By: Noah Wright
We all know who’s going to get the big contracts this season. Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, Manny Machado, Craig Kimbrel, and many others. It is one of the deepest and most valuable free agent classes the game has seen in years. However for every Clayton Kershaw, there’s a Nathan Eovaldi. And with such a deep class, there’s bound to be multiple under the radar free agents. Let’s take a look at some of those type of FA’s, and some possible landing spots for them.
1.) STEVE PEARCE (1B/COF)
Pearce had such a nice season In The AL East. After getting off to a hot start with The Blue Jays, batting .291/.349/.519 in an injury limited 86 plate appearances, The Red Sox decided they need a right handed platoon partner with Mitch Moreland, as they did just release Hanley Ramirez. And the team probably got more than they thought they were going to get. In 165 plate appearances, Pearce batted .279/.394/.507 with 7 home runs and 26 RBI’s. Plus he contributed a lot as a clutch hitter. With RISP, Pearce had a .368/.441/.684 and 5 home runs. In total, Pearce had a .284/.378/.512 with 11 home runs, and 42 RBI’s. Plus with a 140 OPS, and .228 ISO, Pearce should be highly sought after, but isn’t necessarily a name that will come up in many rumors. I think one team that could show some interest in Pearce should be The Cleveland Indians. Yonder Alonso struggles very much vs left handed pitching, and since Pearce has a career .266/.352/.500 line against left handers, he could be a nice piece The Indians could use.
2.) NATHAN EOVALDI (SP)
Now we look at another Red Sox player. Nathan Eovaldi has had a nice bounceback season after missing an entire season in 2017 with Tommy John Surgery. Another similarity that him and Pearce share are the fact that both were acquired by The Red Sox mid-season. In a total 111 innings between The Sox and Rays, Eovaldi pitched for an overall 3.81 ERA, 3.60 FIP, and 1.126, with The WHIP and FIP being career lows. The hard throwing starter also had a career low BB/9 rate at 1.6, career high K/9 rate at 8.2, and tied his career low hits/9 rate at 8.5. Players also had a hard time squaring Eovaldi up, as they only made hard contact 32.9% of the time (a career low), and hit for a .287 BABIP. I think one good fit for Eovaldi is The A’s. The A’s need rotation help, and signing Eovaldi to what I’ll estimate, 2 years $10 million, should be in their price range, and help give them those few extra wins to boost them to either The West Division, or first Wild Card spot.
3.) CLAY BUCHHOLZ (SP)
Buchholz always seems to be on track for a very successful season, and right as he starts doing good, he gets injured. However even with that, any team looking for some solid innings out of the rotation should go after Buchholz. 2018 was likely one of his best seasons of his career. With The D-Backs, Clay pitched to a very very nice looking 2.01 ERA, 3.47 FIP, and 1.037 WHIP in 98 and two thirds innings. Plus he only gave up 9 home runs in those innings, for a .8 HR/9 rate. While he’ll never rack up consistent 10 K performance, he won’t allow opponents to get good hits off of him, as indicated by his .217 average against, and his .255 BABIP against. Like with Eovaldi, The A’s could show some interest in Buchholz over the off season. Another team that might try to go after him is The Yankees. Since Buch doesn’t give up too many HRS, he could slot in nicely into the later part of the rotation.
4.) EDUARDO ESCOBAR (IF)
Escobar split the season between The Twins and Diamondbacks, and had a very solid season overall. He was given main third base duties by The Twins because of an injured and slumping Miguel Sano, and he took advantage of it. In total, Escobar batted .272/.334/.489 with 23 home runs, and 84 RBI’s. The infielder also had career highs in wRC+ at 116, ISO at .217, and wOBA at .346. Escobar, while not as good of a fielder at shortstop, he ranked positively in DRS at 5, and UZR at 1.5. However his overall defense was worth .5 dWAR. If The Phillies miss out on The Machado sweepstakes, Escobar could be a nice consolation prize.