Big finishes to the season can mean a variety of things to players. In some instances — J.A. Happ, for example — a late run of excellence can help a player land a contract that would’ve been otherwise unthinkable. Trevor Cahill and Fernando Rodney may have been in line for minor league contracts this past offseason were it not for their late showings with the Cubs. Of course, not every big finish ends with a massively boosted payday. Daniel Murphy’s late power surge was one of the game’s most notable narratives last October, but speculation about a sudden five-year contract never came to fruition, and he ended up with a three-year contract that now looks to be one of the game’s great bargains.
We don’t know what the future holds for these players, but here are five free agent bats that are impressing late in the year…
- Carlos Gomez: Astros fans should probably look away. Since joining the division-rival Rangers, Gomez has batted an outstanding .291/.371/.564 in 31 games. He’s cut his strikeout rate by more than five percent while significantly boosting his walk rate, and the eight homer he’s hit in a month with the Rangers are just one shy of the nine he hit in 126 games as a member of the Astros. Gomez played his way out of a job in Houston, but his recent run with the Rangers looks an awful lot like his peak years from 2012-14 in Milwaukee. That could be enough to land him a multi-year contract this offseason, though a one-year pact in an attempt to further boost his value remains an option as well. And of course, Gomez will have further opportunities to add to his value in the postseason, as the Rangers have clinched the AL West.
- Josh Reddick: The month of September has largely balanced out what was one of the worst months of Reddick’s career in August. He’s being platooned pretty heavily, which won’t help his free-agent value as much as showing competence versus left-handers would have, but he’s batting .406/.446/.565 in 75 plate appearances over the past 30 days. It’s been a roller-coaster season for Reddick, who has mixed in a month-long DL stint with his hot and cold streaks, but the strong finish undoubtedly salvages some free agent stock that looked to have been dwindling. Like Gomez, he’ll have further opportunities to showcase for interested teams in the playoffs.
- Sean Rodriguez: The 31-year-old Rodriguez is quietly having an excellent season in Pittsburgh, where he’s batted .272/.350/.517 on the whole — including a ridiculous .329/.398/.605 slash and six homers over the past month. He’s also played every position on the field except pitcher and catcher this season, making him a versatile asset that’s finishing his year with a flourish. That could very well be enough to land Rodriguez the first multi-year contract of his career as he heads into his age-32 season.
- Kendrys Morales: I looked at Morales’ rising stock last week, and all he’s done in the interim is continue to rake. Over the past 30 days, Morales is hitting .327/.377/.625 with nine long balls, which only adds to the monstrous production he’s compiled since mid-June. There’s no reason for him to exercise his end of the mutual option the Royals hold over him, and he’ll be an interesting qualifying offer candidate. Morales would be a threat to accept, having been burned by the QO system once in the past, but his production, in a vacuum, is enough to earn a multi-year deal.
- Jose Bautista: Bautista’s reported asking price was one of the biggest stories in baseball back in Spring Training, but the prodigious slugger has had his worst season since breaking out with the Blue Jays in 2010. Bautista’s numbers are down across the board, he’s spent time on the disabled list, and defensive metrics have soured on his work in right field. He’s been great in the final month, though, hitting .250/.400/.438 with five homers across 120 plate appearances. Bautista still seems likely to turn down a QO in search of a more lucrative contract on the free agent market, and finishing out the regular season well (plus a potential postseason showcase) should help to quiet concerns about his health and ability to produce at a high level.
Hitting .250 with 5 HRs in the final month is great?
They always say everything Bautista does is great
.400 on base tho
No Soup For Yu!
You failed to mention the fact that his OBP is .400 or the fact that those numbers are better than his numbers for the year overall. If you just take the batting average and his homerun total for the month out of context, then of course his numbers aren’t going to sound great.
Just because they’re better doesn’t mean they’re great. The OBP is good, yes…but that’s all. Jason Heyward hit .250 in August…I still wouldn’t say he hit great, even though it was better than his .230 overall AVG.
Heyward also had a .267 on-base percentage and slugged .345 that month.
