This is where the really smart teams have a chance to get rewarded in free agency.
There are still productive players on the free-agent market. In fact, this might just be the best time to shop. This is when the smart teams have a chance to clean up.
Here’s some recent history:
- RHP Kyle Lohse was signed by the Cardinals on March 13, 2008, for the bargain-basement price of $4.25 million. He won 15 games and pitched 200 innings that season.
- 1B/OF/3B Aubrey Huff was signed by the Giants on Jan. 10, 2010, for $3 million. He hit 26 home runs and had an .891 OPS. He then hit .268 in 15 postseason games to help the Giants win the World Series.
- RF Nelson Cruz signed with the Orioles on Feb. 24, 2014, for $8 million. He led the majors with 40 home runs as the Birds won the AL East for the first time in 17 years.
So, yes, things sometimes do happen late in Spring Training, and teams get signification production from guys who don’t get one of the mega-dollar deals.
If you’re favorite baseball team is still looking for just that right finishing touch (or two or three of them), there’s still opportunity.
These really aren’t money deals, at least not deals involving more than a season or two. Rather, these are deals that get done because a coach or a scout sees something in a player no one else has seen.
He has to stand up in meetings and argue for that argue, argue that investing a few million dollars would result be wise.
There are very few sure things on the market at this point. Some players are coming off poor seasons. Some are fighting back from injuries.
And in some cases, players are widely seen as too old or in steep decline. For instance, right-hander Doug Fister is still unsigned.
At this time last year, he figured to be one of the coveted free agents. He’d gone 16-6 and had a 2.41 ERA for the Nationals. In six full major league seasons, he’d averaged 171 innings and had a 3.38 ERA.
But 2015 was tough for him. He pitched his way out of the rotation and dealt with some forearm soreness. Despite finishing the season with six consecutive relief appearances, he remains on the market.
If he’s healthy–and really, that’s the only issue–he’s going to be a great pickup for some team.
For instance, the Orioles, who need starting pitching and have seen a lot of Fister through the years.
His former teammate, shortstop Ian Desmond, also remains unsigned. And Pedro Alvarez and Dexter Fowler and Howie Kendrick.
There are enough quality players out there that an entire team could be composed of just the remaining free agents.
OF—Jonny Gomes/David DeJesus
Lefty specialist—Craig Breslow
Lefty specialist—Neal Cotts