Offseason At A Glance
This offseason’s free agent field consisted of a top-heavy starting pitching market, a star-studded shortstop group, and the American League’s record holder for most home runs hit in a single season. All of those players are no longer available.
Former New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom signed a five-year, $185 million contract with the Texas Rangers. The Mets replaced deGrom in their rotation with 2022 A.L. Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander by signing him to a two-year, $86.7 million deal. The other top starter on the market, Carlos Rodón, signed a six-year, $162 million contract with the New York Yankees.
Trea Turner was the first shortstop off the board after signing an 11-year, $300 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. Xander Bogaerts inked a deal with the San Diego Padres worth $280 million over 11 years. Dansby Swanson agreed to sign a seven-year, $177 million deal with the Chicago Cubs. Then there’s Carlos Correa, who after agreeing to terms with two other teams, eventually landed back in Minnesota with the Twins by officially signing a six-year, $200 million contract.
After a tweet by an MLB insider reporting that Aaron Judge was going to become a member of the San Francisco Giants was quickly deleted, Judge ended up staying with the Yankees. He signed a nine-year, $360 million contract to stay in the Bronx for what is likely to be the rest of his career.
There have also been a large number of other free agents to sign new contracts so far this winter. While the free agent market is no longer as deep with talent as it once was, there are still some pretty good big-league players available.
As we inch closer and closer to Spring Training, here are six remaining free agents who could help a team in 2023.
Luke Voit (1B/DH):
Over the years, Voit has become known for his power at the plate. He had a special 2018 season, where he slugged .689 with 14 home runs in 148 plate appearances with the Yankees after being acquired from the Cardinals.
He hasn’t gotten back to those kinds of numbers, but despite his decline in overall offensive output, it is not crazy to think Voit could help a team this year.
In 2022, Voit slashed .226/.308/.402 with 22 doubles, 22 home runs, and a 106 OPS+. His xSLG and HardHit% were both in the 73rd percentile, while his Barrel% was in the 94th percentile.
As a right-handed hitter, Voit has had more success against same-handed pitching over the course of his major league career. That was also the case last season. The power-hitting righty hit .247/.312/.455 against righties in 2022, while his slash-line against lefties was .174/.298/.271. Out of his 22 homers, 20 came against right-handed pitchers.
Voit still has the ability to square up a baseball and hit it hard. Any team looking for a possible designated hitter who can hit well against right-handed pitching should look into signing him.
Robbie Grossman (OF/DH):
Robbie Grossman was traded from the Tigers to the Braves at last year’s trade deadline. The switch-hitter is entering his age 33 season, and while he is unlikely to sign a contract to be a full-time player, he can still help a club win games as a part-time player.
Defensively, Grossman works as a corner outfielder, where he can provide around-league-average defense. His OAA in 2022 was in the 54th percentile.
Offensively, he is a much better hitter against left-handed pitching. For his career, Grossman is a .279/.377/.413 hitter against lefties. He had similar success in 2022 against southpaws, where he slashed .320/.436/.443 in 149 plate appearances.
For front offices looking to add a platoon outfield bat to their roster for 2023, Robbie Grossman fits that description.
Jurickson Profar (LF):
In 2013, Jurickson Profar was the top prospect in all of baseball when he was a member of the Texas Rangers organization. He was ranked ahead of guys like Zack Wheeler, Gerrit Cole, and Francisco Lindor. Even though he hasn’t lived up to the hype he once received as a young player, he has turned himself into a productive player.
Profar is arguably the best free agent available. He is entering his age 30 season, and while he is listed as a left fielder above, he has a ton of experience all over the diamond. The only position he hasn’t played in the big leagues is catcher. His most recent year as a utility man was in 2021 with the Padres. Profar logged innings in all three outfield positions that year and also saw time at both first and second base.
The former top prospect can play multiple positions, but he isn’t a strong defender. He played all of his defensive innings in left field in 2022 and his OAA was -6.
Profar’s value comes from his offense. It isn’t All-Star caliber production, if it was, he would have already signed with a team, but he could be a good addition to a number of lineups heading into 2023.
Since the start of 2020, Profar is hitting .244/.333/.375 in 1,272 plate appearances, with a 10.8% walk rate and a 15.4% strikeout rate. In 2022, he slashed .243/.331/.391 with a 111 OPS+. He is also a switch-hitter who has hit both righties and lefties equally throughout his career.
Jurickson Profar is more than capable of playing every day for a big-league club and easily fits into a lineup that is looking to add offensive production from one of their outfield spots.
