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Free Agent Second Basemen Valuation

Luis Castillo is under contract for two more years at $6 million per, yet we all seem to be forging ahead with our offseason plans as if his jettisoning is a foregone conclusion. Rumored deals for Lyle Overbay and Kevin Millwood have gone nowhere (if in fact they were ever really discussed), so if the Mets aren't actively shopping Castillo we can at least be sure that the rumormongers think they should be.

Last season Castillo was serviceable at the plate and woeful in the field, and since his spot is the only infield position the Mets could realistically upgrade defensively it makes some sense that the Mets will look to do just that. If they recognize how important infield defense is to a groundball pitcher like Mike Pelfrey (and free agent groundballer Joel Pineiro, if they elect to show interest in him) they'll be even more compelled to replace Castillo.

Here are the prominent free agent second basemen. I've included Castillo for the purpose of comparison. Again, the '5-3-1 WAR' is a weighted average of the last three seasons: (5 * 2009 WAR) + (3 * 2008 WAR) + (1 * 2007 WAR). 'WAR $' is just $4.5 million per '5-3-1 WAR', and should be used as a rough guide to what the player is worth, not necessarily what he should cost (as some teams can pay more per win than others).

Player 2010 Age WAR 2009 WAR 2008 WAR 2007 5-3-1 WAR WAR $
Placido Polanco (A) 34 3.1 3.1 5.3 3.3 15.1
Felipe Lopez (A) 30 4.6 0.8 0.4 2.9 12.9
Orlando Hudson (A) 32 2.9 2 3.3 2.6 11.9
Ron Belliard 35 1.3 1.7 2.4 1.6 7.0
Luis Castillo 34 1.6 0.6 2.4 1.4 6.1
Jamey Carroll 36 1.5 1.4 0.1 1.3 5.9

Placido Polanco is certainly appealing, but he'll be 34 next year and is a Type-A free agent. Felipe Lopez was terrific last season but awful the prior two seasons. He was good offensively for just the second time in his career and adept in the field for the first time ever. A contract-year aberration? Could be. Orlando Hudson appears destined to be a Met at some point, and he's still a good enough player that a two-year deal at Castillo money would make sense for the Mets (depending on what it costs them to slough off Castillo in the first place). Like Polanco, Lopez and Hudson have been given Type-A status, which further drives up their cost of acquisition (assuming they are offered arbitration).