The current MLB free agent class is primed to set records. With SS Manny Machado and OF Bryce Harper, two players that are primed to set the record for the highest deal ever, the most amount of money spent in an offseason could be in this one. But while there will be players getting money in the $200 millions, and probably more than $300 million, there will also be players that are expected to be getting under $20 million more than a tenth less than Machado and Harper will most likely get. So, without further to do, here\’s five underrated free agents, in no specific order.
Lance Lynn, RHP
Coming off a year slightly shortened by Tommy John surgery, Lynn signed a one year deal with the Twins. He disappointed, with a 5.10 ERA in 102.1 innings. After a trade deadline trade to the Yankees, it didn\’t seem like it, but Lynn was amazing. His 4.14 ERA in 11 games (nine starts) won\’t wow many, but in the 54.1 innings in the Bronx, Lynn had a FIP of 2.17. To put that into perspective, if Lynn had a 2.17 FIP the entire season, he would have finished second in the league behind Jacob deGrom\’s 1.98. A 2.17 FIP would also be about 150th best all-time for a single season, tied with many, including Pedro Martinez in 2000, Roger Clemens in 1988 and Cy Young in 1910. His career 3.67 FIP is better than fellow free agent Dallas Keuchel\’s 3.72, who is projected to get a four year, $82 million deal by mlbtraderumors.com. Really good for a player ranked as the 36th best free agent by MLBTR, who predicted a two year, $16 million contract to the Rays.
Daniel Descalso, INF
A player not even ranked on MLBTR\’s top 50 free agent list, or their honorable mentions, Descalso has seen time at LF, 1B, and most 2B, SS and 3B during his nine year career, so versatility is a plus. In 2018, he hit 13 home runs, had an OPS of .789, and an OPS+ of 106. According to MLB.com, Descalso had a WAR of 1.6 in 2018, double the WAR of second basemen Daniel Murphy, Brian Dozier, and Josh Harrison. Descalso can be a clutch pickup for one lucky team.
Robinson Chirinos, C
I noted in my ranking all catchers article that Chirinos was underrated. Like Descalso, MLB.com has Chirinos with a 1.6 WAR. They also note that there is 18 MLB catchers on the market. But, Chirinos hit 18 home runs in 2018, fifth among all catchers. It\’s also worthy to note in 2017, he had an OPS of .866 and an OPS+ of 120. His age, 34, could have him slated for a one or two year deal, but Chirinos would be a steal for a team in need of a catcher.
Lucas Duda, 1B
Like Lynn, Duda is a big comeback option. Duda hit 87 combined home runs in 2014, 2015 and 2017, not including 2016, where he played in just 47 games due to injury. More injuries kept him to just 107 games between the Royals and Braves in 2018, where he hit 14 homers, but Duda has a career .789 OPS and a career OPS+ of 118. MLB.com had him with a WAR of exactly 0.0, but with a weak 1B market, with top option Steve Pearce already gone, leaving Matt Adams, Mark Reynolds and Logan Morrison as the standouts, Duda can be a steal for a 1B thirsty team.
Oliver Perez, LHP
The final option on the list, Perez has had a long, tough career that has seem him go through many struggles as a starter, and since 2012, a reliever. But at age 36, Perez had arguably his best season ever. In 32.1 innings, Perez had a 1.39 ERA, with 43 strikeouts with a 1.74 FIP. And according to MLB.com, he had a 1.1 WAR, 7th best among free agent relievers, better than pitchers like Zach Britton, AJ Ramos, Andrew Miller, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera. His age will hurt him, and so will his inconsistency, but he can be a sleeper pick up for a team.