MLB State of the Position 2020: Every Team's 5-Year Plan at Third Base
Third base is arguably the deepest position in baseball right now, with many of the game's biggest stars calling the hot corner home.
That said, some teams are better positioned for current and future success at the position than others.
Ahead, we've broken down each team's present and future outlook at third base, highlighting their current starter and top prospect, followed by a prediction about who will man the position for each of the next five seasons.
Think of it as the team's five-year plan at the position.
Present: Eduardo Escobar (Age: 31)
The D-backs' decision to extend Eduardo Escobar with a three-year, $21 million deal raised some eyebrows when it briefly looked like the team was headed for a fire sale. It ended up being one of the best moves of the offseason.
He hit .269/.320/.511 for a 111 OPS+ with 29 doubles, 10 triples, 35 home runs and 118 RBI to help ease the loss of Paul Goldschmidt, and he's now locked in for two more seasons at a team-friendly rate.
Future: Tristin English (Tier 3 prospect)
With Drew Ellis falling short of his second-round pedigree and slugger Kevin Cron better suited to play first base or DH, there is no clear-cut third baseman of the future in the Arizona farm system.
Tristin English hit .290/.356/.482 with 21 extra-base hits in 216 plate appearances at Low-A last season after he was selected in the third round of the 2019 draft. That strong debut was enough to push him to the top of the prospect heap.
Other notable prospects: Drew Ellis (Tier 3), AJ Vukovich (Tier 3), Buddy Kennedy (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Escobar (2020-21), Free agent (2022-23), English (2024)
Present: Johan Camargo (Age: 26)
Johan Camargo was a 3.6-WAR player in 2018, but he took a significant step backward last season when the addition of Josh Donaldson pushed him into a super-utility role. He hit just .233/.279/.384 for a 67 OPS+ in 248 plate appearances.
He's still young and under team control through the 2023 season, so he figures to have a place on the roster in some capacity going forward. Whether it's in an everyday role remains to be seen.
Future: Austin Riley (Age: 23)
Austin Riley was the No. 22 prospect in baseball at the start of the 2019 season, and he exploded onto the MLB scene in May when he posted a 1.192 OPS with seven home runs and 20 RBI in his first 14 games.
He crashed back to earth as the season progressed and hit an ugly .161/.211/.276 with 39 strikeouts in 95 plate appearances after the All-Star break while missing more than a month to a knee injury. A solid glove and 30-homer potential give him significant upside, but he'll need to refine his approach to be the long-term answer at the hot corner.
Other notable prospects: CJ Alexander (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Camargo (2020), Riley (2021-24)
Present: Rio Ruiz (Age: 26)
The Orioles claimed Rio Ruiz off waivers from the Braves prior to the 2019 season. Despite having just 72 forgettable games of MLB experience under his belt, he wound up serving as the team's primary third baseman.
He hit .232/.306/.376 for an 81 OPS+ with 13 doubles, 12 home runs and 46 RBI in 413 plate appearances, and while he's under team control through the 2024 season, he's likely just a placeholder. Slugger Renato Nunez can also play third base, though he spent most of 2019 in the DH role.
Future: Rylan Bannon (Tier 3 prospect)
Rylan Bannon was part of the five-player package the Orioles received from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Manny Machado at the 2018 trade deadline.
The 24-year-old has sneaky power packed into his 5'7", 180-pound frame. He hit 22 home runs in 2018 and posted a solid .266/.345/.421 line with 32 doubles and 11 home runs in 130 games between Double-A and Triple-A last year. He could be next in line to get a shot at the third base job.
Other notable prospects: Coby Mayo (Tier 3), JC Encarnacion (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Ruiz (2020-21), Bannon (2022), Free agent (2023-24)
Boston Red Sox
Present: Rafael Devers (Age: 23)
Rafael Devers was a hyped prospect from the moment he signed out of the Dominican Republic. He already has three MLB seasons under his belt despite the fact that he won't turn 24 years old until October.
He broke out in a big way last season, hitting .311/.361/.555 with 32 home runs and 115 RBI. He led the AL in doubles (54) and total bases (359) while trimming his strikeout rate from 24.7 to 17.0 percent. A move across the diamond to first base could come at some point. For now, he's a passable defender at the hot corner.
