Top Free Agent Infielders

Each year's free agent class has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, last offseason's class featured a pair of elite first basemen and more shortstop depth than usual. FanGraphs unveiled its free agent leaderboards today and they offer a position-by-position look at the upcoming free agent class. 

As Dave Cameron noted on Twitter, this year’s group is especially deep in the outfield. Allow me to add to that observation: it’s especially deep in the outfield and especially shallow on the infield. Here’s a look at the top ten free agent infielders (no designated hitters or catchers) ranked by FanGraphs’ version of wins above replacement. 

  1. Adam LaRoche, Nationals, 3.1 WAR – LaRoche’s contract includes a $10MM mutual option for 2013. He would like to re-sign with the Nationals.
  2. Jeff Keppinger, Rays, 2.0 WAR – Keppinger could be looking at a two-year deal in this market.
  3. Brandon Inge, Athletics, 1.5 WAR – Inge rebounded to put together a solid season after being released by the Tigers earlier in the year.
  4. Marco Scutaro, Giants, 1.5 WAR – Scutaro figures to be in demand this offseason, but he isn’t adding the same offensive value he did a few years ago.
  5. Kevin Youkilis, White Sox, 1.4 WAR – Youkilis’ contract includes a $13MM club option for 2013.
  6. Eric Chavez, Yankees, 1.2 WAR – We’re getting into backup territory here. No disrespect to Chavez, who has had an excellent career and continues to add value, but it’s hard to believe he’s the sixth-best free agent infielder out there.
  7. Mark Reynolds, Orioles, 1.0 WAR – The hot-hitting Reynolds offers more power than any free agent infielder except LaRoche with 21 home runs. The Orioles have an $11MM club option for 2013.
  8. Ronny Cedeno, Mets, 1.0 WAR – One of the top ten free agent infielders available this winter is Cedeno, the Mets' backup shortstop/second baseman.
  9. Scott Rolen, Reds, 0.9 WAR – Once a force on offense and defense, Rolen can no longer be counted on for 100-plus games.
  10. Adam Kennedy, Dodgers, 0.8 WAR – To put 0.8 wins above replacement in context it's the ninth-best total in Kennedy's career. Yet it's enough for him to place among the top ten infielders available.

The contract options for Jhonny Peralta and Robinson Cano figure to be exercised, so those players aren't included above.


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35 Responses to Top Free Agent Infielders Leave a Reply

  1. John Czech 3 years ago

    Real thin free agent class this year for infielders

    • cubs223425 3 years ago

      Yeah, that’s why people shouldn’t necessarily be appalled by what Detroit did with Fielder. Free agency is THE way to quickly improve a team. Drafting take a while and can have more risk (developing a prospect over 3 years vs. paying market value or a bit more for a proven MLB commodity). When you see a FA crop that tops out at Adam LaRoche, you become more willing to spluirge to get the considerably better commodity.
      If your’e a team that needs an infielder to win next season, you’re pretty much screwed in free agency. LaRoche is probably going back to Washington, I’d bet. After him, you’re not going to get a big leap to a 2-win guy like Jeff Keppinger. It’s pretty simple: this FA class is pretty crappy all around, once you get past 2 or 3 guys.

  2. rikersbeard 3 years ago

    yikes, that is pretty bleak. Though he is having a terrible season, Kelly Johnson will be in the discussion for available starting infielders. He is only at .5 WAR this season (why he is not on the list), but he did have 2.2 in 2011 and 5.9 in 2010.

  3. WeDontNeedToFinPracticeRANDY 3 years ago

    Wow…

  4. john12121212 3 years ago

    Wow, weak!

  5. tackett44 3 years ago

    Looks pretty anemic.

    • Goat_Rider 3 years ago

      slim pickins

    • chicothekid 3 years ago

      That’s exactly what I was thinking. I’m a Mets fan and have seen quite a bit of Cedeno this year, and if he’s in the top 10 available, the top 10 includes scrap heap. He hasn’t been bad mind you, but he hasn’t been anything to write home about either.

