Best Fits for Yasiel Puig and the Top Remaining MLB Free Agents

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterFebruary 21, 2020

Best Fits for Yasiel Puig and the Top Remaining MLB Free Agents

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Around this time in 2019, superstar Major League Baseball free agents such as Manny Machado and Bryce Harper were still looking for work.

    That isn't the case this time around, yet there are a few talented and otherwise useful players who are still available on the open market.

    We've looked at eight free agents who aren't going to cost much at this point and are also capable of filling some teams' outstanding needs. We highlighted the best fit for each player, as well as a few more places they might land.

    We'll begin with four position players and end with four pitchers.

RF Yasiel Puig: Cleveland Indians

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    2019 WAR: 1.4

    In no time at all, Yasiel Puig has gone from being one of the most visible players in MLB to all but forgotten.

    It didn't help that the 29-year-old failed to make the most of his walk year in 2019. In 149 games with the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds, he posted a mediocre .785 OPS with equally unspectacular defensive metrics in right field.

    On the whole, however, Puig's last three seasons have yielded an .811 OPS, 75 home runs and 7.8 rWAR. Though that doesn't signify extreme upside, it's enough to make Puig worth a look for clubs that still need a capable everyday outfielder.

    For instance, the Indians. Their outfield's offensive potential looks better following their deal with left fielder Domingo Santana, but they can still do better than Greg Allen in right field.

    Other Fits: San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins, Seattle Mariners

2B Brian Dozier: Texas Rangers

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    G Fiume/Getty Images

    2019 WAR: 0.7

    Brian Dozier was an offensive powerhouse for the Minnesota Twins in 2016 and 2017, across which he racked up an .871 OPS, 76 home runs and 34 stolen bases.

    Alas, Dozier sunk to a .728 OPS and 41 homers with the Twins, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals in 2018 and 2019. Since he'll turn 33 on May 15, it's doubtful that he'll reclaim his prime form.

    Dozier does, however, remain a threat against left-handed pitchers. So if a team were to expand his defensive portfolio beyond just second base, he could be a quality platoon option.

    Because he could share playing time with Rougned Odor at second and Ronald Guzman at first base, the Rangers ought to be taking a long look at Dozier.

    Other Fits: Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox

2B Scooter Gennett: Oakland Athletics

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    Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    2019 WAR: -0.8

    At the outset of 2019, Scooter Gennett was entrenched as one of the Reds' big bats. But once he strained his groin in spring training, that was pretty much that.

    The 29-year-old ultimately played in only 42 games for the Reds and San Francisco Giants, and his offensive output sunk to a .568 OPS and two home runs. After a season like that, he's the definition of a "reclamation project."

    To this end, the .303/.351/.508 slash line and 50 homers Gennett produced between 2017 and 2018 offer a tantalizing reminder of his potential. And even if he can't be that guy again, he might be a weapon against right-handers.

    In light of their uncertain situation at second base, the Oakland Athletics might want to give Gennett a shot at earning the job rather than assume that Tony Kemp or Franklin Barreto can handle it.

    Other Fits: Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, San Diego Padres

C Russell Martin: Cincinnati Reds

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    2019 WAR: 0.7

    According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Russell Martin isn't ready to call it a career just yet.

    If so, it's fair to ask what the 37-year-old even has left in the tank. It's been five years since his last All-Star appearance, and he's spent the last three as a part-time player. The last of these was also the worst offensive season of his 14-year career.

    Martin did, however, continue to hit lefties solidly to the tune of a .748 OPS. Despite seeing limited action, he also maintained a place among the game's top pitch framers.

    Assuming Martin's goal would be to win a World Series ring, he might want to reach out to the Reds and try to sell himself as a better partner for Tucker Barnhart than Curt Casali.

    Other Fits: Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres

RHP Collin McHugh: Los Angeles Angels

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    2019 WAR: 0.4

    Though a team could sign Collin McHugh as a starter, he has a more exciting profile as a reliever.

    In 85 appearances for the Houston Astros across 2018 and 2019, the 32-year-old racked up a 2.21 ERA with 134 strikeouts in 106 innings. He only averaged a modest 92.0 mph on his fastball, yet his penchant for spin rate more than made up for that.

    If anything, McHugh's durability is a bigger question than his ability. He missed a good chunk of 2019, including all of the postseason, because of elbow discomfort.

    Nevertheless, any number of teams could use McHugh's help in their bullpen. He would especially make sense for the Los Angeles Angels, who frankly need as many quality arms as they can get.

    Other Fits: Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants, Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies

LHP Jason Vargas: Boston Red Sox

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    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    2019 WAR: 1.2

    The high point of Jason Vargas' career came just three years ago, when he was an All-Star who co-led the majors in wins with Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco.

    Yet for most of his career, the 37-year-old has merely been a dependable innings-eater. That was even the case last season, in which he soft-tossed his way to a 4.51 ERA over 149.2 innings for the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies.

    Those numbers likely represent the best of what teams can hope for out of Vargas in 2020. But as long as a given team is only asking him to hold down a job as a No. 5 starter, that's fine.

    Given how thin their depth looks after the departures of David Price and Rick Porcello, the Boston Red Sox should be considering Vargas for their rotation.

    Other Fits: Los Angeles Angels, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants, Detroit Tigers

RHP Andrew Cashner: Kansas City Royals

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    Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

    2019 WAR: 2.5

    Andrew Cashner has been a reasonably effective pitcher in two of the last three seasons, so it might seem odd that he hasn't found a job.

    In actuality, not really. The 33-year-old doesn't throw as hard as he used to, and in the last three seasons, he's specialized neither in racking up strikeouts (5.6 per nine innings) nor in preventing walks (3.6) or home runs (1.1).

    But like Vargas, Cashner is at least a solid candidate for the fifth spot in a team's rotation. Down the stretch of the 2019 season, he also showed flashes of being capable of handling a relief role.

    A return to the Red Sox would make some sense, but a pitching-needy team with a big home stadium would suit Cashner better. For instance, the Kansas City Royals.

    Other Fits: Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Detroit Tigers 

RHP Aaron Sanchez: Colorado Rockies

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    2019 WAR: -0.3

    Aaron Sanchez was an All-Star and the American League's ERA leader in 2016. However, he's had a rough time since then.

    As a member of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017 and 2018, Sanchez managed only 28 total starts because of a litany of blister and other hand issues. He was healthy enough to make 27 starts for the Blue Jays and Astros last season, but he struggled badly with a 5.89 ERA.

    To make matters worse, Sanchez underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in September. Whoever signs him will do so knowing he won't be ready until sometime after the start of the 2020 season.

    If any team should take a flier on Sanchez, it's the Colorado Rockies. Assuming he recovers well, his sinker could mesh nicely with their outstanding infield defense.

    Other Fits: St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants

                 

    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.