5 Hidden Gems Still Up for Grabs on the MLB Free-Agent Market

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 12, 2013

5 Hidden Gems Still Up for Grabs on the MLB Free-Agent Market

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    What's left of the free-agent market is led by starting pitcher Kyle Lohse and center fielder Michael Bourn, but for the teams not in on those two players, it is a time for bargain hunting.

    As clubs look to fill out their roster with one last veteran starter, workhorse reliever or bench bat, there are a number of low-risk players out there who could turn out to be a solid value.

    Here is a look at five hidden gems still up for grabs on the MLB free-agent market, as these players haven't spent much time in the headlines but should make a positive impact for whoever signs them.

RP Pedro Feliciano

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    One of the game's most frequently used left-handers, Feliciano appeared in 86, 88 and 92 games from 2008-2010 and a grand total of 408 games from 2006-2010.

    During that span, he posted a 3.09 ERA, and when he became a free agent prior to the 2011 season the Yankees jumped at the chance to add him, signing him to a two-year, $8 million deal.

    However, shoulder problems kept him from ever making an appearance with the Yankees, and he'll have to settle for a minor league deal this offseason.

    The 36-year-old appeared in seven games in the Puerto Rican Winter League, posting a 1.23 ERA in 7.1 innings of work, and that should be enough for someone to take a chance on him this spring.

UT Jeff Baker

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    One of the more versatile players remaining on the market, Baker can play anywhere but catcher, shortstop and center field without a team losing much defensively.

    He's not an impact bat, but his .744 career OPS makes him an above-average utility player from an offensive standpoint, and he has decent pop.

    Believe it or not, his agent is Scott Boras, so that is something teams will have to deal with. However, Baker should make a solid addition to someone's bench and would be best suited to the National League. 

RP Jon Rauch

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    Since moving to the bullpen full-time in 2006, Rauch leads all of baseball with 507 appearances while playing for the Nationals, Diamondbacks, Twins, Blue Jays and Mets.

    Over that span, he has a 3.71 ERA, 1.210 WHIP and 7.3 K/9 mark, and he's spent enough time in the closer's role to accumulate 62 saves.

    The big 6'11" right-hander should have no problem finding a major league contract before the start of spring training, and he'll be a reliable reliever for whoever winds up signing him.

2B Freddy Sanchez

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    Freddy Sanchez quietly emerged as one of the most productive second baseman in the league during his time in Pittsburgh, even winning the batting title in 2006 when he hit .344.

    He was traded to the Giants at the deadline in 2009, and he re-upped with the team on a two-year deal that offseason. He was a key cog in the team's 2010 title run, hitting .292 out of the No. 2 spot in the lineup.

    However, his 2011 season was cut short by a dislocated shoulder on June 10, and he has not played since. He was expected to be ready for spring training last year, but back surgery ended his season before it started.

    According to a report from Jerry Crasnick of ESPN (Insider required), roughly 20 teams have requested medical reports on Sanchez, and if he proves healthy, he could be a huge steal for someone in an always thin second base market.

SP Jair Jurrjens

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    Jurrjens looked to be a future star after coming over from the Tigers for Edgar Renteria.

    He went 27-20 with a 3.10 ERA in 2008 and 2009, before injuries limited him to just 20 starts in 2010 and his ERA shot up to 4.64.

    He bounced back with a strong 2011, going 13-6 with a 2.96 ERA in 2011 as he made his first All-Star Game appearance in the process.

    However, last season he was bad enough to be demoted to the minors and finished the season with a 6.89 ERA over 11 appearances. That earned him a non-tender from the Braves to kick off the offseason.

    He's still only 26, so there's plenty of time for him to figure things out and get back on track, but he may be hard-pressed to find a major league deal.


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