MLB Free Agent Breakdown, Part II


Shortstop Zack Cozart is one of the best free agents available this offseason (Courtesy of Twitter).

By Evan Biancardi

Shortstop Zack Cozart is one of the best free agents available this offseason (Courtesy of Twitter).

Last issue, I looked at the available catchers, first basemen and second basemen on the free agent market. So far, not a single player has been signed, but there are several shortstops, third basemen and outfielders that could create a domino effect of trades and other acquisitions.


There is a surplus of All-Star caliber shortstops, but with many of the game’s best either locked up or under arbitration, there aren’t too many available on this year’s list. Zack Cozart headlines the position, as this year’s All-Star starter tied for fourth-most home runs among shortstops and led all shortstops with a .933 OPS, 79 points higher than the next best. The 32-year-old will likely demand the highest price, but Alcides Escobar and Eduardo Nunez shouldn’t be too far behind. Escobar is one of the best fielders at his position, and despite his average performance at the plate, he managed to play in 162 games for the second year in a row. Nunez, meanwhile, has struggled to stay healthy, but when he’s on the field, he can do just about everything at multiple positions.
Teams in need of a shortstop: Royals

Third Base

While some teams may want to wait another year to try to lure Manny Machado or Josh Donaldson, other teams will be gunning for third basemen in this year’s class. Among them are Mike Moustakas, Todd Frazier and Nunez as well. Moustakas is coming off a career year that all but ensures him a nine-figure deal. After playing just 27 games a year ago, the 29-year-old posted career highs in home runs, runs batted in and OPS. Frazier, meanwhile, is an interesting commodity. Not only is he one of the premier power hitters at the position, but he’s also one of most revered clubhouse characters in baseball.
Teams in need of a third baseman: Cardinals, Giants, Royals

As always, there are a slew of outfielders on the open market, but for the sake of time and space, I will divide the position into three tiers. The first tier includes elite players like J.D. Martinez and Lorenzo Cain. Despite their differences in position and how they play, both outfielders share similar suitors. The second tier includes guys like Carlos Gonzalez and Jay Bruce. The two veterans trended in different directions this year, with Bruce slamming a career-best 36 home runs and CarGo posting the worst numbers of his career. Despite this, both players will likely attain similar annual salaries, but Gonzalez will most definitely seek a short-term deal to help boost his stock. Finally, in the third tier, there is everybody else. This is certainly a broad category, but it would be shocking if any of the remaining players signed for anything close to $50 million. Veterans Jose Bautista and Melky Cabrera will likely come closest.
Teams in need of (an) outfielder(s): Blue Jays, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Giants, Indians, Mariners, Phillies, Rangers, Red Sox, Rockies, Royals

Next issue, we will analyze the free agent market for available starting pitchers, relief pitchers and closers.