With just a few weeks left before the start of MLB Spring Training, the hot stove is beginning to cool down. However, there are still a number of interesting free agents left on the market. Let’s take a look at the most notable ones, starting with a superstar infielder who has yet to firm up his home for 2023.
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We start off with shortstop Carlos Correa, the marquee name left that still has not officially inked a deal with a team thus far. It’s been a wild offseason for the 28-year-old, as the former Twin entered free agency after opting out of his deal with Minnesota. Correa originally agreed to a massive contract with the Giants, before the infielder’s physical grinded the deal to a halt. Shortly thereafter, Correa agreed to another $300 million deal with the Mets in mid-December. Fast forward to today, and that deal is not official due to concerns with the 2017 World Series champion’s leg.
The issue with Correa’s physical reportedly stems from a broken leg that Correa sustained with Lancaster (A+) in 2014. As things stand right now, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Correa does not wind up in New York. If that’s the case, it may be hard to find a team willing to pay Correa what San Francisco and the Mets were willing to this winter.
Former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen is still a free agent. The 36-year-old spent last season with the Brewers, a campaign that saw McCutchen hit .237/.316/.384 with 17 home runs and 42 extra base hits over 134 games. McCutchen’s OBP and SLG figures last season were career lows for the five-time All-Star that spent most of last season as a DH. Not to mention, the right-handed McCutchen hit just .224, and posted a .737 OPS against left-handed pitchers last season.
A career .277 hitter, McCutchen should find a home before the start of Spring Training. However, it will be interesting to see how McCutchen is deployed by whichever team signs him come 2023.
Just two seasons ago, former Yankee 1B Luke Voit led all of MLB in home runs. The 31-year-old clubbed 22 during the shortened 2020 campaign for the Bronx Bombers. Since then, Voit has dealt with two difficult seasons. Voit spent most of 2021 on the IL, and eventually found himself on the outs in The Bronx after the acquisition of Anthony Rizzo. The Missouri native was dealt to San Diego to start 2022, but hit just .225/.317/.416 with the Padres. San Diego then dealt Voit to Washington and complete the Juan Soto/Josh Bell deal, and spent the remainder of 2022 with the Nats.
The 31-year-old seems like a good fit for a rebuilding team in need of some pop. Voit possesses plenty of power, as the first baseman recorded three 20+ home run campaigns thus far. However, strikeouts and chases have been a problem for the slugging first baseman. Last season, Voit recorded the second-worst (34.3%) and worst Whiff% (37.6%) rates among qualified hitters.
A former All-Star in 2013, left-hander Matt Moore re-invented himself as an effective reliever in 2022. The former Ranger produced fine results last season, as Moore posted a 1.95 ERA and 10.1 K/9, along with impressive batted ball metrics, across 74 innings. Moore’s 2022 season marked a stark contrast from 2021, a campaign that saw Moore post a rough 6.29 ERA with Philadelphia.
Moore should find plenty of takers before the start of Spring Training, given the results from last season.
Much like Moore, Michael Wacha excelled early on in his career as a starter. Things, however, didn’t go as planned over the past four seasons. The right-hander struggled from 2019-2021, as Wacha recorded a 5.11 ERA and an equally rough 5.04 FIP during that span. Wacha, did, however, ride the ship with Boston last season. Armed with a plus change and a mid-90’s heater, Wacha posted a 3.32 ERA and won 11 games for the Sox in 2022.
Given Wacha’s track record, it’s hard to envision the right-hander receiving a multi-year deal this winter. However, a productive 2022 season should net Wacha a spot in a team’s rotation yet again in 2023.
Left-hander Zack Britton was one of the game’s best relievers throughout the 2010s. Britton, however, missed most of the last two seasons due to Tommy John surgery. The lefty did make it back late in the 2022 season, but struggled mightily with command. Britton walked six batters in just 0.2 IP last season. Britton landed on the IL again with shoulder fatigue in October, which ended his season prematurely.
It’s been over two years since we’ve seen an effective Zack Britton. Not to mention, teams may very well be concerned with the 35-year-old’s velocity going forward. Britton traditionally sat in the mid-90s with the fastball, but his average fastball velocity has dipped below 93 in each of the last two seasons.
Another former Yankee reliever left on the market is Aroldis Chapman. Once a dominant reliever, Chapman’s career has been on a downhill slope in each of the last two seasons. The former Yankee closer struck out 91 batters over 56.1 IP in 2021, but the seven-time All-Star struggled badly with command. Chapman’s BB/9 rate ballooned to 6.1, a stark change from his 3.1 rate in 2020. The 34-year-old’s struggled multiplied this past season, as Chapman recorded career lows in both K/9 (10.7) and BB/9 (6.9). Chapman’s 2022 season ended with a thud, as the left-hander skipped a pre-playoff workout that resulted in the seven-time All-Star being left off the Yankees’ playoff roster.
Chapman still showcased that he has the ability to beat hitters. However, his loss of command, coupled with gradual losses in velocity, have to concern potential MLB suiters.
We finish this list off with Trevor Bauer. While not officially a free agent as of this writing, it is widely expected that Los Angeles will cut Bauer by the January 6 deadline. Should that occur, the 2020 NL Cy Young award winner will hit the market for the second time in three seasons. This, however, will be under different pretenses. The right-hander was suspended for all of last season by Major League Baseball for violating the Major League Baseball Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy.
The suspension was originally for two seasons, but the arbiter that oversaw the case cut it down to 194 games. Thus, Bauer is eligible to return to the mound come 2023.