Welcome to the third installment of INSC’s MLB Free Agency Positional Breakdown! Today we will be taking a closer look at this year’s crop of free agent second basemen. We will be taking a look at the list of names, what they bring to the table, where they could end up and which teams could be looking for second base help.
So in order for us to get into any sort of analysis, we are going to need a list of upcoming free agents. It just so happens that mlbtraderumors.com formulates such a list every season. If you would like to access their full list of upcoming free agents, you can take a look right here. From that full list, here are the second basemen who are poised to be free agents at the conclusion of this season’s World Series!
Gordon Beckham (30)
Chris Coghlan (32)
Daniel Descalso (30)
Stephen Drew (34)
Kelly Johnson (35)
Steve Pearce (34)
Chase Utley (38)
Neil Walker (31)
An underwhelming field to say the least. There is really only one full time player among the group, in the form of Neil Walker. And his season ended with back surgery. Chase Utley is an aging veteran who is a backup at this stage of his career. The rest of the bunch are pretty much a group of utility types.
So let’s start with Neil Walker, who is coming off his first season with the New York Mets. Walker battled some injuries this season, and managed to play in 113 games. In those games Walker hit 23 homers along with a .283 average, driving in 55 runs. His back surgery is going to take about three months of recovery time, which means he should be good to go come Spring Training.
But the injury will still likely dampen his market during the winter. The Mets will surely be in play, and a return to New York may be the best bet. The Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and possibly the San Diego Padres could be in the running for a second base upgrade.
Behind Walker comes Utley. At 38, Utley’s best days are behind him. He will want to play for a contender, and he did manage 14 home runs in 512 at bats in 2016. The Dodgers will likely consider a reunion, and that may be the most likely outcome given the fact that he is a West Coast guy. The Angels are not looking like contenders at the moment, meaning Utley likely will not want to play for them at this stage of his career. The same can be said of the Padres and A’s. Then there are the San Francisco Giants, who have Joe Panik to hold down second base.
The rest of the group is simply utility men. Kelly Johnson can play all over the field, and had an ok season with the Mets. He likely ends up on a team that will not be in contention, and will get a handful of at bats at a number of positions. Steve Pearce, who is recovering from elbow surgery, is the best man out there who is not a full time starter. He has legit power, and is worthy of a two year deal for bench depth, even if he is not ready at the start of 2017.
Everyone else is pretty much worthless with the bat. Chris Coghlan has shown flashes in the past, but is coming off a rough year in 2016. Descalso, Drew, and Beckham are a no more than a man taking up a roster spot.
The need for second basemen around the league is not all that great. That is sure to mean a slow market for Walker. The few clubs that could use an upgrade at the position will likely turn to the trade market first, and seek out someone who is not coming off of back surgery. Names like Brandon Phillips, Logan Forsythe and Ian Kinsler could be potential option starters that could be had via trade.
The Mets and Dodgers both have holes to fill at the position. Teams like the Angels, Padres, White Sox and possibly the A’s could get involved in the market in some capacity as well. But as I mentioned earlier, this is a market that is not going to be buzzing this winter. I would not expect much action in terms of second basemen movement, as Walker and Utley could very easily return to their former clubs.
Be sure to check back tomorrow when we go over the third base market! If you have not already, check out the Positional Breakdown Series Preview page to see what date we will look at each position, with links available upon the release of those articles. You can check that page out right here.