Previewing The 2022-23 Free Agent Class: Third Basemen

October 4, 2022

With the offseason drawing nearer, MLBTR might be breaking down the free-agent class on a position-by-position foundation. We’ve already run via this winter’s crop of catchers, first basemen and second basemen. You possibly can take a look at the full checklist of this offseason’s free brokers right here, however as we speak we’ll take a deeper take a look at the choices for groups in want of assist at third base subsequent.

As was the case when operating via the second-base market, I’ll word that there are some star shortstops (e.g.  Xander Bogaerts) who might technically be pursued as a 3rd base choice for a staff that already has an entrenched shortstop, however we’ll save that group for the shortstop preview. There’s loads of overlap with the second base market, as lots of the free-agent choices this winter are utility sorts who can capably deal with both spot.

His Personal Tier

Whether or not Arenado really turns into a free agent is solely as much as him. He has 5 years and $144MM remaining on his contract but in addition has an opt-out clause at season’s finish that will permit him to enter into the free-agent marketplace for the primary time in his profession. Arenado selected to not train an opt-out after the 2021 season, however he’s now owed much less cash and is coming off maybe the best season of his sensible profession. (Jon Heyman of the New York Publish wrote in September that Arenado was not planning to choose out, citing “pals” of Arenado, however Arenado himself has not made any declarations a method or one other.)

See also  Chiefs vs. Cardinals - Sport Recap - September 11, 2022

Even when Arenado’s objective is to stay in St. Louis, there’s case for him to leverage that opt-out and an enormous 2022 displaying into an extension or bigger cope with the Playing cards. Via 618 plate appearances, Arenado is hitting .292/.358/.533 with 30 dwelling runs, 42 doubles, a triple and 5 steals (in eight tries). Arenado’s 11.5% strikeout charge is the second-lowest of his profession (and lowest over a full 162-game season). He’s second amongst all Main League third basemen in each Defensive Runs Saved (19) and Outs Above Common (14), trailing solely Pittsburgh’s Ke’Bryan Hayes in each classes.

The 5 years and $144MM remaining on Arenado’s contract common out to $28.8MM yearly — a quantity that, at this level, is a methods shy of the place the sport’s high place gamers are paid on an annual foundation. As a result of subsequent 12 months might be his age-32 season, it’s exhausting to think about him securing something longer than a six-year deal in free company, however as Freddie Freeman illustrated final 12 months, it’s attainable for a free agent to safe six years at that age. Arenado, after all, is coming off a good higher season this 12 months than Freeman was final winter. He’s been price 7.2 fWAR and seven.8 rWAR — each of that are private bests in what more and more seems to be to be a Corridor of Fame-caliber profession.

There’s no assure that Arenado reaches free company, but when he does, it’s a simple name to undertaking a bigger assure over 5 years — and maybe over a good lengthier time period than that.

A Distant Second Place

Drury had a tough patch to start his tenure with the Padres following a deadline swap, however he’s been swinging it simply high quality over the previous month. Courting again to Aug. 29, Drury owns a .288/.338/.575 batting line in 80 plate appearances, and he’s logged a collective .263/.320/.497 batting line on the season. His minor league cope with the Reds was top-of-the-line of the season by any staff.

Suitors in free company might view Drury’s 2022 marketing campaign with some skepticism, given his disastrous 2018-20 run between the Yankees and Blue Jays (.205/.254/.346 in 582 plate appearances). Nonetheless, Drury hit in a small pattern with the Mets final 12 months and has been usually productive in 2022, save for an unpleasant first three weeks or so in San Diego. Since Opening Day 2021, he’s at .265/.318/.494 with 32 dwelling runs, 36 doubles and two triples in 645 plate appearances. One would suppose that taking part in an enormous slate of video games at Cincinnati’s Nice American Ball Park has padded his stats, however solely 12 of his 28 homers got here in Cincinnati.

