While most of the top free agents are off the board, the cupboard isn’t bare yet.
Moving beyond these stars, teams can find a number of free agents who haven’t received much attention at this point, but still offer upside. Here are nine players who fit that description.
Elvis Andrus, SS
You might have missed it, but Andrus produced nine homers, 11 steals (in 11 attempts) and a 116 OPS+ over 43 games for the White Sox after being released by the rebuilding A’s in August. His expected slugging percentage in September/October was the fourth-highest in a calendar month he’s had since the start of 2018, and he finished the season with a 3.0 bWAR, nearly matching his total (3.3) from 2018-21 combined. Is its power growth sustainable? Probably not. But the 34-year-old’s defensive skills, contact ability and base-stealing acumen give him a solid foundation, and we’ve only just seen the value he can provide when he’s not a complete non-factor in the slugging department.
Brandon Belt, 1B
Gotti is coming off a 2022 campaign in which he hit .213 with eight homers in 78 games before going down with a right knee injury that eventually required surgery, so he’s not entering his age-35 season on a high note. But let’s not forget that the first baseman had a 165 OPS+ in 2020-21, third-most in MLB (minimum 500 PA), behind only Bryce Harper and Juan Soto. Injuries have been a problem for Belt throughout his career, but once his knee issue is resolved, his bat could bounce back in a big way in 2023.
Matt Carpenter, DH
Now 37, Carpenter will likely never experience another breakout like the one he had with the Yankees in 2022. But we can’t outright dismiss the former All-Star, who has 15 homers, nine doubles, 37 RBI and 1,138. A broken left foot before a plate appearance of 154 OPS ruined his incredible comeback story in 2022.
Michael Conforto, RF
When we last saw Conforto, he had 14 homers and a 100 OPS+ over 125 games for the Mets in 2021, and that was before he missed all of last season while recovering from right shoulder surgery. When next season starts, it will be nearly 18 months since he played in an MLB game. All of that makes him a big risk, especially if he demands a multi-year deal. That said, one can’t deny the upside it offers. Conforto was one of the game’s most productive players from 2017-20, posting an OPS+ of 122 or better every year during that span for a total of 134 marks, and he’s still relatively young (he’ll turn 30 in March).
Nelson Cruz, DH
Father Time may have caught up to Cruz, who floundered after being traded to the Rays in 2021 before producing just 10 homers and a .651 OPS over 507 plate appearances for the Nationals last season. But after seeing Albert Pujols regain his vintage form at age 42 during an exciting stretch run with the Cardinals, we can’t rule out a resurgence for Cruz as he sits 41 homers short of .500. Until 2022 Much further from his final season as an above-average hitter (113 OPS+ in 2016) than Cruz is now. Cruz, 42, had a 147 OPS+ from 2014-21, hitting more homers (292) than any other MLB player during that span.
Brandon Drury, 1B/3B
After signing a Minor League deal with the Redskins last March, Drury has a much better contract than this offseason, though he hasn’t found it yet. The 30-year-old posted career highs in homers (28), RBI (87), runs (87) and OPS (.813) in 138 games between the Reds and Padres in 2022, winning the Silver Slugger Award with the fledgling club. useful place.
Wade Miley, SP
Elbow and shoulder issues limited Miley to 37 innings in 2022, but he was effective when he took the mound, posting a 3.16 ERA. The veteran lefty has posted a 129 ERA+ for four teams since the start of 2018. While MLB’s new shift restrictions could hurt a pitcher who allows as many balls as Miley, the southpaw can minimize high contact. it is a moot point.
Will Smith, RP
The Astros’ pitching staff was so good last season that Smith, who had a perfect ERA in 11 innings with six saves in the Braves’ 2021 World Series title run, didn’t throw a pitch in the 2022 playoffs. His absence allows Houston’s championship run to overlook how effective the 33-year-old left-hander has been since being acquired from the Braves by the Astros at the trade deadline. Over 22 innings with Houston, Smith posted a 3.27 ERA with a 6.0 K/BB ratio and a 2.66 FIP, and he finished the year with the 97th slugging percentage, 84th percentile velocity and 75th percentile barrel rate.
Michael Wacha, S.P
One of the best players left with Eovaldi, Miley, Corey Kluber, Rich Hill and Zack Greinke, Wacha resurrected his career in 2022, posting a 3.32 ERA (127 ERA+) over 127 1/3 innings with the Red Sox. – his fourth team in as many years. Wacha’s peripherals (4.14 FIP, 4.56 xERA, 4.07 SIERA) weren’t nearly as strong as his ERA, and teams won’t soon forget how much he struggled in 2019-21 (5.11 ERA), but he could be worth a – flyer of the year to see if he can maintain last season’s performance.