Future: Bobby Dalbec (Tier 2 prospect)
After a 32-homer, 109-RBI season in 2018, Bobby Dalbec continued to flash intriguing power in the upper levels of the minors last season.
The 24-year-old hit .239/.356/.460 with 27 home runs and 73 RBI in 135 games between Double-A and Triple-A, and while he struck out at a 24.7 percent clip, he also tallied 73 walks for a 13.0 percent walk rate. His best fit defensively is first base, but he has a rocket arm and could get a try at the hot corner if the team decides to move Devers sooner than later.
Other notable prospects: Brandon Howlett (Tier 3), Danny Diaz (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Devers (2020-24)
Present: Kris Bryant (Age: 28)
Since kicking off his MLB career with National League Rookie of the Year and NL MVP honors in back-to-back seasons, Kris Bryant has taken a bit of a step backward while battling injuries. That said, he's still been worth 11.2 WAR over the past three seasons, and he figures to be a hot commodity on the free-agent market following the 2021 season.
If the Cubs are set on extending Javier Baez, they might not be able to afford Bryant long-term.
They signed David Bote to a five-year, $15 million extension that includes a pair of club options through 2026. He has played all over the infield and could be a short-term contingency plan if Bryant walks.
Future: Christopher Morel (Tier 3 prospect)
In his full-season debut, Christopher Morel hit .284/.320/.467 with 28 extra-base hits in 73 games at Single-A in his age-20 season.
He has some of the best raw power in the Cubs farm system and is one to watch in the years to come. He's athletic enough to handle shortstop and perhaps even center field, but third base is his most likely home as his 6'0", 140-pound frame fills out.
Other notable prospects: Fabian Pertuz (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Bryant (2020-21), Bote (2022-24)
Chicago White Sox
Present: Yoan Moncada (Age: 25)
Yoan Moncada was the centerpiece of the Chris Sale blockbuster trade, and he finally delivered on his tremendous upside in 2019 while sliding from second base to third base defensively.
He hit .315/.367/.548 for a 141 OPS+ with 64 extra-base hits in a 4.8-WAR season while trimming his strikeout rate from 33.4 to 27.5 percent. His .406 BABIP was the highest among all qualified hitters, so some level of regression is likely, but he appears to be firmly entrenched at the hot corner.
Future: Bryan Ramos (Tier 3 prospect)
Bryan Ramos hit .277/.353/.415 with 16 extra-base hits in 51 rookie ball games in his pro debut after signing out of Cuba. The 18-year-old is a prospect to watch in a system that is thin at third base.
Jake Burger has played just 51 games since going No. 11 overall in the 2017 draft, and he has suffered a pair of Achilles injuries. It remains to be seen if he'll be able to get his career back on track.
Other notable prospects: Jake Burger (Tier 3), DJ Gladney (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Moncada (2020-24)
Present: Eugenio Suarez (Age: 28)
Eugenio Suarez has steadily improved in his four seasons as the Cincinnati Reds' starting third baseman, peaking in 2019 with a 134 OPS+ and a career-high 49 home runs in a 3.9-WAR season.
The Reds gave him a seven-year, $66 million extension prior to the 2018 season that will keep him around through 2024, and it comes with a $15 million club option for 2025. He's a foundational piece for a team building back toward contention.
Future: Jonathan India (Tier 2 prospect)
The Reds took Jonathan India with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 draft after he hit .350/.497/.717 with 21 home runs and 52 RBI in 68 games during his junior season at the University of Florida.
He's hitting just .254/.369/.410 in 696 plate appearances over his first two pro seasons, and he scuffled to a .133 average with 21 strikeouts over 71 plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League. The 23-year-old could wind up being a trade chip in the near future while his upside is still valuable.
Other notable prospects: Rece Hinds (Tier 3), Tyler Callihan (Tier 3), Debby Santana (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Suarez (2020-24)
Present: Jose Ramirez (Age: 27)
Jose Ramirez finished third in American League MVP voting in back-to-back seasons before struggling to a .652 OPS during the first half of the 2019 campaign.