Michael Fulmer (RHP):
Michael Fulmer started his big league career in Detroit as a starting pitcher and was the 2016 A.L. Rookie of the Year. After an award-winning rookie campaign, Fulmer was an A.L. All-Star in 2017. He struggled in 2018 and missed the entire 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Fulmer then struggled in the shortened 2020 season but has bounced back since.
Over the last two seasons, Fulmer has enjoyed success as a reliever. He started four games in 2021, but his other appearances came out of the bullpen that year. Overall, he pitched 69.2 innings with a 2.97 ERA.
Last season, Fulmer continued his success out of the bullpen by pitching 62.2 innings, with a 3.39 ERA and 61 strikeouts. In the middle of the season, Fulmer was traded from the Tigers to the Twins.
The righty threw five different pitches in 2022, but he mainly used a slider, a four-seam fastball, and a sinker. Fulmer’s best pitch was his slider, which he used 63.4% of the time. It averaged 90.3 MPH and opponents hit .232 against it.
Left-handed hitters had success against Fulmer last year. They hit .337/.404/.526 against him. Right-handed hitters struggled though, as they slashed .188/.287/.257.
If Fulmer continues to use his slider more often than not, he could easily help fill out a bullpen heading into the season.
Andrew Chafin (LHP):
Andrew Chafin spent 2022 with the Tigers. He tossed 57.1 innings, with 67 strikeouts and a 2.83 ERA. Batters facing him hit .222/.291/.329.
He throws a sinker, slider, and four-seam fastball. Chafin used his sinker 39.3% of the time last season, and it was hit hard. Hitters had a .319 batting average and a .440 slugging percentage against his sinker. His four-seamer wasn’t much better. Chafin threw it 28.5% of the time, and batters hit .241 against it while slugging .407.
He had much more success with his slider. Chafin used his slider 31.9% of the time, and batters had a .085 batting average against it, and they only slugged .127.
Chafin can get both lefties and righties out, which makes him more valuable as a left-handed reliever, especially in today’s game. During his career, lefties have hit .222/.300/.303 against Chafin, and righties are slashing .231/.308/.347.
Chafin has the potential to be the best left-handed reliever in someone’s bullpen this year.
Matt Moore (LHP):
Just like the previously mentioned Jurickson Profar, Matt Moore was once the top-ranked prospect in baseball. Eleven years ago, the left-handed pitcher was ranked ahead of Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Manny Machado in MLB.com’s prospect rankings. After an All-Star year in 2013, Moore never fulfilled his projection as a top-of-the-line starting pitcher in the big leagues.
Moore struggled in 2021 with the Phillies where he posted a 6.29 ERA in 73.0 innings. He spent all of 2022 with the Rangers and was one of the better relievers in the majors. He threw 74.0 innings, struck out 83 batters, and had a 2.98 FIP and 1.95 ERA.
Why did Moore have the level of success he did in 2022? It could be due to the differences in the usage of his four-seam fastball and curveball when compared to previous seasons.
Here is a table comparing Moore’s four-seam fastball from 2021 to 2022:
|Four-seamer Spin Rate||2278 RPM||2385 RPM|
|Four-seamer Whiff Rate||17.8%||26.6%|
Now, here is a a table comparing Moore’s curveball from 2021 to 2022:
|Curveball Spin Rate||2203 RPM||2434 RPM|
|Curveball Whiff Rate||15.7%||29.5%|
Moore’s curveball worked well when he used it in 2021, so he used it much more in 2022 with a similar level of success. The spin rate also increased on his curveball, and he was able to get more swings and misses on that pitch.
When it comes to his fastball, even though he used it less in 2022 than in 2021, the success of that pitch is an interesting turnaround. Moore got slightly more spin on his fastball in 2022 and used it up in the zone more often. He also saw an uptick in the average velocity of his fastball from 92.4 MPH in 2021 to 93.9 MPH in 2022.
Whether or not Matt Moore can sustain the kind of success he had in 2022 this year is a question big league clubs will have to ask themselves. Did Texas help him figure some things out when it comes to his fastball and curveball, or was 2022 just an outlier? There’s only one way to find that out.
At the very least, he is definitely a guy that teams should look to sign to their big league roster for the beginning of Spring Training.
Spring Training is only a few weeks away, and even though the top of the free agent market is gone, that doesn’t mean there aren’t players still available that can help fill out a major league roster.
Luke Voit, Robbie Grossman, and Jurickson Profar are three positions players that should have roles wherever they sign. Michael Fulmer, Andrew Chafin, and Matt Moore could all become important relievers for whatever teams they sign with.
Featured Photo: Twitter / @MLB