Free agents. Definitely not free. Often quite expensive, at least the ones you really want.
Are there any "free" agent hitters out there who could help the Twins next year? Sure. Any we can afford? There's the question.
Here are the free agents I know about, along with their 2005 team, salary, OBP, OPS and position. More players will become free agents as the offseason goes on, as teams decline options and contract negotiations go south, but the guys below are (at least technically) available.
We can't afford Mike Piazza. Even with Joe Mays' salary burning a hole in the organization's pocket, we probably can't afford anyone who made over $8 million last year, unless ol' Carl is willing to pony up some cash. Although I sure wouldn't mind seeing "P. Konerko - DH" on our lineup cards next year...
Millar and Mueller both look like bargains to me, if they ask for anything near their 2005 salaries. We sure could use a third baseman, and though most people seem to be hoping for a power bat, after last year I'm perfectly happy with a guy who gets on base at a good clip. Joe Randa looks like a similar bargain on first glance, and while I certainly wouldn't mind aquiring him, for the money I'd rather have the younger guy who switch hits.
We've also got a vacancy at second, and lo and behold there's a pretty cheap option with some decent numbers coming on the market. But we do have a few cheaper internal candidates (Cuddyer, Punto, Rodriguez), so I'm guessing it would take more power than Grudzielanek has shown to convince the Twins to eat the extra salary.
As it stands now, the Twins' best shot at acquiring more power will be in trade. But more free agents will be entering the market in the coming weeks, and some could be pleasant surprises. We'll check back when and if anyone interesting crops up.
2005 - what went right?