Playing Matchmaker with MLB Free Agents and Those Needy Teams | Launderer’s report



0 out of 5

    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    As the MLB season heats up, there’s just enough information to know what some teams need to reach their full potential.

    It could be an extra bat in the lineup, another arm in the rotation, help from the bullpen, or positional depth.

    Without overreacting to the small sample size of around a dozen games in 162, you can still get an idea of ​​what a team is missing.

    On the other side of that, think of all the players who remain unsigned.

    For context, B/R’s Joel Reuter covered free agency’s big board after the lockdown ended in March. Our colleague Zachary D. Rymer continued with this list of underrated free agents who were still available.

    Now let’s play matchmaker with a few remaining free agents and teams in need. Also feel free to submit your suggestions.

1 out of 5

    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    For all the money the Texas Rangers have passed this offseason, their pitching is still lacking.

    Texas has the highest ERA in baseball and the second highest WHIP in 10 games. The Rangers activated their top pitcher, Jon Gray, on Tuesday after spending more than a week on the injured list with a blister.

    But they need more than Gray’s return for it to be passable personnel. The bullpen struggled with a league-high 5.68 ERA and league-worst -0.8 WAR FanGraphs.

    This is where Trevor Rosenthal comes in. He’s had his ups and downs since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017, and thoracic outlet surgery and a hip injury have also sidelined him for the whole of last year. .

    Due to his poor health in recent years, Rosenthal is expected to be priced reasonably (not the $11 million a year he received from Oakland last year).

    The last time he was healthy in 2020, the right-handed reliever posted an elite 41.8 strikeout percentage.

2 out of 5

    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    It might seem like the Philadelphia Phillies would be overdoing it if they signed outfielder Brian Goodwin after bringing in Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos in the offseason.

    But after starting the campaign 4-8, the worst record in the NL East, Philadelphia could use a spark. Phillies offense is top 10 in OPS and WAR and finished 11th in wRC+.

    Still, they’ve been held to three points or less in six games, and one point or less in four of those games.

    Goodwin played his best baseball in 2019, when he was the Angels the second most valuable outfielder after Mike Trout, per Baseball Reference. Since then, he’s been pretty quiet during stints with the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox.

    At the very least, Goodwin would improve the Phillies’ hitting against right-handed throwing, whe was there 25 percent better than average, as measured by wRC+, in 2021.

    Meanwhile, the Phillies held a .914 OPS against lefties after 12 games, which ranked third in baseball, compared to .660 OPS against righties after 12 games, which ranked 18th.

3 out of 5

    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    At 39, JA Happ doesn’t have much left in the tank.

    Rymer previously pointed out the left-handed starter alarming odor rate and output speed. But Happ was an important part of the St. Louis Cardinals’ late-season run to the playoffs in 2021.

    He was able to do so after changing his field mix to play better in defense for the Cardinals, who led the league in above average outputs.

    Logically, Happ could do the same for another great defensive team with wrestling plans this year. Right now, it looks like the San Diego Padres, who are under tremendous pressure to live up to unmet expectations in 2021.

    The Padres lead baseball in recorded defensive runs and ranks second in outputs above average. If Happ limits his four seams again and throws more sinkers, he could bring some value to San Diego.

4 out of 5

    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Justin Upton’s role is clearly that of a reserve at this stage of his career. The 34-year-old outfielder has been a substitute-level player since 2019and his OPS has steadily dropped since 2017.

    His .705 OPS last year was his lowest since he was a rookie in 2007.

    The appeal of signing Upton is the potential depth he could provide in a part-time role.

    He could still help a team like the Minnesota Twins, who ranked 25th in OPS as of Tuesday (.627). While hitting seemed to be their strength heading into the season, the lineup has been one of the worst in baseball.

    Minnesota checked in on Upton earlier this month, by 5 Darren Wolfson of Eyewitness News. Adding an experienced hitter wouldn’t hurt.

5 out of 5

    Winslow Townson/Getty Images

    The Boston Red Sox are one of at least two teams to reach to Michael Conforto, by Univision’s Mike Rodriguez, and the fit makes sense. He would play mostly in right field and is a better option offensively than Jackie Bradley Jr. or Christian Arroyo.

    Conforto injured his shoulder during training in January, which is part of the reason why it took him so long to sign. The acquiring team would also have to forfeit draft compensation if he signs before the July 17 draft. Still, he’s the best free agent available, and most teams looking to improve their offense should check in.

    While Conforto has had a down year in 2021, he has improved his strikeout and walk rates, is only 28 years old and has a lot of talent in his bat.

    Boston sits 19th in OPS after 11 games, though that hasn’t stopped the Red Sox from clinging to the top of the AL East.

    Statistics via Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and baseball scholar unless otherwise stated.

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