The MLB off season is underway and free agency is the hot topic all around baseball. Today I will be continuing my six part series highlighting the top thirty free agents— five players in each part. Today, here are the 21st-25th best free agents, and my prediction for their landing spots. The ranking of free agents comes from Fangraphs.
25. Tanner Roark, SP, Age 33
2019 Statistics: 10-10, 4.35 ERA, 4.67 FIP, 21.9 K%, 7.1 BB%, 1.40 WHIP, 2.0 WAR
Prediction: Cincinnati Reds, 2 years $14 million
You know what you’re getting with Roark. He will give you 30 games started, 170+ innings, an ERA around 4.30 and a 2.5 WAR season. Roark spent the first half of last season in Cincinnati before being dealt to the Athletics at the deadline. I think he will end up back with the Reds.
The front of the Reds rotation is borderline elite with Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer leading the way. They will be looking for a fifth guy and Roark makes a ton of sense in that spot, especially because they will spend most of the off season improving the lineup.
24. Travis d’Arnaud, C, Age 31
2019 Statistics: 391 PA, .251/.312/.433 (.745), 16 HR, 69 RBIs, 8.2 BB%, 21.7 K%, 1.6 WAR
Prediction (well actually he signed now): Atlanta Braves, 2 years, $16 million
d’Arnaud is coming off the best season a solid season with the Mets and Rays. Injuries and under performance have gotten to him over his career, only allowing him to play 80+ games in a season three out of his seven seasons. Defensively, he is above average in framing, throwing out runners and catcher ERA.
The Braves signed d’Arnaud to split duties with the recently re-signed Tyler Flowers. For transparency, I will admit I had him going to Milwaukee before this happened but the Braves also make a lot of sense.
23. Howie Kendrick, IF, Age 36
2019 Statistics: 370 PA, .344/.395/.572 (.916), 17 HR, 62 RBIs, 7.3 BB%, 13.2 K%, 2.9 WAR
Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays, 2 years $14 million
The World Series hero for the Washington Nationals is hitting free agency as a 36-year old that will generate a lot of interest. He had the best season of his long career in 2019, hitting career highs in OPS and wRC+. He is one of the best utility players on the open market and will likely play mostly first base or designated hitter.
I like his fit on the Rays (I really would love him on the Twins, but I don’t know where) a lot. The Rays made a push for Nelson Cruz last season and have already been rumored to be in on Kendrick. With his age they wont have to commit many years or dollars towards him. He is a great bench bat who can play whenever needed.
22. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/DH, Age 36
2019 Statistics: 486 PA, .244/.344/.531 (.875), 34 HR, 86 RBIs, 11.9 BB%, 21.2 K%, 2.5 WAR
Prediction: Toronto Blue Jays, 1 year $10 million
Encarnacion was back to his usual self in 2019, hitting over 30 bombs and an OPS over .850 for the Yankees. He enters free agency as an aging power-hitting first baseman, or in other words, a player that teams wont really throw money at because they all have two or more of the same type of player in the minors. Luckily, Encarnacion might still have another couple years of above average power, and will land himself a deal.
Why not a reunion? He spent 2009-2016 with the Blue Jays, and I think he should head back as they rise back up to relevancy. A lineup with a core of Vlad jr, Encarnacion, Bichette and other rising players could be scary in Toronto.
21. Drew Pomeranz, RP, Age 31
2019 Statistics (bullpen): 28.2 IP, 1.88 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 51.5 K%, 7.5 BB%, .505 OPS
Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals, 2 years $15 million
Pomeranz is one of the most interesting players on this season’s free agent market. He headlines a lot of the reliever discussion, despite only spending half a season in the ‘pen. The reason he is drawing so much interest is because of his extreme dominance. Good luck finding a free agent who is coming off a season where he struck out 50% of the batters he faced from the bullpen.
A lot of the comparisons for Pomeranz have been to Andrew Miller because of his transition from mediocre starter to dominance in the bullpen. I like the Cardinals to target Pomeranz and actually pair him up with Miller in their bullpen as a dangerous lefty duo.
Do you have a different opinion on where some of these guys could go, or hope the Twins sign one of them? Leave a comment and discuss.
This was the second part of out Top 30 free agent prediction series. Click here to see players 26-30. The next four parts will come out throughout the week.