Defensively, third base has been Drury’s most frequent place each in 2022 and, extra narrowly, in his broader profession. He’s been a scratch defender there, per Statcast’s Outs Above Common, and Final Zone Ranking usually agrees. Defensive Runs Saved (-3) has him a bit under common, and that’s usually been the case all through his profession. Nonetheless, Drury isn’t any sort of obvious legal responsibility on the sizzling nook, and he has 1436 MLB innings at second base, 965 between the outfield corners and  361 at first base. On the very least, he seems to be like a super-utility participant, however Drury has hit sufficient to be thought-about a possible starter at second or third, as properly.

Utility Gamers

Diaz has performed not less than 45 innings at 5 totally different positions this season: all 4 infield spots and left subject. He was primarily a shortstop early in his profession and nonetheless has extra whole innings there than at any place. He by no means graded properly there, and as he enters his mid-30s, he’ll be seen as extra of a utility participant. Diaz’s .248/.294/.415 line in 2022 is a bit down from the .259/.318/.433 slash he’s posted over 4 whole seasons with the ’Stros. He’s a right-handed bat who’s proven a fairly noticeable platoon break up over the previous couple seasons, although early in his profession he hit fellow righties higher than lefties. Third base isn’t Diaz’s main place, however he’s nonetheless tallied 758 innings there in his profession.

Primarily a second baseman till the present marketing campaign, Peterson has performed principally third base in Milwaukee this season and posted sensational defensive marks there, together with 11 Defensive Runs Saved and 6 Outs Above Common in simply 605 innings. The lefty-swinging Peterson has revived his profession with a strong three-year run in Milwaukee, hitting .241/.339/.377 (100 wRC+) with a hefty 12.4% stroll charge, 16 homers and 23 steals in 684 plate appearances. He’s even dealt with lefties properly in a small pattern over the previous two seasons, though a profession .217/.289/.282 output towards them nonetheless suggests he’s greatest deployed towards righties solely.

A hamstring pressure price Solano greater than two months, however since being activated, he’s batted .284/.338/.384 with 4 homers and 15 doubles in 293 journeys to the plate. Solano has been fairly good at dwelling, in Cincinnati’s Nice American Ball Park, and below-average on the highway, however that is the fourth consecutive season he’s headed for not less than league-average offense total. Courting again to his 2019 resurgence with the Giants, “Donnie Barrels” is hitting .301/.350/421 in 1068 plate appearances. He’ll flip 35 in December, although, and his defensive grades at second, third and shortstop lately are all missing. He’s posted wonderful numbers in 190 innings as a primary baseman this 12 months, nevertheless (5 DRS, 3 OAA).

Depth Choices and Rebound Hopefuls

  • Ehire Adrianza (33): A switch-hitter with appreciable expertise everywhere in the infield and in each outfield corners, Adrianza doesn’t hit significantly properly from both aspect of the dish and doesn’t have nice defensive marks anyplace. He’s batted .215/.302/.320 in 415 plate appearances since Opening Day 2020.
  • Charlie Culberson (34): Culberson torments lefties, is mostly considered a robust clubhouse presence and has performed each massive league place besides heart subject and catcher. Since a career-high 12 homers in 2018, nevertheless, he’s slashed simply .248/.291/.384 in 542 plate appearances.
  • Matt Duffy (32): An everyday at third base with the Giants and Rays earlier in his profession, Duffy has lengthy been touted as a robust defensive participant. Accidents have hampered him extensively lately, limiting him to 730 plate appearances over the previous 4 seasons. He’s hit moderately properly in that point: .267/.338/.346.
  • Maikel Franco (30): As soon as one of many recreation’s high prospects, Franco by no means developed into the slugger the Phillies hoped. With only a .233/.278/.384 slash since 2019 (together with .229/.255/.342 with the Nats this 12 months) and woeful defensive grades, the 30-year-old Franco is probably going taking a look at one other minor league deal this winter.
  • Marwin Gonzalez (34): The veteran switch-hitter has survived on the Yankees’ roster all season regardless of hitting simply .180/.255/.308 in 195 plate appearances. Gonzalez’s profession 12 months in 2017 helped him land a two-year cope with the Minnesota, and because the second season of that contract he’s since cratered with a .197/.273/.310 slash throughout 701 plate appearances.
  • Phil Gosselin (34): The journeyman utility participant has expertise at each infield spot and within the outfield corners. He hit .149/.182/.176 in 77 plate appearances this 12 months however did document a decent .259/.316/.371 slash in 475 plate appearances from 2020-21.
  • Jonathan Villar (32): Villar hit 24 homers and swiped 40 baggage with the O’s in 2019, struggled via a dismal displaying between Miami and Toronto in 2020, and rebounded properly with the 2021 Mets. The pendulum swung again within the different route this 12 months, as he’s been launched by each the Cubs and Angels whereas hitting a mixed .208/.260/.302. At his greatest, Villar is a switch-hitter with some energy and difference-making velocity, however he’s been wildly inconsistent all through his profession.

