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What's on second? Small free-agent class

What's on second? Small free-agent class

The classic line "What's on second?" could become a very serious question during the Hot Stove season.

While only four of the available free agents at the position -- Placido Polanco (Type A), Orlando Hudson (Type A), Ronnie Belliard (Type B) and Mark DeRosa (Type B) -- are ranked by the Elias Sports Bureau, there might be more movement at second base than anyone expects.

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Case in point: The Mets might be looking to move Luis Castillo, the Mariners could trade Jose Lopez, it's possible that the Braves will send Kelly Johnson somewhere else, and the Marlins might be willing to part with their slugging second sacker, Dan Uggla.

Any of this would send what looks like a relatively quiet second-base market into full-on flux, so it's worth paying attention to what goes down over the next few months.

And then there are the former shortstops who might land jobs at second base next year. They include Khalil Greene, Bobby Crosby, Adam Everett and Juan Uribe.

Under rules of the Collective Basic Agreement, players may file for free agency beginning on the day after the conclusion of the World Series, which was last Thursday, and continue to do so for a 15-day period. Their 2009 teams retain negotiating exclusivity for the same period, after which, beginning Nov. 20 this year, other teams can enter the picture. Here are the second basemen:

Head of the class

Polanco, (10 HR, 72 RBIs, .285 AVG), Type A: He's healthy, which was proven by a career-high 618 at-bats with Detroit in 2009, and he's still very productive, with a career-best 72 RBIs, 82 runs and a .285 batting average, although that statistic has gone down for three straight seasons. Polanco earned his second Gold Glove, though, making him even more valuable.

Hudson, (9-62-.283), Type A: The good news for "O-Dog" is that he made the All-Star team, hit for the cycle and played for the second-best team in the National League. The news that might cause some teams concern is that his rough second half led to his first OPS drop in four seasons and a spot on the Los Angeles bench. He hit nine homers and drove in 62 runs, however, he's still respected defensively as a three-time Gold Glover, and he turns 32 in December.

Belliard, (10-39-.277), Type B: Here's the guy who took Hudson's job in Chavez Ravine. The change of scenery from Washington to L.A. did this veteran some good, as he batted .357 in 24 games with the Dodgers. Belliard also hit 10 homers in 287 total at-bats, which could net him a nice deal for 2010.

DeRosa, (23-78-.250), Type B: On the plus side, the 34-year-old notched a career high in homers with 23 in a season split between the Indians and Cardinals and also drove in 78 runs. On the downside, his OBP slipped to .319, his lowest since 2004.

Felipe Lopez, (9-57-.310): As an unranked guy who will be 30 in 2010, Lopez could be very attractive considering he hit .310 last year with a .383 OBP, 88 runs, nine homers and 57 RBIs while splitting time between Arizona and Milwaukee. His second half was excellent, too. Lopez had an OPS of .855 as a Brewer.

Adam Kennedy, (11-63-.289): The 2002 AL Championship Series MVP was almost out of the Majors heading into 2009, but he had a big-time resurgence after being traded to Oakland. Kennedy, who will be 34 in 2010, hit .289 with 11 homers and 63 RBIs in 529 at-bats, the most at-bats he's had since 2000. He's always been considered a plus defender at second base but struggled a bit in the field while trying out third base for the first time in his career.

Jerry Hairston Jr., (10-39-.251): He became a valuable piece of the Yankees' World Series puzzle after coming over from Cincinnati in a midseason trade, but Hairston projects as a bench player after compiling a .315 OBP in 2009 that offset his 10 homers in 383 at-bats.

Also on the market

Jamey Carroll (Indians), Alex Cora (Mets), Crosby (A's), Craig Counsell (Brewers), Everett (Tigers), Greene (Cardinals), Mark Loretta (Dodgers), Luis Rodriguez (Padres), Uribe (Giants).

Ready to buy

The Dodgers are big players here with both of their '09 options -- Hudson and Belliard -- on the open market. The Tigers will move to the top of this list if they don't bring back Polanco, and look for the Twins to make a splash here now that their infield seems to be wide open. The Cubs might be in the market for a leadoff hitter from this category, and look for the Pirates to be active on the second-base front.

Window shopping

The Mets could become buyers if they trade Castillo, and the same could be said for the Marlins if they decide to move Uggla, and the Mariners, who could send off Lopez.

Potential 2011 class

Willie Bloomquist, Eric Bruntlett, David Eckstein, Mark Ellis ($6 million club option with a $500,000 buyout), Omar Infante ($2.5, million club option with a $250,000 buyout), Maicer Izturis, Lopez ($4.5 million club option with a $250,000 buyout), Julio Lugo, Kazuo Matsui, Aaron Miles, Nick Punto ($5 million club option with a $500,000 buyout), Freddy Sanchez, Ramon Vazquez.

Doug Miller is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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