Free Agent Tracker: 2B

The market for second baseman in the offseason is one of the few that have significantly more supply than demand. Last season, players like Orlando Hudson entered the offseason expecting a major pay raise, and didn’t get it because the economy caused several free agents to remain unsigned for most of the offseason.

Hudson is back on the free agent market, and though he had a strong season in Los Angeles, proving he can hit in both leagues, his declining defense and a strong second base market could leave him as the odd man out once again when it comes to cashing in on a long-term contract.

*Note: Players with options will be kept off the list unless their options are projected as unexercised. No arbitration-eligible players will be included unless they are projected as non-tender free agents. Ages represent age on June 30, 2010

1. Felipe Lopez, 30 years old

PHOENIX - JULY 08:  Infielder Felipe Lopez #2 ...
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Lopez leads the pack of three pretty similar second basemen. Lopez, Placido Palanco and Orlando Hudson all batted around .300 last year, slugged around .400, and walked some. Each homered around 10 times last year, hit 30-something doubles, and hit a few triples. Lopez and Hudson are switch hitters, and Polanco has proven to be a productive American League hitter from the right side.

But Lopez is the top second baseman free agent for two very important reasons. He’s only a Type B free agent, and he’s younger than both Polanco and Hudson. Not every scout in the world loves Lopez’s defense, but his 5.6 UZR/150 in 2009 is impressive. Perhaps the most problematic blemish on Lopez’s resume is that since making his debut in 2002, he’s played for six different teams, and there could be a reason.

2. Placido Polanco, 34 years old

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 10:  Placido Polan...
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Is Polanco on the decline? Sure. He’ll be 34 years old next season, and decline is normal in a player’s mid-30s. But even at an advanced age, Polanco managed to put up a .285/.331/.396 line last season. Top it off with an 8.5 UZR/150 at second base, and Polanco’s decline is easier to swallow and tough to legitimize.

However, Polanco is a Type A free agent, in the middle of the Autumn of his career, and probably doesn’t want to play for a team that isn’t ready to contend in 2010. That means that the compensation surrendered for Polanco will likely be a first round pick, which increases the chances that Polanco returns to Detroit.

3. Orlando Hudson, 32 years old

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13:  Orlando Hudson #1...
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Hudson’s began what will ultimately end up being a short tenure with the Dodgers on fire. He tore the cover off the ball in April (.337/.411/.537), and continued to a lesser extent in May (.328/.404/.414), and then fell off the face of the earth in June (.222/.269/.343). Hudson rebounded some in July and August, and then had a rough September, ultimately losing playing time to Ronnie Belliard.

Hudson is a Type A free agent again, and could have to camp in for another long offseason. Teams will question his ability to hit in the American League, where he spent the first part of his career and posted lesser numbers. And his once stellar defense has regressed to about average in terms of UZR.

4. Juan Uribe, 31 years old

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 16: Juan Uribe #5 of the ...
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The San Francisco Giants spent the majority of July in the rumor mill looking for a right handed hitter. They acquired Ryan Garko and Freddy Sanchez, but ultimately the most effective increase in performance was Uribe. Uribe hit .325/.374/.596 from September 1 on.

Uribe was originally a shortstop with the Chicago White Sox who had a lot of power potential. He never filled into that potential, but could be maturing into a similar player. Either way, Uribe has a pretty good glove at second base, much better than at shortstop or third base, where he’s also played.

5. Freddy Sanchez, 32 years old

Freddy Sanchez
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Batting title? Check. Clean bill of health? No check. Legitimate power of any kind? No check. Perhaps the only reason Sanchez belongs on a list of top free agents any longer is that he’s actually a pretty decent fielder (5 UZR/150 for his career at second base).

Sanchez has ridden his 2006 batting title to it’s last stop, and is likely to have his $8 million option declined by the team that traded for him: the San Francisco Giants. He doesn’t walk much and after hitting 53 doubles in 2006, and 41 in 2007, he  Sanchez played only 25 games with the club and his lingering injuries should concern some teams going forward.

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One Comment

  1. Floost

    October 28, 2009 at 5:09 am

    Thank you! You often write very interesting articles. You improved my mood.

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