NL East Division position comparison: second base

Over the next two weeks, I will be examining the rosters of each team in the National League East Division and breaking them down with a position-by-position comparison and ranking. One position each day will be covered, a process that began with Tuesday’s evaluation of the first basemen.

Today the series continues with a look at the division’s second basemen. I’ll continue working around the infield, then behind the plate, and across the outfield. That will be followed by a piece covering each projected starting pitching rotation as a whole, separate pieces on each team’s bench and bullpen, and finally on the managers.

If it appears as though any particular position is unsettled or that a team may use a platoon situation, any potential starting players will be covered.

Once the process is complete you should have a good picture of where the Phillies, or whichever club is your personal favorite, stands entering spring training.

NL EAST – 2020 SECOND BASE RANKINGS

1) Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves: Still just 23 years of age in the 2020 season, Albies is sure to be at or near the top of this divisional positional ranking for many years to come. One of the game’s most dynamic young players, Albies slashed .295/.352/.500 a year ago with 24 homers, 43 doubles, 75 extra-base hits, 86 RBIs, 102 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases. He was a 2018 NL All-Star and won a Silver Slugger Award in 2019 for what was his second full big-league season. The Braves also smartly tied him up with a long-term, team-friendly contract that pays Albies just $30 million total dollars through his age 28 campaign in 2025 and then includes a pair of team-option seasons at just $7 million each year.

2) Nationals depth: The Nats signed veteran Brian Dozier for one year in 2019 and he delivered 20 homers over 135 games. However, his below-average all-around offensive and defensive game relegated Dozier to the bench for much of their World Series-winning postseason run and he was not re-signed for 2020. As of this point, the Nationals are planning to go with a mix of NLCS MVP Howie Kendrick and fellow veterans Starlin Castro and Asdrubal Cabrera at the position. Castro, who turns 30 as spring training ends, hit .270 with 22 homers, 31 doubles, and 86 RBIs in Miami a year ago and is a three-time NL All-Star. He could prove to be a nice addition on the two-year, $12 million free agent contract signed in early January.

3) Phillies depth: Will it be Jean Segura or (finally) Scott Kingery getting most of the play in the 2020 season at the Keystone position down at Citizens Bank Park? The club also signed veteran Josh Harrison to provide further depth. All three can play all around the infield, but at this point it appears that the club will at least head to spring training with Segura at second, Kingery at third, and Harrison as a reserve infielder. Segura has been working out hard and already doing some preliminary work down in the Dominican Republic in anticipation of the switch from shortstop to second base. In fact, his 2016 season in Arizona has been the only one of Segura’s eight-year MLB career in which he has played the position. But he received MVP votes that year in what was in many ways his best all-around season, so this could prove a great move.

4) Jonathan Villar, Miami Marlins: The Fish traded with the Orioles to bring in the seven-year veteran Villar this off-season and he is likely to be the primary starter at second base in 2020. Villar had a good season last year in Baltimore, hitting .274 with 24 homers, 62 extra-base hits, 73 RBIs, 111 runs scored, and 40 stolen bases. Owed $8.2 million for just one more season, Villar will be playing for a free agent deal with some club after the 2020 campaign. This is a young organization looking to build through an improving farm system. He could prove to be a steal for Miami as a stopgap at the position. Isan Diaz, who turns 24 in May, was the starter as a rookie during August and September of last season and will be looking for another opportunity at some point.

5) Robinson Cano, New York Mets: Now age 37, this is not the Robbie Cano who helped beat the Phillies in the 2009 World Series as a member of the New York Yankees. That Robbie Cano was a an eight-time AL All-Star during nine seasons in the Bronx and another five years in Seattle. The Mets obtained him along with closer Edwin Diaz in a December 2018 trade with the Mariners for a five-player package that included outstanding prospect Jarred Kelenic and current Phillies outfielder Jay Bruce. Cano then went out and showed his age, slashing just .256/.307/.428 with 13 homers, 39 RBIs, and 46 runs scored in 107 games. To compound the problem, New York owes him $96 million in an albatross of a deal that runs through 2023, when he will be 40-years-old. It’s going to be a long four years under the weight of that contract. Jeff McNeil is an outstanding hitter who will play the position at times, but the Mets used him at three different spots a year ago, just 37 times at second base. Jed Lowrie will turn 36 in April. He signed a two-year, $20 million free agent deal with the Mets a year ago at this time, sprained his knee, and ended up playing in just nine games.

 

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