The long-running but less-than-dynamic market situations of Manny Machado (now resolved!) and Bryce Harper (not so much) have captured much of the public attention this winter. But the evolution of free agency has most notably impacted mid-level veterans. We’ll wait to see how things settle out before attempting to make any conclusive market observations. Still, it’s interesting to see how many prominent players have thus far remained off the radar entirely.
Here’s a list of the ten most notable free agents who have yet to be connected to specific teams on MLBTR’s pages this winter:
- Jose Iglesias, SS: It’s a bit stunning that Iglesias has yet to draw publicly reported interest. He’s still just 29 and is one of the game’s premium defensive players. He’s also coming off of a good-enough season at the plate (.269/.310/.389; 90 wRC+) for a player with his immense talents with the glove. Over the past four seasons, Iglesias has reliably produced about 2 WAR annually while serving as a semi-regular player (480 plate appearances per season).
- Ervin Santana, SP: While we have heard some discussion of the veteran righty, we’ve yet to see him connected via firm reporting to a single club. Sure, his 2018 season was a total disaster, as he struggled mightily after a nagging injury robbed him of much of the season. In the two prior campaigns, though, Santana spun 392 2/3 innings of 3.32 ERA ball. While his peripherals never suggested those sparkling results fully reflected his contributions, they still painted him as a quality rotation piece.
- Denard Span, OF: The glovework just isn’t there anymore, but Span can still hit and run the bases. He turned in a .261/.341/.419 slash last year, good for a 112 wRC+, while grading as an above-average baserunner. It’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t at least make for an upgrade as a fourth outfielder for quite a few teams.
- Logan Morrison, 1B: After settling for a one-year deal following his breakout 2017, Morrison’s injury-riddled 2018 effort represents Exhibit A as to why free agents generally seek to maximize contract length when they hit the open market. Now, Morrison is looking for a bounceback opportunity … and he seems like an interesting buy-low candidate. After all, his .196 BABIP is sure to rise, and he still managed a .182 isolated power mark and 15 home runs in his 359 plate appearances last year.
- Carlos Gomez, OF: The 33-year-old looked like a possible bargain last year, but turned in a dud of a season for the Rays. But he was a quality performer just one season prior, slashing .255/.340/.462 and contributing 17 long balls and 13 steals over 426 plate appearances with the Rangers.
- James Shields, SP: No, he’s not a very exciting pitcher anymore. But the 37-year-old is as durable as they come and would make for a respected member of any staff. He gutted out 204 2/3 innings of 4.53 ERA pitching last year, but might be somewhat more effective if utilized in a more limited capacity.
- Hanley Ramirez, 1B: We all know the story here. HanRam was unceremoniously dumped by the Red Sox early last season and was never picked up thereafter. The 35-year-old wasn’t great in the season prior, either, and hasn’t always had the smoothest relationships with his teams. Still, he was a highly productive hitter in 2016 and for years before that. Ramirez also just turned in a productive showing in the Dominican Winter League.
- Jose Bautista, OF/3B: While the power probably won’t fully return, Bautista still managed to walk at a 16.8% clip and turn in a .348 on-base percentage last year. He also popped 13 long balls in 399 plate appearances. Bautista is a limited player at this stage of his career, to be sure, but still does some worthwhile things on the ballfield.
- Matt Holliday, OF/1B: It’s even harder to know what to make of Holliday, who sat out most of 2018 but returned with a bit of a vengeance late in the year with the Rockies. In 65 total plate appearances, Holliday slashed .254/.415/.434 with a pair of dingers. It’s hard to know what he’d look like over a full season, but there surely aren’t many guys sitting around out there that could reach base at that kind of clip after joining a team in the middle of the season at 38 years of age.
- Tyler Clippard, RP: There are plenty of candidates for this last spot, but the 34-year-old Clippard takes it based upon his overall body of work in the majors. He has now topped sixty innings in ten-straight seasons, a remarkable run for any reliever, and was still capable of posting a 3.67 ERA with 11.1 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9 last year. Clippard has lost some zip on his heater but still generated swings and misses at a 14.3% rate. He also continues to draw loads of infield flies (16.3% last year). While he’s now much more susceptible to dingers than he was in his prime, Clippard has remained a durable and useful reliever. SIERA, at least, is a believer, crediting him with a 3.42 ERA equivalent mark in 2018.