Free agent relievers

Dave · September 29, 2004 at 11:25 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Since the bullpen seems to be the topic du’jour in the comments, here’s a complete list of relievers who will be free agents at years end. Good luck finding a power relief ace for $2-$3 million in this bunch.


Troy Percival
Terry Adams
Curtis Leskanic
Ramiro Mendoza
Scott Williamson
Mike Jackson
Cliff Politte
Rich White
Bob Wickman
Danny Patterson
Ugueth Urbina
Alan Levine
Doug Brocail
Jeff Nelson
Jay Powell
Antonio Alfonseca
Steve Reed
Armando Benitez
Chad Fox
Billy Koch
Rudy Seanez
Dan Miceli
David Weathers
Paul Shuey
Dave Burba
Ricky Bottalico
Mike DeJean
Roberto Hernandez
Todd Jones
Jose Mesa
Cal Eldred
Antonio Osuna
Dustin Hermanson


Mike Myers
Ron Villone
Kent Mercker
Jeff Fassero
Darren Oliver
Wilson Alvarez
John Franco
Rheal Cormier
Steve Kline

There are a few other guys who have team options that will likely be declined (Trevor Hoffman), but they aren’t the kind of relievers we need to be throwing money at anyways.

If the M’s want a dominating power relief ace next year, they’re going to have to trade for one.


31 Responses to “Free agent relievers”

  1. WsuMojo on September 29th, 2004 11:39 am

    I’d like them to go get Paul Shuey and Steve Kline personally. Shuey is a power guy who has done quite well but an injury could scare teams off and make him a cheap pickup. Kline would be the only LH i’d even think of going after since most likely Sherrill will be all we will have (thinking like you guys that you can’t count on a healthy Guardad next year) and i don’t think the M’s will give Thornton a chance though I would give him teh long relief job. If he finds teh strike zone, he could be the next billy wager (though throwing 96MPH, not 100) and in long relief when we are done by a lot, who cares if his control is a little off? That experience could be vital to make him into a big league pitcher. Other setup guys I would say if not those two would be Williamson, and possible Fox or Weathers. They have been setup guys who have had great seasons before… All setup relievers no matter how dominate don’t have great seasons every year (aka Hasagawa hopefully?) These four have the best chance I believe to be the best of whats out there next year, besides the real closers in Percival and Urbina.

  2. DMZ on September 29th, 2004 12:05 pm


  3. Ed Wade on September 29th, 2004 12:21 pm

    Wait, Rheal Cormier isn’t worth three million dollars?

  4. eponymous coward on September 29th, 2004 12:40 pm

    Well, lessee- Williamson and Fox both have gamy elbows. If they were healthy, sure, they’d be worth it…but it’s the healthy part.

    Benitez is probably more than 2-3 million, more like 4-5…and has a gamy elbow. Urbina, same story.

    Not a lot else. I’m just not optimistic a bullpen of Putz/Franklin or Madritsch (assuming a FA signing)/Shiggy/Sherill/Atchison/Mateo is going to be anything better than very, very average at best. I mean, come ON, that’s this year’s bullpen, isn’t it, assuming Madritsch turns into Everyday Bobby? Why is it going to be better than this year’s pen?

    Good thing we’re stocked with an extra OF, I guess.

  5. Dave on September 29th, 2004 12:44 pm

    Madritsch is in the 2005 rotation whether we sign a FA starter or not. At this point, he might be in if we signed 4 free agent starters.

  6. G-Man on September 29th, 2004 12:51 pm

    I’m really not too excited about throwing $2-3 mil at any reliever, but now I have a better rationale. This team isn’t likely to contend next year anyway, and we have young arms that might step it up a notch or two. My thoughts include Putz, Sherrill and even Mateo. If the team does contend and the pen looks like a weak spot, then they could go get a reliever in July. 2006 is a whole new story, with Guardado and Soriano hopefully back, and another offseason before it for making moves.

    OTOH, we don’t have much power hitters that I see coming into bloom next year. Maybe Bucky will show he’s for real, but Jeremy Reed isn’t going to hit for a lot of power, and the guys over 30 are likely to slide.

    I sound like Lou Piniella; I like hitters, those pitchers just have to do their jobs…throw strikes, dammit 🙂

  7. Paul Covert on September 29th, 2004 12:51 pm

    Dave– when you say, “Madritsch is in,” do you mean, “the team has been convinced by what it’s seen from him?” If so, that’s good; I’m glad to hear it.

