Well, we're in mid-February already, and the offseason is just about over. Most players have signed by now, and the list of remaining free agents is underwhelming to say the least. That said, let's take a look at the cream of the crop: here are the top five remaining free agent hitters...
5. Raul Ibanez
Raul Ibanez, 39, is coming off a wretched season, so it's no surprise that he hasn't had many suitors. He's at the point where his defense, once passable, is quite the liability; unfortunately, he didn't do much at the plate to make up for it in 2011, posting an overall .245/.289/.419 line with 20 homers. Given that he consistently maintained OBPs in the .350 range from 2001 to 2010, there's good reason to think he'll bounce back -- at least to some extent. As recently as February 6, we heard that the Yankees were in serious discussions with Ibanez.
4. Hideki Matsui
Like Ibanez, Matsui is old (he'll turn 38 in June) and a defensive liability, and he didn't do a whole lot with the bat in 2011. That said, he did get things going in the second half of the season, with an overall slash line of .295/.353/.425 in 64 games. He probably doesn't have much left in the tank at this point, but he maintained a 125 OPS+ over the previous two seasons (2009-2010), and if he can regain some of that hitting prowess, he'll be of use.
3. Edgar Renteria
Renteria makes this list for one simple reason: he's a shortstop, and he's still a somewhat capable defender there. He's by no means flashy with the glove, and he has little to offer at the plate (he hit .251/.306/.348 across 333 plate appearances in 2011), but decent shortstops are hard to come by. Renteria's getting old (36 in August), but he has averaged 1.1 WAR over the past two seasons.
2. Johnny Damon
Damon, 38, saw another quality season at the plate in 2011. He appeared in 150 games this past year, hitting .261/.326/.418, good for a 110 OPS+. Overall, he was worth 1.5 wins above replacement on the season. Damon is said to be seeking $5M, though it doesn't look like he's going to get it. He's one of the names that's been frequently connected to the Yankees in their search for a designated hitter.
1. Derrek Lee
Lee and Damon were pretty similar hitters this past season, putting up nearly identical numbers (108 wRC+ v. 109 wRC+). Unlike Damon, though, Lee still plays the field on an everyday basis, and he's actually a solid defender at first base. In 2009, Lee posted a 146 OPS+ and finished 9th in MVP voting. He's a few years removed from being that type of producer, but at 36 years old, he's still got an above-average bat.