Thursday, February 2, 2017

Remaining free agents: Anyone want a slugger?

Chris Carter
Has anyone else noticed what a bad offseason this has been for free-agent sluggers?

The calendar says February, but there still are plenty of guys out there with home run power that are looking for a contract. Just look up and down this free-agent tracker.

Need a right-handed power bat? Chris Carter, Mike Napoli and Mark Reynolds can be yours, and probably for cheap. In need of some lefty pop? How about Pedro Alvarez, Justin Morneau or Adam Lind? They're available.

Mark Trumbo led the American League in home runs last year with 47 -- 47 home runs! -- but it didn't lead to him breaking the bank in free agency this offseason. He took a three-year deal worth $38.5 million to remain with the Baltimore Orioles.

By way of comparison, the third-best closer on the market this offseason, Mark Melancon, got $62 million over four years from the San Francisco Giants.

It's interesting that guys who pitch one inning are now substantially more valuable in the marketplace than guys who are a threat to hit the ball in the seats every time they step into the batter's box.

Carter had 41 home runs for the Milwaukee Brewers last season. He can't find a job.

I'm wondering if the front office guys are looking at the WAR for these sluggers and feeling as if they just aren't worth an investment. Here is the 2016 WAR for each of the six guys I listed above:

Reynolds: 1.5
Napoli: 1.0
Carter: 0.9
Alvarez: 0.7
Morneau: 0.3
Lind: -0.3

This shows us that these guys provide little or no defensive utility. They are one-dimensional sluggers, and the game is starting to move away from that. There are no big bucks out there for "one-win" players.

I've had some people ask me why Todd Frazier remains on the roster for the rebuilding White Sox. Well, it's probably because front offices don't value sluggers that much anymore. Granted, Frazier had a 3.4 WAR last season, so he's better than the guys listed above, and he has some defensive utility at third base. However, there is no rush to acquire .220 hitters who give you 40 home runs, but also strike out a lot.

If that type of player were desired in the marketplace, Carter would have signed a free-agent contract by the first of the year.

1 comment:

  1. Update: Just saw a report that indicates Reynolds is going back to the Rockies on a minor-league deal. Wow. A minor-league deal for a player with 251 home runs in his 10-year career.