Friday, November 15, 2013

Tru School Sports Hot Stove Special: Top MLB Free Agents (Ranks 31-35)

@SportsGeek02 and @TruSchoolSports continue the Major League Baseball Hot Stove Top 40 MLB Free Agents countdown with a look at those ranked 31-35. These guys are not going top be your leading hitter or pitcher, but you can bet that they will play a major role in your team's future. Question is, is YOUR TEAM interested?

35.) Omar Infante, 2B (2013 stats: .318/.345/.450, 144 H, 10 HR, 50 RBI, 54 R in 453 AB’s): Omar Infante is without question one of the players that flies under the radar, yet he is imperative to a team’s success. Coming over with Anibal Sanchez from Miami, Infante as always was a back page story, but his contributions were tough to miss. At a very weak second base position, Infante is a lock to give you plus fielding and plus-plus hitting without any of the drama or injury concerns you can expect from other players. There is plenty of young talent in Detroit with the likes of Jose Iglesias and Hernan Perez, but new manager Brad Ausmus will likely do what he can to keep this guy around for two more years.

Possible Suitors: Tigers, Cubs, Yankees, Royals, Blue Jays

34.) Scott Feldman, SP (2013 stats: 12-12, 3.86 ERA, 132/57 K/BB in 181.2 IP): Scott Feldman is not an eye-popping name this off-season, but he is a consistent arm that just about any team would love to have in the fourth or fifth spot of their rotation (possibly higher). He handled his transition from the National League to the American League without a hitch and sticks to his command game while generating ground balls. These facts indicate his ability to keep things close in American League action and generate double-play balls on a consistent basis. Orioles’ officials have indicated that re-signing Feldman is a top priority, but there are certainly other teams interested. 

Possible Suitors: Orioles, White Sox, Yankees, Twins, Mets

33.) Jason Vargas, SP (2013 stats: 9-8, 4.02 ERA, 109/48 K/BB in 150 IP): Jason Vargas has been an extremely steady pitcher in dealing with batters from both sides of the plate since 2010, something which is crucial for a starting pitcher. An unexpected blood clot in his armpit this season derailed him from his third straight 200 innings pitched season. Much like Feldman, Vargas does not have the flashy stuff and power fastball that fans love. However, he gets the job done on a consistent basis and provides a middle of the rotation arm that a manager can pencil in for 12 wins and 215 innings. This guy will get you through six innings on a consistent basis and has a relatively fresh arm for a 31-year-old considering his early days in the bullpen. His market may be slightly limited to teams with fly ball friendly parks, but regardless he is a solid catch and one that the Angels will likely try to bring back.

Possible Suitors: Angels, Orioles, Phillies, Twins

32.) Carlos Ruiz, C (2013 stats: .268/.320/.368, 83H, 5 HR, 37 RBI, 30 R in 310 AB’s): Despite an injury-riddled 2013, Carlos Ruiz is still a hot commodity on the open market considering his skill set both behind the dish and at the plate. He is just one year removed from an All-Star campaign that saw him hit .325 while playing miraculous defense. It is quite clear that teams are recognizing his unique combination of offensive and defensive skills, as reports have him with two-year offers from multiple teams ranging from $15-20 million. The Red Sox appear to be done with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and are the front-runners at the moment, but the Rockies are also in the mix. 

Possible Suitors: Red Sox, Rockies, Phillies, Blue Jays, Yankees

31.) Edward Mujica, RP (2013 stats: 2-1, 37 SV, 2.78 ERA, 46/6 K/BB in 64.2 IP): While not your typical closer/set-up guy, Edward Mujica has the numbers, the experience and the mental fortitude that it takes to be a back-end of the bullpen type of guy for any team in the league. His postseason experience and recent success in a closer-type role has opened up the eyes (and possibly checkbooks) of numerous big-name teams around the league. His command is unquestionably the best on the market out of the pen, making him a wanted commodity for teams looking to bolster their bullpens.

Possible Suitors: Orioles, Yankees, Angels, Mets, Dodgers

Scott Eastment is a former college baseball player at Frostburg State University and has his MBA in both sport business and marketing from Saint Leo University. He is a die-hard D.C. sports fan and cover various MLB, NFL, and sport business topics for @TruSchoolSports & @MLBHotCorner Follow him on Twitter @SportsGeek02 and add him on Facebook & Google Plus 

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