Over the last few days we have taken a look at the remaining free agents on the market, be they Type A or Type B players. When a team signs a Type B free agent, they do not surrender a pick even though the team losing the player earns a supplemental pick. With Type A players, however, the signing team surrenders a pick, either in the first or second round, depending on their draft position. After covering Type A relievers and starting pitchers the natural step involves evaluating the available hitters with this classification. Unfortunately, this would result in a post discussing Bobby Abreu, Adam Dunn, Manny Ramirez, etc, players who have been covered like crazy here.
Fortunately, however, there are a few other Type A free agent hitters available. Jason Varitek is one of them, but the two of interest right now both play infield positions up the middle and share the same first name. In case the title or this lead-in did not give them away, the players in question are Orlando Hudson and Orlando Cabrera. Both are valuable players yet have seen their names mentioned rarely in the transaction rumors department.
Hudson, a second baseman, is currently 31 years old and coming off of an injury-plagued season that saw him partake in just 107 games. He hit .305/.367/.450 in a senior circuit that saw keystone cornermen average a .271/.338/.408 line. Since coming to the Diamondbacks prior to the 2006 season, he has also shown offensive consistency, posting OPS marks of .809, .817, and .817.
In 2006, with a .346 wOBA, Hudson was worth +8 batting runs. The next season, his wOBA shot up to .361, almost doubling his run production to +15. He posted an almost identical .358 wOBA this past season, but the limited playing time suppressed his batting runs to +11. Prorated over the full season that is right in line with the +15 produced in 2007.
Defensively, Arizona has not been as kind, as Hudson has seen somewhat substantial dropoffs in his glovework since leaving Toronto. From 2003-05, as a Blue Jay, the O-Dawg posted UZR numbers of +3, +16, and +6. In Arizona from 2006-08, -4, -2, and -6. His offense has improved but seemingly at the expense of his defense. All told, over the last four seasons, our win values have him as +2.1, +2.5, +3.4, and +2.1. He looks like a half-win above average per season in this timespan.
In 2009, he projects to be worth +10 runs offensively and -4 runs defensively while earning +22 runs in adjustments. This would place Hudson at +2.8 wins, worth approximately $13.5 mil at fair market value. Over the life of a three year deal, if declines by a half-win each season, he would be worth +2.8 wins at $13.5 mil in 2009; +2.3 wins at $12 mil in 2010; and +1.8 wins at $10.5 mil in 2011. Put together, that is a grand total of right around +7 wins on a 3-yr/$36 mil deal.
Cabrera, 34, is a shortstop with the opposite skillset. He has been a very solid fielder over the last few seasons though not nearly as potent with the bat. In 2008, Cabrera hit .281/.334/.371 with the White Sox, a .705 OPS. The .705 was down from the .738 and .742 produced during the previous two seasons. In terms of wOBA, we are talking about a .329, .331, and .316 player since 2006, which translates to -1, 0, and -7 batting runs respectively.
With the glove, however, Cabrera has put up UZR numbers of +21, -1, +9, and +14 since 2005. When combined with his adjustments and offense, this Orlando has been worth +3.8, +2.9, +3.6, and +3.5 wins over the last four seasons. In 2009, he projects to be worth -10 runs on offense and +10 runs on defense. Therefore, his true value lies in the adjustments he receives for playing shortstop as well as an entire season with 700+ PA. Getting the full +7.5 runs per 162 games and +23.5 runs for his total number of plate appearances, Cabrera looks like a +3.1 win player next season.
+3.1 wins at $4.8 mil/win comes out to a 1-yr/$15 mil deal. If he signs for a 3-yr deal, with a slight discount for contract security, the deal would be closer to 3-yr/$42 mil at fair market value. If he declines by the same half-win each season then he is +3.1 at $15 mil in 2009; +2.6 at $13.8 mil in 2010; and +2.1 at $12.2 mil in 2011. Added up, that is almost +8 wins over a 3-yr/$41 mil deal, right around the aforementioned contract with a slight discount for security.
Neither of these players is likely to sign as lucrative of a deal, however, not just due to the market heavily favoring the buyers but also due to their Type A classification. Teams are clearly being more risk-averse this offseason in terms of signing players to lengthy and expensive contracts. On top of that, being Type A free agents will cost the signing teams either a first or second round draft pick. The Nationals have been linked to Hudson while the Royals and Athletics have been linked to Cabrera.
Outside of those three teams, just about nobody else has reportedly expressed interest in these two up the middle position players. The market for second basemen may be a bit more dried up than that of shortstops, but both of these players could end up as steals next season given that their contracts are very likely to fall vastly below their estimated fair market values. Now is the time to buy.