He rebounded with a .327/.365/.739 line and 16 home runs in 44 games after the All-Star break to regain his place as one of the league's most productive third basemen. The 27-year-old inked a team-friendly five-year, $26 million extension at the start of the 2017 season, and a pair of club options could keep him in Cleveland through 2023.
Future: Nolan Jones (Tier 1 prospect)
Nolan Jones is an on-base machine with a .409 on-base percentage and a 17.3 percent walk rate in four minor league seasons since he was taken in the second round of the 2016 draft.
The 22-year-old reached Double-A last season, and he could be knocking on the MLB door in the not-too-distant future. Once he arrives, the Indians could shift Ramirez to second base, or they could slot Jones at first base to begin his big league career.
Other notable prospects: Yu Chang (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Ramirez (2020-21), Jones (2022-24)
Present: Nolan Arenado (Age: 29)
Nolan Arenado is arguably the best two-way player in baseball. He has averaged 40 home runs and 124 RBI over the last five years while also taking home Gold Glove honors in each of his seven MLB seasons.
The Rockies locked him up with an eight-year, $260 million extension prior to the 2019 season, but that deal does contain an opt-out clause. The expected volatility of the free-agent market as a result of significant lost revenue in 2020 could be enough for him to think twice about opting out despite his vocal displeasure with the front office this winter.
Future: Ryan Vilade (Tier 2 prospect)
In a farm system loaded with corner infield prospects, Ryan Vilade is the best of the bunch.
The No. 48 overall pick in the 2017 draft enjoyed the best season of his pro career last year, hitting .303/.367/.466 at High-A with 27 doubles, 10 triples, 12 home runs, 71 RBI and 24 steals. Still just 21 years old, he has primarily played shortstop to this point, but his 6'2", 226-pound frame fits better at the hot corner long-term.
Other notable prospects: Colton Welker (Tier 3), Aaron Schunk (Tier 3), Julio Carreras (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Arenado (2020-24)
Present: Jeimer Candelario (Age: 26)
Jeimer Candelario showed some intriguing potential when he posted a 91 OPS+ with 28 doubles and 19 home runs in 144 games during the 2018 season.
Unfortunately, he failed to build off the performance during an injury-plagued 2019 campaign, hitting .203 with a 70 OPS+ in 386 plate appearances. He's under club control through the 2023 season, but he's running short on chances to prove he can be a long-term piece.
Future: Isaac Paredes (Tier 2 prospect)
Acquired in the same trade that brought Candelario to Detroit and sent Alex Avila and Justin Wilson to the Chicago Cubs, Isaac Paredes began his pro career as a shortstop before outgrowing the position.
He hit .282/.368/.416 with 23 doubles and 13 home runs in 127 games at Double-A in his age-20 season last year, and he has been pushed aggressively through the minors throughout his pro career.
The Tigers drafted Spencer Torkelson as a third baseman with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft, and the decision to start him at the hot corner is likely just an effort to add some versatility. His best and most likely fit long-term is still first base.
Other notable prospects: Gage Workman (Tier 3), Nick Quintana (Tier 3), Colt Keith (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Candelario (2020), Paredes (2021-24)
Present: Alex Bregman (Age: 26)
Alex Bregman continued his rise as one of the game's most productive offensive players last year when he hit .296/.423/.592 for a 162 OPS+ with 37 doubles, 41 home runs and 112 RBI. He also tallied far more walks (119) than strikeouts (83) and graded out as an above-average defender (eight DRS, 5.3 UZR/150) at third base.
The Astros signed him to a five-year, $100 million extension prior to last season, buying out his three arbitration years and two free-agency seasons in the process. That contract will keep him around through 2024.
Future: Abraham Toro (Tier 2 prospect)
Abraham Toro crushed upper-minors pitching to the tune of a .324/.411/.527 line with 31 doubles, 17 home runs and 80 RBI in 114 games last year.
He made his MLB debut on Aug. 22 and posted a 79 OPS+ with three doubles, two triples and two home runs in 89 plate appearances down the stretch. He's firmly blocked by Bregman, but he has a chance to be a useful player in a part-time role.