I’m not sure why you brought up that point, since all it does is further illustrate the importance of not judging someone’s offensive performance based solely on batting average.
Dookie Howser, MD
Guys, we’re all forgetting the most important part about Jose Bautista: He disrespects the game and doesn’t follow the unwritten rules! I just really want to sock that guy in his perfectly groomed yap.
No Soup For Yu!
Are you tired of Jose Bautista disrespecting the game? Maybe he took a bat flip a little too far? Or maybe he faked throwing a ball to opposing fans? Or maybe he even grabbed someone’s foot while they were trying to turn a double play? Don’t fret, call Rougned Odor at
1-800-HIT-JOSE in order to make Bautista think twice before he flips that bat again.
Thank you for that 1-800 comment. That was great!
Dookie Howser, MD
Call now, and Brian McCann will yell at Carlos Gomez for FREE! Just pay Shipping and Handling.
This is outstanding, well done.
That comment was awesome.
In what world is that stat line not great?
In just about every world, unless you consider hitting below league average to be “great”?
No Soup For Yu!
How is that stat line below average? His overall statline equates to a 119 wRC+. If his statline for the past month is better than his overall statline, which you stated is true just above, how is it below average in any regard?
That is wrong, those numbers are great. His ops is .850, but stop looking at the numbers directly after BA from you want, baseball will leave you in the past
I don’t care all that much about Bautista’s batting average (or anyone’s, unless it’s hovering around the Mendoza Line with gobs of strikeouts and pop-ups). Bautista has gotten on base 48 times in 120 trips to the plate, which I consider to be plenty great.
A .400 OBP and above-average power is outstanding.
No Soup For Yu!
I wonder if Gomez was putting too much pressure on himself when he was playing with the Astros and that caused him to struggle or if that hip condition that caused the Mets to back off caused his problems. Either way, it’s not only great that he’s playing for the Rangers, but that the Rangers practically got him for free from a division rival.
I think it also tells you something about the organizations involved. The Astros don’t seem from the fans’ view to be run very well, with more misses than hits in personnel decisions, that awful Minute Maid stadium and the chemistry in their clubhouse. The Rangers are a team of guys having fun and it shows. The organization is well run, the ownership no longer mettles in the running of the team and the players encourage and check each other as friends. You don’t see fighting in their clubhouse. Gomez is now one of the guys and they fixed his swing too per an article in the Dallas Morning News this week.
It probably helps to have familiar faces around as well – Lucroy, Fielder who still seems to be hanging around and Jeffress.
The Rangers have better chemistry with the Astros than the Astros have with each other. Everyone loves the Rangers.
I think it’s more of the park. Minute Maid is a terrible hitters park for some reason, and teams always strike out there more than anywhere else. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the 3 and 4 game series records for strikeouts in a single series were set this year by Baltimore and Toronto in Houston
The park is pretty hitter friendly, especially for RHB with that really short porch in LF. I think what gets them is that hitters see that short porch and try to crank it every pitch which causes longer swings which leads to more K’s.
Gomez’s fall and rise are very interesting. I don’t agree with the criticism about the Houston front office.
It’s interesting that Gomez never played left field or lead off, which is how he excelled for the Rangers.
@Rythestunner you are only using batting average to say how good he is. There is more to the game than just BA now
I think is shows Batista to be selfless as well. Good team players realize when they are being pitched around and allow the next person in line to try and do some damage. The Yankees during the Joe Torre years were great at that. You get nine guys to buy into that theory and you will have a great run of championships. What was Batista’s BABIP during this streak?
Bautista’s never been too good defensively, it got favourable reviews due to his cannon of an arm. However, his arm has not recovered from that early 2015 shoulder injury which has taken away all of his defensive value.
Where is Ian Desmond???
Having a dreadful second half at the plate, so not at all a fit for this list.
Rich Hill would’ve made a good example for the list from last year. What he get? 1yr/6mil? He improved his stock by an AAV of 5.999999 million last year! 🙂 That last part is a joke, but he would’ve been a good example.