Top MLB Free Agents, Trade Targets Still Available at Each Position

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2014

Top MLB Free Agents, Trade Targets Still Available at Each Position

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    Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

    With roughly a month to go until the start of spring training, the free-agent market has thinned considerably at this point, but there are still a handful of impact players available and a number of secondary roster pieces as well.

    The biggest remaining crop of talent can be found in the starting pitching market, where everyone is seemingly waiting to see where Masahiro Tanaka signs. Once he makes his decision, the likes of Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana will likely find homes shortly after as consolation prizes for the teams that lose out on Tanaka.

    We're edging closer and closer to the season kicking off with each passing day, but for now here is a look at the top remaining free agents and trade targets still available at each position.


    *All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, unless otherwise noted.


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    C John Buck
    C John BuckJustin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Top Available Catchers

    Player (Age) 2013 Stats 
    John Buck (33)110 G, .219/.285/.362, 11 2B, 15 HR, 62 RBI, 39 RFA
    Jose Lobaton (29)100 G, .249/.320/.394, 15 2B, 7 HR, 32 RBI, 38 RTrade


    Position Overview

    John Buck is the top remaining option on a catching market that is essentially tapped dry at this point. He'll bring a veteran presence and some decent pop to whoever winds up signing him, though it will likely be to serve as a backup wherever he goes.

    Postseason hero Jose Lobaton has become expendable in Tampa Bay after the team re-signed Jose Molina and acquired Ryan Hanigan in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds, and he could come relatively cheap to someone looking for some depth.

    Veterans Kelly Shoppach, Yorvit Torrealba, Miguel Olivo and Ramon Hernandez could all get a minor league deals with a shot at winning a roster spot as a backup, but they won't provide much production at this point.

First Basemen/Designated Hitters

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    1B Kendrys Morales
    1B Kendrys MoralesJake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

    Top Available First Basemen/Designated Hitter

    Player (Age) 2013 Stats 
    Kendrys Morales (30)156 G, .277/.336/.449, 34 2B, 23 HR, 80 RBI, 64 RFA
    Justin Smoak (27)131 G, .238/.334/.412, 19 2B, 20 HR, 50 RBI, 53 RTrade
    Ike Davis (26)103 G, .205/.326/.334, 14 2B, 9 HR, 33 RBI, 37 RTrade
    Mark Reynolds (30)135 G, .220/.306/.393, 14 2B, 21 HR, 67 RBI, 55 RFA
    Lyle Overbay (36)142 G, .240/.295/.393, 24 2B, 14 HR, 59 RBI, 43 RFA
    Travis Hafner (36)82 G, .202/.301/.378, 8 2B, 12 HR, 37 RBI, 31 RFA
    Carlos Pena (35)89 G, .207/.321/.346, 13 2B, 8 HR, 25 RBI, 38 RFA


    Position Overview

    Kendrys Morales declined a qualifying offer to start the offseason, and that draft pick compensation tied to his signing could make him this year's Kyle Lohse. One GM even told Peter Gammons he could have to wait until after the June draft to sign, when he'll no longer cost a team its draft pick.

    One thing working in Morales' favor is the fact that the rest of the first base market has thinned considerably, and there are still at least a few teams in need of an upgrade at the position. Justin Smoak and Ike Davis still remain very likely candidates to be traded, while Mitch Moreland looks less likely to be dealt.

    Mark Reynolds brings plus power at a low price, while Lyle Overbay, Travis Hafner and Carlos Pena are all veteran, left-handed bats capable of helping out in a limited capacity.

Second Basemen

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    2B Daniel Murphy
    2B Daniel MurphyBrad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Top Available Second Basemen

    Player (Age) 2013 Stats 
    Daniel Murphy (28)161 G, .286/.319/.415, 38 2B, 13 HR, 78 RBI, 92 RTrade
    Nick Franklin (22)102 G, .225/.303/.382, 20 2B, 12 HR, 45 RBI, 38 RTrade
    Jeff Baker (32)74 G, .279/.360/.545, 8 2B, 11 HR, 21 RBI, 21 RFA 
    Darwin Barney (28)141 G, .208/.266/.303, 25 2B, 7 HR, 41 RBI, 49 RTrade
    Chris Getz (30)78 G, .220/.288/.273, 6 2B, 1 HR, 18 RBI, 29 RFA 
    Alexi Casilla (29)62 G, .214/.268/.295, 4 2B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 15 RFA 
    Elliot Johnson (29)111 G, .209/.255/.283, 3 2B, 2 HR, 19 RBI, 27 RFA 
    Ramon Santiago (34)80 G, .224/.298/.288, 8 2B, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 27 RFA 


    Position Overview

    The second base market was thin to begin with this offseason, and with Robinson Cano, Omar Infante and Mark Ellis all finding new homes, the only legitimate starting options still available are on the trade market.

    Nick Franklin may be the most likely second baseman to be moved, as his starting job in Seattle has been taken by Cano, while Daniel Murphy is probably the best option available but may not be as easily acquired.

