Each MLB Team's Big-Name Player Who Should Be Cast Aside After 2019
Baseball is a fun, heartwarming game. Major League Baseball, on the other hand, is a cynical and heartless business in which players get cast aside all the time.
Since it's going to happen anyway, we have ideas for which players should get the boot in the 2019-20 offseason.
We combed through each team's roster and picked out one player who should be dumped via a trade, a non-tender, an outright release or a possible buyout. Most simply aren't worth their large contracts anymore. Others don't deserve the raises they're due in arbitration.
We'll go division by division, starting in the American League East and ending in the National League West.
American League East
Baltimore Orioles: 1B Chris Davis
Davis, who peaked with a 1.004 OPS and 53 home runs in 2013, has mustered only a .549 OPS and 25 homers since 2018. According to Baseball Reference, his minus-4.0 wins above replacement is by far the worst mark among players who've logged at least 200 games.
As if all that wasn't bad enough, the 33-year-old last made headlines for nearly coming to blows with manager Brandon Hyde. The best thing the O's can do—barring an injury that would allow them to collect insurance money—is release Davis and eat the $69 million left on his deal.
Boston Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia
The eight-year, $110 million extension Dustin Pedroia signed in 2013 hasn't been a disaster for the Boston Red Sox. He was still an elite player as recently as 2016.
Yet Pedroia is clearly finished as a useful player. A series of knee surgeries—the latest of which was only a few weeks ago—has limited the 36-year-old to only nine games over the last two years. Even he isn't sure if he can play anymore.
According to Sean McAdam of Boston Sports Journal, Pedroia's contract wasn't insured. The Red Sox, therefore, will only recoup money if he retires. Instead, they could spare him that decision by negotiating a buyout.
New York Yankees: CF Jacoby Ellsbury
Jacoby Ellsbury hasn't played a game for the New York Yankees since 2017, so it's fair to wonder why they haven't already ditched what's left of his seven-year, $153 million contract.
It's complicated. The Yankees obviously aren't gaining anything on the field from Ellsbury's thus far endless rehab process from hip and foot injuries. But, per Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media, they can recoup as much as 75 percent of his contract via insurance if he stays on the injured list.
However, the jig may be up if the 35-year-old gets cleared to play in 2020. The Yankees should eat his $21.1 million salary for 2020 for the sake of opening up his roster spot.
Tampa Bay Rays: 3B Matt Duffy
The Tampa Bay Rays might be disappointed with how Kevin Kiermaier has regressed since he signed a six-year, $53.5 million extension in 2017. But, if nothing else, he's still an exceptional center fielder.
If the Rays are going to move on from somebody, it should be Matt Duffy. He's only a year removed from hitting .294 over 132 games, but injuries sidelined him for all of 2017 and for all but 27 games this season. He's also hit just .227.
Rather than put faith in the 28-year-old's turning things around in 2020, the Rays would be better off non-tendering him and saving themselves from a raise on his $2.7 million salary.
Toronto Blue Jays: 2B Devon Travis
The Toronto Blue Jays are in a similar boat with Devon Travis that the Rays are in with Duffy.
Travis looked like a promising player when he hit .301 with an .811 OPS in 2015 and 2016. But he was injury-prone even then, and he's been unable to stay out of the injury bug's maw. He isn't likely to play at all this year after having knee surgery in March.
That is a lot even for a 28-year-old to overcome. Between that and the fact they don't really need him anymore, the Blue Jays should non-tender Travis and avoid a raise on his $1.9 million salary.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox: RHP Kelvin Herrera
Once the book closes on 2019, the Chicago White Sox will be largely devoid of players who make more money than they're worth.
Save for Kelvin Herrera. The White Sox signed him to a two-year, $18 million deal, presumably hoping he would turn back the clock to his best days with the Kansas City Royals. In actuality, his fastball velocity has continued to decline, while he's struggled with a 7.45 ERA in 44 appearances.
The 29-year-old is owed $8.5 million in 2020. Rather than pay him that money, the White Sox should seek to move him in a salary-dump trade or simply release him.
Cleveland Indians: 2B Jason Kipnis
The Cleveland Indians signed Jason Kipnis to a six-year, $52.5 million extension in 2014 and were rewarded with All-Star-caliber seasons in 2015 and 2016.
