Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon


MLB News

Remaining free agents could field quite a team @philgrogers

The Winter Meetings are over, the holiday season is picking up steam, but that doesn't mean anything's slowing down for baseball executives or player agents.

There's too much talent left on the free-agent market for anyone to start working eight-hour days.

The Winter Meetings are over, the holiday season is picking up steam, but that doesn't mean anything's slowing down for baseball executives or player agents.

There's too much talent left on the free-agent market for anyone to start working eight-hour days.

You could make up a lineup from free agents still available and have a very competitive team. At some positions, the challenge remains to pick from among the best available players, not to find a guy to fill a hole.

Hot Stove Tracker

Here goes.

1B -- Chris Davis

Easy decision here, at least until the Orioles and Scott Boras figure out a deal that will bring Davis back to Baltimore. You'd think that would happen soon, but during the Winter Meetings at the Opryland, one executive said the Davis negotiations reminded him of those for Prince Fielder, and Fielder went unsigned into late January before an injury to Victor Martinez prompted the Tigers to throw together a deal. Also unsigned: Pedro Alvarez, Chris Carter

2B -- Howie Kendrick

It's somewhat surprising that Kendrick is still unsigned as he offers a proven bat at a time when lots of teams are looking to strengthen lineups. The Yankees and Mets traded for Starlin Castro and Neil Walker, respectively, rather than sign Kendrick, and the Dodgers did a one-year deal with Chase Utley. A spot seems certain to open soon. Also unsigned: Daniel Murphy, Jose Fernandez (defected from Cuba but has not been cleared to sign)

Video: MIA@LAD: Kendrick gets four hits in 11-1 win

3B -- Nobuhiro Matsuda

This has been a thin position throughout the process, which plays into the hands of a power hitter moving from Japan's Softbank Hawks to MLB. Matsuda is a fascinating hitter to watch. He hit 35 home runs last season while splitting his hands on the bat. It's always a question whether power from Japan translates, and there's a double dose in the case of Matsuda. His market may pick up now that the Reds have traded Todd Frazier. Also unsigned: David Freese, Juan Uribe

SS -- Ian Desmond

No one's fallen further in the current market than the former Washington shortstop, who in previous years turned down the Nationals' attempts to sign him to contract extensions. Fielding problems seemed to carry over to Desmond's hitting, and the Nats' lack of success added to his lost footing. Many teams see him as a position-change guy, but his long-term value remains in the middle of the diamond. Desmond is a strong candidate for the one-year pillow contract, looking to restore his value. He seems like a potential fit for the White Sox, but he hasn't been linked to them. Also unsigned: Alexei Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins

LF -- Alex Gordon

The Cardinals must feel Gordon or Matt Holliday can't play right field. Otherwise, Gordon would have seemed a perfect option after Jason Heyward picked the Cubs over a return to St. Louis. Gordon could wind up staying in Kansas City, but he is a good fit in a lot of places, as his all-around grade would provide an upgrade over all but the elite left fielders. The Giants were interested before signing Johnny Cueto, but they may not have the financial flexibility for another big contract. Also unsigned: Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes

Video: Statcast™ shows how Gordon took Familia deep in Game 1

CF -- Dexter Fowler

His leadoff skills and leadership played a big role in the Cubs' rise during 2015. Fowler brings a presence to the clubhouse that has value, but he was allowed to hit free agency after he turned down a qualifying offer. He seems like an average fielder to the eyes, but the metrics don't flatter him. There's thought that Fowler could be in line for a move to left field or a long career as a fourth outfielder. But he can help a good team in center. Fowler is on the Giants' radar. Also unsigned: Denard Span, Austin Jackson

RF -- Gerardo Parra

A strong outfielder who can play all three spots, Parra should benefit from the market dynamics that led to Heyward's $184 million contract. Parra has won two Gold Glove Awards, and entering his age-29 season, he remains capable of delivering double-digit homers and stolen bases. A left-handed hitter, he's more of a platoon piece but could deliver his maximum value playing for a creative manager. Parra could reward a contender that gives him a chance to play. Also unsigned: Alex Rios, Chris Denorfia

C -- Taylor Teagarden

There's not much available anymore in a position that has been picked over. Teagarden spent 2015 in the Cubs' system, but he didn't get much of an opportunity for Major League consideration. He's a solid catcher who can add depth as a backup. Also unsigned: Jeff Mathis, Michael McKenry

DH -- Cespedes

Not to say he's not an outfield option, but he'd be a good fit for an American League team simply trying to add the best power bat available. Cespedes has spent only four years in the United States, but he has already played for four teams, most recently with the Mets in the World Series. He carried them after a trade from Detroit, finishing the season with 35 homers and 105 RBIs between stops. Cespedes and Jose Abreu are close from their years in Cuban baseball. The White Sox might be a fit, if he agrees to backload his contract or they can move a big salary like David Robertson or John Danks. Also unsigned: Carter, Murphy

Video: LAD@NYM Gm3: Cespedes' 431-foot HR rocks Citi Field

SP -- Kenta Maeda

No starter on the market offers Maeda's combination of youth and experience. The Japanese strike-thrower required a $20 million posting fee to open bidding for his services, but he could wind up being a huge bargain. Maeda, 27, will benefit from a front office that puts stock in Greg Maddux's three keys to pitching (location, movement and velocity, in that order) as his fastball is generally in the 91-93 mph range. He has been extremely durable in Japan, with four 200-inning seasons. Maeda shouldn't carry No. 1 starter expectations, but he could settle more toward the front of a rotation than the rear. Also unsigned: Mike Leake, Wei-Yin Chen

Closer -- Greg Holland

An investment more for 2017 than '16, the former Royals workhorse has demonstrated throughout his career that he's tough and clever enough to make adjustments. Holland's ability to handle high-stress situations kept him working the ninth inning even after the dip in velocity that preceded Tommy John surgery, suggesting he could return as a major part of a good bullpen. He probably won't return before mid-August and might be better off to use all of next season to get himself right for future seasons. Also unsigned: Fernando Rodney, Neftali Feliz

Phil Rogers is a columnist for

Yoenis Cespedes, Chris Davis, Ian Desmond, Dexter Fowler, Alex Gordon, Greg Holland, Howie Kendrick, Gerardo Parra