The current offseason has been one of the busiest in recent years. Over the past few seasons, it wasn’t uncommon for a few of the top free agents to linger on the open market after the calendar had flipped over to a new year. That won’t be the case this year, as today’s agreement between Corey Kluber and the Red Sox means that 46 of MLBTR’s Top 50 Free Agents are off the board, including all of the top 32.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some notable players still out there. Below is a list of some of the most intriguing names on the open market for clubs still hoping to make upgrades to their roster before Opening Day. The number next to the player’s name represents their placement on the MLBTR top 50 list.
Quick caveat that some of those free agents have reached agreements with clubs that are not official. This wouldn’t normally be worth mentioning, as those deals end up getting completed in the vast majority of cases. However, the Carlos Correa situation has shown that it’s not impossible for a deal to fall through after being agreed upon. He and the Giants agreed to a 13-year, $350MM deal but their physical examination raised concerns about the status of his right leg. Correa then agreed to a 12-year, $315MM deal with the Mets, whose physical raised similar concerns. The deal is still not official but the latest reporting suggests that Correa will likely still end up a Met, though perhaps with some extra provisions in the contract.
33. Jurickson Profar
Profar, 30 in February, has had a mercurial career but he’s coming off a solid season. He hit 15 home runs, walked in 11.1% of his plate appearances and struck out in just 15.7% of them. Outs Above Average wasn’t keen on his left field defense but Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating both thought it was above average.
Profar isn’t a superstar but he succeeds in enough different ways to be useful. FanGraphs pegged him as being worth 2.5 wins above replacement in 2022. It’s also possible that the upcoming shift limitations benefit his contact-based approach. He opted out of his deal with the Padres, which would have seen him make $7.5MM in 2023. By taking the $1MM buyout instead, he just needs to find $6.5MM in free agency to break even. MLBTR predicted he could secure a two-year, $20MM deal.
39. Andrew Chafin
Over the past six years, Chafin has been one of the best relievers in the sport, with his left-handedness only making him more appealing. He has a 3.05 ERA in that time, striking out 26.9% of batters faced, walking 8.8% of them and getting grounders on 48.7% of balls in play. That includes a nightmare 2020 season in which he posted a 6.52 ERA in 9 2/3 innings.
He could have stuck with the Tigers for 2023 on a $6.5MM salary but declined his player option and returned to free agency. MLBTR predicted that to be a wise decision, pegging him for a two-year, $18MM deal. He’ll turn 33 in June.
40. Jean Segura
Somewhat similar to Profar, Segura is a guy who does a lot of things well but isn’t really elite at anything. Over the last six seasons, his wRC+ has been between 105 and 111 in five of them, the lone exception being a dip to 91 in 2019. He hit between 10 and 14 home runs in the past five full seasons. Though he posted bigger stolen base totals earlier in his career, he’s been between nine and 13 in the past three full campaigns. He doesn’t walk much but doesn’t strike out much either. Defensively, he can play shortstop in an emergency but is essentially a full-time second baseman, with advanced metrics generally considering him above average there. He was predicted for two years and $18MM. He’ll turn 33 in March.
41. Michael Wacha
Wacha, 31, posted ERAs of 4.76, 6.62 and 5.05 in the previous three seasons but got that mark down to 3.32 in 2022. That was encouraging but might not be entirely sustainable. His .260 BABIP and 80.3% strand rate surely helped him offset a pedestrian 20.2% strikeout rate and 41% ground ball rate. He did avoid the free passes, however, limiting them to a 6% rate, and was in the 70th percentile in terms of hard hit rate.
Injuries have prevented him from cracking 130 innings in any of the past five seasons but he’s still capable of producing solid work at the back of a rotation. He was predicted for a two-year deal worth $16MM.
The bottom of MLBTR’s top 50 list also featured many “honorable mentions” that are still available. Those that are still free agents are listed below in alphabetical order.
HM: Elvis Andrus
Andrus, 34, was miserable at the plate from 2018 to 2021 but is coming off a nice bounceback. He hit 17 home runs in 2022 and finished with a batting line of .249/.303/.404 for a wRC+ of 105. He also stole 18 bases and was considered an above-average defensive shortstop by Ultimate Zone Rating and Outs Above Average.