Over the last three years, however, Kipnis' offense has dried up, and he's tallied a grand total of 2.5 WAR. Based on that, it'll be hard for the Indians to count on better things from the 32-year-old in 2020.
Fortunately for them, they don't have to. Kipnis will only be on the roster if they exercise his $16.5 million team option. They're all but certain to take his $2.5 million buyout instead.
Detroit Tigers: RHP Jordan Zimmermann
The Detroit Tigers' decision to sign Jordan Zimmermann to a five-year, $110 million contract in 2015 was part of a last-ditch effort to keep their contention window open.
That effort failed in part because Zimmermann has been a flop. His 6.48 ERA this year has upped his ERA as a Tiger to 5.45. Further, his 1.2 WAR is about as bad as it gets among pitchers who've made at least 80 starts since 2016.
Mercifully, the 33-year-old has only one more year remaining on his deal. Rather than ride it out, the Tigers should eat his $25 million salary and hand his roster spot to a younger player.
Kansas City Royals: LF Alex Gordon
Though Alex Gordon missed a chunk of 2015 with a groin injury, the Royals were never going to let a franchise cornerstone and World Series hero leave in free agency.
The result was a four-year, $72 million contract, but Gordon has predictably never lived up to it. He's stayed mostly healthy over the last four seasons, but he's averaged only 0.9 WAR per year. He was good for 6.1 WAR per year during his prime.
Gordon, 35, said in May he was leaning toward playing in 2020. But if the Royals are going to accommodate that wish, it should only be after they decline his $23 million mutual option and negotiate a smaller salary.
Minnesota Twins: LHP Martin Perez
It's a credit to the Twins that the Perez situation looks like the worst of their roster conundrums. Nonetheless, they should pay his $500,000 buyout rather than exercise his $7.5 million option.
American League West
Houston Astros: RF Josh Reddick
Reddick regressed in 2018, however, and he's found bottom in 2019. Through 118 games, he's sitting on just a .691 OPS and 0.1 WAR.
The Astros might keep the 32-year-old for 2020 anyway. Alternatively, they could look to move Reddick's $13 million salary in a trade to clear the way for top prospect Kyle Tucker.
Los Angeles Angels: 3B Zack Cozart
Rather than trust in a turnaround in 2020, the Angels should try to move the 34-year-old's $12.7 million salary in a trade. Failing that, he should only be allowed to stick around on a very short leash.
Oakland Athletics: 2B Jurickson Profar
If the A's keep Profar, they'll have to pay him a raise on his $3.6 million salary via arbitration. Alternatively, they could trade or non-tender the 26-year-old and clear the way for fast-rising, fast-running prospect Jorge Mateo.
Seattle Mariners: 2B Dee Gordon
After jettisoning Robinson Cano, Jay Bruce, Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Leake, the Seattle Mariners don't have many big-name, big-money players left to rid themselves of.
Of the ones who do remain, Dee Gordon should be the next to get the heave-ho. The Mariners got him from the Miami Marlins when he was fresh off a reputation-saving 2017 season, but all he's done in two seasons with Seattle is post a .649 OPS and 0.7 WAR.
Gordon, 31, has one more year remaining on his five-year, $50 million contract. Rather than let things play out, the Mariners should look to move his $14.8 million remaining guarantee in a trade and hand his job to Austin Nola.
Texas Rangers: 2B Rougned Odor
Rougned Odor was coming off a 33-homer season when the Texas Rangers signed him to a six-year, $49.5 million extension in 2017. That would have proved to be an underpay if he had improved his on-base and defensive talents.
He hasn't. Odor struggled with a .252 OBP and posted mixed defensive ratings in 2017. He rebounded in 2018, but it now looks like an outlier in light of his .270 OBP and poor defense in 2019.
Since Odor looks like a power-only player, the Rangers should see if they can trade him before he gets into the big money in his contract. The 25-year-old is owed $34 million over the next three seasons.
National League East
Atlanta Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz
Free agency is going to leave the Atlanta Braves with many holes to fill, so they'll be more in the business of adding than subtracting.
