At this time of year, every team is looking for a "buy low" candidate in hopes that player turns into something. Last year, the San Francisco Giants signed RHP Ryan Vogelsong on January 11 and all he did in 2011 was compile a 2.71 ERA and finish 11th in the National League Cy Young voting.
These buy low candidates are like lottery tickets; 99% of them fail, but there are winners out there and when you hit on one, a GM can look like a genus. Let's take a look some buy low candidates that are still out there that could prove to be valuable assets in 2012.
Conor Jackson: Jackson's career was off to a decent start as he posted a .360 wOBA in his first three seasons, but a case of Valley Fever has derailed his career. Jackson hasn't done much the past three seasons, but he still has maintained a good BB Percentage and K Percentage. Teams such as the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, or San Francisco Giants could look to Jackson as insurance in right.
Jeff Francis: Francis wasn't as bad as his 6-16 record with the Kansas City Royals in 2011 indicates. His 4.10 FIP and 47.1 Ground Ball Percentage were better than his 2007 numbers when Francis won 17 games with the Colorado Rockies.
In an era where "inning eaters" are held with the highest regard, Francis tossed 183.innings in 2011, which makes him pretty valuable. A National League would be wise to sign Francis. There is some real value there.
Aardsma had Tommy John surgery in July and most likely won't be able to pitch until the second half of the year. At 30-years-old, Aardsma should still have plenty left in the tank. Any team looking for a reliever could sign Aardsma now on the cheap, store him away, and have him contribute in the second half.
Joel Zumaya: Zumaya is the ultimate low-risk, high-reward pitcher. He missed all of the 2011 season because of elbow surgery and has only pitched in 89 games since bursting onto the scene with the Detroit Tigers in 2006.
Zumaya recently held a workout in Texas in which Ken Rosenthal reported that he was hitting between 93-96 on the gun. I don't care if Zumaya's arm looks worse than liverwurst in Katz's Deli, 93 mph is still 93 mph. That velocity doesn't grow on trees.
There will be a team out there who will take a chance on Zumaya and if the stars align, he could be a difference maker.