With the exception of Chris Davis, this Free Agent market isn't strong at the corner infield positions. But with names like Freddie Freeman and Todd Frazier recently hitting the trade rumors, many teams have no expressed interest in serviceable infielders.
1. Mike Napoli (.224 with 18 homers and 50 RBI in 133 games between BOS and TEX)
Napoli's numbers have dipped consistently since the 2013 season, from .259-.248-.224 in batting average over the past three years. However, Napoli showed at times that he can still be a valuable offensive weapon. His starting days on a contender are likely behind him, but he could still see some starting time on a rebuilder or a middle of the pack team.
So where is Napoli going?
Assuming Crush Davis takes the money and walks away from the Baltimore Orioles, I can see Mike Napoli signing there. Napoli would have some Shaquille O'Neal-size shoes to fill if he's the replacement to Chris Davis, but if he can put up 1/2 of the production that Davis put up, the Orioles are making a solid investment. Nap could slide in and bat fifth or sixth behind power hitters like Adam Jones and Matt Weiters and provide some power at the back-end of the O's lineup. Also, if Davis were to re-sign, there is always the DH spot for Nap and that will remove the pressure of having to put up 45+ home runs a season.
A team that Napoli's style of play fits perfectly is the Houston Astros. And that style of play is, hit home runs and strike out a lot. The current first baseman is strikeout machine, Chris Carter. Now if he was a pitcher, the term "strikeout machine" would be a good thing, but Carter redefines the term "hit-or-miss." He either hits the ball a mile or takes a seat after fanning. Napoli can be a better fit because, yeah, he strikes out a lot as well, but Napoli usually hits for a higher average and has experience winning deep into the postseason. Not to mention that the former catcher has really been able to transform into a solid defensive first baseman, better than Carter.
Prediction: 2-yr, $20 million deal with the Astros
2. Adam Lind (.277 with 20 home runs and 87 RBI in 149 games with MIL)
This guy has always been good, the only problem with Lind has been staying healthy, having only played 130+ games in 4 of his 9 full seasons. Lind was a Red Sox killer back in his time with the Blue Jays and that translated to the National League, where he hit 20 homers in his first season with Milwaukee after he was traded there for Marco Estrada.
Now where is Lind headed?
If you're a Red Sox fan, like myself, you pray that he stays out of the AL East because the guy really hits shots off of Sox pitching, but there are a couple teams that could use a guy like Lind in the division. Those two teams are the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees.
The Yankees still have Mark Texeira as their first baseman with Greg Bird next in line and Alex Rodriguez at DH, but they still could use a guy like Adam Lind. With Brett Gardner likely on the move, their is an opening in the outfield for New York. Lind has played a total of 224 games as a left fielder and has a 99.7% fielding percentage at the position, so Lind could slide in as the left fielder with Ellsbury in CF and Beltran or Bird in right. Also, Lind could play first if injuries, once again, derail a season for Mark Texeira.
As for Tampa Bay, they could use Adam Lind as a DH because this guy can mash. The Rays have James Loney at first base and have a pretty solid outfield of Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier (Gold Glove Winner in 2015), and Stephen Souza Jr., so Lind would have to become a full-time DH. If that can keep him on the field and in the lineup for 150 games, I would take a shot at him if I were the Rays.
Prediction: 3-yr, $42 dollar deal with the Yankees
3. David Freese (.257 average with 14 home runs and 56 RBI in 121 games with LAA)
David Freese is one of those players that you just never hear about anymore. After his moment of superstardom in the 2011 World Series vs. the Texas Rangers, where the Cardinals were down to their last strike in Game 6, Freese hit a game-tying triple and then a walk-off home run in the 11th inning of that game. The Cardinals went on to win the series in Game 7 and Freese received MVP honors for the series. Since then, he has kind of fallen off. However, his numbers are at an area where he is still going to get plenty of looks this offseason.
Who exactly wants him?
The first team that comes to mind is the Cleveland Indians. There have been rumors that the Indians have a fighting chance of acquiring Todd Frazier from the Cincinnati Reds, but that really doesn't seem too likely, in my opinion. But they do have a need for a third baseman. Despite having Lonnie Chisenhall, the Indians appear to have their hearts set on making him a right fielder, and he answered the call by playing very well there. David Freese isn't a great defensive third baseman, but he isn't horrible. Also, he could really compliment Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis in an Indians lineup.
The second team that could be calling Freese this winter is the Pittsburgh Pirates. With Pedro Alvarez looking like their first baseman, and Aramis Ramirez retiring, Pittsburgh could use a third baseman. Josh Harrison is another candidate for the job but he might have to play second base if they trade Neil Walker. David Freese could be a solid number 8 hitter or number 9 hitter behind the pitcher. If the Pirates sign Freese, their lineup looks to be a force in the NL Central for the next few years.
Prediction: 3-yr, $30 million deal with the Pirates
Be on the lookout for my next article on the underrated middle-infielders.
By Jordan Leandre