  6. LazerTown 3 years ago

    I would assume that the options on both reynolds and Youk get taken. In this type of market and both having the ability to play 1st or 3rd that makes them highly in demand. Both can be solid players; Youk’s avg is down to .230 I think, but he can still get his obp up to .350 territory. Solid enough that I think the Sox will take an option on it.

    This is why the Agon trade was a big move for LA and boston, Loney was simply not an adequate 1B, and there is no decent 1B out there. Laroche is simply inconsistent at putting up consecutive good years. LA had to take on alot of money to get him, and it won’t be easy for Boston to find another good one for at least a few more offseasons unless they want to make a big trade.

    • Natsfan89 3 years ago

      Yeah that’s not true. Aside from last year when he was hurt LaRoche has been the definition of consistent. He’s been good for a .260-.270ish average, 20+ HRs, and 80+ RBI almost every year.

    • johnsilver 3 years ago

      I agree. LaRoche wouldn’t want to see back in Boston either, tho he would be in improvement over Loney for sure. LaRoche has a bad swing to fit in at fenway. It is not a fit and doubt Cherrington is going to be chasing after 33YO players who are going to be wanting 10+m dollar and multi year deals like him when there are others available cheaper who are better fits for Fenway.

      Youk it would be nice to see back at fenway on a 1Y deal and half what his option calls for (6m or so) he still plays a solid 1b and could back up 3b in a pinch, tho realize only chance he returns is if Valentine is gone.

    • ugen64 3 years ago

      Reynolds’ option will almost certainly not be taken. he had the worst defensive season of his career at 3rd (which is an accomplishment), and even with his huge hot streak, he’s still a below average hitter at 1B / DH (which are basically his only positions). add to that we still have Betemit under contract (he has been hitting righties very well) as well as Chris Davis, and Nolan Reimold should be back for next year and able to DH (since he’ll be competing against Avery, Hoes, and possibly McLouth for the starting LF job).

      I think if he’s willing to come back for a 1 year, $5-7 mil deal, and he continues hitting well, we’d consider that. but certainly not for $11 million….

      • Rebuilding? 3 years ago

        Sign him. Reynolds defense has been worthy of a gold glove. Third base is another story.You cannot count on Reimold to be healthy an entire season.

  7. Petcopadre 3 years ago

    “The hot-hitting Reynolds offers more power than any free agent infielder except LaRoche with 21 home runs.” He can also offer more strike outs than any other free agent candidates. Wouldn’t spend any money on that guy. His home runs are nice but consistency was almost non-existent until recently. Not a person you can depend on but rather a player whose streak you enjoy while it lasts.

  8. baybombers 3 years ago

    The biggest name is Laroche by far and hes not gonna be on the market. I cant believe the nats will let him go. Keppinger is a solid player.

  9. BradyAndersonsSideburns 3 years ago

    I’m thinking that Reynolds is back in Baltimore next year one way or the other. I would love to see the O’s sign Keppinger to play 2nd and bridge the gap to Schoop

    • johnsilver 3 years ago

      Reynolds picked an outstanding time to have one of his hot streaks didn’t he?? Right in the middle of that NYY series last week.. Was it like 8HR in 7 games and NY was the victim of 4.. Not cheapies either.

      Think he is back and that 8HR bash of his could possibly Duquette to think 2x this winter about that expensive option of his and overlook everything else.. Like the terrible cold streaks Reynolds gets into.

      • BradyAndersonsSideburns 3 years ago

        He certainly did. He is so streaky, but you know exactly what you’re going to get out of the guy. He’s going to hit a lot of homeruns, he’s going to walk even more than he hits homeruns, and he is going to strike out once every 3 at bats. The biggest thing is he has become a much improved defensive first baseman over the last couple months. I’m not sure what the sabremetrics will say but he sure looks like an above average first baseman to me. Consider that there is nothing in terms of free agent first basemen (unless possibly LaRoche) and the O’s have nothing in the way of first baseman in the system that are near ready. Also Buck seems to really like him and has stuck with him through everything earlier in the season. I’m next to certain he will be here.

