Examining the free agent second base options

Asdrubal Cabrera has said that he would like to return to the Nationals and that he would even be willing to play second base if he does re-sign in D.C., despite the fact that he would prefer to play shortstop.

The Nats, given the right circumstances and contract terms, would surely like Cabrera back, as well. He played well during his two months with the team following the July 31 trade that sent him from Cleveland to the Nationals, was a solid clubhouse presence and well-liked teammate, and went about his business in a very professional manner.

Sounds like it'll be easy to wrap this up, right? Cabrera wants to be back and the Nats want him back. Let's do this.

cabrera-white-second-base-throw-sidebar.jpgOnly problem is, Cabrera is a veteran shortstop with a solid track record. And given the state of the free agent market and the number of teams that need shortstops, Cabrera will likely receive some fairly significant interest this offseason.

Here are the shortstops available in free agency this offseason, per Cot's Baseball Contracts (asterisk denotes an option for 2015):

Mike Aviles *
Asdrubal Cabrera
Stephen Drew
Alex Gonzalez
Jed Lowrie
John McDonald
Hiroyuki Nakajima *
Hanley Ramirez

Ramirez is the biggest name on that list, but many scouts feel he's better off playing third base going forward than he is playing short. That leaves Cabrera, Drew and Lowrie as the only real starting shortstop options on the free agent market. Drew hit .162 with a .536 OPS this season. Lowrie is a talented player, but has appeared in 100 games in a season just twice in his career.

My point here is that Cabrera will likely have quite a few suitors this winter. And if he signs elsewhere, the Nats will be left needing a new second baseman.

Per Cot's, here are the second base options who will be available on the free agent market this offseason:

Emilio Bonifacio
Alexi Casilla
Mark Ellis
Rafael Furcal
Kelly Johnson
Nick Punto
Ramon Santiago
Rickie Weeks *
Ben Zobrist *

Not a whole lot there, if you're looking for a 150-game performer on a team that has legitimate World Series aspirations.

Now, general manager Mike Rizzo has shown before that he's able to bolster his roster in the offseason not only through free agency, but through trades, as well. Doug Fister wasn't really on any Nats fan's radar at this time last year, and he ended up being a big part of the run to a National League East title after the December trade that brought him from the Tigers to the Nats.

Danny Espinosa is still under contractual control, and he could be an option at second base in 2015. But his offensive numbers in recent seasons will likely lead the Nats to search for an infielder from outside the organization.

We'll see what Rizzo has up his sleeve. He'd likely be open to re-signing Cabrera for 2015 and beyond, but Rizzo won't be the only GM giving Cabrera's agent a call this offseason.

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