    My concern for the team’s return to contention is still: Where’s the front-line talent going to come from? Right now I count only two top-quality guys in the organization, one of whom is so on the strength of a historically unprecedented ability to hit singles, and the other on the strength of an 18-year-old right arm that has yet to throw a major-league pitch. Otherwise, we’ve got lots of guys who could be role players on a contender (a la Stan Javier 2001), but few who can really help take us to the top. So I dread another winter of throwing dollars at role players and saying “we don’t need superstars, they’re all overpaid anyway.”

  8. G-Man on September 29th, 2004 12:55 pm

    ec’s comment about an extra outfielder reminds me that I should reinterate a recent comment I made: I’d be willing to trade Winn for a pitcher.

  9. Dave on September 29th, 2004 12:57 pm


    I’m going to do a post on this eventually, but there has been an organizational shift in philosophy. The M’s are going to go hard after “star” players this winter.

  10. Trev on September 29th, 2004 1:11 pm

    Randy Winn to the Phillies for Vicente Padilla? They’ll probably both make the same amount post-arbitration, and isn’t Padilla falling out with the Philly organization?

  11. G-Man on September 29th, 2004 1:39 pm

    Dave, from your lips to Bavasi’s ears. Or maybe I should say Lincoln’s. Seriously, IIRC, it’s actually the other way around; you got it from the organization. Please tell us that not only are they going for “star” players, but they’re going for the ones under 30.

  12. devil's advocate on September 29th, 2004 1:39 pm

    regarding that “organizational shift”- does that mean that they would go for a Milton Bradley-type guy who doesn’t necessarily fit the Wilson-Moyer Nice Guy Mold?

  13. Replacement-Level Players on September 29th, 2004 1:42 pm

    The M’s are going to go hard after “star” players this winter.

    We’re stars!

  14. Eric on September 29th, 2004 1:48 pm

    Devil’s advocate:

    I would hope that by star players they mean real stars, the Vlad, Tejada, Beltran, Beltre level and not guys like Bradley who are only slightly better than the guys they would replace.

  15. Paul Weaver on September 29th, 2004 1:49 pm

    hahaha RLP!

    Does anyone know a good site that isn’t as heavy as ESPN, where I can look at rosters for possible trades? If the M’s don’t sign an OF this offseason, they’ll probably make do with a LF-winn, cf-reed, rf-what_was_that_guy’s_name?, dh-Ibanez. If the M’s do sign an OF FA, then we have trade material – most notably Winn. He’s an attractive LF/CF package of skills. There is no doubt a team that could use an outfielder with a solid reliever. I’m trying to find a fit, but it’s like pulling teeth trying to scour through those slow opening ESPN pages, just trying to figure out the general rosters.

  16. earlweaver22 on September 29th, 2004 1:53 pm

    Didn’t the Ms already have at one time or another 98% of the LHPs listed?
    Isn’t it time to bring back Mike Jackson again?

  17. Jerry on September 29th, 2004 2:02 pm

    Here are three options that I think are interesting for the bullpen:

    -Scott Williamson: he is coming off the injury, which will drive his price down. He is pitching right now, so you know that he is probably not a complete bust. It would obviously be contingent on a clean bill of health. But Williamson is an elite setup man and a decent closer when he is healthy. He could fill in for Guardado if necessary early in the season, and complement him nicely when he comes back.

    -Jorge Julio: The Orioles want to move him, and he can close. He throws really hard, and would make a great setup-man. Plus, he could hold down the fort for Eddie.

    -Derek Lowe: this guy could give the M’s a lot of options. Since he is pitching better lately, he might not be available at the right price. But he has been an elite closer and an elite starter in the past. If the M’s could sign him for 5-6 million, they could put him wherever he is needed most. If they decide that Madritsch will make a great closer or setup man, then Lowe fits nicely in the rotation. Or, he can close games the whole season if Eddie is not able to pitch at all. This is a bigtime long shot, because his salary will probably be in the 7-9 million range. But if he can be signed cheaply, it would be a good move. However, I would rather not have Lowe be the main signing. I definitely think that the M’s need to sign the best starting pitcher available to them for 8-10 million/year. At that price, Lowe is not the right guy. That said, it would be awesome if the M’s could go out and get Lowe for 5 mil/year and sign someone like Matt Morris, Matt Clement, or Kevin Millwood for 8 million. That would give them a very very solid pitching staff to build around. If they could move enough salary and/or trade for a good cheap position player/hitter, it could work. The offense should be the first priority, but it would be nice if the M’s could address the bullpen, rotation, offense, and defense in one offseason. How about these moves:

