Free-agent power mostly in the pen

A position-by-position breakdown of this offseason's best free agents.

Originally Published: November 3, 2005
By Sean McAdam | Special to ESPN.com

Looking for star power? Sorry, wrong market.

This free-agent class, still filing as we speak, may be deep, but it's not top-heavy with big names.

That doesn't mean, however, that help can't be found if you know where to look. There's plenty of help if you're in the market for relief pitchers and a decent supply of catchers.

Starting pitching and run producers? Not so much.

Here's a quick primer of the best at their respective positions as the offseason gets fully underway:

A.J. Burnett
Burnett

Starting Pitching

A.J. Burnett: His value took a dive in the second half, when he won only four times after the trade deadline, then was sent home in the final week of the season after calling out former Marlins manager Jack McKeon for being so negative with the team. Moreover, he's just under .500 in his career (49-50) and has a history of arm trouble. But oh, he has great stuff.

Kevin Millwood: Pay no attention to his record (9-11) and focus instead on his 2.86 ERA from the '05 season. Beware, though, of his lingering shoulder concerns.

Jarrod Washburn: Owner of another deceptive record (8-8), Washburn was consistently effective. What's more, he's the best lefty in a thin pitching market.

Relief Pitching

Billy Wagner: Likely to be the most sought-after closer (the Mets, Phillies and Cubs are interested in signing him), Wagner is a difference maker in the bullpen and can be overpowering. However, some questions exist about his elbow.

B.J. Ryan
Ryan

B.J. Ryan: Though he has a completely different body type, Ryan is like a younger, slightly more erratic version of Wagner -- left-handed and dominant. The Yankees might want him as a set-up man for closer Mariano Rivera, and the Red Sox see him as insurance for Keith Foulke.

Trevor Hoffman: Hoffman has been a Padre for so long, he's come to be the face of the franchise. But he may be ready to move on and even at 38, is still a dependable closer.

Catchers

Bengie Molina: Molina has improved offensively the last couple of seasons, and with prospect Jeff Mathis emerging, the Angels may not re-sign their veteran receiver.

Ramon Hernandez: There are some questions about his toughness, but Hernandez provides some offense for a catcher and would be an upgrade for a number of teams.

Brad Ausmus: Recognized as a great student of the game and pitching, Ausmus would be a real boost for a team with a young pitching staff.

Paul Konerko
Konerko

First Base

Paul Konerko: Inarguably the best power hitter on the market, aided by a terrific postseason. The White Sox will try hard to keep him, with the Angels, Red Sox and perhaps the Mets in line as interested suitors.

J.T. Snow: At a thin position, Snow is unlikely to play every day. But his glove work is still unmatched, making him a valuable role player.

Kevin Millar: Millar never got going at the plate in 2005 and is notoriously streaky. Still, he might be a nice bargain-priced pickup.

Second Base

Mark Grudzielanek: Opened some eyes with his play in St. Louis; he's the very epitome of steady.

Tony Graffanino
Graffanino

Tony Graffanino: He may have to return to a super-utility role, but his play in the final two months of the regular season with the Red Sox showed he can both play every day and play well under pressure.

Third Base

Bill Mueller: Mueller was a terribly underrated player in Boston -- steady, heady and professional. He'd like to play out west, close to his Arizona home.

Jose Valentin
Valentin

Jose Valentin: Shifted to third in Los Angeles, he missed two-thirds of the season to injury. But it was only two seasons ago that he hit 30 homers. He might be a smart gamble for a team if he's healthy.

Joe Randa: Randa doesn't provide the usual production at third, but he's a consistent hitter and decent defender -- perfect for a small-market team looking to fill an infield hole.

Shortstop

Rafael Furcal: Furcal offers speed and a great arm at short and is rumored to interest the Cubs, or perhaps the Mets, who would use him at second base.

Nomar Garciaparra: His last two seasons have been almost total losses because of injuries, but he's healthy and motivated now, and he showed during the final month of the regular season that he still can hit.

Alex Gonzalez
Gonzalez

Alex Gonzalez: His power mysteriously dipped in 2005 (41 homers combined in 2003-04; five in 2005) and he's never fulfilled his potential. Still, he's an established major-league shortstop.

Outfield

Johnny Damon: A terrific leadoff hitter and offensive force, Damon is virtually guaranteed to score 100 runs. He's tough -- perhaps too much for his own good -- but there are questions about his wearing down some as he approaches 32.

Hideki Matsui: Playoff disappointment aside, a terrific hitter in the clutch and a solid outfielder. But it seems unthinkable that he would leave New York -- or that the Yankees would let him get away.

Brian Giles
Giles

Brian Giles: Freed from the expectations of an oversized contract, Giles could be a nice pickup for a team looking for solid bat in left field.

Designated Hitter

Carl Everett: A switch hitter with some power, Everett has stayed out of trouble long enough now to ease questions about his suitability.

Ruben Sierra: No longer an everyday player, but a useful pinch-hitter and role player who switch hits.

Erubiel Durazo: Injured much of the season, he's a very capable left-handed bat.

Mike Piazza: His days as an elite player are over, but if he's used mainly as a DH and infrequently as a catcher he could still be somewhat productive.

Sean McAdam of The Providence (R.I.) Journal covers baseball for ESPN.com.

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