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Kimbrel? Off the table. But these 7 aren't

@williamfleitch
June 6, 2019

Now that the MLB Draft is over, and any Draft picks teams would have to give up to sign free agents are now safely in everyone’s pocket, we have already seen one high-profile free agent come off the board in Craig Kimbrel, who sources say will sign with the Cubs.

Now that the MLB Draft is over, and any Draft picks teams would have to give up to sign free agents are now safely in everyone’s pocket, we have already seen one high-profile free agent come off the board in Craig Kimbrel, who sources say will sign with the Cubs.

But let’s remember: Kimbrel isn’t the only free agent available to nab. While we’ve been concentrating on him and Dallas Keuchel, other free agents, players on the market who have not retired, have been waiting by their phones. Will Kimbrel's signing loosen up the market for them? Dozens of teams will be looking for help as the pennant chase continues to tighten. Perhaps there’s still value left to be rung from these guys.

Bartolo Colon, RHP, age 46
Reports that the Tigers were considering signing Colon last month turned out to be erroneous, but come on: If he’s willing and able to come back, somebody’s gotta take a chance on him, right? Colon was an All-Star as recently as 2016 -- the guy has made four All-Star teams, and check out the years on them: 1998, 2005, '13 and '16 -- and even though '18 with Texas was rough, the guy still threw 146 innings. Everybody needs innings! He just turned 46 a few weeks ago, which is three years younger than Jamie Moyer was when he last appeared in 2012. If Moyer can do it, Bartolo surely can too.

Evan Gattis, C/DH, age 32
Gattis spent the offseason smashing plastic baseballs, which maybe isn’t the ideal training regimen but still shouldn’t discourage anyone from signing a guy who hit 25 homers last year. Gattis is only 32, an imposing designated hitter and a guy with considerable postseason experience. His lack of on-base skills and defensive issues limit his utility for a whole season, but for a team that could use that extra oomph in a push for the postseason, he’s ideal.

Matt Holliday, LF/ DH, age 39
If you need any proof that Holliday can join a team midseason and make an impact, simply look at last year, when he joined his old team in Colorado in August. He was terrific, putting up the highest OBP of his career (.415 in 65 plate appearances) and getting a double in the NL Wild Card game win over the Cubs. And boy did he look terrific in that old Rockies uniform. All told … it’s not like Raimel Tapia is tearing it up in left field for Colorado right now. A return trip to Denver for Holliday could be as much of a blast as it was last year.

Ryan Madson, RHP, age 38
Obviously, it’s going to take a while to forget how 2018 ended for Madson. He coughed up leads in both Games 1 and 2 of the World Series, and gave up another homer, a three-run shot to Mitch Moreland, in Game 4. But Madson was good otherwise in '18, and may have been the best reliever in baseball in '17. Everybody needs bullpen arms in October. Madson, if you can forget last year’s World Series, would have to be worth a shot for someone.

Brandon Phillips, 2B, age 37
The good news for Phillips is that he finally got a World Series ring in 2018. The bad news is that he only appeared in nine games for the Red Sox, hitting .130 after they signed him to a Minor League deal in September. (He was the first player in Red Sox history to ever wear the No. 0.) He didn’t make the postseason roster and wasn’t invited to any team’s Spring Training this year. He’ll be 38 in three weeks, which is plenty old for a middle infielder, but if you need someone who can still pick it at second base, there could be value there. You can tell from his Instagram he certainly wants to play again.

James Shields, RHP, age 37
All right, so maybe the Big Game James nickname was always a bit overblown. (His lifetime postseason ERA is 5.46.) But you could always count on the guy to take the ball. He somehow threw 204 2/3 innings last year, seventh in baseball. (He was tied with Keuchel, actually.) Shields has started 31 games or more 11 times in the last 12 seasons, the sort of consistency and reliability you just don’t see in baseball anymore. We’re coming up on the time of year when teams hit an innings crunch. Shields won’t dominate anyone. But he will take the ball. Teams are looking at him too; he might be the next player to be signed after Kimbrel.

Denard Span, OF, age 35
Span didn’t steal nearly as many bases in 2018 as he did earlier in his career, but he might have become a better hitter: He’s actually been putting up higher home run totals than stolen base totals, which is rather remarkable when you think about it. His on-base numbers were up too. His defense has fallen off a lot, but this is a player who is clearly beloved by everyone he’s ever played with. One last go-around for guy who has always been a little underappreciated would do us all some good … and might just win his team some games.