By: Noah Wright
The amount of free agents still left on the free agent market that are worth at the very least a minor league signing is staggering. Some of them were all-stars as recently as last year. Others, while they haven’t been all-stars recently, are still viable options for their position. Last year, we saw multiple free agents entering the year unsigned. However, will these open market stars land a contract before spring training ends?
- Craig Kimbrel:
Kimbrel recorded a 2.74 ERA, 3.13 FIP, and .995 WHIP in 62 and a third innings. While for most that would be amazing, it’s so-so numbers for Kimbrel. Mix that with a 4.5 BB/9 rate, and you have a ‘down year’ for Kimbrel. Regardless, his numbers were still amazing. Though, he did have a good Kimbrel year as recently as 2017. He’s only 30 and will turn 31 in May.
Why hasn’t he signed: He’s mainly not signed because of his asking price. Kimbrel basically wants to be paid like a front line starter. And while he’s great closer and all, he’s not worth $20 million+ a year.
Will he be signed before the end of spring training?: Likely. There’s still teams that need a proven closer out there who are contending. He probably won’t get $20 million AAV, unless it’s front/back loaded.
- Dallas Keuchel:
Keuchel is coming off a solid but not a super amazing season. Though he pitched in over 200 innings (204.2 innings), it was the first time since his Cy Young year in 2015. Regardless, he still turned in a 3.74 ERA, 3.69 FIP, and 1.314 WHIP. Keuchel only gave up 18 home runs, and kept his hard hit percentage to just 22.4%.
Why hasn’t he signed: Well, Keuchel has been inconsistent since his 2015 CYA year, both in health and performance. He struggled in 2016, but did well in 2017. 2018 was basically a middle ground of the 2 years. Out of the past 3 seasons, he’s only started 30+ games once, that being during 2018. Also, he’s asking to be paid like he just came off a Cy Young season. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be willing to pay a guy who’s only had one, 200+ inning season, and 3.77/3.78 ERA/FIP over the past 3 years Cy Young money.
Will he be signed before the end of spring training?: Likely. More than only one or two teams need a solid 3 pitcher who has the potential of being an ace.
- Denard Span:
Span, after a slow start with the Rays to start the season, was traded to the M’s in late May, and was actually not that bad. He produced a .272/.329/.435 line in 328 plate appearances. Between the Rays and Mariners, Span had a pretty good 110 wRC+. He even looked better defensively in LF, as he only had -2 DRS, and a -.5 dWAR in total.
Why hasn’t he signed?: If you ask me, he’s one of the better options on the market. However, he has similar concerns given his age and past performance.
Will he be signed before the end of spring training?: 50/50. It’s basically the same reason Adam Jones didn’t sign until tonight. Not too many teams with a glaring OF need, but everybody could use a solid 4th outfielder.
- Gio Gonzalez:
Even though Gonzalez was a solid starter as recently as 2017, and late 2018, the lefty still sits on the market without much attention. Last year, Gio finished the season with a 4.21 ERA, 4.16 FIP, and 1.444 WHIP in 171 innings. Though he did look a lot better during the home stretch of 2018. After a trade to the Brewers, Gonzalez put up a 2.13 ERA, 3.63 FIP, and .947 WHIP.
Why hasn’t he been signed?: It’s pretty clear that Gio Gonzalez doesn't have the Cy Young Potential he had earlier in his career. Plus, he reached career worsts in FIP, WHIP, BB/9, and K/9.
Will he be signed before the end of spring training?: Likely. Even though he did decline this year, it was only in 2017 when Gio had a 2.96 ERA despite a 3.93 FIP. Plus, he had only given up 17 home runs last year, resulting in a decent .9 HR/9. He can still be a solid left handed innings eater who can provide 170-180 innings a season. Any contending team that needs just some back-end help or a form of swingman/long relief help, or a rebuilding team that wants to stock up on 1 year deals to flip at the deadline should be in on Gio.
- Evan Gattis:
Evan is your typical 1B/DH kind of player. Last year, he turned in a so-so .226/.284/.452 in 451 PA’s, with 25 home runs, and a 99 wRC+. Though, between 2016 and 2017, Gattis turned in a solid .256/.313/.487 line with about 27 home runs on average.
Why hasn’t he been signed yet?: Well like I said earlier, Evan Gattis is a typical 1B/DH kind of player. He doesn’t really have defensive utility, and can’t really play catcher anymore unless it’s in a 3rd catcher/emergency catcher role. I also wouldn’t place him in LF unless it was in a pinch.
Will he be signed before the end of spring training?: Unlikely. There are tons of other power hitting, defensive limited players out there. However, he did have a .311 BA and .931 OPS with RISP, and a .306 average and .851 OPS with RISP and two outs, so some team might pick him up as a solid bench bat. It’s also worth noting that he had a .256/.314/.556 line between the months of May and July last season, so he still does hold some value, but I still don’t think it’s enough for him to land a deal before the end of ST. Maybe in the last week at best.