Other notable prospects: Grae Kessinger (Tier 3), Joe Perez (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Bregman (2020-24)
Kansas City Royals
Present: Maikel Franco (Age: 27)
The Royals plucked Maikel Franco from the scrapheap after the former top prospect was non-tendered by the Philadelphia Phillies, signing him to a one-year, $2.95 million contract.
Since posting a 130 OPS+ with 14 home runs in 80 games as a rookie in 2015, he's hit just .247/.299/.427 for an 89 OPS+ and 0.0 WAR over the last four seasons. A change of scenery could help jump-start his career, and if he does bounce back, he's under team control through 2021.
Hunter Dozier posted poor defensive metrics (minus-5 DRS, minus-6.5 UZR/150) at third base last year and fits better at first base or in right field. He could still wind up back at the hot corner at some point.
Future: Kelvin Gutierrez (Tier 3 prospect)
An MLB-ready defender at third base, Kelvin Gutierrez has yet to prove he has the offensive profile to be an everyday third baseman.
The 25-year-old is a career .284/.347/.396 hitter over seven minor league seasons, with just 27 home runs in 2,332 plate appearances. He's on the older end of the prospect scale now and has little left to prove in the minors, so he may settle in as a useful backup.
Other notable prospects: Emmanuel Rivera (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Franco (2020-21), Dozier (2022), Free agent (2023-24)
Los Angeles Angels
Present: Anthony Rendon (Age: 30)
After whiffing on their pursuit of Gerrit Cole in free agency, the Los Angeles Angels pivoted and made a splash on the offensive side of things when they signed Anthony Rendon to a seven-year, $245 million contract.
One of the most complete players in baseball, he hit .319/.412/.598 for a 153 OPS+ with 44 doubles, 34 home runs, 126 RBI and 117 runs scored in a 6.4-WAR season. He'll provide Mike Trout with the best lineup protection he's had in his career.
Matt Thaiss and Taylor Ward are also capable of handling third base if Rendon misses time.
Future: Arol Vera (Tier 3 prospect)
The Angels signed Arol Vera for a $2 million bonus as part of the 2019 international free-agent class.
There is a good chance the 6'2", 170-pound teenager will eventually outgrow the shortstop position, and the presence of Kyren Paris and Jeremiah Jackson alongside him in the lower levels of the minors could expedite that position change. He has the offensive upside to fit at the hot corner and be an impact offensive player.
Other notable prospects: Kevin Maitan (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Rendon (2020-24)
Los Angeles Dodgers
Present: Justin Turner (Age: 35)
Justin Turner is in the final season of a four-year, $64 million contract, so the Dodgers will have a big decision to make on the future of the third base position this offseason.
The 35-year-old was still going strong last season, posting a 131 OPS+ with 27 home runs and 4.1 WAR in 135 games. A two-year extension would bridge the gap to prospect Kody Hoese, and in an uncertain free-agent market, Turner might welcome the stability of a multiyear deal at this point in his career.
Future: Kody Hoese (Tier 2 prospect)
Kody Hoese hit .391/.486/.779 with 23 home runs and 61 RBI in 58 games during his junior season at Tulane, soaring up draft boards in the process to go No. 25 overall in the 2019 draft.
The 6'4", 200-pound slugger moves well for his size, and he should be able to stick at third base. If he does need to move across the diamond to first base, his power bat and advanced approach give him more than enough offensive upside to make the move.
Other notable prospects: Miguel Vargas (Tier 3), Edwin Rios (Tier 3), Cristian Santana (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Turner (2020-22), Hoese (2023-24)
Present: Brian Anderson (Age: 27)
Brian Anderson is one of the few long-term building blocks currently playing at the MLB level for the Marlins.
After finishing fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2018, he improved his numbers across the board last year, posting a 114 OPS+ with 20 home runs and 66 RBI in a 3.7-WAR season.
He's under team control through the 2023 season and looks like a prime candidate for an early extension.
Future: Osiris Johnson (Tier 3 prospect)
With a 50-grade hit tool, 50-grade power and plus athleticism, Osiris Johnson has one of the more intriguing long-term profiles in a deep Marlins farm system.
Chosen in the second round of the 2018 draft, he missed the entire 2019 season recovering from a tibial stress fracture in his right leg. He's lining up at shortstop for the time being, but as his 6'0", 181-pound frame continues to mature, a move to third base is a distinct possibility.
