An Early Progress Report on the Free Agents from the 2022-23 MLB Offseason (Part I)
Let’s look at how the heavy hitters from this past offseason are doing.
With two months of the 2023 MLB regular season in the books, it’s time that we do a performance review. An incredible amount of cash was thrown around this past offseason, but what has that money earned for Major League teams? Let’s take a look at how the players who made out the best this past winter from an AAV point of view are doing so far in 2023.
Related: Five Takeaways from the First Two Months of the 2023 MLB Season
- Signed three-year, $63M deal in December 2022
After a solid 2022 season with the New York Mets, SP Chris Bassitt parlayed his successes in New York and Oakland into a three-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays already had two aces in Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman, but Toronto struggled to get production from the likes of Yusei Kikuchi and Jose Berrios in 2022. A steady arm like Bassitt seemed like a good bet to provide stability to the Toronto rotation, and it’s worked out thus far.
Through his first ten starts of the 2023 season, Bassitt went 5-3 with 52 strikeouts and a 3.03 ERA over 62.1 IP. The 34-year-old did struggle early on, but May turned out to be a terrific month for the righty. As of May 24, Bassitt’s 0.61 ERA over 29.1 IP was the second-lowest in the Majors in the month, behind only Michael Wacha.
- Signed 11-year, $280M deal in December 2022
The San Diego Padres made a big splash in August 2022, when Juan Soto came to Southern California in a mammoth trade. Soto and the Padres made it to the NLCS that season, but came just shy of making it to the World Series for the first time since 1998. To further bolster its offense, the Padres added four-time All-Star Xander Bogaerts to an already deep lineup. Bogaerts, a two-time World Series champion, was a career .292/.356/.458 hitter in Boston with four 20+ home run campaigns.
While the Padres have struggled to get production from some of its key contributors, Bogaerts has been quite good in San Diego. Through his first 48 games in San Diego is second on the team in home runs (7) and third in bWAR (1.6).
- Signed six-year, $200M deal in January 2023
Former AL Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa entered free agency for the first time in the winter of 2021, but he failed to come to an agreement with a team prior to to the lockout. Correa quickly signed a multi-year deal with the Twins in March 2022, a deal that included an opt-out after the first season. After he posted a 138 OPS+ in 2022, the 28-year-old did opt out and appeared to have his long-term deal in December with the Giants. However, a failed physical killed that deal. Correa would then agree to a lengthy deal with the Mets, but that too broke down.
Correa would find his way back to Minnesota, as the two-time All-Star agreed to a six-year deal with additional options and returned to the Twins. However, he’s not been able to replicate his success in 2022 this season. The 28-year-old batted just .213 and owned an OPS less than .700 over 44 games, before being shut down for a muscle strain and plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
- Signed five-year, $185M deal in December 2022
Star right-hander Jacob deGrom shook up the New York sports scene this past December, when the 35-year-old opted to leave Queens and join the Texas Rangers. The Rangers were intent on improving its rotation and Texas did just that with the addition of deGrom. While the two-time NL Cy Young winner did have a significant injury history, virtually no one can replicate his demeanor and stuff on the mound.
deGrom got off to a late start this past spring, but did get enough work in in order to make his Rangers debut on Opening Day. The 35-year-old looked much like the deGrom we’ve seen for years, as he struck out 45 over his 30.1 IP. But in a late April start, deGrom was pulled from a start against the Yankees and subsequently placed on the IL. He’s yet to pitch in a MLB game since then.
- Signed nine-year, $360M deal in December 2022
The crown jewel of the 2022-23 offseason was Aaron Judge. Judge entered the open market at the right time, after a record-breaking 2022 campaign that saw the Yankees outfielder belt 62 home runs and break Roger Maris‘ record for most homers by an AL hitter in one season. The race to get Judge reportedly came down to two teams: the Giants and Yankees. The Yankees came out on top, as Judge received a massive nine-year deal
to remain in The Bronx.
