The Best Bargains Remaining on the 2015-16 MLB Offseason Market
You won't find the likes of Ian Desmond, Dexter Fowler or Howie Kendrick on the pages that follow. For while they all might ultimately sign contracts for salaries far less than they earned in 2015, all three have draft pick compensation attached to them, the result of their decision to turn down a qualifying offer.
There's no bargain to be had when a team has to surrender a few million dollars—and a draft pick—to sign a player.
But there are a number of veteran free agents that remain unsigned and don't come with the added cost of a draft pick, and it's from that pool of players that we've cherry picked those that stand out as the biggest bargains still on the market.
From sluggers to solid, unspectacular infielders and former All-Stars on the mound, there's a plethora of talent available for the taking—all at prices nobody would have thought possible a year or two ago.
1B/DH Pedro Alvarez
Since 2012, only 10 players have gone deep more often than Alvarez, who played half his games at Pittsburgh's PNC Park, notoriously one of the game's most pitcher-friendly venues. Put him in, say, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and there's little question that he'd have cracked the top 10 with relative ease.
While he's best suited as a part-time designated hitter for an American League team, Alvarez could be a valuable bat off the bench for a National League club in need of some extra pop.
OF Marlon Byrd
"...Byrd, despite being 38, is coming off a season in which his homer/fly-ball rate was the best of his career, and his isolated power mark climbed 25 points. As a pure power guy with a low OBP, he's a sort of a cheap substitute for Yoenis Cespedes."
Still a competent defender, Byrd's experience and right-handed power would certainly benefit a handful of clubs—and he could prove to be a valuable trade chip at the August 1 trade deadline.
3B David Freese
He's no longer the player that put St. Louis on his back in the 2011 playoffs, earning MVP honors in both the National League Championship Series and the World Series, but David Freese remains a legitimate option for teams in need of a third baseman.
While his numbers over the past two years with the Los Angeles Angels aren't nearly as good as they were over five years with the Cardinals, Freese still produces at an above-average level (going by FanGraphs' wRC+ metric), and he remains a passable defender at a premium position.
SP Tim Lincecum
His days as a dominant starter may be behind him, but so are the hip issues that bothered Tim Lincecum last season and ultimately cut his 2015 campaign short.
“Tim’s doing great,” physical therapist Brad Schoenthaler, who has been working with Lincecum this winter, told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. “He looks really strong. His hip pain and compensation patterns have cleared up. Everything’s coming back a lot quicker than we expected.”
"The Freak" lasted only 15 starts for San Francisco in 2015, pitching to a 4.13 ERA and 1.48 WHIP over 76.1 innings of work—and his 4.68 ERA since his last outstanding season, in 2011, leaves much to be desired.
But that ERA is a bit misleading, as he's also pitched to a combined 4.08 FIP over the past four seasons, a mark that is certainly more than respectable. Healthy and away from the expectations that followed him in San Francisco, the 31-year-old could find himself rejuvenated and performing as a dependable, innings-eating mid-rotation arm.
UTIL Juan Uribe
Juan Uribe isn't going to win any batting titles or Gold Glove Awards and, entering his 16th year in the majors, is best suited as a reserve, starting every once in awhile to give a team's everyday third baseman a breather.
But he's as good a reserve at the hot corner as a team can find, flashing solid leather while providing the requisite pop we've come to expect from the position. Uribe's biggest impact on a team, however, might be in the clubhouse.
"[Uribe] is one of the best [and funniest] teammates I can ever recall having," Matt Harvey of the New York Mets told me last August, only a few weeks after the veteran had arrived [along with Kelly Johnson] via trade from the Atlanta Braves.
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