I was recently perusing this list of upcoming free agents, looking specifically at the third basemen and catchers, when I noticed a name I hadn't heard in quite some time - Wilson Betemit is due for free agency this Winter, and I think there's an interesting case to be made for the M's going after him.
Betemit, once considered one of the most promising young third baseman in the game, has recently, and for the most part, been relegated to the role of utility man. He's been given a real shot at a full season's worth of playing time twice, in 2006 and 2007; he posted OPS's of .795 and .787 in those years, respectively (pretty much in line with his career OPS of .780). He has the potential to be a slightly above average third baseman (who can also fill in at shortstop), which would be an enormous upgrade over the shitbowl we've been running out at third base this year. Plus, if he could bang out a couple seasons of production on par with his 2010 campaign (.297/.378/.511 over 84 games), we would be picking up an extremely solid player at what could potentially be a steal of a price. And even if he can't recapture the 2010 magic, his 2011 season has been nothing to be ashamed of so far (.288/.324/.423).
There are a couple other neat upsides to Wilson Betemit. He's currently 29 years old, meaning he's probably got a few years of solid production left in the tank. He'll also most likely come cheap; he's currently signed to a 1 year, $1 million contract, and probably won't demand the kind of money that other potential third baseman free agents like Edwin Encarnacion and Aramis Ramirez will. Wilson is also a switch-hitter, although his numbers are substantially better as a lefty. He also won't have to adapt to switching leagues, as he's been in the AL since 2007. And, he doesn't have much of an injury history, meaning he'd be unlikely to pull an Erik Bedard on us.
With that being said, Wilson doesn't come without a few drawbacks. Highest on the list would have to be his thoroughly below-average defense; he's posted a career -3.3 dWAR over 10 non-full seasons. He's also quite slow, having stolen 8 bases and hit 5 triples over those 10 seasons. On top of that, he strikes out like it's nobody's business (he's the proud owner of a 25.8 k%). That being said, he'd definitely come as a large upgrade over chode and seager, and for cheap, too. If everything goes right, he could be a 15-20 home run, .275/.350/.450 kind of guy, which would be just dandy when you compare it to the team's .179/.239/.226 line from third basemen this year.