The upcoming MLB season is rapidly approaching, and players across the league are latching onto new teams. Whether it be big name free agents like Jose Bautista signing with their former clubs, big name free agents such as Aroldis Chapman leaving big name clubs to go to other big name clubs, or minor league deals such as Jimmy Rollins (keep this name in mind) bolting to new pastures, players are finding their present and future homes.
Of course not all players will be able to find homes this offseason, much like any offseason. If Barry Bonds once went jobless while still wanting to play in the MLB, any player can be left out when the musical chairs are all filled at the end of the offseason. Sure, Bonds had contextual issues, but he was the home run king, and he went un-signed with little interest from anyone in the league. None of the players below are quite at Bonds' level, but there are some interesting names that will be without an MLB job in a year.
Every year, players regress to the point they are no longer useful to their respective teams, or they suffer injuries that keep their attributes and/or abilities to play at too low of a level to be useful to any MLB organization. Without further adieu, let's take a look at 15 MLB players that will be without a job in a year.
15 Carl Crawford
It was only two years ago that Carl Crawford hit .300 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, serving as a positive top of the order bat for the team. That same season Crawford stole 23 bases, showing Dodgers fans he still had plenty of talent left in him. Crawford was once the pillar of Tampa Bay Rays (and Devil Rays) baseball, putting up career highs of 19 home runs, 60 stolen bases, 37 doubles, a .315 batting average, and 194 hits in individual campaigns. Crawford was an important part of the Rays team that advanced to their first ever World Series in 2008, then finished 7th in MVP voting in 2010. Crawford next moved onto Boston, where he began to struggle. His offensive numbers dropped, and he was shipped off to the Dodgers to revitalize his career. He did so, but in 2015 he reverted back to his old ways. Since 2015 Crawford has not only struggled to stay healthy, but has also struggled to produce in any way. With that, Crawford is likely to receive a flyer from an MLB team to compete for a roster spot, but next season he will be done. He doesn't have the health or talent anymore.
14 Jake Peavy
A trend you will notice in this list is that the players would make a mean 2009 MLB All-Star team. Peavy was one of the game's best when he was a San Diego Padre back in 2004-2009. Peavy won the 2007 NL Cy Young Award, then was eventually traded to the Chicago White Sox in 2009. With the White Sox he earned one All-Star Game appearance before moving onto the Boston Red Sox, then the San Francisco Giants. Starting with his time with the White Sox, Peavy shifted from a dominating starter to a #3 or #4 starter that could eat innings. Unfortunately in 2016, Peavy failed to contribute in even that way. As the Giants made the playoffs, Peavy failed to do his part. Peavy posted a 5.54 ERA, effectively ending his Giants tenure along the way. Like Crawford, Peavy is currently without a job, but his former team, the San Diego Padres, are interested. He will likely secure a one year major league deal, but the numbers point to his struggling rather than revamping his career. He will be without a job when teams realize he is fully done.
13 Jimmy Rollins
A player that signed a deal with Peavy's former club, the San Francisco Giants, is Jimmy Rollins. Rollins was the face of Philadelphia Phillies baseball throughout the majority of his career, even winning the NL MVP Award in 2007. When at his best, Rollins was among the best shortstops in baseball, regularly competing with the likes of Nomar Garciaparra and Derek Jeter for the title. Rollins moved on from Philadelphia as his numbers dropped in 2015, an emotional farewell for the face of the franchise. With the Dodgers, Rollins managed to launch 13 home runs into the stands, but he also only managed a measly .224 batting average. That was part of the reasoning for the Dodgers not bringing Rollins back, which resulted in Rollins joining the Chicago White Sox. Rollins did not last an entire season before being cut by the White Sox, but he decided to continue his MLB career. Rollins will fight for a spot on the San Francisco Giants this spring training, but his numbers are in a steep decline, so he will learn the hard way his days are limited at best.
