Free agency kicks off today! The Orioles need a third baseman so I wanted to look at the free agents available this off-season. I would rather the Orioles fill third through with free agent signee for two years or less. Why? Because:
1) I don't want the Orioles giving up prospects for a Dan Uggla-type (who, by the way, has stated through his agent that he wants to keep playing second, not move to third...)
2) I don't want to sign a veteran to a contract that may block Josh Bell when he looks ready to play.
The 2010 CHONE Projections for some free agent third basemen:
Troy Glaus .247/.351/.436 10
C. Figgins .276/.375/.367 4
A. Beltre .272/.322/.448 1
M. DeRosa .257/.335/.416 -1
J. Crede .255/.317/.439 -1
J. Uribe .254/.299/.420 -10
J. Hairston .254/.318/.380 -11
P. Feliz .254/.298/.393 -16
The Baltimore Sun has mentioned Hank Blalock as a potential target for the Orioles but I have a hard time believing they want him for third base. I imagine if he is signed that he will play third as much as Aubrey Huff did.
I'm eliminating Chone Figgins. That guy's getting a 5-year deal for sure. I am also beginning to believe that Adrian Beltre is going to get a 3+ year deal so he's off the list too.
Glaus is scary with shoulder and back injuries recently. He would be available on a short deal but you'd have to be hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. Ditto for Joe Crede and the Twins are looking to re-sign him for 2010 anyway.
That leaves DeRosa, Uribe, Hairston and Feliz and that's the definition of slim pickings. DeRosa, Uribe and Hairston all bring varying degrees of offense and defensive abilities and all have the ability to become a utility player once a better option is available at third. Pedro Feliz would be a classic good glove/bad bat.
However, let's compare the in-house options to the free agents. Again, 2010 CHONE Projections:
T. Wigginton .269/.323/.446 1
Scott Moore .254/.325/.447 2
Neither of these guys will embarrass themselves with the glove and both are projected to hit better than the quartet I listed above. And neither will block Bell.
Maybe there's an interesting trade that will provide value at third and not move any of our top prospects. But the O's are a long shot to contend in 2010. I think they should look for options at first base and let Wigginton and (a healthy) Scott Moore platoon at third.