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Does David Freese make sense for the Red Sox?

For some reason, David Freese remains overlooked and unsigned. Is this an opportunity for Boston to shake up the infield?

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Unless he suddenly morphs into Babe Ruth, David Freese will forever be known for his performance in the 2011 postseason. Freese came up with some of the biggest hits in the Cardinals' World Series run that season and generally being a postseason hero. What Freese hasn't been able to do, unlike Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, is come out of the shadow of the big, historical moments to truly emerge as a star.

Freese hit the free-agent market for the first time this offseason after spending the last two years with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Despite a thin market at his position and not being tied to draft pick compensation from a qualifying offer, Freese has not garnered a ton of interest from many teams. This led Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe to publicly theorize whether or not Freese could be a fit for the Red Sox if he's still on the market by spring training.

Quality third basemen are certainly hard to come by, which makes Freese's availability sort of a head-scratcher. Is he someone the Red Sox might consider if he's still out there by spring training?

There's one big, obvious barrier deterring the Red Sox from pursuing Freese in the first place in the form of Pablo Sandoval. That big contract isn't going away any time soon, and given his performance in the first year of his deal, a team would literally have to be insane to take him on unless the Red Sox assumed the majority of the money left on the deal.

You might think a platoon would make sense. Sandoval struggled against southpaws last year, hitting .259/.306/.368. Freese, despite being a right-handed hitter, performed worse against lefties than righties in 2015, hitting .213/.312/.407 with five home runs and 10 RBI in 108 at bats versus a .272/.328/.424 slash line against right-handed hitters. But this poor performance from Freese against left-handed pitching deviates significantly from his career norms, as he's an overall.296/.367/.459 hitter against southpaws.

Still, signing a solidly mid-tier free agent just to platoon him with a $95 million player? It just seems a bit much. Even as a bench player, Freese is a piece that doesn't quite fit into the Red Sox puzzle. The Red Sox have a pretty significant amount of infield depth with Brock Holt, Travis Shaw and Deven Marrero in the organization as infield depth. Holt is an established player at the major league level and has proven to be a dependable player off the bench. Shaw is Boston's second chance at corner infield production if Hanley or, indeed, Sandoval should again fail to provide it themselves. And Marrero brings a much-needed glove to the party. Freese is just stuck in the middle, with his bat not at its old levels and his glove doesn't play at enough positions to really be worth the spot there.

Beyond that, there's playing time considerations. The Red Sox need to find out what kind of player they have in Shaw. Is he the power bat, starting corner infielder that he flashed the potential of being at the end of last season? Is he a good bat off the bench? The only way the Red Sox will be able to find out is if he continues to get time at the major league level. With Marrero, the Red Sox need to get him consistent playing time at Triple-A and the majors. If in this hypothetical world where the Red Sox sign Freese to be another bench option (and he will have better options elsewhere, one has to imagine), Shaw may well go down to Triple-A while Marrero misses out on important development time at third base.

Freese is a pretty good player, not a star by any measure, but a very solid major leaguer. After a poor 2013 season with the Cardinals, Freese played relatively well as the starting third baseman for the Angels, putting up 1.4 and 2.3 rWAR in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Given that he will not cost a team a draft pick and his price tag will continue to go down as spring training draws closer and closer, some team will presumably take a flyer on him as a potentially bargain-priced starter. Someone will give him a starting job that the Red Sox can't promise with Sandoval around, and a bench role doesn't make much sense for Boston, or for Freese. It's the type of match you wish you could find, but that just doesn't exist.