A free-agent market that was already on the weaker side when the offseason began has been further depleted by weeks of high-profile signings, leaving a limited number of impact players available for MLB teams still hoping to fill voids.
Although there isn't a ton of star power available, the remaining big names will be able to boost their asking prices as desperate teams get involved. Some clubs can't afford to get in a bidding war and will instead have to take a chance on a player with less hype and hope to strike gold.
Let's take a closer look at some free agents who have flaws but could still provide very good overall value on short-term deals. These are the type of players who can round out a roster by filling a hole without a huge contract attached.
Yes, Mark Reynolds strikes out a lot and plays subpar defense. Teams should certainly keep those two factors in mind, but it's impossible to ignore his power. He's hit at least 20 home runs in six straight seasons, including single-season totals of 37 and 44.
Despite the known deficiencies in his game, he's been able to accumulate a career WAR of 8.1 (per Fangraphs), and it's never been worse than -0.1 in any season. So while he may never hit 44 homers in a season again, he still brings valuable pop to the bottom part of the order.
In a perfect world, he would land with an American League team and get a lot of at-bats as a designated hitter. But he's capable of playing the corner infield spots if necessary and is a perfect target for teams seeking another power hitter without paying top dollar.
Jason Hammel is a perfect example of the importance of timing when it comes to free agency. If he would have hit the market last winter, after posting a 3.43 ERA and striking out nearly a batter per inning, the interest level likely would have been through the roof.
Instead, he stayed with the Baltimore Orioles after avoiding arbitration and struggled. He posted an ERA near five, and his strikeout rate suffered a huge drop. Those struggles haven't totally eliminated interest, though, according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports:
Jason Hammel has received interest from Cubs, Pirates, Royals, Braves, source says.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 10, 2013
Given last season's issues and his career 4.80 ERA, Hammel comes with some risk. But the upside he flashed in 2012 is undoubtedly intriguing to teams such as the four mentioned by Morosi. If he can pitch at that level, he'll be a free-agent steal.
Jesse Crain was one of the best middle relievers in baseball during the first three months of last season. He gave up just three earned runs in 36.2 innings (0.74 ERA) and was selected to the All-Star Game, but was sidelined due to a shoulder injury.
Very honored to be selected to the All Star team, and humbled to be picked by the players!! Not a bigger honor! Wish I could pitch.Thank You— Jesse Crain (@JesseCrain) July 6, 2013
He was eventually traded to the Tampa Bay Rays prior to the deadline but never made an appearance for the team. He hit the free-agent market after a statistically great stretch but was coming off a lingering injury he couldn't fully get over last season.
A team would be wise to take a chance on Crain with the hope he will return to form in 2014. If he does, he'll provide great value as one of the top setup men in baseball.