The 19-year-old is still a long way from the majors, but he could prove worth the wait.
Other notable prospects: Cristhian Rodriguez (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Anderson (2020-24)
Present: Eric Sogard (Age: 34) and Jedd Gyorko (Age: 31)
The Brewers signed Eric Sogard and Jedd Gyorko for a combined $5 million for the 2020 season, and both players have club options for the 2021 season.
Neither player is more than a stopgap solution at the position, and with Keston Hiura, Orlando Arcia and Luis Urias all vying for playing time at the middle infield spots, there's a chance one of them could wind up shifting over to third base.
Future: Lucas Erceg (Tier 3 prospect)
MLB.com wrote: "[Lucas] Erceg has the physical tools to be an impactful left-handed hitter, including a natural feel to hit and plus raw power that leads to some loud, booming home runs."
However, he batted just .218/.305/.398 with a 25.1 percent strikeout rate at Triple-A last year, and he will need to make significant strides with his hit tool to be an everyday player in the majors.
Other notable prospects: Jesus Parra (Tier 3), Jake Gatewood (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Sogard/Gyorko (2020-21), Free agent (2022-24)
Present: Josh Donaldson (Age: 34)
The Braves took a chance on Josh Donaldson with a one-year, $23 million contract on the heels of an injury-plagued 2018 season, and he rewarded them with a 127 OPS+ and 37 home runs in a 6.0-WAR season.
The 2015 AL MVP parlayed that performance into a four-year, $92 million contract from the Twins in free agency, and the deal includes a club option for 2024. He remains a standout defender (15 DRS in 2019) and should lock down third base over the life of that deal.
Future: Keoni Cavaco (Tier 2 prospect)
Keoni Cavaco had as much helium as any prospect leading up to the 2019 draft, and the Twins scooped him up with the No. 13 overall pick.
While the 19-year-old has loud raw power and the athleticism to handle shortstop, he will likely wind up at third base with Jorge Polanco and Royce Lewis in the picture. He hit just .172/.217/.253 with 35 strikeouts over 92 plate appearances in his pro debut, but his future is still extremely bright.
Other notable prospects: Jose Miranda (Tier 3), Spencer Steer (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Donaldson (2020-24)
New York Mets
Present: Jeff McNeil (Age: 28)
In his first two MLB seasons, Jeff McNeil has split his time between second base (91 games), left field (71 games), right field (42 games) and third base (35).
With Robinson Cano signed long-term and a crowded outfield situation, third base looks like his new home for the time being after veteran Todd Frazier departed in free agency.
A late-bloomer who was never on the top prospect radar, he has hit .321/.383/.513 and tallied 7.9 WAR over his first 815 plate appearances. Under team control through the 2024 season, he's an extremely valuable player.
Future: Mark Vientos (Tier 2 prospect)
The Mets invested heavily in Brett Baty last year, selecting him with the No. 12 overall pick and signing him for a $3.9 million bonus. That said, it's Mark Vientos who figures to get the first shot, among current prospects, at winning the starting third base job.
Vientos, 20, has 60-grade power, and he hit .255/.300/.411 with 27 doubles and 12 home runs in 111 games while making his Single-A debut at the age of 19. He could be MLB-ready by the 2022 season, giving him a slight head start on Baty.
Other notable prospects: Brett Baty (Tier 2), Jaylen Palmer (Tier 3), Will Toffey (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: McNeil (2020-21), Vientos (2022-23), Baty (2024)
New York Yankees
Present: Gio Urshela (Age: 28)
Gio Urshela was a .225/.274/.315 career hitter who had appeared in just 19 games at the MLB level in 2018 when the Yankees acquired him in exchange for cash on Aug. 4, 2018.
A wave of injuries forced him into action early in the 2019 season, and he ended up being one of the biggest surprise performers of the year, hitting .314/.355/.534 for a 133 OPS+ with 34 doubles and 21 home runs in 476 plate appearances.
He's under team control through the 2023 season as he looks to prove his breakout was for real.
