As you may know, I’ve been covering baseball free agents by position for several months now. Next up: right fielders.
2006 League Averages for Right Fielders:
AL: .286/.349/.468 (.817 OPS)
NL: .268/.345/.453 (.798 OPS)
I’ll be using info from John Dewan’s Fielding Bible to assess these free agents’ defensive abilities. Aubrey Huff played right field in 2003 and 2005, but it seems likely he’ll be used elsewhere.
Jeromy Burnitz – The Pirates and Burnitz have a mutual option for $6MM for 2007. When it’s declined, he gets a $700,000 buyout. Burnitz slipped to an ugly .230/.289/.422 line for Pittsburgh this year at age 37. He didn’t play regularly after the first two months of the season. Burnitz’s defense is average at best, and you can run on him all day. He really shouldn’t be starting for any team.
Trot Nixon – Nixon’s name swirled about in trade rumors, but he stayed put in Boston. He turned 32 this year. While Trot is drawing a ton of walks, his slugging percentage has been declining for years. Nixon has dealt with many injuries in past seasons but seems to be healthy now. The Fielding Bible rates him as the third best defensive right fielder in the game, behind only Ichiro Suzuki and Richard Hidalgo.
For a reasonable team, Nixon is probably the best remaining option. He makes a decent short-term gamble and won’t hurt you on defense. Richard Hidalgo should also be on the radar, as he’s a top defender and may still have a little life in his bat.