The winter meetings begin on Dec. 7 in San Diego and though a number of notable hitters have signed, there are some remaining noteworthy names for teams to look into in a weak market for free agent hitters.
3B Chase Headley – Headley was an MVP candidate in 2012 when he hit 31 home runs but offensively has not approached those heights on power. In 135 games with San Diego and the New York Yankees he totaled a .243 average, 13 home runs and 49 RBI. He is a defensive standout based on regular numbers and advanced stats such as ultimate zone rating and defensive runs saved. Those are likely worth a few more wins to any team that signs him. The Yankees would like to have him back considering the uncertainty about Alex Rodriguez but recent reports have him seeking a five-year deal. If the Yankees don’t retain him, the Giants seem a logical fit following the departure of Pablo Sandoval to Boston.
SS Jed Lowrie – Lowrie has never had more than 400 plate appearances but it’s an open secret that the Yankees and Mets need and want new shortstops. From the Yankees perspective, they need a replacement for the retired Derek Jeter. From the Mets perspective, they might want a new glove at that position after the disappointment of Ruben Tejada succeeding Jose Reyes. Offensively Lowrie was a disappointment with a .249 average, six home runs and 50 RBI. Defensively, Lowrie is considered below average but if teams can overlook that, hope for improvement and a return to 2013 at the plate, someone will give him two or three years to be a switch-hitting bat.
SS Asdrubal Cabrera – Cabrera is relatively young as he turned 29 last month. Combine that with four seasons of playing at least 144 games, there is some value in his durability. His best year was 2011 when has a .272/.332/.460 slash line for the Cleveland Indians. He also has hovered around 15 home runs over the last four years, which is a desirable offensive trait for a middle infielder. Besides shortstop, Cabrera has seen extensive time at second base, which he played during two months with the Washington Nationals. Defensively the metrics are mixed. In terms of UZR, he’s a minus -2.5 but in terms of defensive runs saved, Cabrera is a minus-10 at shortstop and a minus-7. Cabrera could return to Washington but if not there could be a stronger market especially with the dearth of free agent middle infielders.
LF Melky Cabrera – Before posting a .301 average in 2014 for the Blue Jays, the past two years have been disappointing. He served a 50-game suspension for PED use in 2012 with the Giants and then he had a benign spinal tumor that caused a poor 2013. Cabrera is a switch-hitter but the splits are not drastic (.276 vs. lefties, .310 vs. righties). Cabrera would like to stay with Toronto after fitting in with Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista and that could be possible even after signing Russell Martin and acquiring Josh Donaldson. The last two players suspended for PED usage (Jhonny Peralta, Nelson Cruz) have signed four-year contracts and that could be the case for Cabrera who is only 30.