By: Noah Wright
This past offseason saw 2 players get $300+ million, but they weren’t the only big fish on the market. Plenty more stood out, and while not all of them landed contracts throughout the offseason, many did sign with a new team. We just finished up the first month of the MLB regular season, but how are the offseason’s free agents doing so far?
1.) Bryce Harper:
Bryce Harper was the most popular free agent on the market for quite some time. He sat on the open market until the first few days of Spring Training. However when he did sign, he broke the record for the largest contract for any MLB player, so I guess the wait paid off for Harper. Regardless, Harper has been underwhelming, but not underwhelming for the Phillies all at the same time. He currently owns a .231/.372/.472 line in 133 plate appearances with a 122 wRC+. That’s overall solid, but given that he had the largest contract in history for about a week before Trout surpassed it, Harp’s overall stats aren’t super great. He already looks like a subpar right fielder, having -3 DRS, 4.0 UZR, and -.5 dWAR. Though he is only getting paid $11.5 million this season, in later years, he will be paid close to $30 million a year, so he better step it up in future years.
2.) Manny Machado:
Like Harper, infielder Manny Machado signed late in the off season, but it paid off with a $300 million contract. In comparison to Harper, Machado has been beyond dreadful with the bat. He has just a .236/.323/.391 line in 124 plate appearances, resulting in a 94 wRC+. This is all after Machado came off a career year between the Orioles and Dodgers where he finished the season with a .905 OPS and 141 wRC+. Though one thing that has gone well for Manny is his glove. Last year, Machado was a defensive liability at shortstop, but being moved back to third base has helped him significantly. He already has 5 DRS, 2.7 UZR, and .6 dWAR, almost exclusively at third (20 innings at shortstop).
3.) Patrick Corbin:
After coming off a career year with the Diamondbacks, Corbin looked to land a large deal, and he did. The lefty starter latched on with the Washington Nationals, and has done solid so far. Corbin has a 3.58 ERA, 3.73 FIP, and 1.062 WHIP through 37 and two thirds innings of work. He has been racking up strikeouts too, having a 10.5 K/9, all while limiting free passes to just 2.4 per 9. However, Corbin has been snakebitten with the long ball a good amount of times this year. He has already given up 6 home runs, resulting in a 1.4 HR/9. If Corbin could lower his home run rate later on this season, he could be one of the best lefty starters in the league.
4.) Yasmani Grandal:
What happened to the switch hitting catcher over the off season was a bit strange. He turned down a reported 4 year deal from the NY Mets. After that, he accepted a 1 year deal+option year with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers, afterall, got a steal for $16 million over 1 season. Grandal is currently batting a strong .292/.367/.500 with 6 home runs and a 127 wRC+ through 109 plate appearances. Though Grandal is usually well above average with the bat, he has negative numbers in DRS (-2) and dWAR (-.3), but strong numbers with runners caught stealing (32%), and pitch framing runs saved (2.4).
5.) Michael Brantley:
Former Indian Michael Brantley finally stayed healthy for an entire season right before becoming a free agent. When he did hit the free agent market, he was scooped up by the Astros, and has been one of the most underrated free agent signings of the off season. The left fielder is batting a strong .331/.380/.517 in 129 PA’s. He has a 141 wRC+ as well. What is surprising is Brantley’s defense. He’s never been god awful with the glove, but he’s never been this above average. He has 3 DRS, .6 UZR, and .3 dWAR. He’s easily earned that $16 million so far this year.
6.) Andrew McCutchen:
To pair with Bryce Harper, the Phillies went out and signed Andrew McCutchen for left field. McCutchen has almost matched Harper’s overall production, and then some. Right now, the former MVP is batting a solid .257/.382/.460 with 5 long balls, and 128 wRC+. Cutch also has pretty good defensive numbers in left as well. He has 3 DRS, and a .8 UZR in left, and a .1 overall dWAR. .1 May not seem that great, but he has played a little bit of center field, so his overall defensive stats might not look all that great.
7.) Charlie Morton:
After 2 good seasons with the Houston Astros, including a World Series win in 2017, Morton signed to be the #2 behind Blake Snell. So far, he’s exactly what the Rays were hoping for and then some. His first 39 and a third innings have yielded an ERA/FIP/WHIP of 2.52/2.95/1.093. Morton has also given up just 2 long balls since arriving in Tampa. However, walks have been a problem, as the former Pirate has given up 17.
8.) Josh Donaldson:
The former Blue Jay MVP had come off a season where he struggled to stay healthy, for a second year in a row. Plus with Donaldson entering his age 33 season, not too many suitors were willing to offer multi year contracts. However, Donaldson did land a 1 year deal with the Braves worth $23 million. Donaldson’s early season showings are promising for the veteran third baseman. Through 119 plate appearances, Donaldson owns a slashline of .258/.395/.495, along with 5 long balls. That’s good for a 138 wRC+. Donaldson’s defense at the hot corner has also been decent with 1 DRS and a .1 dWAR.
9.) Marwin Gonzalez:
The Astros lost one of the best utility men in the entire MLB when Marwin Gonzalez signed with the Twins. After a breakout 2017, Marwin took a step back for most of 2018, but started to turn it up in the second half. When Marwin hit free agency, the Twins picked him up on a 3 year deal. The switch hitter is off to a sluggish start to being 2019, with a .526 OPS through his first 94 plate appearances. But his defense at third base couldn’t be better right now. Gonzalez has already recorded 3 DRS at third.
10.) Adam Ottavino:
Ottavino was one of the top ranked closers on the market when the off season started. Not only was he an extremely dominant right hander, but he did it all in Coors Field. The Yankees decided to pick up Ottavino, to further add to the monster of a bullpen they already had. Ottavino's early stats are kind of all over the place. Sure you have his clean 2.35 ERA and 11.2 K/9 rate, but he’s walked 11 batters in 15.1 innings. Opponents are currently hitting Ottavino hard, with a 38.2 hard hit percentage.