Free agent countdown: position players #20-16

Jason Miller

A look at some of the top potential free agents for this offseason, including what they're likely to cost and whether the Indians have any use for them.

The Indians major need this offseason in terms of a position player is probably a right fielder, either to play full time, or to platoon with Drew Stubbs. A third baseman could also be of use, depending on where you stand on Lonnie Chisenhall. If you're willing to play Nick Swisher in right, you could also look at 1B/DB types. The other positions are fairly well spoken for, unless someone is traded (and while shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera very well could be, top prospectFrancisco Lindor should be ready to take over in 2015, so signing anyone for more than a year doesn't make a ton of sense). That being the case, not all of the players listed here are going to be a fit for the Indians, but it's still worth knowing who's out there.

20) Chris Young - CF, age 30

PA BA OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR
2013 Numbers 375 .200 .280 .379 82 0.8
2014 Projection* 434 .225 .311 .396 98 1.1

*Steamer projections, available at FanGraphs

Young is a somewhat similar player to Stubbs, including his inability to hit righties, and FanGraphs' crowdsourcing project came up with a 2 year, $14 million contract for Young. That makes me feel a but more like it's worth keeping Stubbs (who's likely to cost ~$4 million in 2014), because Young is one of the ten best outfielder available, they're all going to cost more than Stubbs, and the Indians probably won't spring for one of the true upgrades.

19) Justin Morneau - 1B, age 32

PA BA OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR
2013 Numbers 635 .259 .323 .411 102 0.8
2014 Projection 481 .264 .335 .434 111 1.1

The Morneau who won an MVP award and was named to four-straight American League All-Star teams is not coming back, but over the last two years, Morneau has put up solid numbers, and he's not so old as to think he couldn't put those numbers up for a couple more years. I suspect he'll sign something like a 2 years, $12 million contract, which seems reasonable, but he's not a great for the Indians, given that it only seems worth pushing Swisher back into the outfield if it brings someone with more pop onto the team, and Morneau is probably a 15-18 HR hitter at this point.

18) Nate McLouth - OF, age 31

PA BA OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR
2013 Numbers 593 .258 .329 .399 100 2.5
2014 Projection 593 .244 .325 .390 96 1.4

I think McLouth could be an interesting target for the Indians, depending on how they want to spend their available funds. He would be a fairly ideal platoon-mate for Stubbs, because he hits righties well (.272/.342/.411, 107 wRC+ in 2013), though I'm not sure how much the Tribe would be willing to pay some who doesn't start 30% of the team's games. FanGraphs predicts he'll get 2 years, $12 million, which isn't bad, and because hitting righties is the more important part of a platoon (~70% of games are started by righties), he could be viewed as a slightly more expensive improvement, should the team decide to non-tender Stubbs. McLouth doesn't seem to have quite the same speed, yet he stole a career-high 30 bases in 2013 (with an 81% success rate). He's not a star, but he's a solid player.

17) James Loney - 1B, age 29

PA BA OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR
2013 Numbers 598 .299 .348 .430 118 2.7
2014 Projection 571 .273 .340 .401 104 1.5

Loney went to Tampa Bay after a series of underwhelming seasons with Los Angeles, and had his best season at the plate since his rookie year (2007). His .326 BABIP is going to regress down, taking down his other rate stats with it, but he's still likely to be an above average hitter. FanGraphs predicts 2 years, $15 million, though if he can get one GM to view him as a ".300 HITTER," I could see him topping that by a but. Like Morneau, he's not a fit for the Indians.

16) Corey Hart - 1B, age 31

PA BA OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR
2012 Numbers* 622 .270 .334 .507 124 2.2
2014 Projection 418 .262 .331 .469 119 1.4

*Did not play in 2013 due to knee surgery

If Hart had been healthy this year and put up numbers like he did in 2012 (and 2011... and 2010...), he'd be higher on this list, maybe even in the top five. As is, questions surrounding his ability to come back from major knee surgery will depress his price quite a bit. Unless someone has a lot of faith in his return, I expect him to take a one-year deal in order to rebuild his value and hit the market again in a year, when he'll still be young enough (just barely) to get a nice multi-year deal. If he could still play right field, I'd love to see the Indians go after him, but in 2012 he transitioned to playing primarily first base, and a major knee operation is unlikely to undo that. As a 1B/DH, he's not a great fit, but if fullt recovered, he could certainly be the 28-30 home run hitter many Tribe fans crave.

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