    -trade for Ryan Howard, Carlos Pena, or Casey Kotchman
    -move the contracts of Winn and Franklin
    -sign Beltre (12 mil), Drew (11 million), Morris (8 million), and Lowe (6 million).
    -the numbers work out fine, and the team would be improved in almost every aspect of the game (starters, bullpen, defense, offense).

  18. Jerry on September 29th, 2004 2:04 pm


    Winn for Jorge Julio!

  19. Paul Covert on September 29th, 2004 2:09 pm

    Re. “organizational philosophy”: Thanks, Dave, that’s good to hear; I look forward to the details.

    (From the way you say it, I’m also hoping that G-Man’s concern in #11 won’t come to pass; but again, I’ll wait for the details.)

  20. Evan on September 29th, 2004 2:18 pm

    There’s always the chance “stars” means Rafael Palmiero and Byung-Hyun Kim.

  21. Pat on September 29th, 2004 2:18 pm

    Too bad they decided this a year after Vlad Guerrero signed a very reasonable deal with the division rivals. Nobody on the market this year looks nearly as intriguing as what was available last year for the M’s needs.

  22. LB on September 29th, 2004 3:01 pm

    (Re: #17) Derek Lowe’s agent is Scott Boras, so the odds are against signing him cheap. He has also had two consecutive abysmal starts against NY and TB (both in which he had the benefit of former Gold Glove winners playing behind him at 1B, 2B, and SS, so it’s hard to blame his defense the way you could in the Injured Nomar Era.)

  23. Matt on September 29th, 2004 3:34 pm

    If Lowe pitched for, say, Tampa for the past few seasons, you wouldn’t know the difference between him and the Rob Bells of the league. He will be overpriced due to his one strong season and for pitching on the East Coast.

    I like the Padilla idea.

  24. G-Man on September 29th, 2004 3:53 pm

    I used to hate Boras, but I’m changing my thinking a little. Salary aside, I don’t think that many players would choose Seattle. Some players like bigger cities, or warmer weather, or places closer to home (which often is in Florida, Arizona, or Latin America). Hitters think it’s hard to hit here.

    However, I think Boras shoots for the maximum value contract and steers his guys away from any personal feelings or concerns. I don’t have any special knowledge, I have just seen the way he’s gotten huge deals for his guys and heard about some of the lies and manipilations he’s pulled on the teams. Perhaps he’s more protective of his players than I give him credit for, but I think its all abouut the payola for Scott.

    What this means is all the Seattle execs have to do is beat the other offers. All the disadvantages of Washington are moot; Scotty will bring them here and put another notch on his money belt.

    I hope…

  25. Evan on September 29th, 2004 4:03 pm

    Were I a baseball player, weather would probably be a major factor in determining where I’d want to play.

    But that would mean I’d want to play in Seattle, Denver, or Montreal. How can anyone like the weather in Texas?

  26. DavidT on September 29th, 2004 4:49 pm

    that list shows that there is no need to cling to or overpay any releiver, unless they are exceptional. some on the list are very good, some are very bad, but most are serviceable and could put up good numbers in safeco. If we overpay for a fungible reliever this winter i will be very, very angry.

  27. Jerry on September 29th, 2004 7:08 pm

    DavidT makes a good point. The list of relievers is really weak this year. There aren’t really that many quality names. The only closers on the market are Percival and Benitez. That is pretty weak. One is old and the other in inconsistent. I think that we will see a lot of moves.

    This lack of depth in relievers makes moving Madritsch all the more likely. I like him in the rotation, but you never know what will happen between now and April. Especially since everything is up in the air right now. I think that even if they add 4-5 free agents, there will be a lot of chances for guys like Nageotte, Blackley, and others to make the team. There could be some major suprises in spring training.

    But I think that the best options are either Williamson or a player like Jorge Julio in a trade.