Judge may not be on a 60 home run pace in 2023, but the new Yankees captain has been excellent this season. Through his first 40 games, Judge led all AL hitters in home runs (14), and all players in SLG (.643) and OPS (1.049).
- Signed eight-year, $162M deal in December 2022
Despite a long injury history, Brandon Nimmo entered the free agent market last winter with a high chance of receiving a large deal. Nimmo, who played more than 100 games just once between 2017-2021, proved to be an on-base machine in his Mets tenure and with very little options in the center field market, the 30-year-old was set to cash in. There were rumors that Nimmo’s childhood team in Colorado wanted to add him to the Rockies roster, but the Mets retained the center fielder with an eight-year deal.
Nimmo’s been reliable yet again for the Mets in 2023, as he posted a .374 OBP and 121 OPS+ across his first 49 games. A reliable bat at the top of the Mets lineup, Nimmo has been exactly what New York expected of him thus far.
- Signed six-year, $162M deal in December 2022
When the Yankees signed LHP Carlos Rodón in December 2022, it was rather obvious what New York was getting. Rodón finished in the top ten among all pitchers in ERA (2.67) and total strikeouts (422) between 2021-22, and his 12.2 K/9 was second-best in that time span. However, Rodón also had a lengthy injury history. But after re-signings of both Judge and Anthony Rizzo, it made sense for the Yanks to fortify its rotation and add a second ace to pair alongside Gerrit Cole.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, Rodón has yet to throw a pitch for the team in a regular season game as of this writing. Forearm and back issues have sidelined the lefty since Spring Training, and a return date is unclear at this time.
- Signed seven-year, $177M deal in December 2022
2021 World Series winner Dansby Swanson didn’t have same offensive track record as compared to his contemporaries in the free agent market, but he did have good timing on his side. The ex-Brave put up strong numbers at the plate over his final two seasons in Atlanta, and Swanson was arguably the best defensive shortstop over the last three years. Those factors helped Swanson land a seven-year deal to join an upstart Cubs team.
From a power standpoint, Swanson’s numbers haven’t been great. The 29-year-old hit just four home runs over his first 47 games as a Cub and his .141 OPS would be his lowest in a single season since his rookie season in 2017 (.092). Still, Swanson’s been very reliable defensively and he’s still been very solid in terms of making good contact and getting on base. In fact, Swanson’s 114 OPS+ is right on par with his 2022 season.
- Signed 11-year, $300M deal in December 2022
Last season, the Phillies came just two games shy of winning it all for the third time in franchise history, Philadelphia went with a bold strategy in the 2021-22 offseason, as the Phillies added Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos with the intent of sculpting a high-powered offense. It worked, and Philadelphia doubled down on it when Trea Turner joined his former Nationals teammate Bryce Harper in Pennsylvania.
In need of a shortstop, Turner’s bat-to-ball skills and plus-plus speed seemed like an ideal fit for a Phillies team that could plug him right at the top of the lineup. However, his first season hasn’t gone to plan. Through 48 games, Turner owned what would be career-lows in batting average (.250), ISO (.142), and K% (26.7%) over a NL-high 204 at-bats. He’s shown flashes of the Turner of old, but it’s been a very inconsistent start to his career as a Phillie.
- Signed 2-year, $86.6M deal in December 2022
After the loss of Jacob deGrom, the Mets quickly pivoted to Justin Verlander. Verlander, who missed virtually all of 2020 and 2021, won his third Cy Young at the age of 39 last season and helped lead the Astros to its second World Series title. That, coupled with the Mets’ intent to bring the ace to Queens, earned Verlander a two-year deal and a $43,333,333 AAV, tied for the highest in baseball alongside fellow Met Max Scherzer.
Verlander missed the first month of 2023, but has since come back strong. The 40-year-old struck out 20 over his first 25 innings as a Met, and his stuff has looked just as good as it did last season.
Note: The top signings from this list were based off of average annual value (AAA) for each deal. This list does not include re-signings of players that came before the start of free agency, nor re-signings of players that were set to become free agents in future years.