By: Noah Wright
Richard Rodriguez, Clay Buchholz, and Derek Holland had great 2018 seasons. They provided a good amount of innings, and pitched very well in their time with the team. Rodriguez even looks to be one of the Pirates best setup men this upcoming 2019 season. However before they landed larger roles with teams, they were all originally signed on minor league deals for the 2018 season, and weren’t seen as player who were going to play pivotal roles that season, or in the future. This off season, a lot of smaller deals were made, and some could turn out to be the next Richard Rodriguez, or Derek Holland.
- Drew Pomeranz (SFG):
Pomeranz latched on with the Giants on a 1 year, $1.5 million deal plus incentives. The move is a low risk signing, so the Giants don’t have to worry about it that much. Before a rough 2018 season where Pomeranz suffered from health issues, and underperformance (6.08 ERA, 5.43 FIP, 1.770 WHIP in 74 innings), Pomeranz was a solid starter. In 2017, the left hander provided a strong 3.39 ERA, 3.84 FIP, and 1.353 WHIP in 173 and two thirds innings. While his 3.6 BB/9 was just average, he did have a healthy 9.0 K/9. Between 2012 and 2018, the former all star posted a 3.24 ERA, 3.78 FIP, and 1.234 WHIP in 499 and a third innings. Pomeranz could easily bounce back to a solid 3.50 ERA and 3.80 FIP pitcher in 2019 if he can stay healthy.
- Hanley Ramirez (CLE):
The former all-star shortstop’s tenure with Boston ended with a May release. While he hasn’t had a good season since 2016, Ramirez could be a helpful piece to the Indians in 2019. Afterall, Ramirez did get off to a great start in 2018, having a .330/.400/.474 line in his first 110 PA’s of the year. Plus, he can still crush left handed pitchers. He had a .333/.378/.476 line against RHP’s last season. He could also be a good bench/pinch hit asset for the Indians as well. Last season, Hanley had a .340 average and .884 OPS with RISP. With RISP and two outs, Hanley had a .286 average. Hanley could be to the Indians what Adam Lind was to the Nationals in 2017; a bench bat with some pop and can come up in the clutch.
- Melky Cabrera (PIT):
Cabrera will likely be one of the outfielders the Bucs utilize until Gregory Polanco’s return from knee surgery. Until then, Cabrera could be a solid line-up presence for the Pirates. Overall last season, Cabrera turned in solid numbers yet again. He finished 2018 with the Indians with a slash line of .280/.335/.420 in 278 PA’s. He also had a 102 wRC+. The corner outfielder was also good with RISP, holding a .283 average and .809 OPS. With two outs and RISP, the ‘Melk Man’ had an impressive .323 average and .933 OPS. While his defense, to put it lightly, wasn’t good in RF last season, Melky still possesses a great arm, having 1.6 outfield arm runs above average. The switch hitter could be one of the Pirates best bench pieces this upcoming season after the team acquired him on a minor league deal.
- Gio Gonzalez (NYY):
Gonzalez went unsigned for a pretty long period of time. However on March 19th, the NY Yankees decided to lock down Gio on a minor league deal. Gio clearly isn’t the pitcher he was back in 2010-2013, however he could still be a solid back end presence to the Yankees rotation. 2018 was filled with ups and downs for the left handed starter. In 145 and two thirds innings, Gonzalez pitched mediocre with a 4.57 ERA, 4.25 FIP, and 1.531 WHIP. However, he did keep the ball in the park with the Nationals, as he finished his 7 year tenure with in the Nation’s capital with a .9 HR/9 rate. After a trade to the Milwaukee Brewers, Gonzalez looked much better. He finished out the year strong with a 2.13 ERA, 3.63 FIP, and .947 WHIP. Gio had kept the ball in the yard again, giving up only 2 home runs in 25 and a third innings, and walking 3.6 batters per 9. Gonzalez can still keep left handed batters quiet, as those kind of batters had a .597 OPS against him. Gio could probably be used as either a swing man, or the team’s 5th starter, but he could be a very important pieces of a Yankees rotation that is already suffering from injuries.