Buyer's guide: Middle infielders

Lots of demand and little supply means a crazy deal could be in the works

Updated: November 7, 2013, 11:29 AM ET
By Keith Law | ESPN Insider

Robinson CanoMike Stobe/Getty ImagesIt's hard to imagine how Robinson Cano's next deal won't be an albatross in a few years.

As in previous years, I'm going through position groups to provide a look at where teams will find value (and where they won't) this offseason in free agency.

In examining middle infielders heading into free agency, the entire class is going to be handsomely compensated, if not flat-out overpaid. Teams are so desperate for competent shortstops -- "Mr. Mozeliak on Line 1" -- that I expect the bidding on the few free agents who can play the position well to be fast and furious. That means there aren't many good values to be found unless you look at the trade market.

Here's a look at best values, worst values and trade targets among free-agent middle infielders.

Best values

Jhonny Peralta, SS/3B (Free-agent ranking: No. 16): Ignoring the PED elephant in the room, Peralta looks pretty bad at shortstop but advanced metrics all have him at least at "adequate" or "non-toxic" over there. If the teams that can afford Peralta don't look at him that way, there's some small upside here for any club willing to hold its nose and accept his glove while paying him for his bat.

The current state of shortstop is so poor that his bat makes him an above-average (or better) regular as long as he can stay at the position without costing his team 10 runs a year on defense.