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Previewing The 2022-23 Free Agent Class: Shortstops


With the offseason drawing nearer, MLBTR might be breaking down the free-agent class on a position-by-position foundation. We’ve already run by means of this winter’s crop of catchers, first basemen, second basemen and third basemen. You possibly can take a look at the full checklist of this offseason’s free brokers right here, however as we speak we’ll dive into one more deep class of star-caliber shortstops who’re more likely to develop into obtainable.

The Large 4

Whereas not technically a free agent but, there’s little question that Bogaerts will decide out of the remaining three years and $60MM on his contract — if the 2 events can’t first work out an extension. That’ll be the crew’s focus for the subsequent month, however failing a brand new long-term deal, Bogaerts will decide out, obtain a qualifying supply, reject it and develop into a free agent for the primary time in his profession.

The 2022 season marked one thing of an odd yr for the four-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger winner. Bogaerts’ energy numbers (15 residence runs, .149 ISO) dipped to their lowest level since 2017, however he additionally loved the defensive season of his profession by measure of nearly each publicly obtainable metric (4 Defensive Runs Saved, 4.9 Final Zone Ranking, 5 Outs Above Common).

In seasons previous, Bogaerts’ glove was seen as his main flaw. He’s sometimes graded out as a below-average defender and been seen as a candidate for an eventual place change. This yr’s efficiency will possible quiet that chatter for now, and whereas the drop in energy is of some concern, energy was down all through the league and Bogaerts did regain some extra-base pop within the season’s closing couple months.

Moreover, his .307/.377/.456 batting line from 2022 was nonetheless glorious, and when wanting on the previous half-decade on the entire, Bogaerts owns a stout .300/.373/.507 slash with 105 homers, 177 doubles, a 9.9% stroll charge and an 18.1% strikeout charge in 2737 plate appearances. He’ll play all of subsequent season at 30 years previous, and it’s cheap to anticipate the market may produce not less than a seven-year deal for him.

There was by no means a lot doubt, however final week, Correa publicly declared for the primary time that he’ll decide out of the remaining two years and $70.2MM on his contract (barring an extension earlier than his opt-out date, 5 days after the World Collection). Correa will return to the open market having simply turned 28 years previous and on the heels of a robust .291/.366/.467 batting line in what may very nicely be his lone season as a Twin. He’s mentioned all the correct issues about having fun with his time in Minnesota and hoping to ink a long-term deal in a setting that his younger household has already grown to like, however an extension looks like a protracted shot.

The 2022 season wasn’t Correa’s greatest, however that’s solely due to the lofty requirements he’s beforehand established. Correa was 40% higher than common with the bat, by measure of wRC+, however his beforehand Platinum Glove-winning protection fell to merely above-average, per DRS and UZR. (Notably, OAA pegged his glovework as truly barely under common.) Twins brass has spent a lot of the yr lauding Correa’s glovework, management and clubhouse presence. There’s certainly some real curiosity in conserving him, however doing so would require eclipsing Joe Mauer’s $184MM assure for the most important contract in franchise historical past — possible by a reasonably giant margin.

Correa had loads of accidents earlier in his profession and had a pair of temporary IL stints in 2022 as a consequence of a minor finger harm and a spell on the Covid checklist. However he’s performed in 89% of his crew’s video games over the previous three seasons and logged a hefty 132 wRC+ in that span. Since 2018, his 50 DRS are tied for sixth-most in MLB, no matter place. His 45 OAA locations him seventh.

It’s exhausting to think about Correa securing the reported $330MM+ he was reportedly in search of in free company final winter. He’s a yr older now and coming off a robust however lesser season than his profession yr in 2021. That mentioned, he’s nonetheless squarely in his prime, is mostly thought to be a plus contributor on either side of the ball and within the clubhouse, and he completed out the season on a excessive observe, rating as one of many AL’s most efficient bats over the ultimate two months. He’s additionally the one considered one of this top-tier group that may’t obtain a qualifying supply (by advantage of receiving one final yr).

Traded by the Diamondbacks simply six months after being chosen with the No. 1 decide in 2015, Swanson made his massive league debut barely one yr after that prime general choice. After a number of years of anyplace from lackluster to downright poor offensive output, Swanson turned a nook in 2019 and, since 2020, has been an above-average offensive participant: .265/.324/.451, 62 residence runs, 80 doubles, three triples, 32-for-42 in stolen bases.

