For clubs looking to the free-agent market to improve at second base, the pickings will be slim, because it is not a bountiful crop.
Orlando Hudson likely will intrigue a general manager or two and command a big salary, but beyond that, it is journeymen and aging veterans. Mark Grudzielanek is the second-highest rated player at the position.
The impending retirement of Jeff Kent takes him out of the running, but the future Hall of Famer would add some power at the position if the 40-year-old (he'll be 41 by Opening Day) decides his surgically repaired left knee is up to an 18th season.
But 23 home runs shy of 400 probably is not enough of a lure for Kent, who strongly indicated 2008 was his last season.
That leaves veterans Ray Durham, Alex Cora and Juan Uribe as a group of veterans who still can be productive, while a handful of others project more as backups than starters.
Needing help at the position are the Dodgers, as well as National League West rivals San Diego and Arizona, which likely will not re-sign Hudson.
Next year's market won't be exceedingly deep either, so teams looking for a serious upgrade at second base over the next two seasons will have to explore the trade market.
The two-week window to file for free agency, which opened the day after the conclusion of the World Series, closes Thursday. In the interim, only their 2008 teams are able to extend offers to free agents, only two of which have re-upped thus far. At precisely 12:01 a.m. ET Friday, the exclusive negotiating window for teams expires and free agency begins in earnest. At that point, any team can sign any of the 182 players who have filed for free agency.
Head of the class:
Orlando Hudson, Type A: .305, 29 doubles, 41 RBIs; Service time: six-plus years; Last contract: one year, $6.25 million; Played for: Blue Jays and Diamondbacks. Comment: The three-time Gold Glove winner excelled defensively, but he broke a bone in his left wrist and was limited to 107 games.
Mark Grudzielanek, Type B: .299, 24 doubles, 24 RBIs; Service time: 13-plus years; Last contract: one year, $4 million, plus 2008 option; Played for: Expos, Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Royals. Comment: Grudzielanek recorded his 2,000th career hit, but he was limited to 86 games due to injuries. He was placed on the disabled list on Aug. 2 with a right ankle sprain and did not play again in 2008.
Ray Durham, Unrated: .289, 35 doubles, 45 RBIs; Service time: 14 years; Last contract: two years, $14.5 million; Played for: White Sox, A's, Giants and Brewers. Comment: Durham turns 37 at the end of November, so his days of being an everyday second baseman are behind him, but he was able to turn his numbers back to their career norms after a down year in 2007.
On the market:
Mark Loretta, Alex Cora, Damion Easley, Felipe Lopez, Tadahito Iguchi, Pablo Ozuna, Nick Punto, Ramon Martinez and Jeff Kent.
Ready to buy:
The Padres signed Iguchi last season, only to lose him to injury, and they plugged the hole with Edgar Gonzalez and Matt Antonelli. San Diego could use a veteran buy.
The Diamondbacks will need to fill the void left by the imminent departure of Hudson, who would like to re-sign with the D-backs, but the club has very little money to offer to free agents this winter.
The Dodgers have second base open amid a number of positions on the ballclub. When Kent went down, rookie Blake DeWitt stepped in, but the Dodgers are uncertain of him as a long-term solution.
The Indians are looking for an upgrade over the platoon of Asdrubal Cabrera and Jamey Carroll, but Cleveland only has about a $20 million total they can add to the payroll while spreading that over as many as five positions.
Brewers, Cardinals, Marlins, Mets, Orioles, White Sox and Yankees.
Marlon Anderson, Ronnie Belliard, Jamey Carroll, Jose Castillo, Mark DeRosa, Adam Kennedy, Omar Infante, Aaron Miles, Placido Polanco, Brian Roberts and Freddy Sanchez (has 2010 option).
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.