With today’s signing of David Freese, the Pirates became the latest club to strike a fairly low-dollar, one-year pact with an established veteran. Among the other position players who weren’t bound by a qualifying offer and ended up signing during camp were Juan Uribe (Indians), Austin Jackson (White Sox), and Pedro Alvarez (Orioles).
Interestingly, it was quite possible to imagine several of those names ending up with the other clubs that made late-breaking deals. Now that the chips have fallen, let’s take a closer look at the fits:
David Freese, Pirates, $3MM: Freese fills an immediate need with Jung Ho Kang expected to miss time early, and will apparently take up the right-handed side of a platoon at first base alongside fellow offseason addition John Jaso. While Michael Morse and Sean Rodriguez also could have fit there, they could spend time in the outfield. And it’s worth noting that Pittsburgh could ultimately mix things around by moving Jordy Mercer out of full-time duties at short, as Kang did play in 60 games there last year.
Juan Uribe, Indians, $4MM: Cleveland reportedly preferred Uribe to Freese, and paid a bit more to add the older option. He does seem to carry a bit more upside, with better recent results at the plate and in the field, though he’s also been held to active part-time duty in recent years. There’s no question that the organization filled a need with the move, but it’ll be interesting to see whether Uribe or Freese turns out to be the better performer in 2016.
Austin Jackson, White Sox, $5MM: Jackson is yet another player that could have ended up in Cleveland, but instead he’ll suit up for the division-rival White Sox. Again, the fit is evident: Chicago added a quality defender up the middle, enabling Adam Eaton to play in the corner while decreasing the need to rely on Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia. It would be a surprise at this point if Jackson were to return to the power/speed combination he showed earlier in his career, but he’s only 29 and has a reasonable floor given his solid glovework.
Pedro Alvarez, Orioles, $5.75MM: Baltimore probably didn’t have quite as much to offer Jackson as did Chicago, since center field remains the realm of Adam Jones, but it’s arguable that he’d have represented a better fit. As it is, though, the O’s have added another impressive power bat to their lineup; it’s easy to forget that, in the midst of defensive struggles, Alvarez hit 27 home runs and slugged .469 last season. The move also means that Mark Trumbo will spend significant time in the corner outfield, though, which carries quite a bit of risk.
So, which of these moves looks best to you?