Still, they might do something about their faulty Folty. After breaking out as an All-Star in 2018, Mike Foltynewicz has a 5.59 ERA in 16 starts on either side of a demotion to the minors.
Though the 27-year-old is due for a raise on his $5.5 million salary via arbitration, he isn't quite a non-tender candidate. Instead, the Braves might consider him for a trade or a transition into a relief role.
Miami Marlins: 2B Starlin Castro
Starlin Castro was an All-Star for the Yankees in 2017, and he was still a good hitter in his first season with the Marlins last year.
The only way Castro is staying with the Marlins through 2020 is if they pick up his $16 million option. It's all but a given they'll take his $1 million buyout instead.
New York Mets: CF Juan Lagares
In light of his never-ending injuries, Yoenis Cespedes and his $29.5 million salary is the biggest blight on the New York Mets' plans for 2020. But if they can't void his contract, their best play is to keep him on the IL and collect insurance money.
Fortunately for the Mets, they can free up some money by cutting Juan Lagares loose instead.
The 30-year-old has failed to deliver on his potential since the Mets signed him to a four-year, $23 million extension in 2015. Lagares has reached its final guaranteed year, and his minus-0.9 WAR effectively guarantees the Mets will reject his $9.5 million option for 2020 in favor of his $500,000 buyout.
Philadelphia Phillies: CF Odubel Herrera
It seems safe to say Odubel Herrera doesn't have a future with the Philadelphia Phillies.
He was declining from his All-Star peak even before 2019, and then he posted a career-low minus-0.5 WAR in his first 39 games of the season. Now he's sitting out the remainder of the year because of a suspension for violating the league's domestic violence policy.
The five-year, $30.5 million extension Herrera signed in 2016 still has two guaranteed seasons left on it. But rather than keep him, the Phillies should shop the 27-year-old to rebuilders that might be interested.
Washington Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman
Ryan Zimmerman debuted with the Washington Nationals mere months after they drafted him at No. 4 overall in 2005. He's done more than enough for them in the 14 years since then.
Yet the 34-year-old is clearly out of gas. After posting 3.8 WAR in 2013 alone, he's compiled only 3.6 WAR in the six seasons since then. It hasn't helped that injuries have limited him to 118 games over the last two seasons, including just 33 in 2019.
The Nationals hold an $18 million option on Zimmerman for 2020. They'll surely choose his $2 million buyout instead.
National League Central
Chicago Cubs: 2B Addison Russell
Frankly, it's amazing Addison Russell has lasted this long with the Chicago Cubs.
His 2018 season featured career lows in OPS and WAR, and he was suspended for 40 games for violating the league's domestic violence policy. Yet the Cubs tendered him a contract and saved him a roster spot.
All their faith in Russell, who was an All-Star in 2016, has gotten them in 2019 is 0.7 WAR over 66 games. There'd be little point in keeping Russell, who can get a raise on his $3.4 million salary via arbitration. If the Cubs can't trade the 25-year-old, they should non-tender him.
Cincinnati Reds: RHP Kevin Gausman
The Cincinnati Reds had nothing to lose when they claimed Kevin Gausman off waivers from the Braves after he had posted a 6.19 ERA in 16 starts for them in 2019.
Indeed, the Reds had the right idea in endeavoring to see what the 2012 first-round pick could do in a full-time bullpen role. Perhaps the transition would restore some of his lost velocity and its accompanying effectiveness.
Gausman, 28, has regained some zip on his fastball, but he's given up two homers and five earned runs in six outings anyway. Barring a tremendous surge, it will be a no-brainer for the Reds to non-tender him and duck a raise on his $9.4 million salary.
Milwaukee Brewers: 3B Travis Shaw
Though no accolades came his way, Travis Shaw was quietly one of the better hitters in the National League in 2017 and 2018. He racked up an .844 OPS and slammed 63 home runs.
Cut to 2019, however, and that version of Shaw has been missing in action. The 29-year-old has managed only a .556 OPS, six homers and minus-0.9 WAR in 65 games. The Milwaukee Brewers banished him to the minors for several weeks in June and July. Now he seems to be down there for good.
