As the offseason churns along, there are some big names that have yet to be taken off the free agent market. One of them is sure fire Hall of Famers like Ivan Rodriguez.  Now I’m not saying he is a first ballot guy (although he deserves to be in my mind), however he deserves to be in the Hall at some point.  Now at 40 years old entering what would be his 22nd MLB season, he has drawn almost no interest from any of the clubs.

He is just 156 hits shy of 3000 for his career and sadly he might not get the chance to make it.  Although he still is fairly strong defensively, his offensive output has struggled mightily over the past year.  He bat speed and reaction time seem to have dwindled with age and his once cannon arm with pinpoint accuracy is merely ordinary.  Last year he hit a career worst 0.218/2/19 in 137 at bats. Add that to the nomadic nature of his past three seasons (5 different teams) and it all adds up to retirement.

Don’t get me wrong, someone is going to sign him as a non-roster invitee and he might make it out of camp, but don’t expect him to play out the entire season. Expect retirement to come early on in the season, if not before the season even starts.  Then the clock begins to count off the 5 year waiting period for the Hall nomination.

His credentials are top notch, an MVP, 14 time All Star, 13 Golden Gloves, and seven time Silver Slugger.  He has 2844 hits and 311 home runs and sports a 0.296 career batting average.  Add in the fact that he played probably the hardest (on the body) position to play and he excelled at it for more than a decade and I think it’s a no brainer first ballot entry.  The only thing that could sap him is the link to steroids and Jose Canseco.  I think though when you look at his entire career and his on the field leadership, you have a first ballot guy.

There are so many of his autographed cards on the market and amazingly enough they only run between 10 and 20 dollars for the most part.  Sure there are some 1/1s and patch autos that go for a bit more, but for the most part they are pretty affordable. So go and buy them now in what is most likely was or is his last season, so when he enters the Hall, you can reap the rewards.

What do you think of Pudge’s chances?

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