15 Impact MLB Free Agents Who are Still Available
15 Impact MLB Free Agents Who are Still Available
It isn’t exactly rare to see a business take time off around the Christmas and New Years holidays and it seems to happen with the business of Major League Baseball as well. The early MLB offseason was stocked full of trades and free agent signings but not long after the MLB Winter Meetings were over the moves slowed to a crawl. Here we are on the other side of the holidays and headed straight towards spring training. You can bet that when it comes to MLB free agency, business is about to pick up.
What business is left to do though? Aren’t most of the big name players already gone? Well the answer to that is no, they aren’t. Quite a few of the big guys are already getting ready for their new team and the 2014 season but there are still a handful that are without a team. Sure some of the remaining free agents are role players, utility infielders and such as that. They are important to each and every team but not really what we would consider to be impact players.
The really big impact players are still around and we are about to look at 15 of them. This is a ranking slideshow so the player at 15 wouldn’t be considered to be as much of an impact player as the player seeded at number 1, but each of them could have a huge impact given the right situation. If you see that I forgot one or more players that you think are impact players, please feel free to leave a comment below. Here are 15 impact players still available on the free agent market. Can your favorite team use one or possibly more?
15 – Chris Capuano - SP
While it isn’t surprising that the Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t retain Capuano’s services, it doesn’t mean his potential impact is null and void. He had an off year in 2013 but whoever signs him is probably looking at a chance for double digit wins and 180 plus innings pitched. That’s not too shabby if the mid-back of the rotation needs thickening.
14 – Paul Maholm – SP
Even though Maholm’s 2013 wasn’t anything to write home about, parts of it were extremely effective. In general he would be ideal for the meat of any rotation in baseball. More times than not you get a quality start from him and he is usually good for a lot of innings through the season which is important for many reasons.
13 – Travis Hafner – DH/1B
Are Hafner’s biggest offensive years behind him? They probably are. Does that mean he would provide little or zero impact for a team in need of a veteran presence at DH or 1B? Absolutely not. Many teams will be looking for a veteran power bat off of the bench, at DH or even to spell a first baseman now and then. Hafner could be considered one of the best for that role and he could provide much more impact than that if he got more at-bats.
12 – Jason Hammel – SP
Hammel shouldn’t probably be at the top of a starting rotation but that’s only if there is a recognized ace of the staff. He is a quality start guy that will pick up 170 plus innings with an ERA around the 3 to 4 range. There are a lot of teams that need that type pitcher badly right now.
11 – Kevin Gregg – CL
The life of a closer or late-inning relief pitcher must keep them in doctor’s offices. Gregg is likely to get scoffed at by some fans but the same ones would cheer him on during his 33 saves and 3.48 ERA from this past season. Does your team need a closer with experience but you can’t afford the biggest name on the block? Gregg is your man.
10 – Stephen Drew – SS
Many expect Drew to return to the Red Sox but that’s not written in stone any more than Corey Hart returning to the Brewers was. Some might think it would be best for Boston if he moved on but the guy provided 13 home runs and 67 RBI from short while posting a respectable 3.1 WAR. Teams could do a lot worse than those numbers from the middle infield.
9 – Bronson Arroyo – SP
Arroyo is on the back end of his career but that doesn’t mean his last season is 2014. No, more than likely he still has three year left if he stays healthy. I can’t think of many teams that don’t like an ERA under 4 with 200 plus innings and double digit wins. Many teams are in fact calling on Arroyo right now. Whichever one wins will certainly gain some impact for the rotation.
8 – Ubaldo Jimenez – SP
Jimenez had enough of a mini-breakout season in 2013 that he decided to reject the Indians qualifying offer and play the free agent market. It will likely turn out to be a smart move for him if teams expect his 13 win, 3.48 ERA and 182.2 inning season to improve or at the very least repeat in 2014.
7 – Fernando Rodney – CL
Rodney had 48 saves in 2012 and 37 in 2013 with a low ERA and averaged more than a strikeout per inning. I don’t know why he’s still out there if teams need closers and there are some that still do. He would be one of the top two on my list.
6 – Kendrys Morales – DH/1B
Morales will be a staple in someone’s batting order come spring training. He had a 2.7 WAR with a batting average of .277, 23 home runs and 80 RBI. Pencil him in somewhere guys and you will not be sorry. He will be an impact player in 2014 for certain.
5 – Matt Garza – SP
Garza’s star may have fallen slightly with the downer second half he had but he is still the same guy that was dominant for over a month in the middle of the season in 2013. He is going to be a little streaky but the bad parts of the streak are still pretty good by comparison and the high points are as good as anyone in the game. He’s worth a gamble.
4 – Ervin Santana – SP
Santana really could be considered one of the top few pitchers on the market all offseason. He is only ranked below one on this list as a matter of fact. He has established himself as a young veteran who can give a team double-digit wins with a sub-four ERA and 180 plus innings pitched. He might seem a little weak at the top of the rotation at times but would excel in the second or third spot. He has ace potential when things are going well.
3 – Masahiro Tanaka – SP
Here is the top available starter left on the free agent market. To be fair, he wasn’t posted by his former team in Japan until after the Winter Meetings and the market is just starting to warm up for him but it’s getting hot. We don’t know everything about this guy but we do know this. He has a few years in a row with an ERA below 2 and upwards of 200 innings in fewer starts than he would probably get in a full MLB season. Yeah, no wonder so many teams want him. Nothing is guaranteed of course but it sure looks like Tanaka will be bursting loudly onto the MLB scene soon for some team. He is probably the most talked about free agent in some time.
2 – Grant Balfour – CL
Balfour and the other player that rank above Tanaka on this list do so because of their proven MLB success which is something Tanaka just doesn’t have yet. There are questions and concerns looming over Balfour after the Orioles opted out of their deal with him because of arm concerns. Most teams think his elbow looks great though and that makes him still the most automatic closer still available on the market and we all know what kind of impact this man can have as long as he is as healthy as other teams say he is.
1 – Nelson Cruz – OF
Forget anything about PEDs. That stuff is in the past and A-Rod is paying the price for everyone this upcoming season. Cruz shouldn’t be linked with that mess anymore. What he is linked with however is a very successful offensive season; in that he will provide one for whatever team signs him. His batting average might slump down to around .260 to .270 but you’re looking at 25 plus home runs and 80 – 100 RBI in a full healthy season. This time next year there should be no one talking about anything other than how smart it was for some team to sign this guy.