MLB: Ten Underrated Free Agents of the 2018-19 Class

The most anticipated offseason in recent memory is in full swing, and while most are focussed on the big names — Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Patrick Corbin, and the like, we here at LITS are honing in on some of the names that aren’t getting as much attention, but would easily be supreme upgrades for any and all teams this coming year. Let’s get started:

1. RHP, Kelvin Herrera

This 29 year-old closer was a highly anticipated trade candidate during the 2018 season, but, after putting up mediocre numbers with the Washington Nationals, his dominant reputation took a major hit. Though his second half performance was undoubtably poor, a career 2.82 ERA and his vast experience as a closer should prove more than enough reason for Herrera to see a healthy contract.

Contract Prediction: 3 years, $18 Million

2. RHP, Joakim Soria

Soria, an established veteran closer, has played for six separate teams over the last five years, and returns to the market again this year. However, I for one believe this years’ suitors could prove different for him. After another season putting up solid numbers, as well as taste of the postseason with the Brewers, the time may be right for Soria to receive a contract that eclipses one year. After all, with a career 2.88 ERA and an outstanding 220 saves over an 11 year career, Soria has shown that he’s not ready to slow down quite yet.

Contract Prediction: 2 years, $12 Million

3. INF, Josh Harrison

It is mind boggling to me that Harrison is not receiving more attention. The 30 year-old utility man has been nothing but consistent over his eight years in the majors, and, while 2018 was not his most prominent performance, it is indisputable that his versatility and athleticism would prove an aid to any team, especially those who miss out on Marwin Gonzalez. Harrison’s career .277 batting average and positional flexibility should offset his injury concerns, and should provide him with a solid deal this winter.

Contract Prediction: 2 years, $8 Million

4. INF, Neil Walker

After an absolutely abysmal 2018, Walker will be looking to bounce back in the coming season with a new club. The 32 year-old has flaunted positional flexibility, and shown flashes of excellence at the plate, so it seems likely that a team in need of a middle infielder will take a chance on him.

Contract Prediction: 1 year, $5 Million

5. INF, Tim Beckham

This 28 year-old utility man is one year removed from a dominant 2017 in which he slashed a solid .278/.328/.454 with 22 long balls — and that was his first full season. When he’s healthy and given regular playing time, the young, former first-rounder can provide some excellent offensive numbers, as well as a great deal of roster flexibility. He should have a fair amount of suitors going into 2019.

Contract Prediction: 1 year, $3 Million

6. LHP, Gio Gonzalez

Add this one to the list of ‘why in the world isn’t this guy drawing more interest?’ Gio Gonzalez has been the poster child of consistency over his 11 year career in the majors. The 32 year-old lefty boasts a career 3.69 ERA with even better peripherals over a staggering 1814 career innings pitched. Sure, his 2018 wasn’t exactly what he had hoped it to be, but I for one see nothing wrong with a 4.21 ERA over 32 starts. Gonzalez is a candidate for steal of the offseason, and would be a definitive upgrade for any team in need of a lefty in their rotation — especially those who miss out on Corbin, Happ, and Keuchel.

Contract Prediction: 3 years, $24 Million

7. LHP, Drew Pomeranz

Okay, hear me out. Yes, he was useless in 2018, and yes, he ended up in the bullpen and was, again, awful, but look at his 2017: a 3.32 ERA in 173.2 innings and a 9.0 K/9 — and his 2016 was extraordinarily similar. Those are intriguing numbers to say the least. Now, I will be the first to concede that his peripherals do not look great, and, after suffering through injury, he may have regressed slightly, but most teams should at least be willing to give him a shot.

Contract Prediction: 1 year, $5 Million

8. RHP, Cody Allen

Once again, add this guy to the same list as Josh Harrison and Gio Gonzalez. Cody Allen has had one singular outlying season, said season being 2018. Prior to this past year, Allen had logged sub 3 ERAs from 2013-2017, and turned in three consecutive years of 30+ saves. It is astonishing to me that a guy with clean peripherals, and a beyond solid K/9 ratio is getting almost no hype in any direction. If I were a GM, this guy would be near to the top of my list of players to lock down quickly. He’s another one that could come as a certified steal.

Contract Prediction: 2 years, $12 Million

9. LHP, Derek Holland

Holland had a sneakily good 2018, posting up a respectable 3.57 ERA and an encouraging 1.0 HR/9, a statistic he’s struggled with for quite some time. After working tirelessly to return to form, it seems quite likely that he’s found a method that works well for him. It will be interesting to see where he ends up.

