By: Noah Wright
The off season was full of minor league contracts. Most of them weren’t thought of to be more than depth signings, and the rest were acquired just to fill in a bench role, or 6th starter/long relief man bullpen role. However, some of made a case to stay on the MLB roster, and have made their minor league contract payoff big time.
- Jose Iglesias:
The former Tigers’ shortstop went surprisingly unsigned for most of the off season. What’s even more surprising is that he had to settle for an MILB deal. But he’s making many teams that did need middle infield help look stupid not to offer him a cheap MLB deal. The Reds’ now primary shortstop is batting a solid .301/.339/.437 through 109 PA’s. Although his 101 wRC+ isn’t lighting the world on fire, it’s his glove that’s the main attraction. So far into the season, Iglesias has 7 DRS, a 1.6 UZR, and .9 dWAR. Aside from his UZR, those numbers are better than the Angels’ defensive whiz, Andrelton Simmons.
- Derek Dietrich:
The Reds picked up Dietrich on a minor league deal as well, and he’s doing pretty good as a utility man for the Reds. Dietrich is slashing a strong .247/.349/.658. He has blasted 9 home runs, and owns a 154 wRC+ through 86 plate appearances. Dietrich has always been known as a defensive liability, but this year, he’s not doing too bad with the glove. He has 1 DRS at 2B, 1 DRS at first base, and just -1 DRS in the outfield. In total, he has a .1 dWAR.
- Francisco Liriano:
Through all the injuries, and inconsistencies the Pirates have had to deal with in 2019, Francisco Liriano is one of the only sure things the Pirates have in their bullpen right now. Through 15 and two thirds innings, the former Pirate-turned Blue Jay-turned Astro-turned Tiger has turned in a solid 1.15 ERA, 3.01 FIP, and 1.213 WHIP. The starter turned relief pitcher has also put up very good strikeout numbers with a 10.3 K/9. He has also limited home runs to a minimum, having only given up 1 long ball. Although Liriano has been dominant, he has struggled with walks, giving up 4.0 per 9.
- Melky Cabrera:
The Pirates were going to be without outfielder Gregory Polanco for most of, if not all of April. Melky Cabrera was one of the small signings the Pirates made in order to add depth until Polanco was ready. Though with other injuries to the starting outfield, Cabrera has found himself a path of semi-regular playing time, along with youngsters Jason Martin and Bryan Reynolds. But Cabrera has been a nice surprise. Melky is currently batting a healthy .344/.382/.500 in 102 PA’s. In total, he’s been worth 134 wRC+. He even hasn’t been that bad of a fielder for the Bucs either. While he does have -2 DRS and -.4 dWAR, he does have a .1 UZR, and .1 outfield arm runs above average.
- Hunter Pence:
Of all the minor league signings, Hunter Pence has been one of the best. Although Pence has been in a part time role (just 72 PA’s), that hasn’t stopped him from batting .333/.403/.603. That’s good for a 159 wRC+, and 156 OPS+. What is pretty impressive is that the former Giant has made hard contact 50% of the time. He’s mainly played DH this season, but has 0 DRS, .2 UZR, and -.1 dWAR in 52 innings split between left and right field.
- Logan Forsythe:
After 2 disappointing seasons with the LA Dodgers and short tenure with the Twins last year, infielder Logan Forsythe latched onto the Rangers. So far into the 2019 season, Forsythe has had good success. Overall, Forsythe has a good .279/.382/.453 line in 103 PA’s. That’s good for a 121 wRC+. He has also been showing some defensive versatility this year as well. Forsythe has played a handful of innings at first base (where he’s primarily played in 2019), second base (the position he’s played primarily for most of his career), third base, and shortstop. While he’s not really excelling with the leather at any of those positions, he’s definitely holding his own at each.