The Top 5 MLB Free Agents Left on the Market
As much of the northeast prepares for the second coming of Snowmageddon, the typical reaction from people expected to be caught in its wake has commenced.
Crazed millions, worried they will be snowed in a la Jack Torrance at the Overlook Hotel, have bum rushed their local grocery stores and taken nearly every gallon of milk, loaf of bread and carton of eggs from the shelves.
Sure, you may be able to find a store that has half a gallon of half and half that you can use for your cereal, but for the most part, the stocks are close to being bare.
Much the same has happened in free agency. Most of the big ticket items, the Jason Heywards, Zack Greinkes and Justin Uptons of the world have been snapped up, and there isn't much left on the shelves.
However, there are still some valuable pieces, some random gallons of milk, left to be purchased. Here, then, are the five best remaining free agents left on the market.
It's hard to believe that a guy who hit 35 homers, knocked in 105, scored 101, had a weighted runs created (wRC+) of 135 and an fWAR of 6.7 would still be looking for a gig, but this is a nutty world we're livin' in.
And that's where we are with Yoenis Cespedes, whose camp is said to be looking for $150 million or so in any deal. The issue here is there was a glut of quality outfielders on the market, with two of them, Heyward and Upton, both being significantly younger than Cespedes. And while Cespedes is not old, just 30 years of age, there is concern his 2015 season was a fluke and that a long-term deal will contain too many of his decline years.
His fWARs the previous three seasons, his first three in the big leagues, were 2.9, 2.4, and 3.3. These are not bad numbers, but they clearly are not as good as the 6.7 he put up last season.
However, he's got a good glove, hits for power, and, because he was traded mid-season last year, won't require a team to give up their first round pick. And given the rash of opt-out contracts in Major League Baseball this year, Cespedes should be able to lock down a multi-year deal soon that is fair for everyone.
The New York Mets, Chicago White Sox, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees and others are said to still have interest.
Dexter Fowler was terrific for the Cubs in 2015, putting up a career high 3.2 fWAR while slashing .250/.346/.411 out of the leadoff spot. He has a decent walk rate, 12.4% for his career, and last season scored a career high 102 runs and stole 20 bases for Chicago.
Fowler has never been a top-notch defensive center fielder, but last year, his defensive metrics saw an improvement, hence his jump from being a one-to-two win player to a three-win player.
The 29-year-old can probably be had on a three or four-year deal, which would seemingly give a team most of his prime.
Many of the teams that are in on Cespedes will likely turn to Fowler if they miss out on the Cuban star.
Yovani Gallardo is the best starting pitcher left on the board, likely a number-three starter in most contending rotations. He is a model of consistency, having posted fWARs between 2.0 and 2.6 every year for the last four years.
In 2015 he went 13-11 with the Rangers with a 3.42 ERA and a 4.00 Fielding Independent Pitching, worth 2.5 fWAR. He did strike out a career low 5.91 batters per nine innings (K/9) last season while walking 3.32 batters per nine (BB/9), his highest amount since 2012. But he made more than 30 starts (33 in 2015) for the seventh straight season, and for many teams, that kind of reliability is incredibly valuable.
The Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies have all had varying degrees of interest in signing the veteran right-hander.
The one-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner hit a mere .233/.290/.384 last season with 19 homers and 62 RBI, both the lowest totals since the 2011 season. However, Desmond's second half numbers were much closer to his career slash numbers of .264/.312/.424. His walk-rate increased from 4.9% to 9.6% in the second half, and he hit 5 more homers in 63 fewer plate appearances.
And among MLB shortstops last season, Desmond's 19 homers were third-most, behind Carlos Correa's 22 and Brandon Crawford's 21. His 62 RBI were tied for seventh and 13 stolen bases were eighth. And his isolated power (ISO) was fourth among MLB shortstops with at least 500 plate appearances last season, trailing Crawford, Asdrubal Cabrera and Troy Tulowitzki.
Desmond is fighting with Alexei Ramirez in the shortstop market right now, and he is also tied to a qualifying offer, which would require a team to give up their first-round pick if they sign him. But there are teams like the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox who still need help at shortstop. And who knows? Maybe a one-year reunion with the Washington Nationals could be in the cards as well.
Doug Fister was yet another Washington National who had a disappointing season last year. In 2014, he had an ERA of 2.41 in 25 starts, with a 16-6 record. However, his ERA jumped to 4.19 last season and his FIP ballooned to 4.55. He's not a strikeout pitcher, with a 5.50 K/9. He was also hurt a bit last year, accruing just 103.0 innings in 2015.
However, the 31-year-old right-hander is the second-best starting pitcher left on the market, and is a viable number-four starter with number-three upside if he gets a good defense behind him that can handle ground balls. He's only looking for a two-year deal at around $11 million a season, a relative bargain for a guy who is a decent candidate to bounce back in 2016.
Consider that Ian Kennedy just got $70 million over five years. Now, let's compare their numbers last year.
And let's take a look at Steamer's projections for both next season.
Kennedy looks like the better pitcher overall, but if you could have Fister at two years and $22 million or Kennedy at five years and $70 million, what are you choosing?
By the time you read this, all these players could be on their new teams. But for now, these are the best free agents left on the market as the snowstorm that will wipe out half the country is about to strike.