Ranking the Top Players Still Available This Winter at Each Position

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2013

Ranking the Top Players Still Available This Winter at Each Position

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    The free agent market is nearly tapped dry at this point, but there are still a handful of impact players available. Most notably, Kyle Lohse and Michael Bourn remain unsigned at this point.

    Late January is a time for veteran relief pitchers to find a home and utility-type position players to latch on somewhere as they look to crack a big league roster out of camp.

    Here are the top remaining free agents at each position, as teams look to put the finishing touches on their rosters before spring training kicks off.


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    1. Miguel Olivo

    Olivo may not still be a starting option at this point, but he still has plus power for the position with double-digit home runs in each of the past seven seasons and is a solid handler of a pitching staff.

    2. Kelly Shoppach

    A backup throughout his career, Shoppach is an adequate hitter and solid defender. He'll catch on somewhere and deliver his usual 8-10 home runs and positive dWAR.

    3. Chris Snyder

    Snyder has battled injuries each of the past two seasons, and last time he was healthy he had 15 home runs in 319 at-bats. Still just 31, he has solid potential if he can stay healthy and could be among the more productive backups this coming season.

    Other Options

    Rod Barajas, Brian Schneider, Matt Treanor

First Base

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    1. Carlos Lee

    He's not the 30-HR, 100-RBI player he once was, but Lee still proved to be a solid run producer last season with 77 RBI while playing with the Astros and Marlins. He'd be a solid bat off the bench or a platoon option at DH or first base.

    2. Casey Kotchman

    After a breakout season in 2011, Kotchman saw his average plummet a full 77 points after signing with the Indians as a free agent. He's a solid low-cost option who could be useful if he falls somewhere between his 2011 and 2012 numbers.

    3. Lyle Overbay

    As recently as 2010 Overbay was a 20-HR player as the Blue Jays everyday first baseman. He's nothing more than a veteran bat off the bench at this point, but he hits left-handed so he'll find a home.

    Other Options

    Jason Giambi, Aubrey Huff, Jim Thome

Second Base

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    1. Kelly Johnson

    Johnson signed a one-year, $6.375 million deal with the Blue Jays last offseason and hit under .230 for the second straight season. However, he still has some of the best power of any second baseman in the league, and hit 16 home runs with 66 RBI last year.

    2. Freddy Sanchez

    Sanchez has not played in a big league game since injuring his shoulder on June 10, 2011 and he's looking to make a comeback now that he's healthy. He's among the best low-risk options on the market. 

    3. Ryan Theriot

    He's sub par defensively at both second and shortstop and he has little-to-no power, but Theriot does consistently deliver a solid batting average and should find a utility job somewhere.

    Other Options

    Yuniesky Betancourt, Orlando Hudson, Adam Kennedy


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    1. Alex Gonzalez

    Gonzalez played in just 24 games last year before a torn ACL ended his season, and he'll have to settle for substantially less than the $4.25 million he made last season. That said, he is a solid defender with double-digit home run potential.

    2. Ronny Cedeno

    Cedeno played second, shortstop and third for the Mets and had a solid .741 OPS with 22 RBI over 166 at-bats. He's a solid utility infield option and could get a major league contract from someone looking to fill out their bench.

    Other Options

    Jason Bartlett

Third Base

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    1. Scott Rolen

    Whether or not Rolen plays in 2013 is still up in the air, as the 37-year-old could decide to hang it up. He still plays fantastic defense and provides a professional at-bat, but his days as a starter are likely over.

    2. Brandon Inge

    Released by the Tigers last season, Inge had 11 home runs and 52 RBI in 74 games with the A's last season to prove he still has something left in the tank.

    Other Options

    Miguel Cairo


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    1. Michael Bourn

    The top remaining hitter available, a market has yet to materialize for the speedy Bourn as the combination of having draft pick compensation tied to him and Scott Boras as an agent has hurt his stock.

    2. Grady Sizemore

    Sizemore likely won't get anything outside of an incentive-laden minor league deal at this point, but he is still only 30 years old. If he can stay healthy he could be the steal of the offseason. I feel like I was writing the same thing about Sizemore last offseason though.

    3. Juan Rivera

    Rivera was wildly overpaid at $4 million last season, but he does provide a solid right-handed power bat and should be able to be signed on the cheap this time around.

    Other Options

    Bobby Abreu, Endy Chavez

Starting Pitcher

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    1. Kyle Lohse

    Like Michael Bourn, Lohse has seen his free agent stock take a hit due to the fact that signing him will cost a team their first-round draft pick. He may have to settle for a shorter deal than he hoped, but he'll be a stellar addition for whoever signs him.

    2. Joe Saunders

    The best left-handed option on the market since the start of the offseason, Saunders pitched well for the Orioles down the stretch last season and could find a multi-year deal from a team looking to put the finishing touches on their staff.

    3. Chris Young

    After making a total of just eight appearances in 2010 and 2011 combined, Young quietly had a solid bounce back season with the Mets last year. He had a 4.15 ERA in 115 innings over 20 starts, and the big right-hander will be solid rotational depth for someone.

    Other Options

    Dallas Braden, Freddy Garcia, Derek Lowe, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kevin Millwood, Jonathan Sanchez, Chien-Ming Wang, Kip Wells, Randy Wolf, Carlos Zambrano

Relief Pitcher

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    1. Brian Wilson

    Non-tendered by the Giants who would have had to offer him at least $6.8 million, Wilson has gotten interest from a number of teams but is not yet ready to accept a minor league deal. He'll have to prove healthy before anyone even thinks of letting him close, but he's worth a flier.

    2. Rich Hill

    Also a non-tender casualty, Hill spent time on the DL last season, but was a solid option when healthy with a 1.82 ERA and 9.6 K/9 in 19.2 innings of work over 25 appearances. The fact that he's left-handed only adds to his value, and he should be able to win a job somewhere this spring.

    3. Francisco Rodriguez

    Rodriguez is not the pitcher he once was, but he is still a solid workhorse setup man who should strike out a batter an inning and is capable of closing in a pinch. With 294 saves and 2.70 ERA, his career track record speaks for itself.

    4. Jose Valverde

    Chased out of Detroit after struggling mightily as their closer last season, Valverde will likely have to settle for being a setup man at best this coming season. I think a return to Houston, where he closed for two years, makes sense as he'd provide an insurance option to unproven closer Jose Veras.

    Other Options

    Scott Atchison, Matt Capps, Todd Coffey, Jose Contreras, Francisco Cordero, Chad Durbin, LaTroy Hawkins, Jason Isringhausen, Kameron Loe, Mark Lowe, Brandon Lyon, Brad Penny, Jon Rauch