5 free agents whose markets could heat up soon

Author Avatar

Staff Writer

Joined: Nov 2016

40 minutes ago

More than 100 players are still unsigned this offseason, yet the headlines have been dominated by the same half-dozen players since the season ended.

But what about the rest of the free agents? Why hasn’t there been much buzz about them to this point?

Let’s take a look at five notable free agents whose markets have seemingly been quiet through the first two months of free agency:

1. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
Hoskins’ time in Philadelphia ostensibly came to an end the moment Dave Dombrowski announced that Bryce Harper would be the Phillies’ first baseman next season, so barring a trade of Nick Castellanos that prompts Philly to move Harper back to the outfield, Hoskins will be wearing a new uniform in 2024.

Hoskins, who turns 31 in March, missed all of last season after suffering a torn ACL in Spring Training, but he is expected to be fine when camp opens. In his four full seasons in the Majors (not counting the COVID-shortened 2020 season), Hoskins has averaged 30 home runs per year, playing in at least 153 games in three of those four campaigns.

A number of teams are still in the market for a power bat, with the Blue Jays and Cubs among the most notable. Both teams have been connected to Hoskins this offseason, and after missing out on Shohei Ohtani, either club would be a sensible landing spot for Hoskins.

Toronto could use Hoskins and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at first base and designated hitter, giving both players time at each spot.

Chicago’s pursuit of Hoskins might depend on what happens with Cody Bellinger, who also remains on the market. If Bellinger returns to the Cubs, he could play center field until top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong arrives, at which point Bellinger could shift to first base. If Bellinger doesn’t re-sign with Chicago, Hoskins could fill the first-base role, helping to replace Bellinger’s bat in the lineup.

2. Tim Anderson, SS
Anderson became a free agent when the White Sox declined his $14 million option for 2024, and although his resume includes two All-Star appearances, an AL batting title and a Silver Slugger award, the shortstop endured a brutal season in 2023.

The 30-year-old slashed .245/.286/.296 with one home run, 25 RBIs and 13 stolen bases last season, a stark drop from the .318/.347/.474 slash line he posted from 2019-22. Anderson sustained a knee injury in early April that sidelined him for three weeks, though the issue seemed to bother him both at the plate and in the field throughout the season.

Anderson’s difficulties will likely result in him signing a one-year “prove it” deal for 2024, allowing him to rebuild his value and test the market again next winter. That could open his market to a number of teams, with the Giants, Angels and Marlins among those that have been connected to him at various points this offseason.

San Francisco’s No. 2 prospect is Marco Luciano, but his brief stint with the Giants last season (.641 OPS, 17 strikeouts in 45 plate appearances) could prompt the club to bring in a veteran, allowing Luciano to get more seasoning in the Minors. Anderson can also play some second base, giving the Giants options whenever Luciano arrives for good.

Miami currently has Jon Berti penciled in at shortstop, and while the Marlins seem unlikely to spend big money in free agency — they’re one of only two teams not to sign a Major League free agent this winter — Anderson’s situation might present Miami with a perfect storm. The Marlins reportedly had interest in Anderson prior to last year’s Trade Deadline, and if he signs an incentive-laden, one-year deal, he would certainly have motivation to rebound next year.

3. Marcus Stroman, RHP
We’ve heard plenty about the top three starters on the market — Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery and Shōta Imanaga — and had injuries and inconsistency not caused Stroman to endure post-break struggles, the right-hander might have been widely viewed as being on that level.

Even after his difficult second half, Stroman opted out of the final year and $21 million of his contract, giving the 32-year-old an opportunity to test the free-agent market. A number of teams have interest in Stroman, but just as Snell, Montgomery and Imanaga had to wait for Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto to sign, Stroman will likely need to wait for some other dominos to fall before he lands a new deal.

The Giants, Angels, Orioles and Red Sox have all been connected with Stroman, which makes sense given their respective rotation needs. A reunion with the Cubs also can’t be ruled out, though that seems less likely than Stroman signing with a new club.

4. Joc Pederson, OF
Pederson is drawing interest from teams looking for outfield and/or DH help, particularly those in need of a left-handed power bat. The 31-year-old had 15 home runs and a .764 OPS last season, with 14 of those long balls coming against right-handed pitchers.

The D-backs, Angels, Giants and Mariners have all been connected to Pederson, as have the Blue Jays and Cubs, two teams that have seemingly had interest in every notable bat on this year’s market.

San Francisco’s trade of Mitch Haniger to Seattle on Friday opened up an outfield spot, while the Mariners could still use another bat given the subtractions of Eugenio Suárez, Jarred Kelenic and Teoscar Hernández.

The Cubs’ interest likely depends on what happens with Bellinger, who appears to be the key to Chicago’s interest in a number of players. Pederson played the first half of 2021 with the Cubs.

Pederson’s postseason history should also be intriguing to potential suitors, as he’s played in October seven times, winning World Series rings with the 2020 Dodgers and ’21 Braves. In 79 career postseason games, Pederson has 12 home runs, 29 RBIs and an .814 OPS.

Of course, Pederson isn’t the only solid lefty outfield bat on the market; Eddie Rosario, his former Braves teammate who won NLCS MVP honors with Atlanta in 2021, hit 21 homers last season, with 18 coming against right-handed pitchers.

5. Gary Sánchez, C
The catching market has been thin this winter, with Victor Caratini, Martín Maldonado, Austin Hedges and Tom Murphy representing the most prominent free-agent deals at the position.

Sánchez didn’t sign until April 1 last year, catching on with the Giants on a Minor League deal. He never made it to the big leagues, though, so he opted out and signed with the Mets in early May. Sánchez appeared in three games with New York before being claimed off waivers by the Padres on May 29, where the former phenom rejuvenated his career.

In 72 games with San Diego, Sánchez hit 19 home runs with 46 RBIs and a .792 OPS, but his biggest contribution came behind the plate, where he served as Snell’s personal catcher for 18 straight starts, helping the lefty to the NL Cy Young Award.

There had been talk of a return to San Diego, but the Padres acquired Kyle Higashioka in the trade that sent Juan Soto to the Yankees, taking away their need for Sánchez.

A number of teams are still in need of catching help, including the Marlins, Rays and Red Sox, but Sánchez appears to be in waiting mode as he looks for his next deal. Given his success working with Snell last year, Sánchez could be monitoring his former teammate’s situation, hoping that Snell’s new club might be open to adding his personal catcher, too.


0 %

User Score

0 ratings
Rate This