One last time–one of my personal favorites from the “Hamilton” soundtrack. Baseball has always been a young man’s game and many have tried and failed at beating Father Time. As teams trend to find younger and more athletic options both on the free agent market and within their own organizations, some veterans that may have some gas left in the tank are found sitting at home this spring. Even though they may be on the wrong side of 30, they still can have value to a team looking for a veteran presence in their locker room and someone that can still produce. Here are 3 players that are currently unemployed and should make one one final run at making a big league roster.
1) Ryan Howard 1B, DH
Even though Ryan Howard’s tenure with the Phillies didn’t end as well as he might have hoped, he still had a very successful run. The 37 year old first baseman has nearly 1,500 hits and 382 home runs to his name along with a Silver Slugger trophy, MVP trophy, Hank Aaron Award, Roberto Clemente Award, and World Series ring in his trophy case. While last year he had an awful .196 average, he still hit 25 home runs in only 112 games. He has never figured out how to beat the shift, but the power numbers show there is still thump in his bat. He could have value to a team that is in need of a left-handed bat of the bench or someone that could DH against right-handed pitching.
2) Coco Crisp OF
No one thought that Coco Crisp would find himself in the World Series, but he became a valuable piece off the bench of the Indians after the suspension of Abraham Almonte. Coco has always been an above-average outfielder that you could pencil in having 10-15 home runs and 20 stolen bases. His main issue the last few years has being staying on the field. A bit of a journey man, playing for the Indians, Red Sox, Royals, and A’s, he definitely has the gas in the tank to make one more run. Crisp proved he can perform in the clutch, hitting a home run in both the ALDS and ALCS and driving in the winning run in game 3 of the World Series. He could be a platoon player, pinch hitter, and pinch runner for a team looking for a versatile player that can start in case of an injury.
3) Colby Lewis SP
If there is one payer that found himself playing in Japan, its Colby Lewis. After beginning his career with the Texas Rangers in 2003, Lewis struggled on the mound and bounced around to the Detroit Tigers, Washington Nationals, and Oakland Athletics trying to stick in the big leagues. After struggling for 5 years, Lewis joined the Hiroshima Carp in Japan and lead the league in wins and strikeouts. He earned himself a two-year deal back with the Rangers and had been a solid arm in their rotation for 6 years. Now currently a free agent, the 37 year old proved last year he still has something left in the tank throwing 116.1 innings with a 3.71 ERA. He has proven that he is a solid performer the last few years, and with several teams in need of starting pitching (I’m looking at you San Diego) he could deliver some productive innings.
Worth Nothing: Grady Sizemore OF
This one is a stretch, but as an Indians fan Grady Sizemore has a special place in my heart (I’m an original Grady’s Lady). Sizemore was a 3x All-Star for the Tribe from 2006-2008, 2x Gold Glove winner, and a player that looked like he was bound for the Hall of Fame if he could stay on the field. The wheels fell of after having elbow and abdomen surgery in 2009, and several micro fracture surgeries on his knees from 2010-2013. He played 2014 with the Red Sox and Phillies and part of 2015 with the Rays in a limited roles in all 3 outfield positions. Sizemore still had some pop in his bat, hitting 6 home runs in only 58 games in 2015. He was unable to find a job in 2016 and just last month was hired by the Indians to work in the team’s player development department. While his career is most likely over, he is still only 34 and maybe there is some pop left in that bat even if he isn’t the Grady Sizemore from the cover of Sports Illustrated.