2020-21 MLB Free Agent Class: Third Basemen

In current days, we’ve run via essentially the most notable catchers, second basemen, shortstops, and first basemen who’re slated to succeed in the free-agent market as soon as the winter rolls round in a number of months. We’ll proceed our breakdown of the upcoming crop of free brokers with a have a look at the third baseman who, barring extensions, will probably be freely accessible for golf equipment to signal. Players making the soar from skilled leagues in Asia and others who’re non-tendered will fairly doubtless add to this record, however right here’s how issues are anticipated to look as of at the moment…

Top of the Class

  • Justin Turner: He’ll play the 2021 season at 36, however Turner stays an elite hitter who maybe doesn’t get the credit score he deserves as a result of he’s surrounded by so many robust hitters. But over the previous three seasons, Turner has raked at a .307/.397/.519 clip with 62 dingers in 1518 plate appearances — together with a .290/.372/.509 mark in 2019. Turner has been no less than 20 p.c higher than a league-average hitter every season since 2013, and whereas he’s not the defensive powerhouse he as soon as was, Statcast nonetheless credited him with 4 Outs Above Average on the scorching nook. Defensive Runs Saved (-3) and Ultimate Zone Rating (-6.7) had been extra bearish, however it’s unlikely that any group would take into account him a significant legal responsibility on the place. It’s additionally price remembering that Turner was dogged by hamstring and ankle points in 2019 despite the fact that he averted an IL stint, so higher well being may result in higher rankings. Even if he’s a median or below-average glove at third base at this level, his offensive excellence is inarguable. Under regular circumstances he’d be a surefire qualifying provide candidate, however we don’t but know the way the shortened (or canceled) season will impression these selections.

Other Potential Regulars

  • Jake Lamb: Shoulder surgical procedure torpedoed Lamb’s 2018 season, and he was hobbled by a quadriceps harm that price him almost half the season in 2019. However, Lamb clubbed 59 homers for the D-backs as their main third baseman in 2016-17. He’ll be heading into his age-30 season when he hits the open market and received’t see a lot in the way in which of competitors by way of prime-aged third base candidates. His struggles in opposition to left-handed pitching make it tempting to label him platoon participant — he’s a profession .169/.275/.319 hitter in opposition to southpaws — however Lamb nonetheless has solely 440 profession PAs in opposition to lefties. His .259/.345/.468 line in opposition to right-handed opponents, in the meantime, is stable. And his 130 wRC+ in opposition to righties in that aforementioned two-year peak exhibits how good will be when he’s at his greatest.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera: A late Herculean surge with the Nationals (145 wRC+ in 146 plate appearances) salvaged what was shaping as much as be a dismal marketing campaign for the veteran switch-hitter. No one is anticipating that degree of manufacturing, however Cabrera may very well be a median or barely higher bat with third-base protection that graded out nicely per each Defensive Runs Saved and Outs Above Average. He’ll be 35 by the point the 2021 marketing campaign will get underway, so maybe some groups will view him as a part-time choice. Cabrera has tallied no less than 514 plate appearances in every of the previous 9 seasons, although.

Second Basemen with Experience at Third Base

  • DJ LeMahieu: It was no shock to anybody that LeMahieu topped our record of subsequent 12 months’s second basemen after a monster Bronx debut season, however may one other group in want of assist on the scorching nook take into account enjoying him there? The Yankees trotted LeMahieu out for a fair 400 innings of protection at third base — the primary time in almost 5 years that he’d slotted in there. Despite having tallied simply 245 innings there beforehand, the outcomes had been stable (break-even by way of Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating; +2 Outs Above Average), which may create some optimism amongst his suitors. Sterling glovework at second base has lengthy been probably the most compelling points (if not the most compelling facet) of LeMahieu’s sport, so some could also be cautious of shifting him off the place. But if he’s in a position to recreate his 2019 thunder on the plate, then he’ll be offering ample worth even when he’s not enjoying plus protection.
  • Tommy La Stella: It’s maybe simple to neglect about La Stella’s budding breakout that was interrupted when he fractured his leg upon fouling a ball into his shin. But previous to that grisly, tough-luck harm, La Stella was mashing like by no means earlier than: .295/.346/.486. Through 321 plate appearances, the previous Cubs utilityman had swatted extra dingers (16) than he had in his total profession (10 via 947 PAs in 2014-18). Like LeMahieu, La Stella has been primarily a second baseman however noticed sparing motion on the scorching nook in ’19 (234 innings). La Stella has just about even platoon splits in his profession, although, and a group satisfied of his skill to deal with third base may have a look at him as a low-cost choice. If nothing else, a well-known multi-position function with some occasional reps at third appears eminently cheap.

Part-Time Veterans

  • Adeiny Hechavarria: The defensive standout has by no means been a lot of a risk on the plate, however he’s a extremely regarded defender at shortstop who has appreciable expertise at third base. He’s a pleasant utility choice.
  • Eric Sogard: Like Hechavarria, Sogard has extra restricted expertise at third base however a stable defensive popularity on the center infield spots. His stunning energy output with the Blue Jays tapered off following a commerce to the Rays, however the affable Sogard is fashionable amongst followers and teammates alike and needs to be thought-about a helpful utility participant.
  • Brad Miller: The versatile Miller is one thing of a “jack of all trades, master of none,” however his 2019 marketing campaign was a productive — albeit in a tiny pattern of 170 plate appearances. He’s struggled to provide at a constant degree, however Miller retains touchdown huge league gigs as a bench piece.
  • Zack Cozart: Injuries have decimated the previous Reds All-Star over the previous few years. The Angels traded away their 2019 first-round decide (Will Wilson) to rid themselves of the ultimate season of Cozart’s deal. He hasn’t been a productive participant since 2017, however he was price 5 wins above substitute again in 2017.
  • Jed Lowrie: The switch-hitting veteran has greater than 1000 innings of expertise on the scorching nook, however he’s a complete wild card after lacking almost the whole 2019 season. Even earlier than the MLB shutdown, Lowrie was anticipated to overlook Opening Day, and the Mets had no timetable for his return.

Club Options to Watch

  • Both Todd Frazier ($5.75MM membership choice, $1.5MM buyout) and Jedd Gyorko ($4.5MM membership choice, $1MM buyout) have been infield regulars for a lot of their careers and have ample expertise at third base (nearly solely so in Frazier’s case). But each choices are so inexpensive that there’s just about no method both would hit free company if he carried out nicely sufficient to be thought-about a daily choice at third base (or some other place). If both participant’s choice is purchased out, it’s unlikely a brand new group would take into account him for an on a regular basis function in 2021.

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