The lingering Carlos Correa saga hangs over the free agency market, but beyond him the bulk of the free agents have found new homes for the 2023 season and beyond. While we won’t be seeing any monster deals from here, there are still a handful of players that could still have a positive impact on a new team. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best (in this writer’s view anyway) remaining free agents at each position.
Starting Pitcher: Johnny Cueto: 158 1/3 innings pitched, 3.35 ERA, 5.8 SO/9, 1.9 BB/9. Cueto enjoyed something of a resurgence last year for the White Sox, putting together his best campaign since 2016. His strikeout rate declined considerably but he offset that by displaying some of the best control of his career. He’ll turn 37 in February, so likely will only command a one-year deal but teams in need of a veteran arm to stabilize the backend of the rotation could certainly do worse than adding Cueto. The Padres, Marlins, Blue Jays and Reds have all had reported interest in the veteran right-hander at various stages of the off-season, while teams like the Angels have shown recent interest in adding another starter.
Relief Pitcher: Andrew Chafin: 57 1/3 IP, 2.83 ERA, 10.5 SO/9, 3.0 BB/9. Chafin’s been a quality left-handed reliever for the past few seasons now, the last of which came with the Tigers. He’s effective against both left and right-handed hitters, and should fit in as a late-inning arm wherever he winds up landing. Control was an issue earlier in his career, but he seems to have tidied that up and posted a mark below 8% for the second-straight season. That figure came with a quality 27.6% strikeout rate. After declining a $6.5MM option on his contract with the Tigers, he should be able to top that on the open market on a multi-year deal.
Catcher: Gary Sanchez: 471 plate appearances, .205/.282/.377, 16 home runs. The Yankees flipped Sanchez to Twins last winter after growing frustrated with his performance over the previous few seasons. Sanchez undoubtedly has talent, as evidenced by the 53 home runs and 143 wRC+ he compiled between 2016-17. He’s not come close to replicating that in the years since, slashing .202/.295/.427 for a below-average wRC+ of 96 between 2018-22. Sanchez has never been regarded as one of the top defensive catchers, but did post his best framing numbers per Fangraphs’ metric since 2018, and gave up the fewest wild pitches of his career (excluding the shortened 2020 season and 2016, when he didn’t play a full year). While a number of teams have filled their vacancy at catcher, the likes of the Red Sox, Tigers and Marlins could be among the teams interested.
First base: Trey Mancini: 587 PA, .239/.319/.391, 18 HR. Mancini split time between the Orioles and Astros in 2022, putting together a solid enough campaign at the plate. His 104 wRC+ in the past two seasons indicates he’s just four percent above the league average at the plate. For a first base/corner outfielder that’s unlikely to command a significant guarantee in free agency, but Mancini could still land a multi-year guarantee. There’s certainly an argument to be made that Mancini belongs in that outfield group of such an article, but any acquiring team would surely have him splitting time between first base and the outfield. Mancini was worth 2 Outs Above Average in 323 innings at first in 2022, the best mark of any of the positions he played.