Contract Prediction: 1 year, $6 Million

10. RHP, Anibal Sanchez

Speaking of sneakily good years, to round out this list we have what was perhaps the most surprising return of 2018. Anibal Sanchez was a massive part of the Braves’ division winning team, turning out a 2.83 ERA in 136.2 innings pitched. While his peripherals weren’t anything impressive, it stands to reason that Sanchez could have found his way back to whatever it was he discovered in 2013 when he logged a 2.57 ERA in 182 innings — and if that’s the case, he would be a major pickup for any team out there.

Possible Contract: 1 year, $8 Million

MLB News: Mets, Mariners Blockbuster Finally Comes to Fruition

After what seems like an age, the Mets and Mariners have finally mutually agreed upon the blockbuster trade in which the Mets will receive 2B Robinson Cano, CL Edwin Diaz, and $20 Million in cash in exchange for OF Jay Bruce, RHP Anthony Swarzak, OF Jarred Kelenic (Mets #3, MLB #62), RHP Justin Dunn (Mets #4, MLB #89), and RHP Gerson Bautista.

The deal had stuttered to a halt for a time as the teams were finalizing the financial intricacies of the trade, but finally reached completion Saturday night.

Overall, the trade seems relatively well balanced. The Mets move forward with their ‘win now’ mentality and receive arguably the best closer in baseball, as well as a long-tenured veteran who swings a hefty bat and has yet to show sign of regression — yet being the operative word.

The Mariners on the other hand receive two veterans in Bruce and Swarzak, both of which they may decide to move at any given deadline, as well as two extremely talented prospects — one of which, being Kelenic, is considered to have ‘superstar’ level tools. They also come out of the deal taking a flier on reliever Gerson Bautista, a work in progress, yet still young right hander. Plus, the Mariners finally shed the abysmal contract held by Robinson Cano — something their General Manager, Jerry Dipoto, was dead set on doing.

This is just one of the many trades that are sure to ensue leading up to the winter meetings, so stay tuned for more!

MLB: Ten Non-Tendered Players That Could Shake Up the Offseason Market

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.

MLB News: Braves Big Day, Sign Donaldson and McCann

The proverbial ‘stove’ was set aflame earlier today as the Braves announced the re-signing of catcher Brian McCann to a one-year, $2 Million deal, as well as the signing of third baseman Josh Donaldson to a one-year $23 Million pact.

The club has officially filled their two largest needs, and has grabbed the fan bases’ attention a great deal in acquiring a top Free Agent, as well as signing an old fan favorite.

The acquisition of Josh Donaldson is sure to have Atlanta buzzing, for when the Bringer of Rain is healthy, he is a force to be reckoned with — though many will say that his age will force regression upon him. Atlanta’s General Manager, Alex Anthropolis, had expressed his disinterest early on in signing a Manny Machado or Bryce Harper type, especially seeing as long term deals do tend to bare quite a risk further on down the line, see Albert Pujols, Chris Davis, and so on. But, at a one-year deal, this addition bares no substantial risk for the Braves, while also providing Donaldson his moneys worth.

McCann is expected to have an effect both in the clubhouse and on the field. His exceptional career spans far past his catching skills, seeing as his offensive numbers are certainly nothing to scoff at. Over his fourteen year career, McCann has produced a .263/.338/.454 slash with 270 career big flies. While it is true that his bat is not what it used to be, it can be said that the catcher is due for a bounce back — especially when his new team is the same club that he made six consecutive All-Star appearances with starting as far back as 2005.

The Braves certainly have staked their claim this offseason, and are only just getting started…

MLB News: Pearce to Stay With the Sox

The Boston Red Sox acquired Steve Pearce from Toronto late last June in exchange for minor league infielder Santiago Espinal and cash considerations. This deal ended up making quite the difference as Pearce aided the Red Sox to a World Championship, acquiring the title of World Series MVP in the process.

Now it seems that Pearce is here to stay. According to multiple reports, Pearce and the Red Sox agreed on a one-year, $6.25 Million pact to keep him in Boston.

The 35 year-old will likely fill many roles, as he is known for his versatility in the outfield, as well as at first and second base. There will also be many opportunities for him to serve as a designated or pinch hitter, and he likely will.

Sports News: MLB Wild Card Race, NHL Signings & Danis Zaripov, Spit balls of the week!