HM: Brandon Belt
Belt, 35 in April, produced a batting line of .285/.393/.595 over 2020 and 2021. That production was 62% above league average, as evidenced by his 162 wRC+. Only Juan Soto and Bryce Harper were ahead of him in that department, among hitters with at least 550 plate appearances.
2022, however, saw him battle knee injuries all season long and hit .213/.326/.350 for a wRC+ of 96. He eventually underwent season-ending knee surgery in September, the third knee surgery of his career. That makes him a high-risk, high-reward play, as he’s occasionally been one of the best hitters on the planet but injuries often derail his productivity.
HM: Johnny Cueto
Cueto, 37 in February, is coming off his strongest season in years. He tossed 158 1/3 innings for the White Sox in 2022, his highest such tally since 2016. His 3.35 ERA was also his lowest since that time, outside of a 3.23 mark over a nine-start showing in 2018. His 15.7% strikeout rate this year was well below average but he kept his walks to a 5.1% rate and was good at limiting hard contact.
HM: Shintaro Fujinami
Fujinami, 29 in April, is a real wild card in free agency. He debuted in Japan’s NPB as a teenager back in 2013 and seemed to be cementing himself as a star. He posted a 2.40 ERA over 199 innings in 2015 as a 21-year-old. However, serious control problems have derailed him since. In 2021, he walked 16.8% of batters faced, helping him produce a 5.21 ERA on the year. He made gains in 2022, getting his walk rate down to 7.6% and his ERA to 3.38. He was posted by the Hanshin Tigers and is eligible to sign with MLB teams, who would have to also pay a posting fee to the Tigers on top of what they pay Fujinami.
HM: Michael Fulmer
Fulmer, 30 in March, won the American League Rookie of the Year in 2016 by making 26 starts with a 3.06 ERA. His results slipped in subsequent seasons and Tommy John surgery wiped out his 2019 campaign entirely. He’s since moved to a bullpen role and thrived. He made 67 appearances in 2022 with a 3.39 ERA, 22.1% strikeout rate, 10.1% walk rate and 35.4% ground ball rate. Those rate stats are all fairly underwhelming, but Fulmer’s best attribute is limiting damage. He was in the 91st percentile in 2022 in terms of barrel rate, 61st percentile in terms of hard hit rate and 55th in average exit velocity.
HM: Zack Greinke
Greinke is now 39 and isn’t the ace he once was, but he’s still got a knack for keeping runs off the board. He posted a 3.68 ERA across 137 innings and 26 starts in 2022. His 12.5% strikeout rate was barely half the league average but he kept walks down to a 4.6% rate and had a 60th percentile barrel rate.
HM: Evan Longoria
Longoria, 37, has slowed down with age, last reaching 90 games played in a season back in 2019. However, he’s still been productive at the plate when healthy enough to step up to it. In 589 plate appearances over the past two seasons, he hit 27 home runs and slashed .252/.333/.466 for a wRC+ of 118.
HM: Trey Mancini
Mancini, 31 in March, was excellent in 2019, hitting 35 home runs and producing a batting line of .291/.364/.535 for a 132 wRC+. A battle with colon cancer wiped out his 2020 but he was able to make an inspiring return in 2021. Over the past two years, he’s hit .247/.323/.412 for a wRC+ of 104. That’s a drop from his 2019 form but still above average, and he’s also considered an above-average defender at first base who can move to the outfield corners on occasion.
HM: Matt Moore
Moore, 34 in June, was once a highly-touted prospect and had a few good years as a starter for the Rays about a decade ago. That was followed by years marred by injuries and underperformance, but a full-time move to the bullpen led to an excellent 2022. He made 63 relief appearances with the Rangers, posting a 1.95 ERA, 27.3% strikeout rate, 12.5% walk rate and 43.9% ground ball rate.
HM: Gary Sánchez
Sánchez, 30, earned a reputation as a bat-first catcher when he hit 53 home runs over 2016 and 2017. His batting line over that two-year stretch was .284/.354/.568 for a wRC+ of 143. He’s since cooled off at the plate, posting a 96 wRC+ in the five seasons since, including an 89 in 2022. Despite that tepid platform year at the plate, his previous production should still lead to some interest. He also posted average or better numbers on the defensive side of his game in 2022.
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