    Beyond the trade candidates, there are a handful of utility infield types in Chris Getz, Alexi Casilla, Elliot Johnson and Ramon Santiago who should all get a chance to compete for Opening Day roster spots but likely won't see regular at-bats.

Third Basemen

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    3B Michael Young
    3B Michael YoungChris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

    Top Available Third Basemen

    Player (Age) 2013 Stats 
    Michael Young (37)147 G, .279/.335/.395, 26 2B, 8 HR, 46 RBI, 52 RFA
    Wilson Betemit (32)6 G, .000/.000/.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 RFA
    Chris Nelson (28)64 G, .227/.273/.327, 4 2B, 3 HR, 24 RBI, 19 RFA
    Placido Polanco (38)118 G, .260/.315/.302, 13 2B, 1 HR, 23 RBI, 33 RFA


    Position Overview

    Juan Uribe was really the only everyday option at third base on the free-agent market when the offseason began, and with the veteran opting to re-sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers, teams looking to upgrade at the hot corner don't have much in the way of options.

    Michael Young is not the player he once was, but he is still a decent hitter. He's actually been looked at by the Milwaukee Brewers as a first baseman, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. He should be able to get a major league deal from someone, it just remains to be seen what role he will fill in 2014.

    As far as sleeper options, Chris Nelson is worth a look, as he hit .301/.352/.458 with nine home runs and 53 RBI over 345 at-bats for the Colorado Rockies in 2012. Those numbers were obviously less impressive this past season, but the potential is there for the 28-year-old.


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    SS Stephen Drew
    SS Stephen DrewElsa/Getty Images

    Top Available Shortstops

    Player (Age) 2013 Stats 
    Stephen Drew (30)124 G, .253/.333/.443, 29 2B, 13 HR, 67 RBI, 57 RFA
    Jimmy Rollins (35)160 G, .252/.318/.348, 36 2B, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 65 RTrade
    Cesar Izturis (33)63 G, .209/.259/.271, 8 2B, 0 HR, 11 RBI, 6 RFA
    Omar Quintanilla (32)95 G, .222/.306/.283, 9 2B, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 28 RFA


    Position Overview

    The St. Louis Cardinals signed one of the two viable everyday shortstop option on the market this offseason when they gave Jhonny Peralta a four-year, $53 million deal. The other, Stephen Drew, remains on the market and may be there for some time after turning down a qualifying offer.

    Drew could yet wind up back with the Boston Red Sox this offseason, though he looks like a good fit for the New York Mets, should they decide to spend more this winter.

    Jimmy Rollins is available on the trade market, but the 35-year-old is not the player he once was, and teams aren't likely to give up much given his $11 million salary and the fact that he's a free agent at season's end. After that, there are a handful of backup options, but no one capable of making a serious impact.


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    RF Nelson Cruz
    RF Nelson CruzCary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    Top Available Outfielders

    Player (Age) 2013 Stats 
    Nelson Cruz (33)109 G, .266/.327/.506, 18 2B, 27 HR, 76 RBI, 49 RFA
    Alejandro De Aza (29)153 G, .264/.323/.405, 27 2B, 17 HR, 62 RBI, 84 RTrade
    Ichiro Suzuki (40)150 G, .262/.297/.342, 15 2B, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 57 RTrade
    Bobby Abreu (39)^100 G, .242/.350/.342, 11 2B, 3 HR, 24 RBI, 29 RFA
    Grady Sizemore (31)*71 G, .224/.285/.422, 21 2B, 10 HR, 32 RBI, 34 RFA
    Andres Torres (35)103 G, .250/.302/.342, 17 2B, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 33 RFA
    Jason Bay (35)68 G, .204/.298/.393, 6 2B, 11 HR, 20 RBI, 30 RFA
    Juan Pierre (36)113 G, .247/.284/.305, 11 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 36 RFA

    *2011 stats, ^2012 stats


    Position Overview

    The biggest bat still on the market, Nelson Cruz, has draft pick compensation tied to signing him after he received a qualifying offer and also has PED questions after serving a 50-game suspension last season, but he should still received a nice payday once he does sign.

    After him, the market has thinned considerably, though there are some intriguing bounce-back candidates still available. Grady Sizemore is finally healthy and looking to get his career back on track, while Bobby Abreu is looking to come out of retirement after hitting .322/.416/.461 over 180 at-bats in the Venezuelan Winter League.

    Alejandro De Aza has become expendable for the White Sox following their acquisition of Adam Eaton, while the Yankees could look to deal Ichiro now that Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran have been signed to join Brett Gardner in the outfield.

