MLB Free Agents 2013: Underrated Infielders with the Most Value

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIOctober 14, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 28: Erick Aybar #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim tags Nelson Cruz #17 of the Texas Rangers out at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 28, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

The 2013 MLB free-agent pool is filled with big names, but there is plenty of value to be found in infielders if cash-strapped teams don't want to break the bank on a big star.

Here is a look at a few potential acquisitions—including two teammates from this past season—that will afford fortunate organizations flexible shopping options this winter.


INF Maicer Itzuris, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The switch-hitting utility man can play every position in the infield except for first base, and had a stellar year in Anaheim.

Itzuris batted .288 after the All-Star break and after a sluggish start to 2012, and continued to flash his fielding ability.

With strong pitching and a fairly sound defensive team, the Angels will likely look to stack their lineup with more bats and take less of a priority on defense.

After bouncing around Triple-A and the majors three times in his career, Itzuris has stabilized himself in the majors for three years. The veteran is a starting-caliber player who also brings speed to the base paths, stealing 17 bases this season.

Teams that are looking for a diamond in the rough may find one in Itzuris if the Angels let him go on the market.


2B Skip Schumaker, St. Louis Cardinals

Not only is the St. Louis Cardinals' versatile weapon an extremely reliable fielder, but he has also proven his worth as a viable contact hitter.

In 51 starts at second base this season, Schumaker made just four errors in 248 total chances. He signed a two-year contract in 2010 that was worth just under $5 million, but could establish himself as a starter on the right team.

Still, Schumaker won't command a starter's salary. The Cardinals would love to hang on to him, but he will likely take a slightly better offer elsewhere. A lot rides on how St. Louis performs in the postseason.

Schumaker can also plug in holes in the outfield if necessary, and brings more to the table than the typical utility player. A slightly better counteroffer to whatever the Cardinals put on the table will net some team a steal in the offseason.


SS Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim shortstop had another stellar year in the field to back up his 2011 Gold Glove, and also had his best campaign at the dish since 2009.

Aybar provides stellar defense in the middle of the diamond, and was particularly hot at the plate over the last two months of the season, batting .341 and .355 in August and September, respectively.

GM Jerry Dipoto may be aggressive in pursuing other high-priced free agents, which might make both Aybar and teammate Maicer Itzuris expendable.

While he is less likely to slip away than Itzuris, Aybar has more leverage in his current situation to pine for more money. Even if he does, teams will be getting arguably the most underrated all-around 2013 free agent.