Veteran free agents who deserve a shot in 2023


Now that Carlos Correa is lastly signed, all the main free agents are off the market. The massive names are gone, the budgets are set, the holes are largely stuffed. But there are nonetheless guys on the market, guys you recognize, whom we’ve been expecting years and who stay unsigned. They’re at that probably perilous spot of being a veteran, late in the method, however they haven’t discovered a chair to take a seat in but. And they’re working out of time.

The baseball world can be worse with out these guys as energetic gamers — we’ve adopted them their entire careers, and we’re not able to say goodbye but. And I’d argue they’ve nonetheless acquired some recreation, too, with one thing to supply a workforce. Here’s a have a look at unsigned veterans we’re hoping get one other shot.

Jesús Aguilar, 1B
For a whereas there, Aguilar was among the best tales in baseball, a man claimed off waivers by the Brewers who caught hearth for a terrific workforce that was quick solely in the ability division, one thing Aguilar offered. He made the All-Star workforce in 2018, participated in the Home Run Derby and even obtained MVP votes — he received the Luis Aparicio Award for finest Venezuelan participant and homered in that nice NL Championship Series towards the Dodgers that yr, too.

Aguilar took a step again in 2019, however was an above-average hitter (117 OPS+ in the shortened ’20 season, 111 in ’21) earlier than it fell aside for him in Miami and Baltimore final yr. But this was a main energy bat from 2017-21, and he’s nonetheless solely 32. Aguilar positive appears value a flier for somebody in want of some pop.

Didi Gregorius, SS
In retrospect, Gregorius was an excellent check run for the Anthony Rizzo and Matt Carpenter expertise at Yankee Stadium: Find a left-handed hitter who isn’t essentially identified for energy, however who can poke it over that shut wall with consistency. It hasn’t actually labored for Didi both earlier than or after his time in The Bronx — aside from a good run through the truncated season in 2020 — although he was riddled with dangerous luck in Philadelphia, from accidents to visa points to pseudo-gout.

Gregorius may have the chance to indicate off what he has left in the 2023 World Baseball Classic: He’ll be taking part in for the Dutch workforce, alongside one other participant on this checklist, really.

Andrelton Simmons, SS
Every yr Simmons has been a fair satisfactory hitter — and, to be truthful, it has been a few years — he has been an MVP candidate (enjoyable truth: on the 2017 Angels, a workforce that featured prime Mike Trout, Simmons led the workforce in WAR, per Baseball Reference).

His defensive expertise haven’t actually slipped a lot, even because the bat has devolved to the purpose that you just would possibly need to pinch-hit for him recurrently. But protection continues to be massively vital, and could also be much more so with the brand new limitations on defensive shifts. Every workforce feels extra comfy with Simmons hoovering up balls at quick. Someone will discover a place for him — simply don’t let him bat in a massive spot.

Mike Moustakas, INF
It appears like Moustakas has been round our complete lives, doesn’t it? Famously chosen second general in the 2007 (!) Draft, he was one of many linchpins of these Royals prospects who would in the end come collectively to guide that workforce to back-to-back World Series appearances, and that ’15 win.

Because Moustakas was so younger when he was drafted, you won’t understand he’s nonetheless solely 34 years previous. He was an All-Star as not too long ago as 2019 — that’s what impressed the Reds to signal him to that ill-fated contract in the primary place — however accidents have wiped him out the final two years. There’s nonetheless pop in that bat, although, there must be. And c’mon: “Moose” is such a nice phrase to yell at ballparks.

Tommy Pham, OF
Pham is a type of massive personalities, a type of rusty nails who at all times speaks his thoughts, that baseball can be poorer with out. He got here up in the Cardinals group, however he didn’t get a name up till he was 26. Pham was actually implausible in 2017, with a .931 OPS in 128 video games, however the Cardinals traded him to Tampa Bay on the Deadline in ’18. He was stable for the Rays, however, as has tended to be the case in his profession, Pham saved touring from metropolis to metropolis: To San Diego, then Cincinnati, then Boston.

Last season was the worst yr of his profession, and he’ll by some means be 35 on Opening Day, however the man nonetheless will get on base and may hit the ball with authority. Someone’s going to signal Pham and be very pleasantly shocked … earlier than he strikes on to a different workforce shortly thereafter, as ordinary.

Stephen Piscotty, OF
The Cardinals traded Pham’s former outfield mate Piscotty to Oakland earlier than the 2018 season in half so the Northern California native could possibly be nearer to his mom, who was dying from ALS. Piscotty was an unbelievable story on the sphere that yr as properly, placing collectively a 124 OPS+ for a 97-win workforce.

Injuries have wrecked him since then, however this man was getting Rookie of the Year votes simply seven years in the past and seemed like somebody the A’s had been going to construct round pretty not too long ago. He’s the form of man you root for, and he’s nonetheless solely 32.

Justin Upton, OF
How completely different would the previous few years of Angels historical past have been if Upton had been wholesome and the participant they thought they had been getting once they signed him to that massive contract? Upton was one of the constant hitters in baseball from 2008-17, and he was solely 29 when he got here to Anaheim. But accidents stopped him from ever being the 1-2 punch with Trout he was presupposed to be, and Upton seemed largely cooked throughout a quick spell with Seattle final yr.

This was a titanic expertise, although, each developing in the Minors and through a decade in the Majors, and also you’d hope there’s possibly one final run for him in there, for somebody. Upton was the No. 1 general decide in 2005. We’ve been speaking about him for almost 20 years. I’m not prepared for him to go away. Are you?

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