not make the club out of spring training due to not hitting big league pitching for over a year, but he may be brought up from the minors after a little refresher course (if he chooses to take the minor league assignment). Edmonds will reportedly earn an $825,000 base salary if he makes the Brewers’ roster, with an opportunity to earn as much as $2.5 million with incentives. If Edmonds isn’t added to the 40-man roster by March 25 (which is twelve days before the season opener), he can opt for free agency. In 15 Major League seasons, plus a September callup with the Angels in 1993, Edmonds is a .284 hitter with a .377 on-base percentage, 382 home runs and 1,176 RBIs. Edmonds’ best years came while with the Angels and the early years with the St. Louis Cardinals as he helped them make the 2004 World Series.
The NY Yankees signed outfielder and DH Marcus Thames, who spent the last six seasons with the Detroit Tigers. Thames is expected to compete for a backup outfield spot but could earn a starting job if one of the corner outfielders struggle. Thames should compete with veteran Randy Winn though Winn can play centerfield. Thames is a career .242 hitter but hits 22 points higher against left-handed pitching. Last season, the 33 year old right-handed hitter hit .252 with 13 homeruns. He has made a name for himself as a low-average, high-power hitter. Going into spring training, the Yankees really only have three outfielders on their roster, so there is plenty of opportunity for Thames to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Veteran Mike Sweeney played last year with the Seattle Mariners and called it the most fun he has had in his career. When healthy, Sweeney will hit, as his career .298 average has shown. Sweeney is also considered one of the best guys in the clubhouse, similar to former first baseman Sean Casey. Sweeney re-signed with the Mariners knowing it will be a long shot to make the team. However he is excited to be a part of the Mariners for at least six weeks and help the likes of Ryan Garko, Casey Kotchman and Milton Bradley. Last year, Sweeney hit .281 with 8 homeruns and 34 RBIs in 74 games. He was a non-roster invitee last season too, but this year with the additions of Garko and Kotchman at first base, Eric Byrnes and Bradley in the outfield, and the re-signing of Ken Griffey Jr as the DH, it will be a lot tougher to make the Opening Day roster.