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November 12, 2010 11:00 am

So You Need: Outfielders and Designated Hitters

6

Marc Normandin

There are plenty of appealing options for teams looking for a big bat.

We are finishing up this position-by-position look at the free-agent class with outfielders and designated hitters. While the few players who stick out as the very best on the outfielder list seem an odd fit for a piece that includes designated hitters, be assured there are plenty of names that fit the bill under both headers.

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November 11, 2010 9:00 am

So You Need: Middle Infielders

4

Marc Normandin

Teams looking for a second baseman or shortstop would be better off making a trade than try to find help in free agency.

Between shortstop and second base there are just two players available through free agency who will be under the age of 30 in 2011. Those two players, Anderson Hernandez (28) and Scott Moore (27), only have youth on their side. If a team is looking for production up the middle, it will have to pay for someone who is past his peak. That doesn't mean the team will get its money's worth, though, it will get someone who can do an impersonation of a regular second baseman or shortstop because there are a plethora of useful utility infielder-type options. To be a bit more blunt, the chance that a general manager could wish for and receive a quality shortstop from Santa Claus is nearly even with their chance of signing one.

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November 10, 2010 8:00 am

So You Need: Corner Infielders

5

Marc Normandin

A look at the rather thin soup that is the first basemen and third basemen on the free-agent market.

The winter of 2011-12 may have such elite free agents as first basemen Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and Adrian Gonzalez, but this offseason is much less exciting when it comes to corner infielders. That is great news for the few standouts of the free-agent class at the corners, as they will get paid what they deserve and probably a lot more due to there being more demand than supply. The others are average performers or utility players.

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November 9, 2010 8:00 am

So You Need: Catchers

3

Marc Normandin

A look at the thin supply of backstops on the free-agent market.

Catcher is one of the thinnest positions in the major leagues, which goes for the free-agent market as well as the collection of backstops already under team control. That doesn't mean that a club looking to add one is totally out of luck, as there are a few names worth looking at for either their bats or their gloves. Still, the teams that don't move fast may find themselves bereft of a capable presence behind the plate; supplies are limited.

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November 8, 2010 8:00 am

So You Need: Relief Pitchers

5

Marc Normandin

Taking a look at the bullpen arms available on the free-agent market.

Relief pitchers are always the most volatile commodity on the free-agent market, but a smart shopper with a discerning eye can separate the bad from the good and make the most of his opportunity to upgrade. Like the starting pitchers available, it is difficult to find much youth on the reliever market, and while the track record of a veteran can boost a club’s confidence in a bullpen arm, it can also come at a premium cost.

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Examining the starters on the free-agent market.

Like any free-agent pitching market, this one is full of risks. Youth is almost nowhere to be found—just six of the 37 starters available are under 30 years old, and many of those seem much older. The free-agent starters are risky for different reasons, though, be they for health, poor 2010 performance, or age, but if teams sort through the options, they are sure to find a few pitchers worth adding to their roster.

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November 30, 2009 4:58 pm

So You Need: OBP

13

Christina Kahrl

A run-down of the available men who can take a walk and swing the stick, as well as the potential price tag.

We like to talk about how OBP is life, life is OBP, yadda yadda yadda, right? Well, who are the real answers for those clubs looking for OBP-related help in their lineups? Some of these are obvious, some less so, and some are being touted as solutions but may not be quite the right answer. Taking a cue from Mr. Jaffe earlier in this series, let's start off with a table that breaks these into two categories, the guys who can play positions, and the ones who really shouldn't, who you might want to pick the phone and ask after if you're willing to swing a deal, and finally the already-signed Official OBP Hero of 2009, Bobby Abreu (props to Tony Reagins and company for cutting to the chase). Then, we'll work down into the individual cases and their respective or putative merits.

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November 29, 2009 12:50 pm

So You Need: Power

8

Marc Normandin

Looking at the sluggers available on the market, as well as some potential sleepers and disasters.

Free agents classified as power hitters can be very alluring in the offseason, since power production is one of those things that every team wishes it could have more of. They can also be considered one of the more dangerous investments, due to the age and diminishing skill levels of many free agents in today's market-you run the risk of overpaying for past performance on players whose best days and fastest swings may already be behind them. Recognizing who is still a relevant and productive member of baseball society is half the battle-if you don't figure that out, you may end up paying more for someone capable of delivering less based on reputation and name value alone.

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November 25, 2009 2:11 pm

So You Need: Firemen

9

Jay Jaffe

What free-agent relievers could offer the best deals for their new teams?

As an understanding of advanced metrics has taken hold in major-league front offices, the market for free-agent relievers has shrunk considerably, even allowing for the harsh economic climate of the past two winters. Teams that were once willing to shell out multi-year contracts for closers and top set-up men are increasingly shying away from such deals, realizing that reliever performances are fairly volatile from year to year due to sample sizes (to say nothing of injuries), that free-agent compensation rules disproportionately penalize teams for signing relievers, and that they can do just about as well by hunting for bargains or giving opportunities to their own youngsters.

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November 25, 2009 1:00 pm

So You Need: To Hit the Jackpot

18

Ken Funck

Looking for a few risky bargains now that the winter shopping season's upon us?

With a dearth of healthy, productive players on the market, a market loaded with lots of injury risks, and with the persistent pressure on GMs to do something to propel their clubs forward, this season's free-agent signing season is likely to be a crap-shoot-loud, fun, and highly dependent on luck, and in the end more players are certain to walk away losers than winners. That's why BP's own Joe Sheehan has repeated his warning of two seasons past, channeling the disembodied digital voice of the WOPR to remind us that "the only way to win is not to play."

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November 24, 2009 1:42 pm

So You Need: Starting Pitching

8

Eric Seidman

A look at the best available starting pitchers and the potential impact they could have on a team.

If this year's free-agent crop of starting pitchers were a graduating high school class, their prom theme would have to be "Risk and Reward." Having passed the November 20th commencement ceremony, after which members of the class can be hired by prospective employers, one market aspect has become increasingly clear. Aside from valedictorian John Lackey, the student body consists of one of two types: either the troublemaker with the potential to achieve, or the consistent yet unnoticed pupil whose lack of flakiness tends to overrate his attributes in relation to the former archetype. Essentially, teams are going to dole out lucrative contracts to mid-pack starters, else they decide to diversify their risk amongst those voted "most likely to spend time on the disabled list," signing a couple to incentive-laden contracts in the hopes that at least one will pan out and reach his potential.

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November 23, 2009 2:29 pm

So You Need: Help Up the Middle

15

Tommy Bennett

The 10 best free agents at the skill positions, plus who to avoid, and more.

The up-the-middle positions are known as the skill positions for a good reason. Catchers, shortstops, second basemen, and center fielders are hard to find. And the ones who play the positions well defensively? They're even harder yet to find. And if you find one that hits well enough to make you forget he's "just" an up-the-middle guy, I'm sure there are some inquiring minds who would like to know how you found him.

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