  28. Bela Txadux on September 29th, 2004 8:39 pm

    Madritsch is obviously a lock for the rotation, guys, no point bracketing him with any bullpen discussion at all. Outside of Freddy early, Madritsch has been the Ms’ most consistent starter, he’s got attitude, and he’s lefthanded. He’s also a two-pitch pitcher, and we won’t really know where what his level is long-term until he’s been around the league another time and they see what they can do to him. But he’s going to get the full shot in the rotation, and certainly deserves it.

    RE: Bullpen needs, if anyone has been watching, the Ms bullpen for the last two months has been consistently effective, and is the best unit on the present team. And this without Guardado (who clearly thinks he _will_ be back next year), Soriano (no way back), and mostly Mateo. Hasegawa can’t be moved at his price, Mr. Nintendo is not going to sign off on a DFA in this case in my view, and Shiggy has pitched with consistency of late if not any kind of dominance. The idea of squandering more than $3M on a bullpen sign strikes me as needless folly, the discomfort of the team in going without an established closer notwithstanding. None of the closers mentioned is a good age/$ value, as mentioned above. A set-up sign is not irrational, of which Williamson, Fox, Shuey, and Kline all _have been_ quality guys; they won’t be cheap, and they will arrive with nicks: what do they realistically add??? A bullpen sign in my view should be very nearly a sure thing, or it’s a bad use of $$ relative to the innumerable guys in the high minors who could step in at minimum and hold down the fort. Like Danny Kolb, for example. Or like at least five guys _in the Ms’ CURRENT bullpen_.

    Historically, the Ms have been very reluctant to promote bullpen arms out of their own organization despite the fact that they have had useful ones by the carload. Grybowski, Fuentes, Aquilino Lopez, and, yes, Franklin, and Putz couldn’t buy a break; they’ne not great, but all have been useful in the bigs, and _none_ of them have the upside of Taylor, Sherrill, or Atchison. Thornton, if he has any future in the majors at all will make it as an effectively wild power lefthand reliever, and Bavasi’s decision to try and reconvert him to a starter despite no demonstrated effectiveness in that role EVER has been, to me, the single poorest talent development decision in the organization this year. He’s been geared to start all the times he’s been brought up, not to relieve, and so hasn’t gotten the time-in-role to really find out what he can grow into. All that’s to say, the organization would be well served to find out what he’s got at the major league level, and if that’s too little then move on.

    The idea mentioned above that the Ms should go in the first half next year with essentially what they’ve got right now, and then if they heat up in the second half either get Guardado back, or make a mid-season deal strikes me as the best by far. Shiggy, Thornton/Villone, long; Taylor, Sherrill, Atchison, wingers; Mateo to set up, Putz to close—officially. Actually, both Sherrill and Taylor have closed at AAA quite effectively, and rationally should get the late shot, not the the Ms do things in the rational way. The main issue here is that all these folks have _limited ML experience_, and realistically one or two at least will struggle or bomb out altogether. The main lack, in my view, is a sure-thing righthanded set-up arm. I like the idea of a trade for that, as also mentioned by others above. Linebrink for San Diego is the guy I’d love to see, but if they’re really letting Hoffman go at last I can’t see them making Linebrink available.

    The Ms have _plenty_ of arms; they need to sort them out into their optimal roles, keep the best performers, and ship out the slack of the lot, but they won’t really know WHAT ROLE they need to sign until next June or so when the shake-out is over. If this crew had bombed away during August and September, playing them as a bunch wouldn’t be a viable option. I don’t see why it isn’t now, particularly given the numerous other, more pressing personnel deficits this organization must fill.

  29. Conor Glassey on September 29th, 2004 10:22 pm

    Here are some relief options that could be a little risky in some cases, but I think could also be solid relief pitchers without breaking the bank: Dan Miceli, Chad Fox, Terry Adams & Antonio Osuna. Also – isn’t Trever Miller a free agent?

    I also looked at the Independent League stats for pitchers, but just as I was getting excited about guys who posted crazy-good stats (like 90 strikeouts in 55 IP!!), I realized that most of the guys I wrote down had been signed about 2 weeks ago.

  30. Paul Weaver on September 29th, 2004 10:27 pm

    Padres have a good bullpen with 3 or 4 arms that stick out. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’ll be looking for Winn.

  31. Jurgen on September 30th, 2004 12:35 am

    B.Y. Kim would be an interesting project.