MLB Free Agency 2013: Best Player Still Available at Every Position
For MLB teams still looking to add pieces via the free-agent market, it's time to get moving. Around the diamond, options are dwindling, and fast.
With only two big bats left on the market, position players are officially at a premium. While the pitching side of the aisle isn't quite as barren, there's a big drop-off after a handful of proven throwers.
Simply put—things are getting ugly.
How ugly? Take a look for yourself.
Catcher: Miguel Olivo
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Free agency's catching cupboard is bare.
There isn't a starting-caliber catcher left on the market—and it's debatable as to whether any team would want the available catchers coming off the bench.
Miguel Olivo is the least painful option of the remaining backstops.
With a career slash line of .241/.275/.418, Olivo isn't somebody that you want stepping to the plate with the game on the line.
That being said, he has some pop in his bat, as he has reached double-digit home run totals in each of the past seven years.
Olivo is average defensively but calls a decent game, as he finished 2012 with a 3.94 CERA (catcher's ERA, via ESPN). He also threw out over 30 percent of the stolen base attempts against him (21-of-68).
Other Free-Agent Catchers
First Base: Adam LaRoche
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Adam LaRoche is far and away the most impactful free-agent first baseman left on the market.
A Gold Glove award winner for the Washington Nationals in 2012, LaRoche posted a .271/.343/.510 slash line with 33 HR and 100 RBI in 2012. After such an impressive season, the slugger is looking for a three-year deal.
He already has a two-year deal in hand from the Nationals, and as MLB.com's Bill Ladson writes, there has been "a little bit of progress" in negotiations between the two sides over the past week.
As you can see from the other names available, the market drops off significantly after LaRoche.
Other Notable Free-Agent 1B
Second Base: Kelly Johnson
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Kelly Johnson is a defensive liability (minus-8.1 UZR/150, according to Fangraphs), doesn't hit for a high average (.225) and strikes out too much (159).
But Johnson does swing a heavy bat, hitting 16 home runs with 55 RBI for the Blue Jays in 2012. Run production is always something that teams are looking to add, which bodes well for the veteran second baseman.
Other Notable Free-Agent 2B
Third Base: Adam Kennedy
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A middle infielder who has turned into a utility player, Adam Kennedy doesn't offer much in the way of power or run production, but he can hit for a respectable average and has the ability to get on base somewhat consistently.
Kennedy only spent 225 innings at the hot corner for the Dodgers in 2012, but he fielded the position remarkably well, posting a 21.2 UZR/150 and committing only three errors.
I know that you're rolling your eyes at this selection, but looking at the alternatives, Kennedy's the best choice out of a weak crop of third basemen.
Other Notable Free-Agent 3B
Shortstop: Ryan Theriot
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A solid contact hitter with no power, Ryan Theriot is the best shortstop left on the market, despite not playing the position in 2012.
A middle infielder who posted a .270/.316/.321 slash line, Theriot started at second base for the World Series champions up until the Giants traded for Marco Scutaro.
Defensively, he's better at second base than at shortstop, but for a team in a pinch, Theriot's the pick of the litter at this position.
Other Notable Free-Agent SS
Left Field: Scott Hairston
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Whether Scott Hairston can replicate his 2012 season remains to be seen, but he is a solid hitter and adequate defender that won't hinder a team's chances of winning a game.
Hairston posted a .263/.299/.504 slash line with 20 HR and 57 RBI for the Mets last season, and is sure to receive a raise from the $1.1 million salary that he earned last year.
Ideally, a team would bring in Hairston to platoon in left field or as a fourth outfielder. While his power numbers were solid, his inability to get on base consistently was exposed with increased playing time.
Other Notable Free-Agent LF
Center Field: Michael Bourn
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Other than hitting for power, there's not much that Michael Bourn doesn't bring to a team.
He's the prototypical leadoff hitter with with a knack for getting on base and boasts excellent instincts on the basepaths.
A phenomenal defensive player who was robbed of the Gold Glove in 2012, Bourn immediately improves any team's outfield defense.
Bourn is easily the best free agent—regardless of position—left on the market.
Other Notable Free-Agent CF
Right Fielder: Matt Diaz
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While Matt Diaz has spent the bulk of his career in left field, the free-agent outfielder market has been depleted to the point where Diaz is basically the only pick on the opposite side of the outfield.
With a career slash line of .324/.364/.498 against southpaws—and a .258/.314/.362 line against right-handers—Diaz is best utilized as part of a platoon.
Other Notable Free-Agent RF
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher: Kyle Lohse
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He's not an ace, but Kyle Lohse is would be a solid No. 2 starter in a so-so rotation and an excellent No. 3 starter in any rotation.
Coming off a phenomenal season for the Cardinals—one that saw him go 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 33 starts—it's a bit surprising that Lohse remains available.
Other Notable Right-Handed Starting PItchers
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher: Joe Saunders
Joe Saunders is a back-end rotation starting pitcher that can eat innings and keep a team in games.
Splitting time between the Diamondbacks and Orioles in 2012, Saunders went a combined 9-10 with a 4.07 ERA and 1.34 WHIP over nearly 175 innings of work.
Other Notable Left-Handed Starting Pitchers
Right-Handed Reliever: Rafael Soriano
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The best closer available, Rafael Soriano stepped in for an injured Mariano Rivera in New York last season and pitched remarkably well.
In 69 outings, Soriano saved 42 games with a 2.26 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 3.2 BB/9 and 9.2 K/9 averages.
His struggles setting up Rivera slots Soriano as a ninth-inning option for any team in need of a closer.
Other Notable Right-Handed Relievers
Left-Handed Reliever: J.P. Howell
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Finally flashing the form that he showed prior to missing the 2010 season due to shoulder surgery, J.P. Howell was a solid lefty out of the Rays bullpen in 2012.
In 55 games, Howell posted a 3.04 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, holding left-handed batters to a .200/.306/.306 slash line.
Other Notable Left-Handed Relievers