One owner of the all-time home run record, one likely 2007 American League MVP, one 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner, one 2006 World Series MVP and a Fort Knox full of Gold Gloves. The onset of the free agency filing period made for a busy Monday, both in quantity and quality, as 57 players submitted the paperwork needed to get the process under way. The biggest names were the smallest surprises.
A day after agent Scott Boras had disclosed Alex Rodriguez's intent to opt out of his contract with the Yankees, the infielder formally became a free agent for the second time in his career. A-Rod may also soon be a reigning MVP on the move for the second time in his career. He had joined the Yankees in 2004, after having earned the league's 2003 honor with the Texas Rangers. And a month after being symbolically cut off by the Giants, Barry Bonds formalized the separation by also filing. Other headliners to file were right-hander Bartolo Colon, who won a total of seven games for the Angels following his '05 Cy Young Award, St. Louis shortstop and '05 Series MVP David Eckstein, and Minnesota center fielder Torii Hunter, who has six Gold Gloves going on seven. Hunter, also coming off arguably his top offensive season after driving in a career-high 107 runs, could be the most sought-after catch on a free-agent market that will teem with teams seeking a middle-of-the-order outfielder. That will be a busy market niche, expected to soon also include Andruw Jones from the Braves. It already includes Aaron Rowand, who also filed Monday after helping lead the Phillies to the NL East title with 27 homers and 89 RBIs, along with a .309 average and his daredevil play in center. Conversely, the aforementioned superstars embarked on mysterious journeys. A record price tag is expected to limit the options for Rodriguez, who not only left the $81 million remaining on his original contract on the table, but didn't even listen to details of an extension being prepared by the Yankees in a reported five-year, $140 million range. Age, health and plenty of extra baggage will limit Bonds' options, following a season in which he celebrated his 43rd birthday by toppling Hank Aaron's career record of 755 homers. Bonds finished with 28 homers, his highest total since 2004, and a lifetime total of 762. A-Rod was only one of 11 New York players to file for free agency. Five of them were Yankees, also including Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. The half-dozen Mets filing included outfielder Shawn Green and catcher Paul Lo Duca. Also among the traffic high were the Astros, with six filers, and the Brewers, with five. Other notables getting a quick jump on the filing period were a pair of relievers with 625 saves between them (Detroit's Todd Jones and the Cardinals' Troy Percival) and Kerry Wood, the one-time Cubs fireballer who has battled injuries for four years but still is only 30 years old. Milwaukee stopper Francisco Cordero also filed after nailing down a career-high 44 saves.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.