12 Ryan Howard
A teammate for most of Rollins' MLB career was Ryan Howard. Howard finished his Philadelphia Phillies career last season, as the Phillies currently have no plans of bringing back the free agent. Before we get to why Howard will be out of the league next year or why the Phillies let him go, it must be understood that Howard will get a job this season. Howard is far too powerful of a hitter to avoid getting a job altogether, and a team will take a flyer on him in hopes he can hit above .200 and launch 20-30 home runs. A team like the Tampa Bay Rays, for example, should be interested. However, the former 57 home run hitter cannot make a career out of hitting below .200 and hitting over 20 home runs when he cannot stay healthy, pitchers are getting faster, and his bat speed will continuously lower. As the league adapts to his approach, Howard's days as an MLB player will grow more limited. Look for the long-time Phillie to end up jobless next offseason.
11 Pat Venditte
Pat Venditte is by no means the biggest name on this list, but he may be the most unique. Venditte was a long-time Yankees "prospect," using the word prospect loosely because he never performed at the level of legitimate MLB prospects. Venditte came to fans' attention because of his originality. Venditte pitches using both hands, forcing switch hitters into awkward positions, and owning matchup advantages against both lefty and righty hitters. Unfortunately for Venditte, that is all he brings to the table. He is not very good at pitching, so he can only go as far as his little niche takes him. MLB organizations prioritize winning over little niches, so Venditte will have to produce results. Though he did manage to make it to the MLB, his time has been rightfully limited. Venditte has pitched in 41 games for three separate teams, and is now 31 years old with a career 4.97 ERA. Venditte's act will grow old soon enough, and at that point it will come down to results. Results are not Venditte's specialty.
10 David Wright
Here is where we become a bit loose with the term "out of the league". We are not quite predicting retirement for the New York Mets' captain, but we are predicting that David Wright will not be on the MLB roster in 2018. Wright has found it impossible to stay healthy in recent seasons, serving more time as a cheer-crew for his teammates than competing alongside them. It's a tragic career to watch, as Wright had the potential to become the Mets' version of Derek Jeter. Unfortunately Wright's body cannot hold up with the perils of playing major league baseball, so any games he does play in are filled with lingering questions of how long before his body breaks down again. While Wright is expected to return for the 2017 campaign, we do not believe he will be ready for the 2018 season. Throw a dart at an injury board and you could be right about which one the Captain will be out with.
9 Tim Lincecum
We hope this one is not true, as Lincecum is one of the most exciting players in baseball when his stuff is on. Unfortunately, Lincecum's stuff has not been on in a long time. Big Time Timmy Jim burst onto the MLB scene in 2007, then served as a useful tool on the 2010 and 2013 San Francisco Giants World Series teams. Lincecum won consecutive Cy Young Awards with the Giants in 2008 and 2009, showing San Francisco fans that he was there and he was there to stay. Like Wright, however, Lincecum's body did not agree. Lincecum's velocity dropped as his career went on, and the double Cy Young winner missed large portions of 2015 and 2016. In 2016 he moved onto the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, where the former superstar embarrassed himself. Lincecum owned a 9.16 ERA with the Angels, a putrid number for the one-time star. He should get a flyer like most former stars do this off-season, but after another season of being battered around his career will come to an unfortunate end.
8 Bud Norris
Bud Norris is not the most exciting name by any means, but he has carved out a nice little MLB career for himself. In the league since 2009, Norris has shined as an innings-eater who could occasionally put together brilliant seasons, though you would never know when they were coming. For example, Norris went 15-8 with a 3.62 ERA for the Baltimore Orioles in 2014, but the season was sandwiched in between campaigns of 4-3 with a 4.80 ERA and even worse, 3-11 with a 6.72 ERA. Norris could be your #3 starter, or he could be the worst thing to happen to your rotation. MLB teams require consistency, so after another year of confusing executives, his innings eating will become less impressive, and his headache-inducing play will earn him a ticket out of the league,
7 Billy Butler
Billy Butler was a New York Yankee in 2016. Soon we will all forget that, if we have not already. In fact, we're not even certain that Billy Butler remembers that Billy Butler was a Yankee in 2016. But that's precisely the point. Butler was a valuable player for years for the Kansas City Royals before working his way over to the Oakland Athletics. His Athletics tenure ended mired in controversy as he butted heads with superior baseball player Danny Valencia, and then he joined the Yankees. After a short stint in the Bronx he was let go, now only a DH that cannot hit for average or power on the free agent market. Given that the Yankees and Tigers both wanted to give him a chance before, he should get a one year deal this offseason. Then younger, superior players will arrive, and Butler will depart.
