CLEVELAND -- Fire up that DHL commercial. Kenny Lofton might be on the move again. Lofton, the veteran center fielder who has played for 11 teams in his 17-year big league career, filed for free agency on Tuesday, potentially ending his third career stint with the Indians. Teammate Chris Gomez also filed. The Indians will have exclusive negotiating rights with both players until Nov. 12.
The 40-year-old Lofton has been shipped to and signed by so many teams over the years that delivery company DHL parodied his penchant for showing up on the transaction wire in a commercial this summer. It's likely he'll be headed elsewhere -- yet again -- as the Indians hinted last week that he is not in their '08 plans. Lofton was acquired from the Rangers shortly before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline to add some speed and playoff experience to a Tribe club in need of both. His acquisition necessitated his move from his comfort zone in center field and the leadoff spot. The Indians placed him in left field and had him bat second, first and, ultimately, seventh. In 52 games with Cleveland, Lofton, the club's all-time stolen base leader, batted .283 with nine doubles, three triples, 15 RBIs and two stolen bases. Lofton's greatest contributions came in the postseason, where he batted .279 with a homer and six RBIs in 11 games. He hit .375 and drove in four runs in the American League Division Series against the Yankees. However, Lofton wasn't able to reach his ultimate goal of a championship. He has been in the postseason 10 of the last 12 years, but has yet to win a World Series ring. The Indians are hoping for more run production out of left field next season, so Lofton joins fellow corner outfielder Trot Nixon, who filed for free agency on Monday, in the likely list of those headed out. "We have not addressed any of our free agent decisions yet," general manager Mark Shapiro said last week. "It was fun to watch [Lofton] play. He contributed in the way we hoped. He energized our fans,and it was exciting to watch him play that meaningful role for us at that most important time." Gomez played a less significant role. He was acquired from the Orioles in a waiver trade in August and appeared in just 19 games, batting .283 with five RBIs while starting six starts at third base, four at second and two at first. It's not out of the realm of possibility that the Indians would re-sign the veteran Gomez to be their utility infielder in '08, though the infield could be crowded with third base prospect Andy Marte out of Minor League options and Casey Blake, Jhonny Peralta, Asdrubal Cabrera, Josh Barfield and Ryan Garko all potentially in the mix. Relievers Joe Borowski and Aaron Fultz and starting pitcher Paul Byrd are the Indians' only other potential free agents. The club has an '08 option on all three. Only Borowski is a slam dunk to have his option picked up.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.