Free agency kicks off this Friday which means a dose of offseason excitement is on the way! There's no getting around the fact that though, that this season's free agent market isn't great... In fact it's probably one of the more weaker markets in JAL offseason history.
Partially to blame for that is the fact that last offseason the market was SOOO great, and now lots of those great players are locked up for at least a couple seasons. Something to remember is that rookies are free agents too...... Don't forget that last season's rookie class might have been the best in the league history. For a team that wants a new player(s) but doesn't like what they see below, signing a rookie(s) might be the way to go.
But despite all this, there is certainly a handful of veteran talent out there that will/could be significant signings for whoever gets them. Below is a look at veteran free agents who have been active within the last couple seasons and who will hit the market on Friday.
*Some players with expiring contracts in the league also double as owners/general managers of teams. They are not listed below because they can only play for that team. They are the following players: Tyler Hudson (Storm), James French III (Bison), Ty Franklin (Bison), Aaron Deister (Wrecking Crew), Josh Wall (Sasquatches), Ryley Larson (Lawmen), Ty Johsnon (Rapids).
Sean Guthrie (Wrecking Crew) - Pitcher/Batter
Guthrie was Washougal's ace for his 1st two seasons in the league and got them to the playoffs in JAL 14. Because of that, he was able to leverage himself into a large $30/1-season deal with the team last offseason. Now though, the team also has Scott Coleman at pitcher, and he ended up actually pitching much more than Guthrie in JAL 15 despite them both being labeled "dual aces." Because of this, there's no way Guthrie will get $30 from Washougal again, and there's probably a decent chance he didn't like getting slotted behind Coleman. There's defiantly an opportunity there for an outside team to swoop in and convince Guthrie he'd be better off with them...
Guthrie has a good hard fastball and is a good enough ace pitcher to get a team to the playoffs on his own. he has experience and is competitive. Although his batting is average, he's the best player on the market.
Nickolas Proudfit (Green Mountain Sasquatches) - Batter/Fielder/Pitcher
Proudfit is a vintage quality role player, but is getting better every season. In JAL 15 he was in consideration to the AC All-Star team and ended up winning the Fielding Crown. On the Fog last season he was the heart of the team and lead them to an overachieving 3-3 record. Throughout his career Proudfit has had to do some pitching, though he is much more effective in the field. In his 3-season career he has played for 3 different teams, all under 1-season contracts. In all, Proudfit is a journeyman in the JAL, which makes it seem likely he'll be somewhere other than back with the Sasquatches next season.
Proudfit is also reliable as a nail. Every game you know exactly what you'll get from him and never have to worry. At every position he is solid. Proudfit is not meant to be the best player on his team like he has been the last two seasons with the Lynx and then Fog. As a team's best player he's not good enough to get you to the playoffs yet, but would thrive alongside a team that already has a true star player. He is definitely a great puzzle piece for any team already labeled a "contender" that's trying to get over the top.
Kyle King (Anaheim Storm) - Batter/Fielder
King is a lot like Proudfit, but maybe a little less well rounded. For 2 seasons King has been with the Storm, and given that he has a close relationship with the team owner, Tyler Hudson, it's likely that's where he'd stay if they want to re-sign him. The Storm don't have a great team right now, but they probably need to keep King on the roster simply because he is showing improvement and he's athletic. In time, King could become a key player for any team. He's got the tools for it, everyone's just kinda waiting for a breakout season.
Taite Kleine (Kansas Lawmen) - Batter/Pitcher/Fielder
Anyone looking for an offensive spark to add to their team before next season needs to take a serious look at Kleine. For his entire 7-season career he's been a good hitter and possesses that rare to find "instant scoring potential" with his big swing batting style. For the last couple seasons, when Kleine owned his own franchise (the Mafia), he got too caught up in other things like pitching and managing. If put back into the simple role of just batting and maybe a little fielding like he did with the Express in JAL 12-13, Kleine could really help a team win a title again.
Lucas Myers (Green Mountain Sasquatches) - Pitcher/Batter
Myers has all-star talent, which instantly draws interest, but his reliability is very below par. When active, Myers is a quality ace pitcher, as seen in JAL 14 when he lead the Fog to the AC Finals, and an above average hitter. Most of all, he's just very competitive. The challenge with Myers though, is counting on him. In JAL 15 for example, he was out for the entire season because of other obligations. Someone who's confident enough in the roster they already have, but is looking for an "ace in the hole" type of guy, Myers would be a good sign.
Other Notable Veteran Free Agents (that were active in JAL 15)
Kyle Koopman (Anaheim Storm) - Batter/Fielder
Evan Troy (Green Mountain Sasquatches) - Batter/Pitcher/Fielder
Levi Poole (Green Mountain Sasqautches) - Batter/Fielder/Pitcher
Macee Utecht (Ubbelohde Hill underdogs) - Fielder/Batter
Kevin Johnson (cut by Rapids during JAL 15) - Batter