Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Free Agent at the End of the Season: Mark DeRosa

Mark DeRosa is a rare talent. Not only does DeRosa swing a big stick, but DeRosa is especially valuable because of his ability to play several different positions on the baseball diamond. And as we inch closer towards free agency, it will be fascinating to see how DeRosa will benefit from his versatility. Back in 2006, DeRosa inked a nice 3 year deal with the Chicago Cubs, but make no mistake about it, Mark DeRosa is an established commodity now. Will he be paid like it? Let's take a look.

The Case for DeRosa


Mark DeRosa can play all over the field. This is what makes him unique as a player. DeRosa has experience playing every infield position and both corner outfield spots. That versatility makes him very, very valuable to teams that are looking to take advantage of matchups or teams that are looking to rest aging players. DeRosa gives a manager options, which is very valuable in today's MLB.

-Hits for Power

One aspect of DeRosa's game that has really evolved over the years is his ability to hit for power. Before 2008, DeRosa had never hit more than 15 home runs in any season before. However, in 2008, DeRosa exploded for 21 home runs to go along with 30 doubles. And already in 2009, DeRosa has tied his career high with 21 homers and has a legitimate chance to hit 30+ home runs this season.

The Case against DeRosa

Can he defend?

DeRosa can play multiple positions, but can he actually play any of them well defensively? Not really.

Entering the 2009 season, DeRosa was thought of as an above average third baseman, but his defensive stats this season suggest that DeRosa is well below average at the hot corner. His UZR/150 is -11.1 and his range has been unimpressive (-5.0). At 2B last season with the Cubs, DeRosa's UZR/150 was a pathetic -15.9. And DeRosa has not played a significant amount of time at 1B or SS in a few seasons.

At this point in his career, DeRosa should probably be placed in the OF because that's where his defense has been solid over the past two seasons (UZR/150 above 10 in both years). But are there actually any teams out there that think of DeRosa as an OF at this point? That fact remains to be seen.

-Batting Average

One stat that concerns me about DeRosa is his decline in batting average over the years. As his power has gone up, his batting average has gone down from the .290 range down to .260 this year.


-No other free agent out there brings the versatility to the table like DeRosa. That alone puts him in a separate category from most of the other free agents. It's tough to judge exactly who DeRosa will be competing against on the market because it all depends on what position he wants to play....primarily. If he's going to be a third baseman, then he'll have some strong competition from Chone Figgins and the legion of injured free agents at the hot corner. If he's going to play second, then DeRosa immediately becomes one of the best 2b on the market.

Elias Ranking: Type B

Now, if DeRosa stays as a type B free agent, he could become a much more attractive on the market. Teams would not have to surrender two high draft picks for DeRosa's services, which means that the possible cost of signing DeRosa would be less than signing a player like Chone Figgins. We'll see if DeRosa moves up to a type A during the final weeks of the season.

(rankings courtesy of MLBTR)

(3 years/$24 million)

Here are some comparable contracts:
Casey Blake (3 years/$17.5 million)
Mike Lowell (3 years/$37.5 million)
Kaz Matsui (3 years/$15.5 million)

Again, how much DeRosa makes and the amount of years he gets will come down to where he will play primarily on the diamond. I would expect DeRosa to get an upgrade from the contract he received from the Cubs in 2006, but three years seems about right given his age (34) and ability level.

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Tommy Buettner said...

Great points on Derosa. I live in St. Louis and have watched every game since DeRosa came to the Cards. If he is going to resign with the Cardinals, he will be used in the same capacity as he has been, which is perfect for the Cardinals. Tony LaRussa will probably push for him to get signed. But first, I think the Cardinals first priority is to sign Holliday, which will take some bucks, and then second Piniero, which I feel that he will want somewhere of a 3year/$30 million contract. Given to what I have heard and having a good idea of the Cardinals budget, I would DeRosa will be offered Casey Blake money

Jorge Says No! said...

Do you think derosa wants to return to st louis?

Chris said...

I don't know whether DeRo would prefer StL over somewhere else, but he has said that he really enjoys the city and the team chemistry. However, I don't think there's anyway that he gets 3 years or $24M. He has a torn tendon sheath that needs offseason surgery and will likely be looking at a 2 yr deal at MOST.