Future: Josh Breaux (Tier 3 prospect)
One of the best two-way players in the 2018 draft, Josh Breaux was drafted as a catcher, and that's the only position he has played to this point in his career.
There has been no indication of an impending position chance, but a rocket arm that pumped 100 mph fastballs and his huge raw power would fit well at third base if he does move out of the crouch. The 22-year-old has "35-40 homer upside," per MLB.com, and he hit 13 home runs in 51 games at Single-A last year.
Other notable prospects: James Nelson (Tier 3), Marcos Cabrera (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Urshela (2020-23), Free agent (2024)
Present: Matt Chapman (Age: 27)
With back-to-back 8.3-WAR seasons under his belt, Matt Chapman has developed into a bona fide superstar in Oakland on the strength of his Gold Glove defense and 30-homer power.
The No. 25 overall pick in the 2014 draft has racked up a staggering 64 DRS at third base over the past two years, and he set new personal bests in home runs (36), RBI (91) and total bases (295) last season while finishing sixth in AL MVP voting.
He's under control through the 2023 season, and the cost-conscious Oakland front office might have a hard time holding onto him once he hits the open market.
Future: Sheldon Neuse (Tier 3 prospect)
Acquired in the same trade that landed Jesus Luzardo and Blake Treinen from the Washington Nationals in exchange for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson, infielder Sheldon Neuse is MLB-ready.
The 25-year-old hit .317/.389/.550 with 31 doubles, 27 home runs and 102 RBI in 126 games at Triple-A last year, and he made his MLB debut on Aug. 30. He may ultimately wind up playing more second base as a result of Chapman blocking him at third base, but he's the logical next man up if a need arises at the hot corner.
Other notable prospects: Jordan Diaz (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Chapman (2020-23), Neuse (2024)
Present: Jean Segura (Age: 30)
After the Phillies signed Didi Gregorius to a one-year deal in free agency, Jean Segura is set to shift to third base for the 2020 season.
The two-time All-Star has played 905 games at shortstop and 142 games at second base during his MLB career, and he may very well wind up shifting back to shortstop if Gregorius walks during the offseason. One way or another, he'll be sticking around with a contract that runs through the 2022 season and includes a club option in 2023.
Future: Alec Bohm (Tier 1 prospect)
The decision to non-tender Maikel Franco at the start of the offseason was no doubt linked to the rapid rise of top prospect Alec Bohm. The No. 3 overall pick in 2018, he hit .305/.378/.518 with 30 doubles and 21 home runs in 125 games last year while reaching Double-A in his first full professional season.
The 6'5", 225-pound slugger has been better than expected defensively after some believed he was ticketed for first base during the predraft process. A 2020 debut is not out of the question, with an eye on sliding into the everyday third base role in 2021.
Other notable prospects: Edgar Made (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Segura (2020), Bohm (2021-24)
Present: Colin Moran (Age: 27)
Acquired from the Astros in the Gerrit Cole blockbuster, Colin Moran had a respectable offensive season as Pittsburgh's starting third baseman last year. He hit .277/.322/.429 for a 97 OPS+ with 30 doubles, 13 home runs and 80 RBI.
Unfortunately, his awful defensive metrics (minus-21 DRS, minus-16.0 UZR/150) made him a negative-value player (minus-1.1 WAR), and he is likely just a placeholder until one of the top third base prospects in all of baseball is ready to take over.
Future: Ke'Bryan Hayes (Tier 1 prospect)
Despite a lackluster 2019 season in which he hit .265/.336/.415 with 42 extra-base hits in 110 games at Triple-A, Ke'Bryan Hayes remains a rising star.
MLB.com wrote: "He's consistently brought up in conversations about the best defensive prospects in the game at any position, and he's clearly the best third baseman in the minors, one who will be a Gold Glove contender the minute he joins a big league roster."
That defensive profile, coupled with a 60-grade hit tool, gives the 23-year-old All-Star upside.
Other notable prospects: Alexander Mojica (Tier 3), Jared Triolo (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Moran (2020), Hayes (2021-24)
San Diego Padres
Present: Manny Machado (Age: 27)
The Padres made a surprising splash when they won the Manny Machado sweepstakes and signed the four-time All-Star to a 10-year, $300 million contract.
