This year’s crop of free-agent infielders is pretty top-heavy, with several elite options. However, the group thins out quickly, leaving suitors with a collection of players with plenty of upside but questionable durability and consistency. The best options among the group . . .
MLB Photos via Getty ImagesRon Vesely
Free agency preview: 1B Chris Davis
Who has the most homers in the majors since the 2012 season? If you guessed Chris Davis, this Q&A probably was too obvious. Twice in the past three seasons, he has led the majors in homers while driving in well more than 100 runs. With power at a premium these days, Davis will be in high demand – despite his high strikeout totals (he also has struck out 115 times more than anyone since 2012).
Getty ImagesGreg Fiume
Free agency preview: 2B/3B/OF Ben Zobrist
What team couldn’t use a do-everything defender who can play virtually anywhere while also supplying solid production at the plate? As coveted as Zobrist was before the July 31 nonwaiver deadline, teams will be even more eager to pursue him after he tore up the postseason (eight doubles) and won a World Series ring.
Free agency preview: C Matt Wieters
Although he has been limited to just 101 total games over the past two seasons, Wieters still is talented enough behind and at the plate to be categorized as an elite catcher. And those don’t hit the free-agent market too often. From 2011-13, Wieters averaged 22 homers and 77 RBI per season. If healthy, he certainly is capable of that again.
Getty ImagesMitchell Layton
Free agency preview: 2B Daniel Murphy
His stock seemingly crashed (see: errors in Games 4 and 5 of World Series) as quickly as it skyrocketed (see: homers in six consecutive games before World Series). The real Daniel Murphy lies somewhere between those extremes. He never has hit more than 14 homers in a season and his defense is suspect, but he still should interest teams as an offensive option at a thin position.
Getty ImagesJonathan Daniel
Free agency preview: 2B Howie Kendrick
Kendrick quietly put up close to career-average numbers (.295/.336/.409 with 22 doubles and 54 RBI), but will turn 33 in July. For just the second time since 2008, he failed to reach double digits in stolen bases (six), but he also finished with a single-digit error total (five) for the first time since 2011. A guy who can hit close to .300 and has a solid glove still is in high demand.
MLB Photos via Getty ImagesRob Leiter
Free agency preview: SS Ian Desmond
If Desmond had a time machine, he’d likely reconsider his decision to reject a reported $107 million extension at this time last year. He proceeded to set career lows in batting average (.233), on-base percentage (.290) and slugging percentage (.384) in 2015, and committed a National League-worst 27 errors. However, Desmond still hit 19 homers and just turned 30, so he has some bounce-back appeal.
Getty ImagesScott Cunningham
Free agency preview: 3B David Freese
Although Freese never has been able to recapture the magic from his 2011 postseason and 2012 regular season, he has value at the hot corner. He still has 15-homer, 70-RBI potential and plays well enough defensively to start. He is the best free agent available at the position and did finish strong this season (.308/.368/.486 with three homers and 13 RBI in September/October).
Getty ImagesBrace Hemmelgarn
Free agency preview: 1B Justin Morneau
After playing in 135 games in 2014, Morneau again was limited by injuries (concussion) and played only 49 games this past season. The 2006 AL MVP and four-time All-Star still has plenty of pop, but his inability to remain on the field is a concern. A move back to the American League where he could split time between first base and DH would make plenty of sense.
Getty ImagesOtto Greule Jr
Free agency preview: 1B Mike Napoli
After slumping through the first four months of the season with the Boston Red Sox, Napoli experienced a revival once traded to the Texas Rangers. He hit .295 with a .908 OPS and five homers in 35 games with the Rangers. Napoli probably is best suited in a platoon role but still has enough power to remain a productive asset.
Getty ImagesRonald Martinez
Free agency preview: 2B Chase Utley
Even a trade from the last-place Philadelphia Phillies to the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers couldn't revive Utley’s bat, seriously hurting his value moving forward (assuming, that is, he doesn’t retire). The Dodgers also might let shortstop Jimmy Rollins -- Utley’s longtime teammate in Philly and again in L.A. -- walk via free agency. And if you’re looking for potential landing spots for Utley, the New York Mets might be in the market for a second baseman. (Kidding.)