There's virtually zero chance the Brewers will tender him a contract, as he's due for a raise on his $4.7 million salary via arbitration.
Pittsburgh Pirates: RHP Chris Archer
The Pittsburgh Pirates' roster largely consists of lesser-known players who are making little money, so they offer few players to choose from for this exercise.
Even still, Chris Archer sticks out like the sorest of thumbs. The two-time All-Star struggled to find his footing in Pittsburgh down the stretch of 2018. He's since fallen on his face with a 5.19 ERA, and now he's on the IL with shoulder inflammation.
The Pirates are leaning toward picking up Archer's $9 million option for 2020 anyway, but they shouldn't commit to keeping him around. Their 2019 season has gone far enough south to necessitate a rebuilding phase. If not by simply declining Archer's option, they can make immediate progress by trading him.
St. Louis Cardinals: LHP Brett Cecil
Even at the time it was signed in 2016, the St. Louis Cardinals' four-year, $30.5 million agreement with Brett Cecil was a head-scratcher.
Time hasn't done it any favors. Though Cecil pitched reasonably well in 2017, he didn't display the dominance of his All-Star peak with the Blue Jays. Then in 2018, he fell apart with a 6.89 ERA and more walks than strikeouts in 40 appearances.
Because of a variety of ailments, Cecil has been on the IL for all of 2019. Rather than hope against hope that the 33-year-old will recover in 2020, the Cardinals should see if they can move his $7.3 million salary in a bad-contract swap.
National League West
Arizona Diamondbacks: 3B Jake Lamb
After hitting 59 home runs and making an All-Star team in 2016 and 2017, Jake Lamb has played in only 110 games and hit 11 homers over the last two seasons.
Publicly, however, the Arizona Diamondbacks aren't considering non-tendering the 28-year-old. General manager Mike Hazen told Zach Buchanan of The Athletic they "expect him to get back there."
But given that Lamb was worth just 4.1 WAR even in his two best seasons, there's only so much to be gained if he turns things around. The Snakes would be better off avoiding a raise on his $4.8 million salary and reallocating the savings elsewhere.
Colorado Rockies: RHP Wade Davis
The Colorado Rockies' three-year, $52 million deal with Wade Davis in 2017 was a key part of their effort to build a superbullpen.
That plan hasn't come to fruition in large part because of Davis himself. Despite saving 43 games, the three-time All-Star posted a meager 4.13 ERA in 2018. This season he has struggled with a 7.32 ERA and lost his job as the Rockies' closer.
Underneath all that is a significant velocity loss. Since Davis, 33, is unlikely to recover from that, the Rockies should do what they can to dump or offset his $17 million salary for 2020 in a trade.
Los Angeles Dodgers: 3B/1B Jedd Gyorko
Because the Los Angeles Dodgers are exceptionally well put together, Jedd Gyorko was indeed the best we could do.
As it is, the Dodgers have barely used the former 30-homer slugger since they acquired him from the Cardinals at the trade deadline; he's had only 13 plate appearances in seven games. Altogether, he has a .536 OPS and two homers in 44 games.
Needless to say, the 30-year-old's $13 million option for 2020 is kaput. The Dodgers will take his $1 million buyout instead.
San Diego Padres: LF Wil Myers
Wil Myers has been a Rookie of the Year and an All-Star in seven seasons, and he's still only 28 years old.
But to call his 2019 season "disastrous" would be putting it lightly. Though Myers has played 127 games, he's posted a .700 OPS and minus-0.8 WAR.
An extra layer on the Myers headache for the Padres is the reality that his six-year $83 million extension hasn't even gotten expensive yet. He's owed $22.5 million per year from 2020 to 2022. Yet they might still be able to free themselves of Myers via either a salary-dump or bad-contract trade.
San Francisco Giants: RHP Jeff Samardzija
The San Francisco Giants have been more competitive this season than they've had any right to be. But come the offseason, they won't be able to put off rebuilding any longer.
The Giants' first order of business will be to find takers for their many albatross contracts. Much more than Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria or Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija should be an easy sell.
For one thing, his $19.8 million salary for 2020 marks the end of the road on his five-year, $90 million contract. For another, the 34-year-old has regained some value this season with a 3.38 ERA.