2010 MLB Free Agents: The Best Of The Bunch, Position By Position

The World Series is over and the offseason is here, and to help prepare you for the frenzy to come, we review for your convenience the best MLB free agents available, broken down by position.

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2010 MLB Free Agents: Jim Thome And The Designated Hitters

We wrap up our look at the best free agents on the market this offseason by turning our attention to the positionless hitters.

Jim Thome: among hitters who batted at least 300 times last season, Thome finished with the fourth-highest OPS in baseball despite playing in a pitcher-friendly park. 40 years old, Thome can't be expected to repeat, but he showed that he still has a ton of life left.

Russell Branyan: Branyan has battled back injuries that have kept him from making more money and playing more in the field, but when healthy, he still hits the ball as hard as anyone, and he's a worthwhile get.

Vladimir Guerrero: no longer the player he once was, Guerrero isn't a star anymore and saw his numbers get inflated by Texas' home ballpark, but he did slug .496, and as old as he looked in the playoffs, he's unlikely to lose everything overnight. He could still help.

Hideki Matsui: Matsui posted a somewhat unheralded .820 OPS a year ago, and while he doesn't do anything spectacularly well, he's just a good, polished, all-around hitter. He should end up with another opportunity to start and drive in 80 or 90 runs.

Manny Ramirez: even in a down year that saw him struggle with injuries, Ramirez still posted an OBP over .400, and anyone who thinks he's reached the end of the line ought to reconsider. Manny can still make a lineup better.


Worth noting: Brad Hawpe, Lance Berkman, Johnny Damon, Nick Johnson, Marcus Thames.


2010 MLB Free Agents: Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford Best In The Outfield

We continue our look at the best free agents on the market this offseason by turning our attention to the outfield.

Carl Crawford: the best outfielder on the market, Crawford blends most of all the skills you'd ever want in a player, and he's still just 29 years old. There are a lot of contributing seasons left in his body, and he'll get paid accordingly.

Jayson Werth: Werth was the best hitter on the Phillies last year, and has posted an OPS of .885 over the past four years. He doesn't do many things wrong, and he's ready to be an impact bat somewhere else.

Magglio Ordonez: Ordonez turns 37 in January and missed the second half of the season, but he can still make a lot of contact and drive the ball to the gaps, which makes him a useful supporting player to a lineup core.

Rick Ankiel: Ankiel isn't an impact player and he doesn't have a very strong approach at the plate, but his ability to hit for some power and play center field will get him a shot at a good amount of playing time.

Scott Podsednik: still able to put the ball in play and run like hell, Podsednik's ability to play in the middle makes him a very capable fourth outfielder, and he may even be able to cut it as a starter for another year or two.


Worth noting: Jim Edmonds, Pat Burrell, Jose Guillen, Andruw Jones, Randy Winn, Austin Kearns, Corey Patterson.


2010 MLB Free Agents: Adrian Beltre Stands Out At Third Base

We continue our look at the best free agents on the market this offseason by turning our attention to third base.

Adrian Beltre: one of the best overall free agents on the market blows the third base competition away. Beltre plays defense as well as anybody, and rebounded offensively in 2010 and wound up with a Silver Slugger Award for his troubles. He is a premier talent.

Nick Punto: Punto doesn't hit much at all for a third baseman, and he's better suited for the middle infield, but his glove is what makes him a passable player. He doesn't have any power, but he makes contact and has a decent eye.

Felipe Lopez: Lopez struggled through a miserable 2010 that saw him lose most of his playing time with the Cardinals towards the end. The talent is there, and he's a year removed from an .810 OPS, but there are big questions about his attitude.

Melvin Mora: Mora put up a surprising .358 OBP as a semi-regular player for Colorado, and the 38 year old can still play, although he's probably no longer worthy of starting very often.

Pedro Feliz: maybe the worst hitter in baseball a year ago, Feliz isn't going to get any starting opportunities, but he's flashed power in the past, and he's solid with the glove, so he'll end up in somebody's camp next March.


Worth noting: Miguel Cairo. It's also worth noting other guys like Juan Uribe, Jerry Hairston Jr., and Miguel Tejada, who were listed at other positions but are very capable of playing third base. The market isn't quite as thin as it looks here.


2010 MLB Free Agents: Juan Uribe Leads The Shortstops

We continue our look at the best free agents on the market this offseason by turning our attention to the shortstops.