Granted, by measure of wRC+, Swanson has “solely” been 9 p.c higher than league-average on the plate in that three-year span (although 16% in 2022 alone). However, for a participant who supplies loads of baserunning worth and has been thought-about anyplace from a plus to an elite defender at shortstop, that’s loads of bat. Swanson’s 2022 season, specifically, has been sensational within the eyes of DRS (9) and OAA (20). Statcast has been significantly bullish on Swanson’s protection through the years, rating him thirteenth amongst all massive leaguers in OAA (38) and fifteenth in Runs Above Common (28) because the begin of the 2018 season.

Swanson will obtain and reject a qualifying supply from the Braves, subjecting him to draft decide compensation this winter. At 29 years previous this February, he’s the second-youngest on this prime tier. Swanson certainly took observe as each Javier Baez and Trevor Story — who additionally had a qualifying supply connected to him — landed six-year offers with $140MM ensures final yr on the similar age final winter.

Fairly arguably the very best shortstop available on the market this winter, Turner will attain free company for the primary time on the heels of a .298/.343/.466 slash (128 wRC+) in 160 video games and 708 plate appearances. Turner’s 21 homers this yr had been down from final yr’s career-best 28, and with “simply” 27 steals (in 30 tries), he’s maybe not the annual risk for 40-plus steals he was earlier in his profession.

That mentioned, Turner has hit .298 or higher in every of the previous 4 seasons and has by no means fanned at even a 20% clip in a full Main League season. He’s batted .311/.361/.509 (133 wRC+) over the previous 4 seasons, performed in 89.6% of doable video games alongside the best way (92% since 2018) and averaged 26.5 residence runs and 35.1 steals per 162 video games performed. Turner graded as a standout defender at shortstop in 2018 however has been about common by measure of each DRS and OAA since that point. Even when he ultimately strikes off shortstop, Turner’s athleticism figures to make him adaptable to a brand new place; he posted plus defensive grades in two months because the Dodgers’ second baseman following the 2021 commerce that despatched him to L.A.

Turner, who’ll flip 30 subsequent June, is youthful than Bogaerts however 10 months older than Swanson and almost two years older than Correa. Like Bogaerts and Swanson, he’s each eligible to obtain and terribly more likely to reject a qualifying supply, which is able to topic him to draft-pick compensation this winter. With the market’s very prime free brokers, that’s typically the price of doing enterprise and infrequently one thing that may trigger a big-market membership to withhold curiosity completely — but it surely’s an element that’s not less than price noting.

The ten-year megadeals that 30-year-old free brokers had been as soon as often in a position to command (e.g. Robinson Cano, Albert Pujols) have typically fallen to the wayside, as groups have a tendency to order lengths of ten or extra years for gamers who’re of their mid-20s. Place gamers reaching the market round Turner’s age have extra not too long ago been capped at signing by means of age-37, which might imply an eight-year deal in Turner’s case. Given his uncommon mix of energy and pace, his sturdiness and his basic athleticism, Turner can even anticipate to command a wage close to the highest of the AAV scale for place gamers.

Veterans Coming Off Strong Seasons

At 34, Andrus isn’t the participant he as soon as was, however he nonetheless hit fairly nicely after being launched by the A’s and signing with the White Sox (.271/.309/.464, 9 homers in 191 plate appearances). The 17 residence runs Andrus hit this previous season had been his most since 2017. (It bears mentioning, too, that his launch was much less about his stage of play than about guaranteeing that he didn’t obtain the taking part in time to set off a $15MM participant choice.)

A premier defender earlier in his profession, Andrus now receives break up grades from defensive metrics. Statcast nonetheless feels that he’s a plus defender, however DRS has given him detrimental marks for the previous 4 years. If a crew agrees that Andrus stays not less than an above-average shortstop, this yr’s rebound on the plate may web him a two-year deal. On the very least, Andrus ought to command a one-year, Main League contract to function a crew’s main shortstop.

Diaz has performed not less than 45 innings at 5 completely different positions this season: all 4 infield spots and left discipline. He was primarily a shortstop early in his profession and nonetheless has extra whole innings there than at any place. He by no means graded nicely there, and as he enters his mid-30s, he’ll be seen as extra of a utility participant. Diaz’s .255/.302/.427 line in 2022 is kind of just like the .259/.318/.433 slash he’s posted over 4 whole seasons with the ’Stros. He’s a right-handed bat who’s proven a reasonably noticeable platoon break up over the previous couple seasons, although early in his profession he hit fellow righties higher than lefties. He’s had simply eight plate appearances with the Astros within the postseason to this point, going 1-for-7 and in addition getting hit by a pitch.

Like Andrus, Iglesias was as soon as thought-about considered one of MLB’s prime defensive shortstops however has seen his rankings plummet. He posted a staggering -22 DRS with the Angels and Pink Sox in 2021, although he bounced many of the approach again in 2022 and completed with a -4 mark. OAA has him as a scratch defender over the previous few years.

