The State of the Third Base Market

There has been a lot of movement on the third base market already this offseason, with the latest being Boston’s addition of Adrian Beltre. Dave will have more on that later, but now I’d like to focus on the depleted state of the third base market. So far, we’ve seen the following moves.

Placido Polanco to Philadelphia from Detroit, 3/18
Chone Figgins to Seattle from Los Angeles (A), 4/36
Pedro Feliz to Houston from Philadelphia, 1/4.5
Garrett Atkins from Colorado to Baltimore, 1/4.5
Adrian Beltre from Seattle to Boston, 1/9 with pl. option for 5M
Mark DeRosa from St. Louis to San Francisco, 2/12

And some other possibilities who aren’t strictly third basemen:

Craig Counsell re-signed with Milwaukee 1/2.1
Troy Glaus from St. Louis to Atlanta 1/2

That’s quite a bit of movement, and we’re not even a week into the new year. With Beltre off the board, arguably all of the above-average options at third base are gone. I would argue that Joe Crede is also above average, but his injury issues and light bat make him an asset that isn’t terribly sought after. After Crede, Robb Quinlan is the youngest FA 3B at age 33, and he’s been under replacement level for three straight years. Melvin Mora is the only one who received a type B rating from Elias, and he’s 38, although he has averaged only slightly under 2.0 WAR per season since 2007.

We may see some team have to resort to minor league options or move players around going into 2010. Are the Marlins satisfied with Emilio Bonifacio and Wes Helms? Who will the Twins go to, if not Joe Crede? Does Nick Punto move to 3B? Do the Orioles consider Atkins and Ty Wigginton good enough? Are the Angels willing to hand the reins over to Brandon Wood as a full time starter? For the Cardinals, will it be David Freese? Somebody will have to get creative. Perhaps a team will move Miguel Tejada to the hot corner?

Here we are seeing multiple teams with clear playoff aspirations with major question marks remaining at third base. We will learn a great deal about their respective GMs by how they respond in this nearly completely depleted market.

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This raises an interesting question. Given Boston’s clear need to move Lowell between now and Opening Day, does this lack of viable options on the market possibly make him more attractive to other teams? Come spring training if he looks healthy and whatever makeshift or ‘creative options’ the teams in question above have tried don’t seem to be working out, does Lowell up end having more value than he did a few weeks ago when the Sox had to agree to pay 9 million to be rid of him?

Joe R
Joe R

I say maybe a little bit. Not sure how long the Red Sox can wait, though, since someone is going to want to start practicing Lowell at 1B. There’s no way a team trades for Lowell to play 3rd base (except maybe Dayton Moore).

I’m just stunned that the Red Sox got Beltre for so little cash. Beltre must have had a FA market reality check.