Juan Uribe: the husky Uribe is capable of playing second and third, but he's most comfortable at short, where he started 96 games for the Giants a year ago. 31, he's proven he can hit in a big park, and he should still have a few years of quality baseball left in his body.

Orlando Cabrera: Cabera's a surprising 36 now, and he's coming off a down season with the Reds. However, he can still put the ball in play and run a little bit, and there are worse shortstops in the league.

Jerry Hairston Jr.: Hairston's 2010 numbers don't look too great, but the overall package looks better when you consider he spent half his time in Petco Park, and that he can play pretty much any non-catcher position in the field. He can do a lot of things.

Miguel Tejada: the aging Tejada was rejuvenated by a midseason trade to San Diego, and his track record and intensity should garner a fair bit of interest as the offseason progresses.

Edgar Renteria: 2010's World Series MVP has opted to return for another go-round, and one notes that he finished last season with a very healthy .332 OBP, suggesting he could still help out.


Worth noting: Derek Jeter (who is a free agent, but won't stray from the Yankees), Cesar Izturis, Craig Consell, Geoff Blum.


2010 MLB Free Agents: Orlando Hudson Leads A Thin Crop At Second Base

We continue our look at the best free agents on the market this offseason by turning our attention to the second basemen.

Orlando Hudson: Hudson's power is disintegrating, and he's no longer the thrill around the base that he used to be in his younger days. Still, he's a worthy veteran stopgap who has some effort left to give.

Adam Kennedy: the 34 year old Kennedy didn't have a pretty 2010 in Washington, but there's reason to believe he's in line for a bit of an offensive rebound, and he's capable of playing multiple positions around the infield.

David Eckstein: Eckstein still does what he's always done - make contact and get on base by whatever means necessary. His numbers were driven down by playing in a giant Petco Park, and to this day he remains a very dependable middle infielder.

Cristian Guzman: Guzman doesn't have a ton left to give, but the 32 year old can play all around the infield and is able to put the ball in play, qualities some might consider "dynamic".

Aaron Miles: since the start of 2009, Miles has batted .230 with zero home runs. He is a contact-hitting utility infielder, and nothing more.


Worth noting: Julio Lugo.


2010 MLB Free Agents: Adam Dunn The Prize At First Base

We continue our look at the best free agents on the market this offseason by turning our attention to the first basemen.

Adam Dunn: Dunn has hit at least 38 homers for seven consecutive years, and remains one of the strongest and most patient hitters in the game. He's likely entering the decline of his career, but still has a lot left to give.

Paul Konerko: the 34 year old Konerko is coming off the best year of his life, with 39 home runs and a .977 OPS. Those numbers are inflated from having played in a hitter-friendly ballpark, but he's still fully capable of driving in a ton of runs.

Aubrey Huff: Huff turns 34 in a few weeks and has been alternating good years with bad ones, which will drive down his price. A big season and a good showing in the World Series should get him paid, though.

Carlos Pena: Pena's 32, and is coming off a year that saw him bat just .196. The power and walks were still there, though, and he's a good candidate to bounce back and slug 30 dingers from the heart of somebody's order.

Derrek Lee: Lee salvaged a down year with a good stint in Atlanta, and while he isn't going to go deep 46 times like he did in 2005 ever again, he's still got a season or two of life left in his bat.


Worth noting: Adam LaRoche, Lyle Overbay, Ty Wigginton.


2010 MLB Free Agents: Victor Martinez The Top Catcher

We continue our look at the top free agents on the market by turning our attention to the catchers.

Victor Martinez: all Martinez has done over the past seven seasons is bat .300 with an .846 OPS, and though he's known to struggle defensively behind the plate, his bat is able to make up for his shortcomings. He's likely to become a first baseman or DH within a few years.

A.J. Pierzynski: nearly 34, Pierzynski's best days are behind him, but he offers a contact bat and the kind of intensity that managers are always looking for out of their players.

John Buck: Buck is an offensive catcher with one primary skill: hitting for power. He doesn't have a great arm, a great eye, or tremendous bat control, but he knows how to knock a ball out of the yard.

Miguel Olivo: Olivo is similar to Buck, in that he's first and foremost a power-hitting catcher. However, he also has a very strong throwing arm, and is able to hold his own defensively.

