MLB Free Agency: Best Remaining “Buy-Low” Candidates at Every Positionby B.J. Martin January 6, 2020 0 comments
Josh Donaldson, Nicholas Castellanos, and Marcell Ozuna are the remaining big-name free agents remaining as we enter 2020. There are still a slew of hidden gems that will be snatched up before spring training, benefiting contending clubs in the upcoming season. Here’s a look at some of the remaining free agents that can be signed for less and could still play a pivotal role for contending teams next season.
Catcher: Robinson Chirinos
The 35-year-old Chirinos is a bit of a late bloomer as an everyday MLB catcher but he’s caught over 100 games in each of the past two seasons with Texas and Houston. His 3.8 WAR last season was among the highest among catchers and his defensive metrics were at career bests in 2019. He’s clearly the best remaining free-agent catcher and will provide solid defense and power to whichever club ends up securing his services.
Honorable Mention: Matt Wieters, Russell Martin
First Base: Greg Bird
Greg Bird found his way into the spotlight as a 22-year-old rookie first baseman slugging 11 home runs in his first 178 plate appearances with the Yankees in 2015. He suffered injuries that caused him to miss the entire 2016 season and has never returned to the form he showed his rookie season. He’s still only 27 years old and is certainly worth a flyer by a club looking to rebuild and give Bird another shot on a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. Bird may not be a sure thing, but he’s a low-cost option worth taking a look at in camp and seeing if he can provide a boost to a lineup.
Honorable Mention: Mitch Moreland, Yonder Alonso
Second Base: Yolmer Sanchez
The 2019 American League Gold Glove-winning second baseman is coming off 2.1 WAR season in which he hit .252 with 20 doubles. He has averaged a 2.7 WAR across the past three seasons and still has the ability to provide a lot of upside to a club looking for help at the position. While his offensive numbers declined last season, he’s a great rebound candidate and one that good benefit a club rebuilding in the coming years. It’s hard to imagine a reigning Gold Glove winner accepting a minor league contract, but that might be what happens with Sanchez.
Honorable Mention: Brian Dozier, Scooter Gennett
Third Base: Todd Frazier
It seems like it was only yesterday that Todd Frazier was the talk of baseball and one of the games flourishing superstars. After a rough 2018 season, Frazier rebounded nicely last season to finish with a .251 batting average and 22 home runs with the New York Mets. While the Braves, Nationals, and Rangers battle for Josh Donaldson, the outliers will find an above-average alternative in Frazier. Frazier would be a good fit for a competitive team looking for a starting third baseman in 2020.
Honorable Mention: Matt Duffy, Jung Ho Kang
Shortstop: Addison Russell
The future was all so bright for the 2016 All-Star Addison Russell before domestic violence charges have basically derailed his career. The former starting shortstop for the World Series champion Chicago Cubs now has the opportunity to find a change of scenario and turn his promising career around. Russell will turn 26 years old later this month and still has the ability to live up to the expectations the baseball world had for him a few years ago. Several clubs with questionable solutions at shortstop should consider giving Russell a chance to redeem himself in their organizations.
Honorable Mention: Jose Iglesias, Tim Beckham
Left Field: Domingo Santana
Just two years ago, Domingo Santana crushed 30 bombs and 85 runs batted in for the Milwaukee Brewers in his first season as an everyday outfielder for the Brew Crew. After his home runs total dipped to only five in 2018, Santana rebounded nicely to hit 21 home runs in his only season in Seattle. Now, the 27-year-old Santana finds himself a free agent with his choice of landing spots. While Ozuna and Castellanos are the big fish in the corner outfield positions, Santana offers a more affordable option to clubs looking for everyday help in their outfield.
Honorable Mention: Alex Gordon, Joey Rickard
Center Field: Kevin Pillar
The 31-year-old Pillar was discarded by the Blue Jays last summer after six-plus Gold Glove-caliber seasons in center field for Toronto. Pillar quickly became a fan favorite in San Francisco with his hard nose style of play and hustle. While a return to the Giants is not out of the question, it would also make sense for other contenders to consider Pillar as a depth piece to their outfields. Pillar is career .261 hitter but it’s his defensive prowess in the outfield that will make him a favorite to fans in his 2020 landing spot.
Honorable Mention: Billy Hamilton, Guillermo Heredia
Right Field: Yasiel Puig
One thing comes to mind when thinking about Yasiel Puig and it’s that he comes with a lot of baggage. Puig has never been accused of not being a primadonna during his first seven big-league seasons. Still, Puig is only 29 years old and carries with him a ton of raw power and tremendous skills. While Castellanos and Ozuna will command big contracts at right field, Puig should be available for fewer years and a lower annual salary. It will be interesting to see if he latches on with a contender or another team for a one-year contract in hopes of improving his stock for the next off-season.
Honorable Mention: Cameron Maybin, Steven Souza, Jr.
Designated Hitter: Mark Trumbo
Mark Trumbo is almost 34 years old and has been battling knee injuries for the past two years in Baltimore but is only a few years removed from a 47-home run season. Nobody has ever questioned Trumbo’s ability to hit the ball far, but health is the biggest concern so he will likely have to accept minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. If Trumbo is healthy, he can still provide a club 30-plus home runs and a lethal bat in the middle of any batting order.
Honorable Mention: Kendrys Morales, Hunter Pence
Starting Pitcher: Alex Wood
Wood was an All-Star for the Dodgers in 2017 when he finished ninth in Cy Young Award voting when he finished 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA. Wood has struggled with a back injury that limited him to only seven starts with Cincinnati last season so health is the biggest concern to suitors. A healthy Alex Wood could provide almost any new club a top-three starter in a starting rotation. Due to the health concerns, Wood can be signed to a one-year pact or a two-year contract with a lower annual salary.
Honorable Mention: Aaron Sanchez, Taijuan Walker, Jimmy Nelson, Hector Santiago
Reliever: Collin McHugh
McHugh is a year removed from a 1.99 ERA in 58 games in which struck out 94 hitters in 72 innings exclusively in relief for Houston. Last season, he started eight games in addition to pitching 27 games out of the bullpen for the Astros. This previous four straight seasons in the Astros’ starting rotation were highlighted by his 19-7 season in 2015. The 32-year-old McHugh will provide a club with a valuable pitcher who can get a team more than three outs and can provide a valuable swingman who can start in emergency. McHugh should find himself a job with a competitor looking to shore up their bullpen in the coming weeks.
Honorable Mention: Jeremy Jeffress, David Phelps, Greg Holland, Dominic Leone