Yesterday’s Non-Tender Deadline flushed a swath of talent into the 2018-19 free agent market. This year in particular, there are some big names that have shaken up the playing field — but which of these players could draw the most interest?
1. OF, Billy Hamilton
Once a coveted player within the Reds’ organization, Hamilton has plunged into free agency — something that almost nobody expected. While, yes, Hamilton has struggled in terms of getting on base, he is the fastest man in baseball — fast enough to have drawn comparisons to the likes of Rickey Henderson. I’m sure, if he wanted to, he could bunt his way to a .300+ average — apparently that is an impractical approach. Regardless, Hamilton is sure to draw a mess of interest from multiple teams. If not initially a starter, he would at least represent a threat off of the bench, and a deadly one at that.
2. INF, Jonathan Schoop
Schoop, sadly, fell from grace in 2018 after his remarkable 2017 campaign in which he slashed .293/.338/.503 with a terrifying 32 long drives. That kind of impact will not go unnoticed, especially from a lower-end production spot like second base or shortstop. I’m sure Schoop will receive heavy interest, both from competitive teams, as well as those who are looking to snag a young, controllable infielder with a great deal of upside. In all honesty, he’s a great fit for any team, especially given the fact that he’s still only 26 years old.
3. INF/OF, Derek Dietrich
(Ok, so Dietrich wasn’t technically non-tendered, but I think he’s still well worth the mention.)
Dietrich is a below average defender, but he has experience at almost every single position in the game. In addition, he swings a pretty good left-handed bat, and definitely has a bit of pop in him. His versatility should make him a well received market asset, and will surely land him on a team this winter, namely those who miss out on Marwin Gonzalez.
4. 1B, Justin Bour
Bour is only one year removed from a monster season in which he slashed .289/.366/.536 with a whopping .902 OPS. If that doesn’t interest you, then I don’t know what will. Bour is patient at the plate, has a remarkable amount of power, and is actually quite solid defensively. Teams should be able to look past his struggles during the 2018 season, and will look to give him a shot to return to form.
5. RHP, Hunter Strickland
Yeah, I can’t lie to you, this guy is a jerk. I wouldn’t want him anywhere near my team, however, I wouldn’t want him on another team either. Strickland can pitch, and he’s proved that time after time. However, the main reason he was likely non-tendered is because of the Giants’ interest in Bryce Harper — the two players don’t exactly have the cleanest history. Regardless, I have no doubt that a team with zero interest in Harper will be looking to snap up Strickland, no matter how bad of a teammate he may be.
6. RHP, Matt Shoemaker
Shoemaker was once seen as the future of the Angels’ rotation, but due to recent struggles, he’s now been thrust into the open market. While his numbers over the last few years have been less than encouraging, his peripherals look quite good. Low-ish BB/9 rates, higher K/9 rates, low FIPs here and there. There will definitely be a few rebuilding teams looking to fill out their rotation, and Shoemaker could be an excellent rebound candidate.
7. INF/OF, Yangervis Solarte
I’ve always liked Solarte — he’s an oft-overlooked utility man with an electric personality, plus he has some good pop in his bat. However, his most encouraging figure lies within his strikeout rates. Solarte has never, during his five year major league career, struck out more than 72 times in a season. So, if your team wants a versatile guy off the bench, or even in the starting lineup, that strives to make every single at bat one of quality, Yangervis Solarte could very well be your guy.
8. RHP, Brad Boxberger
Not only is Boxberger the owner of one of the coolest names in baseball, but he also puts his money where his mouth is in terms of numbers. Boxberger has shown promise in the closing role, having logged 32 saves in 2018 and 41 in 2015, the same year in which he earned all-star honors. Boxberger’s only caveat lies within injury concerns. He missed time both in 2016 and 2017 due to various injuries, but returned in 2018 to pitch a full 53.1 innings. Boxberger could be a helpful pickup for any team, especially those looking to get into the reliever market for easy flipping.
9. RHP, Mike Fiers
Fiers was a real surprise in 2018, pitching his way through a full 172 frames whilst maintaining a solid 3.56 ERA for both the Tigers as well as the Athletics. After struggling for Houston in both 2016 and 2017, it was nice to see Fiers come back and toss what could go down as his career best season. Though Fiers is 33 and doesn’t exactly have time on his side, he could very well fetch a deal from a team looking to fill a rotation spot, and, should his success continue, he could be flipped to a contender.
10. RHP, Shelby Miller
All right, here it is folks, the one you’ve all been waiting for. Shelby Miller, who was once traded for the first overall pick of the 2015 MLB Draft in Dansby Swanson, as well as a 25 year-old Ender Enciarte, AND pitching prospect Aaron Blair, was non tendered by the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday. In what must be the worst trade of the modern era, the Diamondbacks received what could only be described as a waste of space. Through three injury-plagued years, Miller only managed to amass 139 innings, and they weren’t good ones. This may have you thinking, ‘how in the world could you possibly believe that this guy could stage a comeback?’ Well, for one thing, he’s only 28 years old. Second, it was no secret that Miller was a ground ball guy — he never really had the stuff to accumulate double digit strikeouts. Finally, when he’s healthy, he has excellent durability and control. If he can find his velocity, get back into a winning mindset, and is paired with a solid infield defense, he could be a massive pickup for any team. After all, in both trades involving him, he garnered insane returns — maybe he can squeeze his way into another one.