As usual, the free agent market for shortstops is barren. There are no stars, and solid regulars are hard to come by. The Orioles, Twins, Reds, Astros, Cardinals, Padres, and Giants could be seeking help at the position. Let's take a look.
Technically A Free Agent
Even after an off-year, 36-year-old Derek Jeter is the top free agent shortstop. Everyone assumes he'll re-sign with the Yankees. Will he even receive legitimate offers from other teams? If something causes Jeter to look elsewhere, it'd shake up the market at this position.
Also Probably Unavailable
Juan Uribe, Orlando Cabrera ($4MM mutual option), and Cesar Izturis topped 850 innings at shortstop this year. Only Uribe was useful with the bat. Uribe has cause to seek a multiyear deal, since he's one of the better free agent choices at both middle infield positions.
One wild card, though he's not technically a free agent, is Hiroyuki Nakajima. The 28-year-old is expected to be posted by the Seibu Lions after a .314/.385/.511 campaign that included 20 home runs in 579 plate appearances.
Edgar Renteria may be pushed to an early retirement, but if healthy he'd still be able to find playing time. Miguel Tejada, Jerry Hairston Jr., Adam Everett, and Cristian Guzman are not inspiring shortstop options, but they all logged at least 450 innings there this season or last. Everett is the defensive whiz of the bunch, while Tejada still provides a little offense.
Some of the players listed above will find only utility roles. Other free agents like Nick Punto ($5MM club option), Craig Counsell, Juan Castro, Bobby Crosby, Julio Lugo, Geoff Blum, and Omar Vizquel will be scrapping for playing time and could sign minor league deals.
The non-tender candidates could shake up the market, because they're just as interesting as the regular free agents. Jason Bartlett, J.J. Hardy, and Ryan Theriot are the big names. Bartlett is here because he'd be due more than $4MM next year, but given the terrible free agent class and his fine '09 season the Rays would likely find a taker on the trade market if they want to move on. Hardy is a similar story – most of you expect him to be tendered a contract, but he may be traded. Theriot is likely to be cut loose by the Dodgers. He served as the Cubs' main shortstop for three seasons before being supplanted by Starlin Castro this year.
Once again, the free agent market for shortstops is bleak. Uribe should be popular, and Nakajima plus the non-tenders could provide a boost.