The 2017 MLB Ultimate Free-Agent Tracker: utility players

MLB columnist
Yahoo Sports
Eduardo Nunez split last season between the Giants and Red Sox. (AP)
Eduardo Nunez split last season between the Giants and Red Sox. (AP)

We ranked 2017’s top free-agent utility players. Overall ranking in the 2017 free-agent class is in parenthesis.

[More FA rankings: Complete list: Nos. 1-184 | C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SSOF | SP | RP]

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1. (29) Eduardo Nunez, UT: Well, he can hit the ball around a little. It’s all the other things – the glove, the mental lapses, the utter impatience at the plate – that make Nunez a little less appealing than a versatile guy who puts the ball in play should be.

2. (60) Howie Kendrick, UT: He can hit. He can play second and both corner-outfield spots. Probably not an everyday player anymore, but Kendrick is ideal so long as it’s on a one-year deal.

3. (89) Danny Valencia, UT: Could join his eighth team in seventh years.

4. (114) Stephen Drew, UT: Has settled very nicely into a utility role, something he could do for at least a few more years if he so desires.

5. (119) Cliff Pennington, UT: Last time he was a free agent, Pennington wound up with a two-year deal despite entering the offseason with a career on-base plus slugging of .657. Today, it’s down to .651, which makes Pennington likely to get at least three years.

6. (134) Darwin Barney, UT: That Darwin Barney, a decent defensive player and legitimately bad hitter, has logged nearly 3,000 career plate appearances and made more than $10 million in his career is proof that no matter how streamlined the decision-making process may be these days, plenty of cracks remain.

7. (140) Jose Reyes, UT: Plays three infield positions, still can run, has some pop in his bat and is 18 months removed from a domestic-violence suspension.

8. (143) Mike Aviles, UT: Signed for $1,000, didn’t debut until after his 27th birthday and is still kicking around. As Francisco Lindor will attest: The perfect guy to teach young middle infielders how to survive in the big leagues.

9. (145) Erick Aybar, UT: It’s getting to be that point where a full-time utility role has come a-callin’ – and it’s a job he may have to win in spring training.

10. (148) Adam Rosales, UT: Doesn’t quite have the glove to guarantee himself employment until his 40s, but has the feel of a stick-around-forever utility type.

11. (153) Michael Martinez, UT: Plays everywhere in the infield and outfield. Runs the bases well enough. Can’t hit much, but that’s not what he’s around for anyway. Does Triple-A time and always winds up in the big leagues – six seasons and counting.

12. (154) Andres Blanco, UT: With the retirement of Carlos Beltran, the final vestiges of the 2004 Royals are Zack Greinke, Bautista and Blanco. Pretty good company.

13. (162) Nick Franklin, UT: Like Chris Taylor, only not very good.

14. (165) Alexi Amarista, UT: Got 87 plate appearances at home for Colorado. Hit .214/.241/.274. That’s so bad it feels impossible.

15. (177) Gordon Beckham, UT: Gordon Beckham is 31 years old. Not sure what else to say because that seems so wrong.

16. (179) Ryan Flaherty, UT: Bravo to a guy who made it to six full years of service with a career .215/.284/.355 line. Seriously, that is incredibly impressive.

17. (181) Emilio Bonifacio, UT: Of the many amusing-to-look-at name pronunciations on Baseball Reference, his – \bone-i-FAW-see-yo\ – might win best of show. Also could take first place for the guy who seems incredibly old but isn’t. (Feels 37? Maybe 38? Reality? Only 32.)

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