Teams this offseason have been looking to find free agents who are going to hit a bunch of home runs or win a lot of games, when they should be taking a player’s defensive skills into consideration.
Just because a free agent doesn’t have the best on-base or slugging percentage doesn’t mean that they can’t be valuable. And just because a pitcher doesn’t throw 90 miles per hour doesn’t mean that they aren’t worthy of a spot in the starting rotation.
For example, Brendan Ryan had the fifth-best UZR/150 out of every player in Major League Baseball (via FanGraphs) while hitting under .200 for the year. Because of his defensive prowess, he finished 2012 with a 1.7 WAR (via FanGraphs).
Now, teams may not want to start a guy like Ryan since he’s not very productive at the plate. But would a team sign him just as a defensive replacement late in the game? You bet. Unfortunately, however, he’s not a free agent and teams will have to find similar players who can add value on defense.
Here are some of those players who are still available and can help a team win games just based on their defense.