By the end of the holidays, there were few free agent presents left to put in the suitors’ stockings.
The top option this offseason quickly struck a deal. As of Thursday, 30 of the top 33 free agents (based on his FanGraphs WAR totals last season) had already signed.
Additionally, 27 of the top 30 free agents to sign make an average of at least $10 million a year on new contracts. Teams are seizing their chances to turn around, often hoping that a change of circumstances will bring out the best out of several bounce-back candidates.
Here are the signings of five free agents who could rebound with new teams next season.
Note: Only players with an fWAR of less than 3.0 last season are included in this list.
1. Josh Bell1B
Team change: San Diego Padres vs. Cleveland Guardians
Agreement: $33 million over two years
2022 fWAR: 2.0
Carrier fWAR: 8.3
Best fWAR season: 2.9 (2019)
Bell won the Silver Slugger Award for the 2022 season, so at first glance it might seem strange to put him on such a list. But considering how his year ended with the Padres, it seems fair. Bell looked like a different hitter before and after the trade to San Diego.
The 29-year-old, who boasted a .301/.384/.493 thrashline and 153 OPS+ through 103 games in Washington, said Bell’s deal with Juan Soto meant that if the Padres team were suddenly poised to make a fuss, it would be just a matter of time. It looked like more than a throw-in player. It was nothing like what Bell and his new club envisioned.
587 OPS with three homers in 53 regular-season games in San Diego, despite some memorable postseason moments hitting home runs in both the Wild Card and Championship Series. Did. A little and his average exit speed drops considerably.
The Guardians need to add a pop to their lineup, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see the 2019 All-Stars return to form for the first half of 2022. Bell may also be betting on it, with an opt-out he signed his two-year deal for $33 million. As a left-hander he was shifting 55.8% of the time, the switch hitter should also benefit at least slightly from his new shift rule.
2. Noah SyndergaardRHPs
Team change: Philadelphia Phillies v Los Angeles Dodgers
Agreement: $13 million in one year
2022 fWAR: 2.2
Carrier fWAR: 21.0
Best fWAR season: 6.0 (2016)
Will Syndergaard be the Tyler Anderson of the year? The Dodgers have a knack for getting the most out of their pitchers and have a successful track record as a former All-Star right-hander.
Syndergaard was more of a useful depth piece between the Angels and Phillies in 2022 than a front-line star who was in his early 20s with the Mets. He went 10-10 with a 3.94 ERA and said he felt like he was fighting himself after the season. After a setback in Tommy’s recovery in May 2021, he failed to regain normal speed in his first full season and his confidence in his delivery and mechanics fluctuated. I saw.
He’s confident 2023 will have different results and he’s confident he’ll be back in triple digits — he was throwing 97-98 mph in the bullpen before his setback — averaging 94.1 It’s as hard an effort as the 30-year-old who recorded the . He signed a one-year deal in Los Angeles in hopes of rebuilding his worth, much like Anderson and Andrew Heaney broke out in Los Angeles last season. Even if Syndergaard doesn’t return to his pre-Tommy John surgery fastball average of 97.8 mph, a slight rise and proper pitch mix could make him look like he did for the Dodgers.
3. Cody BellingerCF
Team change: Los Angeles Dodgers to Chicago Cubs
Agreement: 1 year, $17.5 million (2024 reciprocal option)
2022 fWAR: 1.7
Carrier fWAR: 17.3
Best fWAR season: 7.7 (2019)
Do you still have the MVP version of Beringer?
This might be the biggest question mark for bounce candidates. There is no doubt about the ceiling. Bellinger, who won his MVP at the age of 23 just four his seasons ago, has already demonstrated his ability to do so. In his 156 games that year he hit 47 home runs and batted .305/.406/.629.
He hasn’t played near that level since.
