Free Agent Stock Watch: Austin Kearns

Austin Kearns turns 30 today, and his value has never been harder to peg. Kearns' Indians will host the Royals in a few hours, but let's kick the celebrations off a little early by taking stock of the birthday boy's value.

Kearns is off to a torrid .302/.380/.491 start. That's an impressive line for any player, and especially impressive for somene who didn't get on base or hit for power or average in 2008-09. Even when Kearns wasn't hitting, his outfield defense was above-average, according to UZR, and it still looks strong (though he's played just 244.2 innings there this year).

Kearns appears to be well on his way to re-establishing some value, but his .420 batting average on balls in play suggests his stats are inflated. Kearns may not be able to keep hitting like this, but he has been hitting more line drives than ever. If that continues, he may be able to cash in on 2010 and earn more than the $750K he'll make on his current minor league deal.

Kearns' 2008-09 seasons linger in the memories of potential suitors, and that extended slump will likely limit his value. But he could be in position for a major league deal this winter, especially if his bat stays hot. Even if Kearns doesn't hit like this all year, his defense could help land hm a deal in the $1MM range. It worked for Randy Winn and Ryan Church, last winter, why not Austin Kearns?


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