Recently, we took a look at 10 still-available pitchers who could offer bounceback opportunities at appealing price tags. Today, we’ll do the same from the position-player side. We’re looking for players who have been limited by injury or suffered dips in performance, but whose age and track record suggest that a turnaround could deliver plenty of value to their new organizations. Here are some of the interesting hitters who remain on the open market as 2017 beckons:
Chris Iannetta, C: Now 33 years of age, Iannetta has turned in two straight marginal campaigns with the bat. But he hit .238/.357/.386 in over 1,000 plate appearances from 2012 through 2014, with 151 walks to go with 251 strikeouts. Iannetta still draws free passes at a hefty clip, but suffered from low BABIPs in each of the last two seasons (.225, .266). Though he’s making more soft contact than he did at his best, Iannetta turned in a 34.9% hard-contact rate and 22.4% line-drive rate last year, both of which were near his career-best marks. Though he rated as one of the game’s worst framers in 2016, he was one of the best in the season prior.
Adam Lind, 1B/DH: From the same age bracket as Iannetta, Lind maintained his power (.192 ISO, 20 home runs in 430 plate appearances) last year with the Mariners, but posted an anemic .286 OBP. There were two main culprits: a .259 BABIP and 6.0% walk rate that represented nearly a 50% drop from his personal best (11.5% in 2015). While it’s unlikely that the left-handed slugger will again post such strong walk tallies, he ought to be able to rebound somewhat in that regard. And it’s reasonable, perhaps, to anticipate a bounceback in the BABIP department; Lind continued to make about as much hard contact as he did during his productive preceding seasons and maintained a fairly typical mix of grounders, liners, and flies.
Logan Morrison, 1B/DH: As with Lind, Morrison represents a particularly intriguing target since the market was so saturated with defensively limited slugger types. The 29-year-old has never been a consistent producer, and seemed headed for an early end to his time with the Rays after an abysmal start to the 2016 season. But he rebounded beyond any expectations over his final 303 plate appearances, slashing .275/.350/.498 and driving 14 home runs in that half-season of work. While hitting to the pull side more than ever before in 2016 (an even 50%), Morrison made hard contact at a personal best rate of 34.2% and left the yard on 15.2% of his flyballs, the second-best mark of his career. His final numbers could look even better had he not ended up requiring wrist surgery in September. The injury risk may harm Morrison’s stock further, but it also increases the potential payoff.
Billy Butler, DH: There isn’t much to love about Butler’s last three seasons, as he has been about a league-average overall hitter — well shy of what you’d hope for from a right-handed hitter who’s limited to DH duties. But he did show quite well in his brief stint at the end of 2016 with the Yankees and remains rather difficult to strike out (career 14.8% walk rate). Plus, Butler produced a strong 28.9% line-drive rate in 2016 while cutting back on an infield fly rate that had soared to 9.4% in 2015, perhaps suggesting he could turn back into a reasonably productive hitter — particularly given that he’s still just 30 years of age.
Trevor Plouffe, 3B: There’s no denying that Plouffe was banged up in 2016, as he was shelved at various times by intercostal and oblique strains as well as a broken rib. He finished strong, posting a .277/.345/.465 slash over his last 113 trips to the plate, and carried a slightly above-average .248/.312/.426 batting line while swatting 74 long balls over his prior four seasons. While there isn’t much reason to expect that Plouffe will be a top-quality regular, he has every chance of returning to being a useful player: he’s just thirty years old and rated as an average-or-better third baseman in 2014-15.
Luis Valbuena, 3B: The role of injuries is even more straightforward in Valbuena’s case, as he was humming along nicely (.260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs over 342 plate appearances) before he was cut down with a hamstring injury. Unlike Plouffe, he hits from the left side, enhancing his function. While the 31-year-old is not well-regarded with the glove, Valbuena can still play third base and has spent time in the middle infield as well (along with a brief foray into the corner outfield).
Chris Coghlan, INF/OF: A left-handed hitter with some defensive versatility, Coghlan has provided the Cubs with over 1,000 plate appearances of .264/.351/.441 hitting and 26 home runs over the last three seasons. Of course, that output came on both sides of his ill-fated stint with the A’s, where he slashed an anemic .146/.215/.272 to start the 2016 campaign. The 31-year-old Coghlan typically receives good marks in the corner outfield, saw spot duty in center earlier in his career, and is at least serviceable enough at second and third to have been utilized at both spots in recent years.
Desmond Jennings, OF: While things didn’t end well in Tampa Bay, Jennings is still just 30 years of age and isn’t far removed from being a solid, everyday player. He has plenty of experience in center field and has generally drawn strong reviews for his work in the corner outfield. Jennings has been beset by injuries over the last two years, and has been inconsistent at the plate even when healthy. But he managed a .150 ISO last year, even as his on-base numbers were doomed by a .243 BABIP, and could again be a solid asset if he can return to his career plate-discipline marks. Last year’s 9.3% walk rate matched his career numbers, though he jumped to a 25.8% strikeout rate in 2016 while posting a 12.0% swinging-strike rate that was about 50% higher than he had ever carried previously.
Austin Jackson, OF: 2016 was supposed to provide a bounceback opportunity for AJax, who’ll soon turn 30, but a knee injury ended his year after just 203 largely uninspiring plate appearances with the White Sox. Jackson’s power has fallen off a cliff, and he wasn’t running as much even before the injury, but perhaps a lengthy respite can get the still-youthful player back in physical form. He was nearly a league-average hitter with solid glovework in center as recently as 2015, so perhaps his forgettable stint in Chicago is more a blip than the start of a full-scale falloff.
Colby Rasmus, OF: Rasmus played well enough in 2015 to earn a qualifying offer after the season. His return to the Astros wasn’t nearly as productive, as he scuffled to a .206/.286/.355 batting line. But Rasmus was playing with a cyst in his ear, which was ultimately removed via surgery, and also underwent hip and core muscle procedures after the season, so perhaps injuries played a major role in his poor campaign. He also wasn’t helped by a .257 BABIP. Rasmus is still just 30 years of age and produced a strong .238/.314/.475 batting line with 25 dingers in 2015. There are other sources of potential value here, too: Rasmus has typically graded quite well on the bases, though he doesn’t attempt many steals, and metrics were quite pleased with his glovework in both the corner outfield and center in his most recent campaign.