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Free agent Parra provides plenty of value

In the free-agent game, there are the expensive guys who get not only the big money but the big publicity push. And then there are the useful guys. They will get paid, but not in nine figures. They can help you win, but they won't be the center of attention while the free-agent parade winds its way through the winter.

Solidly in the second category, we're going with outfielder Gerardo Parra. He has won two Gold Glove Awards. He is only 28. He throws and hits left-handed and he does both with proficiency. Parra is a high-energy individual. He can help a team, in some tangible way, in 2016 and beyond.

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Parra is reportedly seeking a four-year deal and so far has been reportedly getting offers for three years. This is the kind of difference that can resolve itself and should not lead to unemployment.

Parra split the 2015 season between Milwaukee and Baltimore. And it amounted to two different seasons for him.

After a slow start and sporadic playing time with the Brewers early in the season, Parra was given more playing time following Craig Counsell's hiring as manager in early May. Over 100 games with the Brewers, Parra had a slash line of .328/.369/.517. When Counsell moved him to the leadoff spot in the lineup, he became even better. Over 38 games as a leadoff hitter, Parra produced a .340/.386/.545 line.

Video: MIL@CIN: Parra leads off the game with a home run

"Since he's been [in the leadoff spot], he's been a really important piece of our offense," Counsell said. "He's been one of the best hitters in the league, really. He's been excellent. He's definitely set the tone of our offense."

But the Brewers went into rebuilding mode and in a non-waiver Trade Deadline deal, Parra went to Baltimore for Zach Davies, a legitimate pitching prospect.

Parra's offensive production tailed off significantly with the Orioles. Although his combined numbers for the season were certainly respectable -- .291/.328/.452 -- he did not provide the kind of help to Baltimore's push for a postseason spot that his first-half numbers would have suggested.

And that is probably why his prominence as a free agent is not what those first-half numbers might have indicated, either. But this is still a player capable of being very helpful to a club with postseason aspirations.

Video: KC@BAL: Parra makes great diving grab on line drive

Parra won a Gold Glove Award as a left fielder playing for a division-winning team in Arizona in 2011. He won another one as a right fielder in 2013, again playing for the D-backs.

Parra played all three outfield positions in 2015. At this point in his career, he is probably not a classic center fielder, but he is unquestionably still a plus defensive player.

And Parra does not produce the big power numbers that a team might hope for from a corner outfielder. But he can produce extra-base hits; 36 doubles last year, 43 in 2013, his best season in that category.

Adding it all up: A versatile and highly capable outfielder, a reputable Major League hitter who bats left-handed, still in his 20s, and an individual who, as he put it, likes to see baseball players "play hard and play happy."

You can understand why Parra's free agency is not creating daily headlines. You can also understand why his next employers will likely be making a good investment when they sign him.

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for
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