Cards want Finley -- Finley wants Cards

Updated: April 24, 2003, 9:10 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
Chuck Finley is still out there. Three weeks into the season, the big lefthander is still a free agent although it is quite apparent by now that several teams could use his help. There is a good reason for his continued availability. On May 1 his phone will begin melting from all the action. As of that day, signing him will no longer cost a team a draft pick.

One team that is greatly interested in him is the Cardinals, for whom he finished last season only to have the team decline to give him arbitration. Finley went 7-4 for St. Louis in 85 1/3 innings at the end of 2002 after coming over from Cleveland in a July 19 trade. For his part, Finley has stated a strong interest in returning to St. Louis. The trouble is, reports Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the team is trying its best to stick to its $80 million payroll and signing Finley would make that impossible.

So, just what is a 40-year old, still-a-free-agent-in-the-middle-of-the-season pitcher worth these days? Strauss writes that Finley's agents want in excess of $2 million to finish out the 2003 season. Does that strike you as a little ambitious? Often, a player and his agents will pin their demands on a comparison to another similar player. In this case, that player would have to be Kenny Rogers. Like Finley, Rogers is left-handed and in the same approximate age range (Finley is 40, Rogers 38.) Just prior to the end of spring training, the Twins gave Rogers $2 million to sign. Rogers had a better 2002 than Finley, but both were fairly substandard the year before. It would appear that Finley's people are not going to take into account the truncated nature of the season he will pitch and provide an appropriate discount.
Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at