On the plate, Iglesias continues to put up stable or higher batting averages because of glorious bat-to-ball abilities, however he nonetheless has one of many worst stroll charges within the sport. He hit .292/.328/.380 with the Rockies in 2022. Iglesias will flip 33 in January and, after signing one-year offers in his final two journeys to the open market, will discover related presents this winter.

Notable Rebound Hopefuls

It’s been a swift decline for Gregorius, who starred within the Bronx because the successor to Derek Jeter and regarded sturdy within the first season of his post-Yankees profession, hitting .284/.339/.488 for the Phillies whereas taking part in in all 60 video games of the shortened 2020 marketing campaign. In two seasons since, he’s flopped with a .210/.267/.345 batting line, resulting in his launch in August. He received’t flip 33 till February, so there’s time for him to bounce again, however the 2021-22 seasons had been disastrous.

It’s exhausting to match the protection of present gamers to these from prior generations, however Simmons has a legit case as one of many biggest defensive gamers ever. He’s the all-time chief in DRS, which dates again to 2002, and is fourth because the inception of UZR and OAA. He has 4 Gold Glove Awards and a Platinum Glove win, and Simmons would most likely have extra {hardware} had been it not for a number of injury-shortened seasons. Sadly, his bat has additionally cratered lately, with only a .216/.277/.261 slash between the Twins and Cubs in 2021-22. Amongst hitters with not less than 500 plate appearances over the previous two seasons, Simmons ranks third-worst with a 53 wRC+. The Cubs launched him on Aug. 7.

Villar hit 24 homers and swiped 40 luggage with the O’s in 2019, struggled by means of a dismal displaying between Miami and Toronto in 2020, and rebounded properly with the 2021 Mets. The pendulum swung again within the different course this yr, as he was launched by each the Cubs and Angels whereas hitting a mixed .208/.260/.302. At his greatest, Villar is a switch-hitter with some energy and difference-making pace, however he’s been wildly inconsistent in a profession that has featured extra valleys than peaks.

Depth Choices

  • Johan Camargo (29): Camargo had a giant 2018 season with the Braves and has by no means recreated it, hitting .219/.271/.348 over the previous 4 seasons. He’s a utility choice however did log 186 innings at shortstop for the Phillies this yr.
  • Alcides Escobar (36): Escobar had a short resurgence with the 2021 Nats, however that was the one time since 2014 his bat has been near common. He hit .218/.262/.282 in 131 plate appearances with Washington this yr.
  • Marwin Gonzalez (34): Gonzalez performed solely 94 innings at brief from 2019-21, however the Yankees gave him 134 innings there in 2022. The veteran switch-hitter is primarily a utility choice, although, and this yr’s .185/.255/.321 slash in 207 plate appearances leaves loads to be desired.
  • Dixon Machado (30): Machado hit .280/.359/.393 in 277 video games within the Korea Baseball Group from 2020-21 and posted related Triple-A numbers between the Cubs and Giants this yr. He’s by no means hit within the Majors, nevertheless, evidenced by a .226/.285/.292 batting line in 522 journeys to the plate.
  • Deven Marrero (32): A former first-round decide and prime prospect, Marrero is a .191/.246/.279 hitter in 373 Main League plate appearances throughout elements of seven seasons. He noticed temporary time with the Mets in 2022.
  • Richie Martin (28): The highest decide by the Orioles within the 2018 Rule 5 Draft, Martin survived his Rule 5 season within the Majors however by no means discovered his stride, maybe partially as a consequence of accidents. He’s now a profession .212/.261/.311 hitter in 447 MLB plate appearances and has only a .240/.336/.366 slash in elements of two Triple-A seasons.
  • JT Riddle (31): Riddle obtained some run with the Marlins in 2017-19 however has barely surfaced within the Majors since. He’s a .223/.261/.354 hitter in 797 MLB plate appearances.
  • Dee Unusual-Gordon (34): The truth that the 2022 Nats gave Unusual-Gordon 100 innings at shortstop for the primary time since 2013 says extra in regards to the crew than the participant. The three-time NL steals champ hasn’t logged 100 plate appearances in a season since 2019. He hit .305 in 59 plate appearances this yr however did so and not using a stroll and with simply two extra-base hits. Since 2018, he’s batted .268/.293/.343 in 1150 plate appearances.
  • Tyler Wade (28): Wade hit .264/.354/.328 in 145 plate appearances with the 2021 Yankees however has couldn’t duplicate it with the 2022 Angels. He’s a .214/.291/.298 hitter within the Majors however does have some defensive versatility to associate with a extra palatable .279/.353/.408 slash in elements of 4 Triple-A seasons.


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