Top 2019-2020 MLB Free Agent Bargains
Often times we get fooled into thinking that the top free agents on the market are the end all be all. It’s never the case. In fact, history has shown that if ever in doubt, it’s better to avoid the massive contracts altogether. Guys like Howie Kendrick, DJ LeMahieu, and Charlie Morton were massive values. With free agency already here, let’s take a look at the top MLB free agent bargains this winter.
9. Zack Wheeler
I would have put Zack Wheeler higher on this list but I actually think he is going to wind up getting a healthy paycheck. More than his past production deserves. Wheeler, 29, sports a 3.47 ERA and 3.27 FIP in his last 350 innings pitched. That’s pretty good. Again, on the surface, Wheeler’s ERA doesn’t jump off the page. Then again, the Mets defense was atrocious all year. Wheeler’s fastball sits at 97 and has a 5 pitch mix that also includes a high spin rate curveball and 91 MPH slider. You figure it out. Get him away from the Mets and what happens?
8. Michael Pineda
Michael Pineda is currently suspended but you may be able to cash in on a cheap arm that provides quality innings. Pineda gave the Twins 26 starts with a 4.06 ERA. A discount because of the suspension will be factored in. If you’re the new team signing him, tell him to cheat again. There was a 15 start stretch last year when Pineda posted a line of 3.10 ERA, 9.3 K/9, and 1.7 BB/9. Find a new way to cheat and we’re good to go.
7. Rich Hill
Rich Hill doesn’t give you a lot of innings but you can’t say they aren’t productive ones. Rich Hill can pitch as long as he wants to. That big looping curveball will keep him in the majors forever. Hill, 38, threw a 2.45 ERA in 13 starts. You will take that even if he spends half the year on the IL.
6. Edwin Encarnacion
Edwin Encarnacion can still mash. Edwin posted a 129 wRC+ this year which is better than a number of top tier free agents. Encarnacion has 8 years in a row where he has hit at least 32 home runs. Cheap DH that can play 30 games at first and hit the ball out of the ballpark for a reasonable contract. Now that’s value.
5. Avisail Garcia
Avisail Garcia is flying under the radar a bit. He lived up to his one year deal with the Rays this past year and likely won’t get much more. OPS+ of 111 works. So does the .282 average and .332 OBP. In 2017, Garcia hit .330. He can hit. It’s not the best glove but Garcia isn’t slow. He stole 10 bags this past year.
4. Howie Kendrick
Howie Kendrick doesn’t age. Did you know he hit .344 this past year? Yeah, that’s awesome. Kendrick has slashed above .300 every year since 2017. Sure Kendrick is getting older but the man gets on base. Plug him at first and second in a pinch. On base machines don’t grow on trees. Watch the World Series and you will know how vital Kendrick is.
3. Brock Holt
Brock Holt is the younger Kendrick. Holt, 31, hit just shy of .300 this past year and is the ultimate utility man. He can play every position outside of catcher. Holt gets on base and plays every defensive position as a plus. Holt is a glue guy that every team needs. Holt’s value is down because he had one clunky season because of vertigo. Since he’s recovered, Holt has recaptured his old form. It’s hard to quantify what Holt is. He’s a good baseball player and let’s leave it at that. Holt was Boston’s only All-Star in 2015. Think about that.
2. Julio Teheran
This one is hard. Maybe it is a change of scenery guy. Julio Teheran, 29, was a fantastic pitcher from 2013-2016. His command has slipped a bit and has been walking too many guys. The fastball velo isn’t elite either. Still, Teheran threw a 3.81 ERA. Teheran gives you innings which is still a commodity. From 2013-2019, Teheran has made the 4th most starts in baseball. He’s going to take the ball every 5th day and does have an array of pitches at his disposal. I’d like to see him be rejuvenated in a new environment and see what happens.
1. Didi Gregorius
Sir Didi looks like the steal of the winter. Gregorius had a down 2019. The team also rushed him back from TJ surgery far too soon. Here’s what I know. Didi hit 72 homers from 2016-2018. Not many Shortstops doing that. In 2017-18, Gregorius totaled 8.9 fWAR which ranked 3rd in the sport. Didi still has youth* on his side and should have more productive years left. Give him a full year to recover and Gregorius is going to be the best bargain out there.