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Hot Stove Preview: Top Free Agent Second Basemen Available

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We continue our trek through the best available free agents on a position-by-position basis. The next up: Second Basemen. If you think some of the other positions are thin, boy howdy, get a load of second base.

Neil Walker

The Mets gave him a $17.2 million qualifying offer. Given that he’s coming off of back surgery, one suspects that he’ll strongly consider taking it. Not that he’d have no market in the normal course. It’s just that teams may be loathe to give up a draft pick for a guy coming off of an injury who, as it is, plays mediocre second base. Walker is certainly solid — he’s been an above-average hitter, often well above average, for basically his entire career– but there are questions about him entering the offseason and there will be a high price to pay for a guy whose best years in terms of both health and production may very well be behind him. Any long term deal Walker does sign is likely to pay him far less per annum than the qualifying offer, so it will an interesting decision for him to be sure. Of course, the Mets and Walker could just agree to tear up the qualifying offer and put a two or three-year deal on the table that could serve both sides’ interests.

Sean Rodriguez

More of a super utility guy, but we have to put him someplace. He’ll be in demand after a year in which he hit .270/.349/.510 with 18 homers in 300 at-bats while starting games at six different positions. That was a bit of a fluke, batting wise, but even if he cuts the gains he realized over his career numbers in half, he’s a quite valuable commodity. It’s just an open question as to whether anyone envisions him as playing at a set position as opposed to being a rover like he was in 2016.

Jose Miguel Fernandez

Fernandez left Cuba in late 2015 and he spent more than two years not playing baseball at all, really. He’s now playing in the Dominican Winter League, hitting for good contact but possessing no power. There’s also a risk that he’s more of a third baseman than a second basemen — he’s been playing third in the Dominican Republic — but he’s an intriguing gamble.

Chase Utley

The old man keeps on keeping on. He works hard, is in shape and was so great in his prime that even his decline plays well, but it likely won’t play well for too much longer. He’s a platoon guy now, who should only play against righties. Obviously a great clubhouse guy, and someone will probably value that. That he’s one of the top 3-4 available second baseman is pretty telling as to how thin this position is.

Steve Pearce

I included him in our first base rundown because, to be honest, he probably belongs there more than anyplace else. Still, he has played a decent amount of second base and could appear there for someone in 2017. He hit well in Tampa Bay — .309/.388/.520 in 204 at-bats — but declined sharply once he returned to Baltimore. Who knows what to expect from him next year? At the worst he’s a good platoon guy to face lefties and a utility option.

Stephen Drew

A shortstop for almost all of his career before the Yankees made him a second baseman for a season and then the Nationals moved him around a lot as a backup/utility guy. He had his best offensive season, rate stat wise, in his career (125 OPS+) but he only had 165 plate appearances. Like so many here, he may be best utilized as a utilityman.

Kelly Johnson

He was miserable with the Braves but .268/.328/.459 in 183 AB after being traded back to New York. The way his career has gone he’ll sign with Atlanta and then be traded back to New York again. He played 52 games at second base last year but can handle corners too.

Others available: Gordon Beckham, Andres Blanco, Emmanuel Burriss, Chris Coghlan, Daniel Descalso, Johnny Giavotella, Grant Green, Tyler Ladendorf, Jimmy Paredes, Eric Sogard, Ruben Tejada, Jemile Weeks

Report: Rangers sign Jordan Lyles to two-year, $16 million deal

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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rangers and pitcher Jordan Lyles have agreed to a contract. ESPN’s Jeff Passan provided the details, reporting that it is a two-year, $16 million deal.

Lyles, 29, split last season between the Pirates and Brewers, performing much better with the latter. Overall, he compiled a 4.15 ERA with a 146 strikeouts and 55 walks across 141 innings. It was a return to full-time starting for Lyles, who had performed mostly as a reliever from 2016-18.

The Rangers also inked Kyle Gibson to a three-year, $30 million contract last week. Gibson and Lyles will join a rotation that also includes Mike Minor and Lance Lynn as well as youngster Kolby Allard.