6 Chien-Ming Wang
Speaking of former Yankees, how about a Yankee that was once their #1 starter, then became the worst pitcher on the team? Chien-Ming Wang was the ace of the best team in baseball, but was then forced to run the bases in an inter-league game. Wang suffered an ankle injury and has not been the same pitcher since. Wang has bounced around the league in recent years, playing for nearly every team imaginable in every role imaginable. He served as a decent relief pitching option last season, even gaining some velocity on his fastball. Yet teams know that young, fire-throwing relief pitchers are worth taking risks on, not over-priced veterans whose best years are behind them. That will not bode well for the former Yankee ace. It's disappointing, but Wang's career is nearing its end.
5 Jeff Francoeur
Jeff Francoeur was once deemed the next great thing to happen to Major League Baseball. Think if Mike Trout was known to be Mike Trout before he became Mike Trout, that was Jeff Francoeur's touting as an MLB prospect. Francoeur was set to be an MLB star with the Atlanta Braves, then he....was not. Francoeur has put together a fine MLB career playing for the Braves, Mets, Rangers, Royals, Giants, Phillies, and Marlins, but the laundry list of teams displays how little value he has in the MLB today. Teams are willing to take a chance on him, but his expectations are set terribly low and his production levels are even lower. At this point he is worth taking a risk on, but he will be cut loose the second he stops providing any value. Considering his on base percentage was .297 last season, that day is coming sooner rather than later.
4 Logan Morrison
Thinking of one-dimensional baseball players often conjures up names like Ryan Howard, so what does that make Logan Morrison? Morrison may just be a zero dimensional baseball player that happens to luck his way into regular MLB gigs. Playing last season for the Tampa Bay Rays, Morrison hit .238 with 14 home runs, playing awful defense, and providing little to no value at all. Morrison has never reached the expectations set of him, serving as an annual disappointment for his respective franchises. Teams are looking for players that can provide superior defense and/or superior home run hitting skills, both attributes that Morrison is terribly average in. He must find a way to go all-in on one area of the game, or the game will say goodbye to LoMo.
3 Dioner Navarro
Navarro was brought back by the Toronto Blue Jays after a stint with the Chicago White Sox last season, but both franchises came away with the knowledge that the former power-hitting catcher/designated hitter just doesn't have the talent left in him anymore. Like many of the other free agents above, Navarro's track record should earn him an invite to spring training this offseason, but he cannot play defense, he can no longer hit at league average, and he does not provide any intangible that others cannot. At this point he is a glorified AAAA catcher/DH, one that teams can find for cheaper and younger across the league. Look for Navarro to be given one last chance, only to let it slip away.
2 Omar Infante
Infante leveraged a career year with the Atlanta Braves into a mega-contract with the Kansas City Royals. In an awkward situation, the Royals won the World Series with Infante on the roster, but Infante failed to contribute at all. Think Jason Heyward on the 2016 Chicago Cubs. Anyway, Infante has continued to struggle since signing the large contract with the Kansas City Royals, and is now a glorified bench/utility player that provides zero offense and adequate defense. His reputation is what's keeping him in the league, but at a certain point teams will expect him to hit, and Infante has shown that he can no longer do that. He will always have his World Series ring, though.
1 Ubaldo Jimenez
Certainly the boldest prediction of the bunch, Jimenez was once an up and coming ace for the Colorado Rockies. He signed with the Baltimore Orioles next, joining the team in hopes his statistics would improve outside of Colorado. Jimenez' career has gone up and down and up and down, but his last down hit rock bottom. Jimenez pitched to a 5.44 ERA last season for the Orioles, losing 12 games. In the postseason, it was Jimenez who gave up the Wild Card Game winning walk off home run to Edwin Encarncacion. That home run made Jimenez persona non grata in Baltimore, and his home run giving up ways alongside his lack of upside will further sully his name moving forward. Unless Jimenez can turn things around, his career is heading towards an unfortunately unpleasant end.