The recession started in 2020, but he was useful enough offensively even in that shortened season. His slide became noticeable after injuring his shoulder in a postseason home run celebration later that year. He never regained his offensive footing as injuries piled up, including a hairline fracture in his leg shortly after returning from his shoulder surgery. Among players to reach at least his 300 plate appearances in 2021, Bellinger finished ahead of only Austin Hedges and Jackie Bradley Jr. in his wRC+. Despite nearly doubling his hits in 2022, last season was still a pretty above-average offensive year (78 OPS+, 83 wRC+).
At least, Bellinger still provides the Cubs with above-average defenders at multiple positions. But they want more than that, and the one-year deal guarantees him $17.5 million. This is a deal not far from what the Dodgers would have had to pay Bellinger in mediation before deciding to move on by not bidding on his 27-year-old.
Four. Mitch HanigerRF
Team change: Seattle Mariners to San Francisco Giants
Agreement: $43.5 million over three years
2022 fWAR: 0.8
Carrier fWAR: 11.8
Best fWAR season: 4.8 (2018)
The pain Giants fans felt before it all came crashing down minutes before Aaron Judge re-signed in New York and Carlos Correa officially joined the club will probably not be alleviated by Haniger’s arrival. But if he stays healthy, Haniger should be a valuable addition to San Francisco over the next three years.
Considering Haniger has only played 57 games with an ankle injury, it will be difficult to stock up on Haniger’s low numbers in 2022. Mountain, California He was born in View, attended high school in San Jose, and played college his ball at Calpoli San Luis in his Obispo. I was doing it.
Haniger was an above-league-average hitter throughout his five seasons with the Mariners. Despite a relatively lackluster last season (.246/.308/.429), he averaged the best slugging percentage of his career (47.2) at age 31. The previous season, Haniger hit 39 home runs in his 157 games.
When Haniger plays a full season, he tends to produce. He was named an All-Star in his 2018 season, hit his 26 home runs in 157 games, and posted his career-high 139 OPS+. His problem is staying on the field. Since his debut in 2016, he has played over 100 games in just two games.
Five. Michael Confortoof
Team change: New York Mets vs San Francisco Giants
Agreement: $36 million over two years
2022 fWAR: Dai Nippon Printing (1.4 in 2021)
Carrier fWAR: 19.3
Best fWAR season: 4.8 (2017)
Conforto, another Giants outfielder deal and the first major addition after the Correa debacle, will team up with Haniger to bolster San Francisco’s outfielders. history and lost time.
Considered the best hitting outfielder on the market when he was acquired in late December, Conforto hasn’t played a game since October 2021. He was a free agent before the 2022 season, but had shoulder surgery and missed a year. There’s no guarantee he’ll return to what he was before his injury (see Beringer), but he can offer similar value to Haniger.
Conforto’s results have been volatile in recent years. 856 OPS in his 2019, a shortened he finished with .927 OPS in the 2020 season and . It may be difficult to predict after missing a full year, but Conforto has never produced his WAR season below 1.0 in his career. His average OPS over the last five seasons is .837.
Honorable Mention: Mike ClevingerRHPs
Team change: San Diego Padres v Chicago White Sox
Agreement: 1 year, $12 million (reciprocal option in 2024)
2022 fWAR: 0.4
Carrier fWAR: 12.1
Best fWAR season: 4.5 (2019)
It’s hard to fully judge a player in his first season returning from Tommy John surgery. Still, like Syndergaard, Clevinger has dealt with lower speed and strikeout rate on return.
Clevinger had a solid first half of 2022 (3.50 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) and found the addition of a sinker effective, but struggled with physical issues after the All-Star break and was less productive. did. Although he didn’t need surgery later that year, Clevinger said he had his PRP injection for his MCL to his right.
Before Tommy John, Clevinger went 41-20 with a 2.96 ERA and 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings from 2017-2020. FanGraphs predicts Clevinger will have his 1.3 WAR season. his late twenties. That would help solidify the back end of the White Sox rotation.
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Rowan Kavner covers the Dodgers and NL West on FOX Sports. He was previously the editor of the Dodgers’ digital and print publications. Follow @ @ on Twitter.Rowan Kavner.
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