Welcome to the fifth installment of INSC’s MLB Free Agency Positional Breakdown! To start things off we will be taking a closer look at this year’s crop of free agent shortstops. 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 shortstop 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 shortstops who are poised to be free agents at the conclusion of this season’s World Series!
Erick Aybar (33)
Alcides Escobar (30) – $6.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
Alexei Ramirez (35) — $4MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout
Eric Sogard (31)
Well that list is, well, short. Just like the second and third base markets, the shortstop market leaves much to be desired. This free agent market as a whole leaves a lot to be desired, but the infield especially. Only four guys are on this list, and one of them is not even likely to see the open market. Since there are only four names, let’s just run down each one in the order they are listed.
Erick Aybar is a below average player, who is getting close to his mid-30’s. He spent time with both the Atlanta Braves and Detroit Tigers in 2016, and did nothing to impress with the bat. He batted .243, and did minimal in almost every counting stat. He does not steal bases, and he does not hit homers. He can play several positions however, as he was at second, third and short in 2016. This versatility means he will catch on somewhere as a utility man, but it will only be for a year or two.
Alcides Escobar is one of several players that the Kansas City Royals have an option on this winter. It is expected they will be picking up the 6.5 million dollar option for Escobar, while the same cannot be said for starter Edison Volquez. You can read more about the Royals and their options here. So while he is not the greatest with the bat, he would have been the youngest and most appealing shortstop available had the Royals decided to let him go.
Given Alexei Ramirez’s struggles the last few seasons, he will likely find himself on the market this winter. The San Diego Padres cut him loose in 2016, only for the Tampa Bay Rays to pick him up so they did not have to watch Tim Beckham. Ramirez had an underwhelming .241 average between the two clubs, and does not provide much by way of power or speed. He likely lands somewhere in a backup type of role, as he does not appear to be starter worthy anymore.
Eric Sogard missed all of 2016 with an injury, and recently joined the field after rejecting a Triple-A assignment from the Oakland A’s. He is a defensive minded player who is capable of manning second, third or short. A minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training is certainly a possibility here, unless some team really wants to give the defensive minded utility man a Major League deal.
So at the end of the day, no team is really loosing their starting shortstop to free agency this winter. When we take a look around the league, not too many teams have a glaring weakness at the position. Teams like the Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals, San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies could be on the lookout for an upgrade. But if any of them want to improve what they have, the trade market is going to have to be the place to go, as no starting caliber players will be found in the free agency pool for shortstop this year. Players like Zack Cozart, Ketel Marte, Jurickson Profar, Freddy Galvis, Jhonny Peralta and Danny Espinosa are some players who could be shopped. While most of those names are not exactly stars, they are surely better than this group of free agents.
Be sure to check back tomorrow when we go over the outfield 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.