2014 MLB Free Agents: Players That Need Change of Scenery Next Season

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistOctober 5, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25:  Phil Hughes #65 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on September 25, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Rays defeated the Yankees 8-3.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Sometimes you just need to change things up in life.

Most people can relate to running through the motions in a dead-end job, looking for an escape to a livelier world where food tastes better and the sun shines brighter.

For these MLB players, it's more about simply getting a fresh start with new bosses and colleagues. These guys need to escape home environments unfitting of their skill set or find a new locale that will offer a starting job, perhaps at a higher salary.

These three guys have fallen out of favor in their current locations. With another squad, they could receive a cushy payday and a more prominent role.



SP Phil Hughes

No player needs to high-tail a situation as badly as Phil Hughes needs to run from the New York Yankees.

Forcing an extreme fly-ball pitcher to pitch half his games in Yankee Stadium is a cruel joke that produced disastrous results for Hughes, a once-bright prospect now relegated to getting booed out of New York.

The righty posted solid strikeout and walk rates over his tenure in the starting rotation, notching 7.48 strikeouts and 2.59 walks per nine innings this season. Those rates usually yield solid results, but Hughes instead recorded a dastardly 5.19 ERA and 1.46 WHIP during 2013.

Hughes surrendered 24 long balls, which is actually way down from the 35 he tossed up in 2012. At home, he allowed 17 homers and a 6.32 ERA. On the road, he produced a passable 3.88 ERA.

Throughout his career, fly balls have made up 46 percent of his batted balls. To combat that lofty number, Hughes must find a larger venue, preferably for a National League club that can help erase this horrid season and shield those fly balls from clearing the fence. 

Leaving New York allowed Ian Kennedy to thrive before he unraveled this season. Perhaps Hughes can find some success in a new home.  


SS Jhonny Peralta

DETROIT, MI - JULY 27:  Jhonny Peralta #27 of the Detroit Tigers hits a single to drive in Prince Fielder as catcher Erik Kratz #31 of the Philadelphia Phillies works behind the plate in the first inning at Comerica Park on July 27, 2013 in Detroit, Michi
Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Playing for the Detroit Tigers did wonders for Jhonny Peralta. After a down 2012, he found a second wind, hitting .303/.358/.457 and earning an All-Star bid in July.

But anticipating his 50-game suspension for his involvement in Biogenesis, the Tigers acquired Jose Iglesias in July, which leaves Peralta without a role for next season. 

Not known for his offense, Iglesias hit a surprising .303, which should drop as his .356 normalizes. While the rookie shortstop hardly boasts a bat akin to Peralta's, Iglesias provides some much-needed defense for Detroit. 

Obtained from the Boston Red Sox before the July 31 trade deadline, Iglesias projects as more of a Rey Ordonez type going forward. With Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder occupying the infield, Detroit can afford to sacrifice some offense by adding a Gold Glove fielder up the middle.

This means Peralta must look elsewhere this offseason to find a starting job. If teams can overlook the suspension, that shouldn't be a problem. Anybody would be remiss to give a 31-year-old a multi-year deal after one of his best seasons, but front offices have done stupider things. (Just ask Barry Zito and Vernon Wells.)

Peralta's strong first half will at least earn him a nice one-year deal. Hey, the Yankees can use an upgrade at shortstop. Just kidding, but not really.


RHP Edward Mujica

Edward Mujica presents an intriguing litmus test to determine whether general managers are paying attention.

On one hand, Mujica registered a 2.78 ERA and 37 saves last season. Somebody deserves a mega contract as someone's new closer.

Nope, not at all. The peripherals display why his season came crashing down during September and forecast similar regression to come.

While most top relievers rack up the strikeouts, Mujica notched just 46 punchouts in 64.2 innings. He also did an exceptional job by walking just five men, but there are too many other trends to ignore.

His 86.1 percent strand rate is unsustainable for someone with such few strikeouts while his 3.71 fielding independent pitching mark (FIP) led him to a 0.0 fWAR, meaning he's the definition of replaceable by FanGraphs' estimate.

Some poor team is going to bite and pay Mujica way more than he's worth. That organization, however, will not be the St. Louis Cardinals. They're too smart for that, and they have their late-inning ace in Trevor Rosenthal.

Serving as a set-up man until the final week of the season, Rosenthal recorded a 2.63 ERA in 75.1 innings. That's only slightly better than Mujica, but it doesn't begin to tell the full story. He also struck out 108 batters while walking just 20. His 1.91 FIP indicates that he could have posted way better numbers if not for an unfortunate .341 BABIP.

Unless they move him to the rotation, which seems unlikely with Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez emerging, Rosenthal will become a stud closer in 2014.

If Jonathan Broxton could get $21 million over three years last winter, some sap will pay Mujica. Unless the entire league is finally wising up.


Note: All advanced statistics are courtesy of FanGraphs.com