He posted a 109 OPS+ with 32 home runs in his first season with San Diego, which was mildly disappointing by his career standards. He'll anchor the left side of the infield alongside rising star Fernando Tatis Jr. as the Padres climb back toward relevance.
Ty France, 25, hit an absurd .399/.477/.770 with 27 home runs and 89 RBI in 76 games at Triple-A last year and provides quality depth.
Future: Hudson Potts (Tier 3 prospect)
Hudson Potts was the No. 24 overall pick in the 2016 draft, and he has flashed intriguing raw power amid some significant swing-and-miss during his pro career.
The 21-year-old hit .227/.290/.406 with 23 doubles and 16 home runs in 107 games at Double-A last year, striking out at a 28.6 percent clip. Those numbers don't jump off the page, but he's still well ahead of the developmental curve.
Other notable prospects: Eguy Rosario (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Machado (2020-24)
San Francisco Giants
Present: Evan Longoria (Age: 34)
An ill-advised push to contend in 2018 left the Giants on the hook for five seasons' worth of a declining Evan Longoria. The 12-year veteran hit a respectable .254/.325/.437 for a 102 OPS+ with 20 home runs last year, but that's a far cry from his peak-level production and hardly worth his $14.7 million salary.
The Giants will be paying him through the 2022 season, and while they continue to rebuild, he remains a valuable veteran voice in the clubhouse and a quality defensive third baseman with some pop.
Future: Luis Toribio (Tier 3 prospect)
The Giants gave Luis Toribio a $300,000 bonus as part of the 2017 international free-agent class, and that is already looking like a steal.
He hit .296/.433/.454 with 22 extra-base hits in 247 plate appearances between rookie ball and Low-A in his stateside debut last year, and his jump to full-season ball is among the most anticipated in the organization.
MLB.com wrote: "Toribio might be the best pure hitter in the system and his exit velocity ranks with the best as well."
Other notable prospects: Casey Schmitt (Tier 3), Sean Roby (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Longoria (2020-22), Free agent (2023), Toribio (2024)
Present: Kyle Seager (Age: 32)
One of the most underrated third basemen in recent MLB history, Kyle Seager has piled up 32.5 WAR over the course of a productive nine-year MLB career.
He's hit at least 20 home runs in each of the last eight seasons, and he's tallied 24 DRS at third base in his career while winning one Gold Glove Award. His current seven-year, $100 million contract runs through the 2021 season and includes a reasonable $15 million club option for 2022.
Future: Austin Shenton (Tier 3 prospect)
A polished college bat who went in the fifth round of the 2019 draft, Austin Shenton hit .298/.376/.510 with 26 extra-base hits in 226 plate appearances while reaching Single-A in his pro debut.
He has a high floor thanks to his 55-grade hit tool, and he should move quickly through the minors. If he starts to generate a bit more over-the-fence power, his prospect stock could take off in the years to come.
Other notable prospects: Tyler Keenan (Tier 3), Milkar Perez (Tier 3), Joe Rizzo (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Seager (2020-22), Shenton (2023-24)
St. Louis Cardinals
Present: Matt Carpenter (Age: 34)
At various points in his career, Matt Carpenter has been the Cardinals' everyday first baseman, second baseman and third baseman. He scuffled through a down season in 2019, but he's been extremely productive throughout his career, posting a 126 OPS+ and 28.3 WAR in nine seasons.
The Cardinals owe him another $18.5 million in 2021, and he has a vesting option for that same figure in 2022 based on plate appearances. He could wind up sliding to DH if the universal DH role is approved beyond 2020.
Future: Nolan Gorman (Tier 1 prospect)
With some of the best raw power in the minors and the hit tool to consistently tap into that power, Nolan Gorman looks like a future star.
The No. 19 pick in the 2018 draft was aggressively pushed last season, hitting .248/.326/.439 with 30 doubles and 15 home runs in 125 games between Single-A and High-A at the age of 19. He has work to do defensively, but he looks like a future middle-of-the-order run producer in the prototypical third baseman mold.