Gregg Zaun: Zaun's 39 years old and had his 2010 season cut short by injury, but all the man does is continue to swing well from both sides of the plate. Zaun remains an ideal backup or half-starter.


Worth noting: Ramon Hernandez, Jason Varitek, Yorvit Torrealba, Bengie Molina.


2010 MLB Free Agents: Rafael Soriano Tops All Relievers

To continue with this StoryStream, we're now going to look at the best free agent relief pitchers on the market this offseason.

Rafael Soriano: Soriano only turns 31 next month, and he's now two years removed from his most recent bout of injury trouble. Having had good success closing in both leagues, he looks like the top reliever on the market, and he should be compensated accordingly.

Joaquin Benoit: after missing all of 2009 following shoulder surgery, Benoit shined for the Rays in 2010 after signing a minor league contract. He struck out 75 while walking just 11 over 60.1 innings, and the shutdown setup man is ready to ply his trade for the highest bidder.

Grant Balfour: the third of the Rays' trifecta, the righty Balfour still throws hard, and he's averaged at least a strikeout an inning every year he's been in the Majors. He'll make for a good solution to someone's problems in the 7th or 8th innings.

Scott Downs: highly sought after at the deadline, Downs remained with Toronto, and is only now becoming available for a reasonable price. The groundballing southpaw is capable of pitching to both lefties and righties alike, and will end up with a very favorable contract.

J.J. Putz: after a nightmarish 2009, Putz rebounded in a big way in 2010, flashing all the stuff that once made him a shutdown closer in Seattle. Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a fearsome splitter, Putz brings a lot of intensity and a lot of potential.


Worth noting: Mariano Rivera (who is technically a free agent, but who will almost certainly remain in New York), Octavio Dotel, Jose Contreras, Frank Francisco, Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg, Brian Fuentes, Matt Guerrier, Trevor Hoffman, Koji Uehara.


2010 MLB Free Agents: Cliff Lee Leads Crop Of Starting Pitchers On The Market

To get this StoryStream started, we're first going to look at the best free agent starting pitchers on the market this offseason.

Cliff Lee: the crown jewel of the offseason free agent market, Lee is coming off a year in which he posted the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in baseball history, and the 32 year old southpaw is sure to pitch like an ace for whichever team ends up with the winning contract over.

Carl Pavano: though a famous bust with the Yankees, Pavano has posted a 4.39 ERA these last two years over 65 starts with the Indians and Twins, and he offers a desirable blend of command and durability.

Jorge de la Rosa: de la Rosa has quietly been an effective starter in Colorado's pitcher graveyard, and armed with an excellent changeup and a mid-90s fastball, the 29 year old southpaw is set to cash in on a big contract.

Hiroki Kuroda: all Kuroda's done since coming over from Japan is get hitters out, and while he's 35 years old, his fastball/slider/splitter combo is good enough to work in most any environment.

Jon Garland: though hardly a sexy name, Garland's been a successful innings-eater from the time he broke into the league, and as he's still just 31, he could end up signing a contract that keeps him in place for two or three years.

Jake Westbrook: it looks like the sinker-baller is going to stay put in St. Louis, but nothing's official, and now that he's a year and 33 starts removed from Tommy John surgery, Westbrook seems like a guy who could help any rotation.

Javier Vazquez: a year ago, Vazquez was one of the top starters on the planet. Then he went to New York, lost his fastball, and came apart. Vazquez will be an interesting gamble for someone looking to recapture the talent that he's had everywhere except with the Yankees.

Jeff Francis: Francis had major shoulder surgery in 2009, but rebounded nicely in 2010, throwing a lot of strikes while getting his fastball up to pre-surgery levels. Armed with a very good changeup, Francis could be of a lot of help as someone's #4.

Brad Penny: before his year was stopped early by a shoulder strain, Penny was having an excellent 2010, with strikes and a bunch of groundballs. No one's idea of durable, he still throws hard, and he should still be able to land a good amount of money.

Vicente Padilla: despite some injuries that cut his season in half, Padilla was very strong with the Dodgers for 95 innings, and could help an NL team that wants a veteran with good stuff in the back of its rotation.


Worth noting: Andy Pettitte (who will likely either retire or return to the Yankees), Kevin Millwood, Aaron Harang, Freddy Garcia, Doug Davis, Bruce Chen, Jeremy Bonderman.

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