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Semi-Tough

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I'm not talking about Chavez, Buck, and Kotsay (nor, for that matter, any other members of the Glass Men A-gerie).

Nor am I talking about the Dan Jenkins novel or the Burt Reynolds vehicle it was turned into.
No, I'm talking about non-tenders.

As in, offseason moves by MLB teams when they decline to tender offers to players on their 40-man rosters, thereby making them free agents.

Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors had an interesting post the other day, wherein he worked up a list of players likely to be non-tendered by their current teams in December.

A non-tender is basically the offseason equivalent of a DFA -- a team cutting ties with a player it feels has no role on the roster (often because of a disparity between salary and health/productivity) -- with the advantage over a DFA in that the team simply cuts all ties with the player and retains no financial responsibility.

Dierkes's list (and take it for what it's worth -- I haven't researched the players' contract status, and I'm taking him at his word and his analyses are usually in the ballpark, so to speak) has some intriguing names. Given the A's projected lineup holes, health concerns, and payroll limitations -- and the mediocre quality of the '07-08 FA class -- some of these fellas might be worth pursuing on the cheap this offseason:

  • Morgan Ensberg has fallen off his sunny projections from a couple years ago, but he could provide insurance/competition for Hannahan in covering 3B until (if?) Chavvy comes back
  • Joe Crede had lower back surgery this season, which could, of course, render him useless/done -- but it could also likely render him really cheap; he could be worth trying out on a limited-risk contract
  • Kevin Mench has sucked since leaving Texas (and really only ever had the anomalous year-26 power spike in '04), but he's murdered lefties his entire career
  • Jason Lane, like Ensberg, has never fulfilled the (unrealistic) high hopes placed on him, but he's a versatile defensive OF
  • Scott Podsednik is basically Aaron Rowand without the anomalous breakout season in a walk year and consequent preposterous contract expectations

None of these semi-tough dudes would necessarily solve any of the A's major problems heading into '08 (and those problems are legion). But they could be turned into useful role players, if they're made available and the price is right.

Personally, I don't see any "normal" FAs this offseason being worth the expense, unless Beane is going to think big and sign either Bonds or A-Rod. This crew of potential castoffs could offer a lot more ROI than the supposed "front-line" free agents behind Bonds and A-Rod.