Major League Baseball has witnessed an epic spending spree among its contending teams this offseason. Simultaneously, a lot of noteworthy players were non-tendered, who remain on the open market in addition to some glanced over free agents. Here are landing spots for six under-the-radar MLB free agents.
Matt Duffy – Minnesota Twins
The Twins are supposedly in the mix for Donaldson, which would subsequently move third baseman Miguel Sano to first base. Rather than spend upwards of $100 million on Donaldson, how about the Twins sign Duffy to a one-year, prove-it deal?
Duffy’s 2019 campaign was riddled by injuries and an inconsistent role in the Tampa Bay Rays depth chart. On the other hand, he’s just a year removed from an impressive season as their starting third baseman. Hitting .294 while totaling 148 hits across 132 games, he was one of Tampa Bay’s most steady hitters. He also played well at the hot corner.
Duffy could be the Twins opening day third baseman, or he can backup Sano, serving as a safety blanket.
Wilmer Flores – San Francisco Giants
New-school minds have taken over the Giants, and they’re looking for players to build around; Flores would be a compelling experiment.
Flores is a well-rounded, versatile player. He’s a contact hitter who’s difficult to strikeout and hit .317 while posting an .848 OPS across 89 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks last season. Flores has played all four infield positions on a consistent basis and held down the fort at all positions.
Flores could easily be the Giants starting second baseman next season and move over to first base on days that Brandon Belt gets a day off. Looking for a place to call home, maybe Flores thrives in the Bay Area and becomes a fixture in new manager Gabe Kapler‘s infield.
Felix Hernandez – Milwaukee Brewers
It’s no secret that King Felix isn’t the intimidating right-hander he once was, but that doesn’t mean he can’t man a role on a playoff team’s pitching staff. How about the Brewers?
Yet again, starting pitching will be the recurring question concerning the Brewers. They haven’t spent the big bucks or surrendered top prospects for starting pitching, instead choosing to go the stopgap route, partially due to their reliance on relievers. Manager Craig Counsell tends to have quick leashes on starting pitchers, meaning that Hernandez wouldn’t have to turn back the clock to be effective: he can grind through four-to-five inning starts.
Hernandez has struggled to pitch deep into games due to a decrease in velocity and teams pouncing on his go-to offerings. If he struggles starting every fifth day, the Brewers could make Hernandez a long reliever. Plus, the Brewers offer the 33-year-old the chance to pitch in the postseason, which he has never done in his 15-year MLB career.
Jason Kipnis – Oakland Athletics
After trading Jurickson Profar to the San Diego Padres, the A’s could use an infielder. Granted Chad Pinder made frequent appearances at four positions last season (second base, third base, left field, and right field), having a proven second baseman would benefit manager Bob Melvin‘s ballclub.
Kipnis is a proven power hitter; he has accrued 35 home runs and 140 RBIs over the last two seasons. Meanwhile, he’s a stellar fielder. Kipnis is adept at making diving plays, has exceptional field awareness, and makes throws from all over the infield. A power bat and proven glove bodes well for the A’s.
Kipnis could be their starting second baseman in 2020 on a short-term deal.
Steven Souza Jr. – Texas Rangers
The Rangers have spent the offseason beefing up their starting rotation. Now they need to fill out their depth chart; Souza would be a shrewd signing.
While he missed 2019 and most of 2018 due to injuries, Souza is one of the best defensive outfielders in the sport. He has a knack for getting behind deep flyballs and makes jaw-dropping diving catches. Meanwhile, Souza posted an .810 OPS and 119 OPS+ while blasting 30 home runs with the Rays in 2017.
The Rangers starting outfield is set, but Joey Gallo missed the bulk of last season due to injury, and Danny Santana has seen limited playing time in the outfield. Souza would provide the Rangers depth in right field and should be able to slide over to center, if need be, given his defensive prowess.
Arodys Vizcaino – Los Angeles Angels
Outside of Hansel Robles, who closed 23 games and recorded a 2.48 ERA across 71 appearances last season, the Angels bullpen exhibited a great deal of inconsistency in 2019; Vizcaino would be a low-risk, savvy signing.
Last season the right-hander made just four appearances with the Atlanta Braves due to injury but was a reliable force in years past. From 2017-18 he recorded an ERA below three and recorded a 1.60 ERA across 36 appearances in 2015. Vizcaino totals strikeouts at a high rate and finds success by relying on his slider and sinker (which registers in the high 90s).
The hard-throwing right-hander would add stability to the Angels bullpen.