Mark DeRosa is a rare talent. Not only does DeRosa swing a big stick, but DeRosa is especially valuable because of his ability to play several different positions on the baseball diamond. And as we inch closer toward free agency, it will be fascinating to see how DeRosa will benefit from his versatility. Back in 2006, DeRosa inked a nice three-year deal with the Chicago Cubs, but make no mistake about it, Mark DeRosa is an established commodity now. Will he be paid like it? Let's take a look.
The Case for DeRosa
Mark DeRosa can play all over the field. This is what makes him unique as a player. DeRosa has experience playing every infield position and both corner outfield spots. That versatility makes him very, very valuable to teams that are looking to take advantage of matchups or teams that are looking to rest aging players. DeRosa gives a manager options, which is very valuable in today's MLB.
-Hits for Power
One aspect of DeRosa's game that has really evolved over the years is his ability to hit for power. Before 2008, DeRosa had never hit more than 15 home runs in any season. However, in 2008, DeRosa exploded for 21 home runs to go along with 30 doubles. And already in 2009, DeRosa has tied his career high with 21 homers and has a legitimate chance to hit 30+ home runs this season.
The Case against DeRosa
Can he defend?
DeRosa can play multiple positions, but can he actually play any of them well defensively? Not really.
Entering the 2009 season, DeRosa was thought of as an above-average third baseman, but his defensive stats this season suggest that DeRosa is well below average at the hot corner. His UZR/150 is -11.1 and his range has been unimpressive (-5.0). At 2B last season with the Cubs, DeRosa's UZR/150 was a pathetic -15.9. And DeRosa has not played a significant amount of time at 1B or SS in a few seasons.
At this point in his career, DeRosa should probably be placed in the OF because that's where his defense has been solid over the past two seasons (UZR/150 above 10 in both years). But are there actually any teams out there that think of DeRosa as an OF at this point? That fact remains to be seen.
One stat that concerns me about DeRosa is his decline in batting average over the years. As his power has gone up, his batting average has gone down from the .290 range down to .260 this year.
-No other free agent out there brings the versatility to the table like DeRosa. That alone puts him in a separate category from most of the other free agents. It's tough to judge exactly who DeRosa will be competing against on the market because it all depends on what position he wants to play....primarily. If he's going to be a third baseman, then he'll have some strong competition from Chone Figgins and the legion of injured free agents at the hot corner. If he's going to play second, then DeRosa immediately becomes one of the best 2b on the market.
(3 years/$24 million)
Here are some comparable contracts:
Casey Blake (3 years/$17.5 million)
Mike Lowell (3 years/$37.5 million)
Kaz Matsui (3 years/$15.5 million)
Again, how much DeRosa makes and the amount of years he gets will come down to where he will play primarily on the diamond. I would expect DeRosa to get an upgrade from the contract he received from the Cubs in 2006, but three years seems about right given his age (34) and ability level.