I’ve added all of MLB’s projected free agent relievers into a custom FanGraphs leaderboard, which you can check out here. For the full list of 2019-20 MLB Free Agents, click here. Let’s take a closer look!
Average Fastball Velocity
- Aroldis Chapman – 98.4 mph. To become a free agent, Chapman will first have to opt out of the remaining two years and $30MM on his contract with the Yankees. I believe he’ll do so, unless the Yankees are willing to tack on an additional year. If he reaches the open market, look for Chapman to attempt to get past Wade Davis’ three-year, $52MM deal signed two years ago. That could be a challenge, since Chapman would likely be saddled with a qualifying offer.
- Trevor Rosenthal – 98.0 mph. Rosenthal was a big prize for the Nationals last November despite missing all of 2018 due to Tommy John surgery. He emerged with his velocity intact, but no semblance of control.
- Hector Rondon – 96.8 mph. Rondon has always been prone to the longball, and this year his strikeout rate took a significant dip.
- Daniel Hudson – 96.1 mph. After signing a two-year free agent deal with the Pirates in December 2016, Hudson was traded to the Rays and then released in March 2018. After a stint with the Dodgers that year, he signed a minor league deal with the Angels before the ’18 season. He failed to make the team, instead signing a Major League deal with Toronto. The Jays sent him to the Nationals at this year’s trade deadline, and he became a key part of the team’s bullpen down the stretch.
- Arodys Vizcaino – 96.0 mph. Vizcaino pitched only four innings for the Braves before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in April. Vizcaino and his salary were sent to Seattle in the May Anthony Swarzak deal. We’ve heard little about Vizcaino’s health since then, but if he’s able to pitch in 2020 he’ll be an interesting free agent.
- Jake Diekman – 95.8 mph. Diekman inked an affordable contract with the Royals in February and was shipped to the A’s near the trade deadline. Walks are a longstanding problem.
- Chris Martin – 95.7 mph. A 21st round draft pick of the Rockies in 2005, Martin battled health issues and failed to get traction in the Majors. Then he spent a couple of years dominating out of the bullpen for the Nippon Ham Fighters, and returned stateside with a two-year deal with the Rangers. Martin was dealt to Atlanta near the trade deadline. He has dominant peripheral stats this year and should be a buzzworthy free agent despite turning 34 next summer.
- Andrew Cashner – 95.4 mph. The Orioles traded Cashner to the Red Sox in July. The veteran made six starts in Boston before moving to the bullpen, where he pitched pretty well aside from a rough final outing on September 28th.
- Nate Jones – 94.9 mph. Jones’ season ended in April due to a flexor mass tear, though he was traded to the Rangers at the deadline. If the club balks at his $3.75MM club option, he’ll hit the open market.
- Drew Pomeranz – 94.5 mph. After struggling mightily in 17 starts for the Giants, Pomeranz strung together four scoreless relief appearances before being dealt to Milwaukee. He’s been truly dominant out of the Brewers’ pen and should be a popular free agent.
Strikeout Percentage – Minimum 20 Innings
- Drew Pomeranz – 47.2%
- Will Smith – 37.4%. Smith is 16 months younger than Chapman, and will likely be on the top of many teams’ free agent reliever boards. The southpaw made the All-Star team for the Giants this year and could seek a four-year contract.
- Aroldis Chapman – 36.2%
- Chris Martin – 30.1%
- Jake Diekman – 29.8%
- Collin McHugh – 28.2%. McHugh has had success as a starter for the Astros, but he was moved to the bullpen in May this year and battled elbow issues. He was shut down for the season a few weeks ago.
- Pedro Strop – 27.5%. Strop struggled through hamstring and neck injuries this year, but prior to that he authored a five-year run of excellence as a late-inning staple for the Cubs. Even in his struggles this year, his groundball rate ranked fourth among relievers.
- Will Harris – 27.1%. Harris, a ninth round draft pick of the Rockies in 2006, joined the Diamondbacks in a 2013 waiver claim and found his first big league success. The Astros were still able to pluck him off waivers again in November 2014, and he’s provided them with a 2.36 ERA in 297 innings over five years. His 1.50 ERA leads free agent relievers.
- Greg Holland – 27.0%. Holland signed a one-year deal with the Diamondbacks in January, earning the team’s closer job. He lost the gig in late July and was designated for assignment soon after.
- Tyler Clippard – 26.8%. Clippard inked a minor league deal with the Indians in February, made the team in late April, and pitched quite well on the season.
ERA – Minimum 40 Innings
- Will Harris – 1.50
- Aroldis Chapman – 2.21
- Daniel Hudson – 2.38
- Tyler Clippard – 2.38
- Brandon Kintzler – 2.68. Kintzler put together a fine bounceback season for the Cubs, ranking behind only Jared Hughes among relievers with a 54.7% groundball rate.
- Yusmeiro Petit – 2.71. Petit ranked sixth in baseball with 83 relief innings, and third with a walk rate of just 3.3%. He has a reasonable club option that the Athletics could very well exercise, however.
- Will Smith – 2.76
- Hector Rondon – 2.85
- Steve Cishek – 2.95. The sidearmer’s peripheral stats this year weren’t amazing, but he did rank 10th with a 50% groundball rate.
- Craig Stammen – 3.29. Stammen has put together an excellent three-year run out of the Padres’ bullpen, with a 3.06 ERA in 241 1/3 innings. Like Martin and Petit, he demonstrated impeccable control.