It’s that time of the week, school is starting soon, NFL season is officially here, the MLB wild card race is heating and the NHL is now a month away. It is Spitballs of the week time! Catch up on the latest news surrounding the NHL and MLB. Some of my own takes and some stuff to watch out for in the coming months!

MLB: The AL Wild Card race is probably the more interesting of the two, the Yankees have now dropped six of their last 10, the Twins are one game out and the Indians are on a nine-game winning streak. There’s not much to look into here the Yankees are slowly losing grips of the Wild Card, Baltimore is only a game and half back and the Yankees continue to be inconsistent. Also, the Yankees face off against the Orioles two more times before the year ends and the Twins one more time(Watch OUT!). The Orioles are 8-2 in their last ten and face off against Toronto, Cleveland, Yankees, Toronto for the next upcoming series. The Twins have been able to hold their own and see some success in big moments, the Twins play Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Toronto in the next upcoming series. As for the Twins, they have an “easier” half of the schedule compared to the other wild card teams.

The NL, of course, the Nationals and Dodgers have control over their divisions, the Cubs will more than likely win the NL Central and as far as Wild Card goes the Diamondbacks and Rockies will be the two teams in those last two spots. The Rockies have been on/off lately but the Cardinals and Brewers do not scare me too much for the Rockies sake. The Diamondbacks are 9-1 in their last ten and play San Diego, Dodgers, and the Rockies in the upcoming series. The Brewers are 1.5 games back from the Rockies and after Washington, they face off against the Reds, Cubs, Pirates, and Marlins, scheduling may favor Milwaukee, here do not sleep on them!

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Oh, Clayton Kershaw is back, after returning from the DL after a month, he shut down the Padres for 6 innings allowing no runs, 7 strikeouts and two hits. That’ll be fun come playoff time to face off against the Dodgers pitching rotation and bullpen. Nothing new Kershaw and the Dodgers just continue to dominate MLB teams and the league as a whole right now. The Dodgers have 92 wins with still a month of baseball to be played. 

Justin Verlander was sent to Houston recently, many thought Verlander was going to stay and Houston messed up by not going out to get a pitcher at the deadline. Well, those critics can be silenced now, as Houston now has a former Cy Young winner and a pitcher with 16 starts in the postseason and 380 in the regular season. Can’t hurt as the Astros were deemed for not making a move, acquiring Verlander is a big addition the Astros rotation.

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NHL: The KHL forward who was suspended from the KHL for doping is making his way over to the NHL now and a few teams have expressed interest in him. Danis Zaripov is a 36-year-old forward from the KHL, he’s played nine seasons in the KHL and has produced, 453 points and 199 goals. Two teams that have publicly expressed interest in Zaripov is Pittsburgh and the Rangers. It’s said that Malkin expressed interest in playing on the same line with Zaripov, a guy who just won the Russian most valuable player award will more than likely get another Russian forward to join him unless the Rangers offer Zaripov more money.

The Blue Jackets have locked up forward Alexander Wennberg for 6-years at $4.9 mil a year. The 22-year-old forward has shown major strides of progression in the Blue Jackets organization now, and anytime a player goes from 40 to 59 points in one season, it deserves a little looking into. Wennberg is a big, strong forward who will be a top three player on the Blue Jackets for years to come. The six years is absolutely crucial to Columbus because now he’s locked in and will be a huge drawing asset for other players looking to come to Columbus in the future.

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Thomas Vanek is back on another team for another season! The 33-year-old forward has signed a 1-year deal for $2 million with Vancouver. Vanek has played on six NHL teams and five different ones in the past four seasons. Vancouver will be Vanek’s seventh NHL club and sixth team in five seasons. Vanek scored 48 points and 16 goals with the Red Wings/Panthers last season. Vanek has struggled to stay healthy and remain consistent in line ups but at $2 million for a team like Vancouver will not hurt at all. Vanek can now play along with the Sedin brothers who may help resurge the talented goal scorers ability and get him some confidence back. Vanek is capable of being a 50-60 point player when he’s healthy, barring injuries and Vanek plays a full season, paired with the Sedin brothers would not hurt the once 40 goal scorers year.

Spitballs: Yankees, Twins take last two wild card spots, Dodgers win 115 games and probably the world series(I don’t care, they’re too good), Red Sox’s bunt again to annoy Yankee pitchers, Zaripov goes to Pittsburgh, Vanek scores 30 goals next season, Wennberg tallies 65 points next season.

Be on the look out later today for some introduction to the NFL season article!!

 

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