Many of the top free agents this offseason wasted no time finding new (or old) homes, but there are still plenty of players who could make an impact in 2023.
With that in mind, six experts from MLB.com were asked to pick the most interesting free agents remaining on the market. To be clear, it’s not necessarily the best player available, but simply the most interesting.
The six players who made the list are:
Andrew McCutchen, LF/DH
It’s been a long time since McCutchen was the MVP centerpiece of some very good Pirates teams, and at 36, the 36-year-old will be seen as an everyday player for teams hoping to compete in 2023. Not likely. He’s a league-average hitter with 14 straight double-digit home run seasons, so he still has an opportunity to contribute. His running speed is still near the top of the league — Even after tearing his left ACL in 2019.
These days, McCutchen is most effective against left-handed pitchers (.901 OPS over the last three seasons compared to just a .672 mark against right-handed pitchers). As such, it’s not hard to see fit in a club like Seattle with a young left-handed outfielder. (where he could platoon with Jared Kelenic) or Arizona. Maybe “Aging Platoon Part Time DH” doesn’t excite you. But who among us wouldn’t want to see him, one of the most important players of the last 15 years, finally get his chance in a ring he’s never been near?
– Mike Petriello
Nelson Cruz, DH
A quick glance at Cruz’s 2022 stat line shows a career-worst .337 slugging percentage and other sad marks, and it’s easy to say, “Oh, he’s too old.” But for Cruz, who didn’t have a breakthrough season until his 28-year-old campaign in 2009, everytime Aged in major. And until very recently, he was arguably elite at bat. From 2015 to 2020, no player has hit more home runs (220) and only Mike Trout has had a higher OPS+. Cruz hit . 294/. 370/. 537 in his 85 games with the Twins, hitting 19 homers and hitting 21 before moving to the Rays just three weeks after his 41st birthday. The year was about to welcome another glorious year.
Cruz hit 13 in Tampa Bay, but his batting average (.226) and on-base percentage (.283) fell off the cliff. Things didn’t get better at the Nationals last year. He still hit the ball hard with regularity, but his power total plummeted. 103 ISO ranked 120th out of 130 eligible hitters. Was this the inevitable grip of time on Cruz’s shoulders, or was it something more concrete? In October, he gave good reason to believe it was the latter. He could not see clearly in his left eye. Cruz said at the time the problem had plagued him for almost a year and a half.surgery at the end of the month SuccessfulHe should be ready for spring training and has expressed a desire to continue playing.
With Albert Pujols retired, Cruz retains his crown as the oldest active position player in MLB (lefty pitcher Rich Hill arrived in this world a few months ago). Cruz is also just 41 away from his 500 home runs. In 2023, his 42-year-old season, it is almost certain that he will reach that respected benchmark. But Cruz, with his sight restored, deserves attention from teams looking for a lineup bang.
– Brian Murphy
Alex Reyes, RHP
It will be interesting to see if Reyes pitches, but it might be the biggest “if” in free agency. A former Cardinals frontrunner, he has only pitched his one full season in seven years since his league debut in the majors. Reyes was St. Louis’ All-Star reliever, so that one season, 2021, was great. But instead of piling it up, Reyes missed all 22 years due to surgery on his right shoulder.
But if a team throws a dart at Reyes and he stays healthy, the club gets a 28-year-old pitcher with a 2.86 career ERA and an average of 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings. slider. In Reyes’ last season on the mound, his fastball averaged 96.6 mph and his slider saw him generate a 56% miss rate, making him a top-five swing-and-miss curveball in 2021, and Craig he’s Kimbrel’s knuckles. His curve, Jacob, put him second only to deGrom’s slider. , sliders by Liam Hendriks and sliders by Josh Hader. With top closers gone from the market, there aren’t many free-agent relievers with Reyes’ talent left, and there aren’t many that young.
– David Adler
Adam Duvall, OF
Duval is coming out of a disastrous 2022 campaign that ended prematurely after undergoing surgery for a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist. 213/.276/.401 (.677 OPS) and had his 12 home runs in 86 games. Duval said he had 101 strikeouts in 315 plate appearances, which equates to a 32.1% strikeout rate.
However, Duvall’s strikeout rate in 2021 was 31.4%. Yet he recorded his 38 home runs and 113 RBIs. He also saved his 19 defensive defensive runs during that his 2021 campaign. That was enough to earn Duvall his first career Gold Glove award, and there are certainly some risks when it comes to Duvall. He’s 34, has had wrist surgery, and is going to strike out a lot. But if he can rediscover his 21-year form that led the Braves to the World Series title, he could help just about any lineup.
– Paul Casera
Brandon Belt, 1B
676 OPS (92 OPS+) in 2022, the soon-to-be 35-year-old first baseman with a history of heavy injuries may not sound all that interesting, but he was healthy in 2020-21. Think about what the belt did when it did. 285/.393/.595 in 148 games and hit 38 home runs in that period. His 165 OPS+ ranked him third in the MLB (minimum 500 at-bats) behind Bryce Harper and Juan Soto. Berto shattered the ball in his two years, posting his barrel rate (17.0%) as high as some of the game’s most impressive sluggers.
Even when his output plummeted last year, battling a lingering right knee injury that ultimately led to season-ending surgery, Berto had a barrel rate of 12.6%. he qualifies. He also had an excellent walking percentage of 12.4%, in line with his career mark. Belts are always a risk of injury, but now that his knee issues have been resolved, his left-handed bat could make a potential difference.
– Thomas Harrigan
Zach Greinke, RHP
Greinke has always been one of baseball’s most interesting players and personalities. And now, at 39, he’s one of the most interesting freelancers left. Because he presents us with fascinating questions.
Looking at most of Greinke’s 2022 numbers with the Royals, the no-business pitcher is effective. His fastball speed he was in the 4th percentile (less than his 20% of his “heater” reaching 90 mph). His 12.5% strikeout rate was the lowest among 140 pitchers who pitched 100 innings. Still, Greinke has found a way to mix his five pitches, avoid walks, and generally use all of the crafty veterans he can muster. He averaged just over five innings in his 26 starts, but he was named an All-Star six times. % was excellent. This is the same as his MLB strikeout king Gerrit Cole. (Remarkably, Greinke’s ERA was 2.53 in his six starts, and he only struck out one hitter.)
Now, the above issues definitely relate to potential suitors. The same is true for the fact that Father Time is undefeated, but the potential future Hall of Famer is by no means your typical pitcher.
– Andrew Simon