Right-Handed Starting Pitchers

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    SP Masahiro Tanaka
    SP Masahiro TanakaChung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

    Top Available Right-Handed Starting Pitchers

     Player (Age)2013 Stats 
    Masahiro Tanaka (25)*27 GS, 24-0, 1.27 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 183 K, 212 IPFA
    Ubaldo Jimenez (29)32 GS, 13-9, 3.30 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 194 K, 182.2 IPFA
    Ervin Santana (31)32 GS, 9-10, 3.24 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 161 K, 211 IPFA
    Matt Garza (30)24 GS, 10-6, 3.82 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 136 K, 155.1 IPFA
    Jeff Samardzija (28)33 GS, 8-13, 4.34 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 214 K, 213.2 IPTrade
    A.J. Burnett (37)30 GS, 10-11, 3.30 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 209 K, 191 IPFA
    Bronson Arroyo (36)32 GS, 14-12, 3.79 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 124 K, 202 IPFA
    Jason Hammel (31)23 GS, 7-8, 4.97 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 96 K, 139.1 IPFA

    *Stats from Japan.


    Position Overview

    The dominoes have yet to start falling on the top of the starting pitching market, as everyone continues to wait on Masahiro Tanaka to make a decision. Once he signs for what could very well be a $100 million-plus deal, expect the rest of the market to unfold quickly.

    Matt Garza is a slightly more attractive option than Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana since he was not eligible for a qualifying offer, but all three should make an impact wherever they wind up, and all three will be paid handsomely.

    A.J. Burnett continues to mull retirement, while fellow veteran Bronson Arroyo could make a decision soon with a number of teams interested in him on a short-term deal. Chicago Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija is the top right-handed starter on the trade market, but at this point, it looks like he won't be moved until July, if at all.

Left-Handed Starting Pitchers

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    SP David Price
    SP David PriceMaddie Meyer/Getty Images

    Top Available Left-Handed Starting Pitchers

     Player (Age)2013 Stats 
    David Price (28)27 GS, 10-8, 3.33 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 151 K, 186.2 IP Trade
    Paul Maholm (31)26 GS, 10-11, 4.41 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 105 K, 153 IPFA
    Joe Saunders (32)32 GS, 11-16, 5.26 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 107 K, 183 IP FA
    Bruce Chen (36)34 G, 15 GS, 9-4, 3.27 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 78 K, 121 IPFA
    Chris Capuano (35)24 G, 20 GS, 4-7, 4.26 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 81 K, 105.2 IP FA
    Johan Santana (34)*21 GS, 6-9, 4.85 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 111 K, 117 IP FA

    *2012 stats


    Position Overview

    The most talked about name on this year's trade market has undoubtedly been Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price. After making $10.1 million in arbitration last year, the left-hander has quickly priced himself out of the small market that is Tampa Bay, and chances are he'll be playing elsewhere when 2014 ends, whether or not he's dealt this offseason.

    Beyond Price, veteran innings eater Joe Saunders is a low-cost option for a team looking to fill out the back end of its staff. He's averaged 193 innings the past six years and has a solid 4.23 ERA over that span.

    The biggest question mark of the entire free-agent market may be former Cy Young winner Johan Santana, who missed all of 2013 recovering from shoulder surgery. He's obviously not the pitcher he once was, but someone will take a chance on him bouncing back with a productive season.


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    RP Fernando Rodney
    RP Fernando RodneyMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Top Available Relievers

     Player (Age)2013 Stats 
    Fernando Rodney (36)68 G, 5-4, 37 SV, 3.38 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 11.1 K/9FA
    Grant Balfour (36)65 G, 1-3, 38 SV, 2.59 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 10.3 K/9FA
    Jonathan Papelbon (33)61 G, 5-1, 29 SV, 2.92 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 8.3 K/9Trade
    Francisco Rodriguez (32)48 G, 3-2, 10 SV, 2.70 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 10.4 K/9FA
    Andrew Bailey (29)30 G, 3-1, 8 SV, 3.77 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 12.2 K/9FA 
    Eric O'Flaherty (28)19 G, 3-0, 0 SV, 2.50 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 5.5 K/9FA 
    Kevin Gregg (35)62 G, 2-6, 33 SV, 3.48 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 8.1 K/9FA 
    Oliver Perez (32)61 G, 3-3, 2 SV, 3.74 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 12.6 K/9FA 
    Brett Tomko (40)*8 G, 0-1, 0 SV, 4.58 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 7.1 K/9FA 

    *2011 stats


    Position Overview

    A pair of solid closer options remain on the free-agent market in Fernando Rodney and Grant Balfour, and both should still be able to find multiyear deals before the offseason is over. There are some questions about the health of Balfour's arm, as he originally agreed to a two-year, $15 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles before the deal fell apart following his physical.

    Francisco Rodriguez, Kevin Gregg and Andrew Bailey all have experience closing as well, but they are probably better suited in a setup role at this point. Bailey in particular is an intriguing option, as he was lights out before an injury-plagued 2012 and 2013, and he's still only 29.

    The Phillies would love to move Jonathan Papelbon, but that will be easier said than done as he is due $26 million over the next two years and is coming off a less-than-dominant season.