    • If not, Reynolds playing 81 games a year in Fenway is interesting dinner conversation. Just a thought.

      • BradyAndersonsSideburns 3 years ago

        Yeah about 90% of his production has come playing the Red Sox and Yankees

      • Jim McGrath 3 years ago

        The Sox might have to part company with Salty–between Reynolds and Salty they could set a K record for two players on the same team—they could also combine for over 70 dingers. The Sox may have a vacancy at 1 B and Reynolds could be an emergency 3 B and DH. I’m sure they could find a place for his bat.

  10. I think there needs to be more analysis done with WAR before taking them at face value. Keppinger only looks good because he’s OK defensively this season after years of poor fielding performances. Part of that has been his not playing positions he is comfortable with, namely 2B and SS, whereas he’s been about average at 3B. Unfortunately for him, he has mostly played 2B and SS.

    Also, his BABIP is 40 points above his career average. If you reduce his BA and as a result, OBP and SLG, relatedly, his offense would regress back to his career mean. That would drop his offensive WAR greatly.

    Any team paying him at a 2.0 WAR rate is sure to be disappointed. Any team paying him to be a starting MI is also sure to be disappointed. He would probably be OK if a team was paying him to be a 3B who is subpar offensively for a 3B (which is probably why other teams have played him at 2B and SS previously) or MI who is severely subpar defensively, but about average offensively.

  11. Guest 3 years ago

    except for LaRoche none of these players would seem good enough to sign over bringing up a prospect unless your farm system is really dry. Most hit around .230, Youkolis can hit but makes too much money

  12. Shawn Baublitz 3 years ago

    I thought Reynolds would still be under Orioles control even if the option was declined.

  13. On Mark Reynolds, you are presuming that he might be non-tendered (he is still under team control for one more year even if the option is declined), which is a very real possibility. As for Scott Rolen, I see him finished as a National League player…he could be a DH in the American League if he still is playing; retirement is a very real possibility.

  14. MarinersFan1977 3 years ago

    On what planet is .226 with a .286 OBP “a solid season”? Regardless of the dearth of decent infielders on the free agent market this offseason, Brandon Inge will end up with a non-roster invite to someone’s camp for next year and be happy to have it.

  15. Kyle Kulseth 3 years ago

    On Marco Scutaro: “…isn’t adding the same offensive value he did a few years ago.”

    Try telling that to Giants fans–he’s be great for them lately.

    • Kyle Kulseth 3 years ago

      He’s always been just a solid ballplayer and I think he still is.

  16. peyton dowdy 3 years ago

    How in the world has Brandon Inge “rebounded to put together a solid season after being released by the Tigers earlier in the year” while posting a .226/.286/.389 slash line to go along with 24 extra base hits in 335 plate appearances while playing a position usually known for offensive output yet you say Marco Scutaro, who has a .293/.336/.388 slash with a ridiculous .341/.361/.447 line as a Giant while playing middle infield, “isn’t adding the same offensive value he did a few years ago.” His yearly line is almost identical to that of 2010 and his time with the Giants has been far better. Your notes on the players are a bit off in my opinion.
    Also saying this is the top FA infielders excludes a group that includes Stephen Drew (probably), Kelly Johnson, Maicer Izturis, Mike Fontenot, Carlos Pena and Carlos Lee. Not saying any of those guys are world beaters but I am sure teams will take a flyer on Drew, Johnson and Izturis before going with Adam Kennedy, Brandon Inge, etc.

    • peyton dowdy 3 years ago

      Oops, cut part of my post off.
      I understand you are using WAR as your basis but using one metric to describe anything as “the best” is not usually a good idea.

  17. thegrayrace 3 years ago

    This free agent class helps one understand why the Dodgers were willing to take on Beckett and Crawford to get Gonzalez.

    Though Swisher or Napoli could also be pursued for 1B.

  18. Kyle Kulseth 3 years ago

    Yeah I was JUST gonna say, Scuts has been really good for you guys since the trade…

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