The 2014 offseason will be an exciting one for MLB. There are many intriguing and desirable names that fans want their team to land. With big names such as Jacoby Ellsbury, Robinson Cano and Shin-Soo Choo headlining the free agency market, the rest of the free agents should not be overlooked.
Every team is looking for next year’s Mike Napoli or next season’s Marlon Byrd—a player a team signs and out of nowhere has a big year. Here’s a look at a few underrated players who could make a big and important impact, for a new team in 2014.
If a team is in need of a player who can fly around the bases, Rajai Davis is the guy. Davis has had more than 40 stolen bases four out of the last five years, including 45 last year. The 33-year-old also hit .260, with an OBP of .312 for the Toronto Blue Jays.
With many teams in need of outfield depth, expect Davis to sign somewhere that he can flourish in a platoon-type role. The San Francisco Giants are a team that would make sense for Davis. He has played there in the past and would be a good fit for a Giants team that could use his skill set.
Although Davis returning to the Bay Area would not be a surprise, the Detroit Tigers are a better fit. The Tigers, who had fewer stolen bases than Davis last year, could definitely use some speed on the base paths. Davis should be a player the Tigers grab.
Prediction: Detroit Tigers
After a freak injury forced Kendrys Morales to miss most of the 2010 season and all of the 2011 campaign, he has proven he’s fully back after two very good seasons in 2012 and 2013.
Morales finished the 2013 season batting .277, with 23 homers and 80 RBI for the Seattle Mariners. After that year, expect many teams to go after the 30-year-old. There are many places Morales could land, but an AL contender should be the one to ultimately snag Kendrys.
With the Texas Rangers losing multiple solid bats to free agency, they are a team that will make a run at Morales and want him to be their DH. Morales would be a great fit for a Rangers lineup that already includes Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler and Alex Rios.
Prediction: Texas Rangers
Joaquin Benoit is a player who could be of much value to many teams. As seen with the Red Sox and Cardinals, a reliable bullpen is extremely important to make it to the World Series. There are many teams in need of late-inning relievers, and Benoit could fit perfectly for some.
Coming off one of the best years of his career, in which he had a 2.01 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP, Benoit should not be overlooked. Although there are bigger names out there such as Joe Nathan, Grant Balfour and Brian Wilson, Benoit deserves to be considered among them all.
Teams like the Los Angeles Angels, New York Mets and New York Yankees could all use Benoit’s arm. Ultimately though, it will be the Yankees who sign Benoit. They will need a guy late in the game whom they can rely on after losing some key relief help. Benoit could end up being a steal if the Yanks get him at a good value.
Prediction: New York Yankees
Some other underrated free agents who I think will make an impact in 2014 are Juan Uribe, Dan Haren and Corey Hart. There are tons of players to choose from and after this year, who knows what can happen.
Who do you think will be this year’s most underrated free agent signing? Leave in the comment section below whom you think this year’s break-out free agent will be!