As has become an All-Star break tradition, here’s a peek ahead at some very, very preliminary 2015 player rankings. I’m only concerned with next year here, so these aren’t true keeper rankings; if I were factoring in 2016 and beyond, some younger players would be listed quite a bit higher. As always, I’m going position by position (trying to account for next year’s position eligibility) and including a top 300 overall.
This winter’s free agents are listed without teams. Players facing option years are listed as “opt” in the team column.
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2015 Third Baseman Rankings
|12||Matt Carpenter||Cardinals||5 2B|
|17||Martin Prado||Diamondbacks||6 2B|
|19||Nick Castellanos||Tigers||61 OF|
|22||Juan Francisco||Blue Jays||34|
|29||Brock Holt||Red Sox||52|
|31||Conor Gillaspie||White Sox||33|
|32||Will Middlebrooks||Red Sox||13|
|39||Kelly Johnson||21 2B|
|40||Matt Davidson||White Sox||28|
|45||Garin Cecchini||Red Sox||43|
- In his 18th year in the big leagues, Beltre might enter a season as the consensus top third baseman available for the first time. I had him second behind Alex Rodriguez in 2005 and second behind Miguel Cabrera this year, but never first.
- There rarely seems to be much help available at third base in free agency, but this year is an exception, with Sandoval and Headley both possibilities for long-term deals. Aramis Ramirez could also opt out from his $14 million option with the Brewers (the option contains a $4 million buyout for the Brewers, so they’ll almost surely exercise their half of it). There’s also the Hanley Ramirez factor here: he’ll likely be marketed as a shortstop, but he’d almost certainly be more valuable as a third baseman going forward.
- This might also be the best crop of third base prospects since 1998, when Beltre and Ramirez were third and fifth, respectively, in Baseball America’s Top 100, with Chavez, Troy Glaus, Russell Branyan and Mike Lowell further down.
I have Kris Bryant ranked highest of the group, and I’d probably slide him right into the top 10 here if I were more confident about him opening the season in the majors. Gallo, who has 40-homer power, could make a run at the Rangers’ first base job next spring, though I expect that he’ll spend more time in the minors. Sano likely is looking at a few months in the minors after missing all of 2014 following Tommy John surgery.