Other notable prospects: Jordan Walker (Tier 3), Elehuris Montero (Tier 3), Malcom Nunez (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Carpenter (2020-21), Gorman (2022-24)
Tampa Bay Rays
Present: Yandy Diaz (Age: 28)
Yandy Diaz hit .267/.340/.476 for a 116 OPS+ with 20 doubles and 14 home runs in 347 plate appearances during his first season in Tampa Bay.
The organization seems enamored with his potential, and he provides the team with a low-cost option who carries club control through the 2024 season.
Future: Kevin Padlo (Tier 3 prospect)
With Brandon Lowe signed long-term at second base and Willy Adames coming off a breakout second half at shortstop, it's fair to wonder what the infield alignment will look like once top prospect Wander Franco arrives on the scene.
It's possible that one of those three middle infielders could slide to third base if all three are still around when the time comes, which would change things entirely.
For now, slugger Kevin Padlo appears to be the most likely long-term option after he slugged 21 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A while showing a knack for hammering left-handed pitching.
Other notable prospects: Taylor Walls (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Diaz (2020-22), Padlo (2023-24)
Present: Todd Frazier (Age: 34)
The Rangers signed Todd Frazier to a one-year, $3.5 million contract during the offseason, and he has a $5.75 million club option for 2021 that carries a $1.5 million buyout.
He's no longer the 40-homer slugger he was in his prime, but he was still productive last season with a 106 OPS+ and 21 home runs in 499 plate appearances. He's the perfect stopgap to Josh Jung.
Future: Josh Jung (Tier 1 prospect)
An extremely polished college standout with one of the highest floors in the 2019 draft, Josh Jung was taken with the No. 8 overall pick after three productive seasons at Texas Tech.
The 22-year-old should fly through the system thanks to an advanced approach and a 60-grade hit tool. He might max out at 25 home runs in the majors, but his on-base ability and plus defense at third base give him significant long-term value.
Other notable prospects: Sherten Apostel (Tier 3), Davis Wendzel (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Frazier (2020-21), Jung (2022-24)
Toronto Blue Jays
Present: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Age: 21)
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit .272/.339/.433 with 26 doubles, 15 home runs and 69 RBI as a 20-year-old rookie, and it was widely regarded as a disappointing debut. That should give you an idea of the level of hype surrounding one of the most talented pure hitters to come along in years.
It's likely only a matter of time before his 6'2", 250-pound frame forces him to first base. His defensive metrics (minus-nine DRS, minus-14.6 UZR/150) were poor last year, but for now, he's locked in as the starting third baseman.
Future: Jordan Groshans (Tier 1 prospect)
With a 6'3", 205-pound frame that offers further physical projection, there's a good chance Jordan Groshans will outgrow the shortstop position before he reaches the majors.
Luckily, his bat should play just fine at third base thanks to a 55-grade hit tool and 55-grade power. A left foot injury limited him to 23 games last year, but he was on his way to a breakout season, hitting .337/.427/.482 in 96 plate appearances.
Other notable prospects: Orelvis Martinez (Tier 2), Kevin Smith (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Guerrero (2020-22), Groshans (2023-24)
Present: Starlin Castro (Age: 30)
The Nationals signed Starlin Castro to a two-year, $12 million contract during the offseason to help lessen the blow of Anthony Rendon's departure.
The four-time All-Star is a career .280 hitter with 1,617 hits to his credit, and he provides useful versatility across the infield.
Fellow veteran Asdrubal Cabrera was also re-signed to a one-year, $2.5 million contract, and he has seen some action at the hot corner over the years.
Future: Carter Kieboom (Tier 1 prospect)
Before the start of the 2020 season was delayed, all signs pointed to top prospect Carter Kieboom breaking camp as the starting third baseman for the defending World Series champs.
The 22-year-old struggled in his first taste of MLB action last year, hitting .128 with 16 strikeouts in 43 plate appearances, but he destroyed Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .303/.409/.493 line with 43 extra-base hits in 109 games.
He's played shortstop throughout his time in the minors but has the defensive tools to transition smoothly to third base.
Other notable prospects: Yasel Antuna (Tier 3)
Five-Year Prediction: Kieboom (2020-24)
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted. Contract information via Spotrac. Prospect tiers refer to each player's status in B/R's most recent farm system rankings.
Catch up on past State of the Position articles: Shortstop