Several players with significant big league service time have elected free agency since the conclusion of the regular season. Per baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, players with more than three years of Major League service time that have been outrighted off a 40-man roster have the right to elect free agency at season’s end.
This list — not to be confused with our full list of 2015-16 free agents (which has been updated to include these names) — represents some of the players that would’ve been arbitration eligible following the season and were regular or fairly regular contributors recently but now find themselves on the open market after being outrighted…
- Dillon Gee: The right-hander opened the season in the Mets’ rotation, and the possibility of trading him loomed large in Spring Training and early in the regular season. Instead, Gee was designated for assignment after eight appearances (seven starts) and a 5.90 ERA this season. Of course, Gee’s FIP and xFIP marks were mostly in line with his career numbers, and he was plagued by factors like a .355 BABIP and a fluky 63 percent strand rate. Gee would eventually clear waivers and be outrighted, due in large part to his $5.3MM salary. His struggles continued, to some extent, in Triple-A, where he logged a 4.58 ERA in 88 1/3 innings, though that performance comes with the caveat that the Pacific Coast League is an incredibly hitter-friendly environment. Gee has less than five years of Major League service, so any team signing him this winter could control him for two seasons. He’s a nice bounceback candidate for a team in need of help at the back of its rotation.
- Dale Thayer: The elder statesman of the players listed here, the 34-year-old Thayer was designated and outrighted earlier this season when the Padres signed Bud Norris. Thayer worked to a reasonable 4.06 ERA in 37 2/3 innings this season, but his 6.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 rates were significant departures from his previous seasons, perhaps a portent for less desirable results. However, Thayer was an effective member of the San Diego ‘pen from 2012-14, notching a 3.02 ERA, 8.3 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 with eight saves — he briefly served as closer whilst Huston Street was injured in 2012 — across 188 innings. Thayer, too, has four-plus years of service and would be controllable for two seasons upon signing.
- Conor Gillaspie: The White Sox’ regular third baseman from 2013 through the first half of 2015, Gillaspie looked the part of at least a serviceable platoon option at the hot corner until a dismal start to the most recent season. Designated for assignment by the Sox then acquired by the Angels, Gillaspie would again be designated in Anaheim and eventually outrighted. He hit just .228/.269/.359 this season between the two clubs, but he managed a solid, if unspectacular .265/.322/.404 line from 2013-14 in Chicago. Those numbers are almost identical to his lifetime .266/.325/.410 line versus right-handed pitching, suggesting that the 28-year-old can help a big league roster in a platoon capacity. At 28 years old, he has three-plus years of service and would be controllable for three seasons.
- Vinnie Pestano: The Angels designated and outrighted the former Cleveland setup ace struggled through 11 2/3 innings in the Majors this year. Pestano, who lost his grip on regular setup work in 2014, posted a 5.40 ERA with 13 strikeouts but eight walks (two intentional) in the Majors this season. However, he was a dominant setup man in Cleveland from 2011-12 and has posted serviceable big league numbers and strong Triple-A marks since. With a lifetime 1.97 ERA, 11.1 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in his Triple-A career, a reasonable amount of big league success and two years of team control remaining, Pestano could be a nice buy-low candidate for teams seeking low-cost bullpen help
- Hector Noesi: Last season, Noesi stepped into the White Sox rotation and soaked up 166 innings with a 4.39 ERA. The 2015 campaign didn’t go as smoothly, however, as his 6.89 ERA in 32 2/3 innings ultimately served as reason for a DFA and an outright assignment. Noesi will turn 29 in January and has three years of team control remaining for any team that feels it can get him back to the fourth/fifth starter he looked like for much of the 2014 season.