One development last offseason was that many good hitting but defensively challenged players – or "1B/DH-types" – found a weak market for their services and had to take contracts well below what they would have received in previous years (Adam Dunn, Pat Burrell, Bobby Abreu, etc.). The Royals, however, were unable to take advantage, as they preemptively filled their one open 1B/DH spot by surrendering Leo Nunez to Florida instead of waiting for the Marlins to formally non-tender Mike Jacobs.
This offseason, potential free agent 1B/DH-types will again be plentiful. Here is the list according to Cots (which includes a few "OF" and "3B" whose defense or health are so bad that they really should only DH anymore):
Ken Griffey Jr.
This list does not include other 1B/DH-types who potentially could be available in trade (Milton Bradley, Lyle Overbay, Pat Burrell) or as non-tenders (Casey Kotchman, Jack Cust, our own Mike Jacobs).
Even accounting for a few players such as Griffey, Stairs, or Sweeney who might retire voluntarily (or involuntarily like Mark Grudzielanek or Kenny Lofton), it quickly becomes apparent that there will be more of these players available than there will be full-time jobs available. As last year showed, this creates a situation where contracts can become downright reasonable.
This offseason may not play out exactly like last offseason with the hysteria over the economy downgraded to level yellow, but teams are still going to be cautious with big contracts. And it is also clear that more teams are properly evaluating defense, so teams as a whole are moving closer to paying defensive-challenged hitters to their actual worth.
The moral of the story is that while it may take more than $5 million to sign Bobby Abreu this offseason, a team should be able to sign a decent hitter to DH or play 1B without spending much money and without a long-term commitment. It is debatable whether the Royals should look to an add a 1B/DH-type (actually, it is several debates, including one about a certain Hawaiian prospect coming off a disappointing year, one about looking for free talent, and one about Jose Guillen – if he is not told to report to spring training in Alaska and promptly set adrift on an ice flow with a $12 million check, he enters the year as the presumptive DH). But if the Royals decide to seek out a 1B/DH-type, the key is patience.
So in other words, Dayton, please keep that 4 year/$50 million offer sheet to Aubrey Huff off your fax machine.