Hot Stove proves to be cold for many
Several established players took pay cuts or remain unsigned
Pitchers and catchers, the smell of freshly mowed grass and sunscreen in the air.Not a moment too soon, to draw the curtains on this strange and taxing offseason, in which both the Hot Stove and free agents searching for a gig simmered. With the economy throwing hard and inside, free agents have either downsized their opening requests, or are still Lost on an island as befuddling as that hit TV series. The brush-off of free agents was arguably the biggest, longest running story of offseason 2008-09. The most astonishing aspect of the market is a coin flip: That 72 of 220 remain unsigned, including those who became free agents when not tendered a contract by their teams by Dec. 12, but excluding five who have retired (Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina, Todd Jones, Jeff Kent and Sean Casey); or that 50 who did sign did so to Minor League contracts? Either way, a cold winter of cold shoulders. Reasons for the lethargic market were many, but they always got back to the sluggish economy, which most teams expect to impact their cash flow due to the pullback of corporate advertisers. As Pirates club president Frank Coonelly remarked at the end of January, the free agents were "still asking for prices based on yesterday's market." The early birds got them. And not just from the Yankees, who signed their $441.5 million holy trinity of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira between Dec. 10-23. Other key December signings included Francisco Rodriguez (Mets), Rafael Furcal and Casey Blake (Dodgers), Raul Ibanez and Jamie Moyer (Phillies) and closers Kerry Wood (Indians) and Brian Fuentes (Angels). All made out OK financially, pulling down an aggregate $166,500,000. Although it took the other 29 teams a while to match the Bombers' spending spree. Fifty-eight signings to be exact: Derek Lowe's $60 million agreement on Jan. 13 with the Braves finally put the 29 over the Yankees trio. Then the money shriveled.
Mike Hampton: $13 million ($15 million with Braves to $2 million with Astros).
Bobby Abreu: $11 million ($16 million with Yankees to $5 million with Angels).
Andy Pettitte: $10.5 million ($16 million to $5.5 million with Yankees).
Carl Pavano: $9.5 million ($11 million with Yankees to $1.5 million with Indians).
Pat Burrell: $7 million ($14 million with Phillies to $7 million with Rays).
Adam Dunn: $5 million ($13 million with Reds/D-backs to $8 million with Nats).
Omar Vizquel: $4.9 million ($5.3 million with Giants to Minor deal with Rangers).
Jason Varitek: $4 million ($9 million to $5 million with Red Sox).
Angel Berroa: $3.95 million ($4.75 million with Dodgers to Minor deal with Yankees, valued at $800,000 if on big league roster).
Juan Uribe: $3.5 million ($4.5 million with White Sox to Minor deal with Giants, valued at $1 million if on big league roster).
Brad Penny: $3.5 million ($8.5 million with Dodgers to $5 million with Red Sox).
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.