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MLB Free Agency 2013: 5 Under-the-Radar Players

William SmithCorrespondent IOctober 10, 2012

MLB Free Agency 2013: 5 Under-the-Radar Players

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    Postseason baseball is in full swing, but it seems like a lot of attention has been directed toward talking about players who will be free agents.

    Twenty-two of baseball's 30 teams have already made family vacation and golfing plans, but MLB front offices are already evaluating free agents in an effort to improve their teams.

    Unsung heroes plucked from the scrap heap often play huge roles and deliver the most memorable moments in the postseason.

    Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, David Ortiz, Dan Haren, Michael Bourn and Brian McCann are just some of the big names possibly heading for big contracts with other clubs in the offseason. These big names are involved in discussions almost every day.

    Teams that really do their homework this offseason will target players who give them good production at a reasonable price. Clubs that get these guys will save money and have more to spend on re-signing players and acquiring players fit to help the club down the road.

    As baseball's postseason rolls on, let's take a look at some affordable under-the-radar players who can help teams reach a World Series in 2013.

Luke Scott

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    The 34-year-old has been injury-riddled these past two seasons, playing in only 160 games for the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays.

    When healthy, the designated hitter, who can play a little first base as well, swings a powerful bat. Despite the injuries, Scott managed to hit 14 homers with 55 RBI in 96 games for the Rays in 2012.

    Scott is the second-youngest DH on the market at age 34. Fellow designated hitters David Ortiz, Jim Thome, Travis Hafner, and Raul Ibanez are all free agents and more advanced in age, so teams should be more willing to give Scott a look and offer him a contact because he may have four or five more years of productive baseball in his future.

    It appears unlikely the Rays will pick up Scott's $6 million option for 2013. The Rays seem intent on shaking up an offense that hit just .240 in 2012

    Scott posted three consecutive 20-plus home run seasons with Baltimore from 2008-10, so it's not unrealistic to think that production is possible if he can stay healthy.

Shane Victorino

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    Victorino was sent to the Dodgers in a trade right before the deadline, ending his eight-year run in Philadelphia as a member of the Phillies. 

    The Flyin' Hawaiian hit .245 with two homers, 15 RBI, and 15 stolen bases in 53 games with his new club. It appears that he will be the odd man out for the Dodgers, who will probably go with Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford in the outfield.

    The versatile 31-year-old center fielder should not be taken lightly on the open market and will surely draw interest from several teams.

    When asked if could still make an impact as an everyday player, Victorino told Los Angeles Times' Steve Dilbeck and other reporters he could.

    “Absolutely,” he said. “I’m not taking a back seat to nobody. Not in a negative way am I saying that. I still feel like I can play every day and that’s my goal. I don’t know who came up with the mindset that all of a sudden that I’m not an everyday player."

    The two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award Winner still has a lot left to give, and teams would be wise to bring him aboard without breaking the bank.

    With 46 games of postseason experience, Victorino would provide leadership for a young team on the rise.

Brandon McCarthy

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    McCarthy's season took a frightening turn in early September when he was hit in the head with a line drive in a game. McCarthy went to the hospital and needed brain surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.

    McCarthy was released from the hospital on Sept. 11, less than a week after undergoing surgery. As postseason play began, he even told manager Bob Melvin he could possibly help the team in the playoffs.

    The A's and Detroit Tigers are going to Game 5, so both teams are fighting for their lives, but it doesn't seem like they will take a chance in putting McCarthy out on the mound.

    McCarthy will be a free agent this offseason and sure to draw interest. Before the injury, McCarthy went 8-6 with a 3.24 ERA in 18 starts for Oakland. Last year, he went 9-9 with a 3.32 ERA.

    Teams unwilling to spend big money chasing a Zack Greinke or Dan Haren can get similar production from McCarthy at a better price. 

    If McCarthy can stay healthy for an entire season, he could be a good No. 3 starter with a 15-win season possible.

Angel Pagan

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    The 31-year-old center fielder can be a real asset to teams looking for speed and steady production at the top of the lineup.

    Pagan's strong play began in 2008, when he hit .306 with 14 stolen bases in 88 games for the Mets. In his first full season in 2009, he hit .290 with 11 homers, 69 RBI, and 37 stolen bases. Before the 2012 season, he was traded to the Giants.

    Pagan's numbers this year were not flashy (.288, eight HR, 56 RBI, 29 SB), but most teams would like to have the consistency the switch-hitter provides.

    Pagan's age shouldn't be a concern because he only has three full years of baseball under his belt.

Jeff Keppinger

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    Keppinger was the exception for a Tampa Bay offense that struggled at the plate for much of the year.

    The utility man hit a sparkling .325 with nine homers and 40 RBI in 115 games.

    Teams should take notice of what Keppinger accomplished and consider adding a guy who played three positions, as well as DH in 2012. Keppinger is not a speed guy (12 SB in career), but his career .337 on-base percentage can serve a club desperate for guys with the versatility he possesses.

    Keppinger rarely strikes out and would be a welcome member to any clubhouse in 2013.

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