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The Defensive Value of This Year's Free Agents

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The Defensive Value of This Year's Free Agents

December 8, 2017

As the Winter Meetings begin in Orlando next week, you can bet that the previously dormant free agent market will heat up once more. To that point, it makes sense to check in with the current crop of free agents to determine who did and did not excel in the field according to each player's Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) in 2017.

Below are this offseason's best and worst defensive free agents. Please note given the increasing value that teams have placed on defensive versatility in recent years, we’ve also included the number of positions played by the free agent (minimum 75 innings played at an individual position) this past season.

2017 Free Agent DRS Leaders
Player DRS No. of Positions Played
Jarrod Dyson 15 2
Mitch Moreland 10 1
Todd Frazier 8 1
Carlos Santana 8 1
R.A. Dickey 7 1
Jhoulys Chacin 7 2

Jarrod Dyson tops the leaderboard, saving a total of 15 runs in 2017 while manning left field and center field for the Mariners. While Dyson may never be an impact hitter, his ability to consistently play elite defense at multiple outfield positions was a big part of why the Mariners traded for him in the 2016 offseason, and will likely be the main reason the outfielder is able to secure a multi-year free agent deal.

2017 Free Agent DRS Trailers
Player DRS No. of Positions Played
Jose Reyes -26 3
Melky Cabrera -20 2
Jonathan Lucroy -15 1
Eduardo Nunez -13 4
Yunel Escobar -9 1
Yonder Alonso -9 1

Of the players who played at least 75 innings at a minimum of three different positions since 2009, only Adam Dunn cost his team more runs in a single season than Jose Reyes did in 2017. Reyes and fellow 2017 free agent and DRS trailer, Eduardo Nunez, have reputations as useful utility men, but you have to go back to 2015 to find the last time Nunez saved his team any runs at even one position (minimum 75 innings played) and all the way back to 2007 for Reyes. Another member of the trailerboard is 2014 Fielding Bible Award winner Jonathan Lucroy, whose sudden defensive decline was covered in a previous Stat of the Week and will most certainly negatively impact his market value.

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