Veterans with Membership Choices

  • Hanser Alberto (30): Alberto’s one-year cope with the Dodgers contained a $2MM membership choice and a $250K buyout. Los Angeles will all seemingly go for the buyout after Alberto has batted .234/.248/.357 in 157 journeys to the plate. Alberto has strong defensive rankings across the infield and hits lefties properly — profession .322/.340/.448 hitter in 581 plate appearances — giving him some bench enchantment. His current poor showings might be exhausting to miss, although.
  • Josh Harrison (35): Just about all the things I wrote about Harrison final week within the second base preview nonetheless holds up. He’s had a troublesome week on the plate, so his offense has now fallen to barely under common, by measure of wRC+ (96). Nonetheless, a .256/.317/.361 output with six homers, 18 doubles and a pair of triples is respectable manufacturing for an inexpensive veteran who’s turned in plus defensive marks at each second base and third base this season. Harrison can also be loads skilled within the outfield corners, and after a tough displaying in 2018-19 has been a barely above-average hitter over the lifetime of three seasons. He has a $5.625MM choice with a $1.5MM buyout, and a web $4.125MM value appears loads affordable. The White Sox, although, are already going through a possible document payroll subsequent 12 months and would possibly need extra offense than Harrison can present, despite the fact that his total price ticket is eminently affordable.
  • Evan Longoria (37): Given the Giants’ total outcomes this 12 months and the period of time Longoria has spent on the injured checklist, it feels protected to say he’s seemingly having a greater season than many understand. He’s not the Longo of previous, however even at age 36, he’s turned in a .244/.315/.451 batting line with 14 homers and 13 doubles in simply 298 plate appearances. Longoria is placing out greater than ever (27.9%) and is not the elite defender he was in his 20s. He’s nonetheless making tons of exhausting contact and hitting for energy, although. The Giants maintain a $13MM choice with a $5MM buyout, and the Giants might desire that buyout as they give the impression of being to get youthful. Longoria mentioned the potential for retirement in an interview with Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this summer time. It’ll be a household choice on whether or not he’ll proceed taking part in at age 37, however given his enormous output towards lefties and his total batted-ball profile, there must be curiosity within the veteran slugger even when it’s in a extra lowered function.
  • Justin Turner (38): A Dodgers fixture who hasn’t stopped hitting at the same time as his thirty eighth birthday approaches (November), Turner has a $16MM membership choice with a $2MM buyout. That might’ve vested routinely primarily based on MVP voting, however that’s not going to occur — strong as Turner’s season has been. In 525 journeys to the plate, he’s hit .280/.352/.443 with 13 lengthy balls — good for a 125 wRC+. The Dodgers have lately picked up the choices of some gamers and tacked on a brand new membership choice for 2024, and given Turner’s consistency maybe they’ll take a look at doing the identical right here. Turner remains to be an excellent hitter, however his defensive rankings at third base have dipped and he’s spent practically half his time at designated hitter in 2022.