Over the past week, we’ve taken a look at how the some of the most notable free agents from this past offseason have done thus far. Now, it’s time to profile those free agents that signed on one-year deals. Let’s take a look at how a few of those “bargain” pickups are doing, starting with a former National League MVP.
Former NL MVP Cody Bellinger‘s fall from grace has been well-documented. In the three seasons after his torrid 2019 campaign, Bellinger recorded a 75 OPS+ and could not pounce on pitches in the same way he did in the past. The 27-year-old was non-tendered by the Dodgers after the 2022 season and subsequently signed with the Cubs.
The adjustments that Bellinger made this offseason certainly paid off, as he hit .271 with seven home runs and an OPS of .830. Bellinger, who does have a mutual option for next season, is currently on the IL as of this writing.
Former National Nelson Cruz posted arguably the worst season of his lengthy career last season and faced an uncertain future after 2022. Cruz did find a home with the Padres this past offseason, when San Diego signed the 42-year-old to slot in as a DH option alongside Matt Carpenter.
Cruz hit just three home runs and eight extra base hits over his first 35 games of the 2023 campaign. On top of that, he’s walked just four time and owned an OBP of .278. San Diego signed Cruz for just $1M, but one does need to wonder whether the Padres’ move to pick up the slugger was a smart one.
Even though Zack Greinke didn’t miss many bats in 2022, the 39-year-old induced plenty of weak contact and posted a respectable 3.68 ERA for the Royals. Greinke re-upped with the Royals on a one-year deal to help anchor a rotation with Brady Singer.
Things have not turned out well for Singer in 2023, while Greinke’s ERA jumped to 4.55 across his first eleven starts. That’s largely due to the fact that Greinke’s given up ten home runs across 57.1 IP in 2023, not far removed from the 14 he yielded across 137 innings last season. As far as hits and walks are concerned, Greinke’s numbers on those fronts are actually better than his 2022 figures.
Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw pitched last year on a one-year deal and he’s doing so once again in 2023 in Los Angeles. Kershaw, who’s failed to throw more than 126 innings in a season since 2019, re-upped on a one-year, $20M deal in December 2022.
While Kershaw ran into a rut in the middle of May, the 35-year-old’s been excellent overall in the 2023 campaign. Kershaw owned a 75:16 K:BB ration over his first eleven starts and posted a 3.32 ERA over 62.1 IP.
Three-time All-Star Evan Longoria missed nearly half of 2021 and 2022 thanks to injuries, but was relatively productive when on the field. Arizona came into the winter with a need for punch from the right-handed side of the plate, and brought in “Longo” to help with that.
Longoria’s only played 29 games this season, but does have six home runs and ten extra base hits.
Just two players that received qualifying offers last November accepted, and one was Joc Pederson. Pederson posted the highest OPS+ (144) of his career last season with the Giants, as he belted 23 home runs and cut his K% rate down to his best rate since 2019.
Pederson’s only played 26 games this season thanks to right wrist inflammation and a right-hand contusion. In those games, the Palo Alto native hit .235/.351/.494 with five home runs, ten extra base hits, and 18 RBI.
Veteran outfielder AJ Pollock could not replicate his monstrous 2021 campaign with the White Sox last season, as he only hit .245 and recorded a .681 OPS — 200 points less than his figure with the Dodgers a year earlier — over 138 games. In need of another outfielder, the Mariners signed Pollock to a one-year, $7M deal with incentives in January.
Pollock’s numbers have not been good in the Pacific Northwest, as he owned a .570 OPS across 30 games. The 35-year-old’s seen less time on the field this season, thanks to the emergence of Jarred Kelenic.
The other player to accept a qualifying offer last offseason was Rangers LHP Martin Perez. Perez returned to the Rangers — the organization he started his career with — last season and had himself the best year of his career. Across 196.1 IP, Perez went 12-8 with a 2.89 ERA and struck out 169 batters.
Perez’s stuff has been catching more of the plate this season, something that’s caused him to give up more hits. Still, the 32-year-old went 6-1 with a 3.83 ERA over his first ten starts (56.1 IP).
Former Met Noah Syndergaard pitched in the World Series for the second time in his career last year, but 2022 was very different for “Thor.” In Syndergaard’s first full season since 2019, the 30-year-old posted a 3.94 ERA but only struck out 95 over 134.2 IP. Syndergaard’s strikeout and whiff numbers went down considerably, not a shock given that his fastball velocity sagged to the low-90s — far removed from the triple-digit heat he displayed as a Met.
The Dodgers, a team that unlocked a new level from journeyman Tyler Anderson in 2022, took a chance on Syndergaard and signed him to a one-year, $13M deal. The move has not worked out at all. Through ten starts (47.1 IP), Syndergaard yielded 57 hits and 33 runs scored. Among starters that’ve thrown at least 40 innings in 2023, Syndergaard’s 6.27 ERA is eighth-worst in MLB.
At the age of 40, Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright logged 191.1 IP and struck out 143 batters for the NL Central champions. The now-41-year-old re-upped this offseason for what’s likely his final season, but it didn’t start on time. Wainwright started the season on the IL after the righty suffered a groin injury during the World Baseball Classic.
Wainwright is healthy, but his first five starts could have went better. Over 26.1 IP, Wainwright gave up 18 earned runs and 37 hits.
Note: Any player who signed a contact with a player with a player option was not included in this list.