While it’s true that most of the best free agents have already found teams, there are still very interesting pieces available.
Looking beyond those stars, teams can still find a good number of players who haven’t received much attention so far, but still have potential. Here are nine names that fit that profile.
You may not have realized it, but the 34-year-old Venezuelan hit nine home runs, stole 11 bases (on 11 attempts) and posted a 116 OPS+ for the White Sox after being waived by the A’s in August. His expected .466 slugging percentage in September/October was the fourth-best he’s had in a calendar month since the start of 2018, and he finished the season with a 3.0 bWAR, nearly matching the combined total (3.3) he posted between 2018 and 2021. Is that power sustainable? Probably not. But his defensive skills, contact ability and running savvy make him a reliable player, and we saw the value he can bring when he’s able to bring some power to his hitting.
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Belt is coming off a 2022 season in which he hit .213 with eight home runs in 78 games before being sidelined with a right knee injury that eventually required surgery, so he won’t be exactly in his prime for his season. 35 years old. But let’s not forget that the first baseman posted an OPS+ of 165 between 2020 and 2021, ranking third in MLB (minimum 500 plate appearances) behind only Bryce Harper and Dominican Juan José Soto. Injuries have been a problem for Bell throughout his career, but with a healthy knee, his bat could make a comeback in a big way in 2023.
The 37-year-old veteran will probably never experience another stretch like the one he had with the Yankees in 2022. But a player with All-Star experience who hit 15 home runs, nine doubles, drove in 37 runs cannot be completely ruled out. and posted a 1.138 OPS over 154 plate appearances before a broken left foot marred his incredible comeback.
When we last saw Michael Conforto, he hit 14 home runs and posted a 100 OPS+ in 125 games for the Mets in 2021, and that was before missing all of last season while recovering from right shoulder surgery. All of that makes him a major risk, especially if he’s looking for a long-term deal. That said, he can’t deny the potential he offers. Conforto was one of the most productive outfielders in the game from 2017-20, posting an OPS+ of 122 or better in every year during that span, with an overall mark of 134, and he’s still relatively young (he’ll turn 30 in March).
The passing years may have caught up with Cruz, who did not fare well after being traded to the Rays in 2021 before hitting just 10 home runs with a .651 OPS in 507 legal appearances for the Nationals this season. pass. But after seeing countryman Albert Pujols regain his magic at age 42 during a sensational home stretch with the Cardinals, a resurgence for Cruz, who needs 41 homers for the 500, can’t be ruled out. Before his rebound in 2022, Pujols was a lot further from his most recent season as an above-average slugger (113 OPS+ in 2016) than Cruz is now. Cruz, 42, had a 147 OPS+ from 2014-21, hitting more home runs (292) than any other slugger in that span.
After signing a minor league deal with the Reds last year, Drury should get a much better deal this winter, though he hasn’t found one yet. The 30-year-old set career highs in homers (28), RBIs (87), runs scored (87) and OPS (.813) in 138 games between the Reds and Padres in 2022, winning the Silver Slugger as a utility player.
Elbow and shoulder issues limited Miley to 37 innings in 2022, but he was effective going up the hill, posting a 3.16 ERA. The veteran lefty has posted an ERA+ of 129 for four teams since the start of 2018. While the new restrictions on defensive formations have the potential to hurt a pitcher who gets both the ball in play and Miley, the ability of the left-handed to avoid hard hits could be enough to compensate.
The Astros’ pitching staff was so good last season that Smith, who had a perfect ERA with six saves in 11 innings during the Braves’ title game in 2021, didn’t throw a pitch in the 2022 playoffs. The 33-year-old left-hander shone in Houston after being traded from the Braves midseason. During 22 innings with Houston, Smith posted a 3.27 ERA with a 6.0 K/BB ratio and a 2.66 FIP.
One of the best starters left in free agency alongside Eovaldi, Miley, Corey Kluber, Rich Hill and Zack Greinke, Wacha revived his career in 2022, posting a 3.32 ERA (127 ERA+) at 127.1 with the Red Sox , his fourth team in four years. Wacha’s peripheral numbers (FIP 4.14, xEFE 4.56, SIERA 4.07) weren’t as strong as their ERA, and teams aren’t going to forget their struggles between 2019 and 2021 (5.11 ERA), but it could be a great Sign if you can maintain last year’s level.
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Don’t Forget These Nine Free Agents