2019 MLB Free Agency: Ranking the Top 5 Second Basemen on the Market

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2019

2019 MLB Free Agency: Ranking the Top 5 Second Basemen on the Market

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Last year's MLB free-agent market was stacked at the second base position.

    DJ LeMahieu, Daniel Murphy, Jed Lowrie and Ian Kinsler each landed multiyear contracts, while Jonathan Schoop, Brian Dozier and Josh Harrison all signed guaranteed one-year MLB deals.

    This year's crop of options has plenty of household names, including the aforementioned Dozier and Schoop, but it is somewhat lacking in true impact talent on the level of what we saw from LeMahieu with the New York Yankees in 2019.

    Still, several available players will likely fill everyday roles next year, and we've ranked the five best options at the position.

    Players are ranked based on their earning power and the expected impact they will have over the life of their next contract.

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5. Wilmer Flores

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    After having his $6 million club option declined in favor of a $500,000 buyout, Wilmer Flores is now a free agent for the second consecutive offseason.

    The 28-year-old began the 2019 season as the primary second baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks, before moving into more of a utility role where he also saw semi-regular time at first base.

    It was an extremely productive season offensively, as he hit .317/.361/.487 with 18 doubles and nine home runs in 285 plate appearances, and he continued to be lethal against left-handed pitching.

    In 109 plate appearances against southpaws this past season, Flores batted .337/.367/.615 with eight doubles and seven home runs, and his career OPS against lefties (.813) is significantly better than it is against righties (.713).

    His age, defensive versatility and platoon potential should make for plenty of interest on the open market, to the point that he may yet be able to earn that $6 million salary figure.


    Honorable Mentions: Asdrubal Cabrera, Derek Dietrich, Scooter Gennett, Josh Harrison, Brock Holt, Jason Kipnis, Brad Miller, Eric Sogard, Ben Zobrist

4. Brian Dozier

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    G Fiume/Getty Images

    It's not long ago that Brian Dozier was one of the most productive sluggers in baseball.

    At his peak in 2016 and 2017, Dozier posted a 130 OPS+ while averaging 32 doubles, 38 home runs, 96 RBI and 5.3 WAR while suiting up with the Minnesota Twins.

    A down year in 2018 came at the worst possible time, as he hit the open market with something to prove and had to settle for a one-year, $9 million deal from the Washington Nationals.

    He wound up hitting .238/.340/.430 with 20 doubles and 20 home runs in a 0.7 WAR season while posting a career-high 12.7 percent walk rate in the process.

    The 32-year-old is one of the tougher free agents to peg, and he may have to settle for another one-year deal.

3. Starlin Castro

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    As expected, the Miami Marlins declined the $16 million club option on Starlin Castro's contract for 2020, paying him a $1 million buyout instead after two seasons with the team.

    The 29-year-old hit .270/.300/.436 while setting career highs in home runs (22) and RBI (86).

    However, his OPS+ fell from 102 to 94, his walk rate plummeted from 7.4 to 4.1 percent, and he was worth just 0.8 WAR after a 3.3-WAR season in 2018.

    He's a flawed player offensively given his lack of on-base skills, and he may need to take a pay cut from the $11.9 million he earned this past season, but at the right price he can still be a useful addition.

    Castro is capable of playing second base, shortstop and third base, and he's a career .280 hitter over 10 MLB seasons, ranking 27th among active players with 1,617 career hits.

    He could be the perfect stopgap signing for a team looking to bridge the gap to a rising prospect, and a reunion with the Marlins to help mentor 23-year-old infielder Isan Diaz is not out of the question.

2. Howie Kendrick

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    In his age-35 season, Howie Kendrick was quietly one of the most productive hitters in baseball.

    While he didn't qualify for the batting title, his 142 OPS+ ranked 18th among players with at least 350 plate appearances. He finished the season with an excellent .344/.395/.572 line that included 23 doubles, 17 home runs and 62 RBI.

    He saw more time at first base (48 games) than second base (23) in 2019, but he has spent the vast majority of his time at the keystone over the course of his 14-year MLB career.

    At this point in his career, he might be best suited for a similar super-utility role, but he still fits on a list of the best available second basemen.

    Despite his age, he might be able to improve on the two-year, $7 million contract he signed last time he hit the free-agent market on the heels of an extremely productive campaign.

1. Jonathan Schoop

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Jonathan Schoop set the bar high with a wildly productive 2017 season in which he posted a 124 OPS+ with 35 doubles, 32 home runs and 105 RBI while finishing 12th in AL MVP voting in a 5.2-WAR season.

    That was followed by a disappointing .233/.266/.416 line and 84 OPS+ in 2018, and he was non-tendered by the Milwaukee Brewers last offseason.

    The Minnesota Twins scooped him up on a one-year, $7.5 million deal hoping to buy low on a bounce-back candidate, and he lived up to that contract with a 102 OPS+ and 23 home runs in 464 plate appearances for a juggernaut offense in Minnesota.

    Still just 28 years old, Schoop may never return to his 2017 form, but he proved to be well worth his mid-range salary last year.

    For a team looking to add some pop and willing to deal with his middling on-base numbers, he could represent a reasonably priced addition.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.


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