Everyone is aware of the big MLB free agents available this winter, but who are the MLB free agents in 2022 and 2023?
After all, not every team can afford Aaron Judge, Carlos Correa or Jacob deGrom. Instead, they will look to offseason trade candidates or the best value players available in MLB free agency. That’s why we wanted to take a closer look at the underrated MLB free agents in 2022 and 2023.
Underrated MLB free agents 2022
When you think about unrated MLB free agents for 2023, these are the players who won’t cost a fortune, but will move the needle to help a team’s championship aspirations.
Maybe they’ve been overlooked for some reason or aren’t among the elite players at their position. Either way, they may not be top targets available, but the team that signs them will be happy they did. With such a deep free agent class this winter, let’s take a look at the 10 most overrated and underrated MLB free agents for 2023.
10. Trey Mancini
As Trey Mancini hit 35 home runs in 2019, it was tough. Those ups and downs include missing the 2020 season while battling cancer. Unfortunately, since the remission period, he has not been able to return to his 2019 form.
Mancini also failed to make much of an impact with the Astros, hitting .176 after being traded to Houston at the deadline. However, in just 51 games after the trade, Mancini hit eight homers, giving up 18 on the season. Mancini is still a power hitter capable of hitting 20+ homers. Even if he isn’t eligible for a monster contract, he should be worth something on the open market.
9. Michael Brantley
Michael Brantley’s age and the fact that he missed an extended stretch of Houston’s championship season after shoulder surgery are good reasons for him to be overlooked. But it should not be completely forgotten.
Between 2018 and 2021, he hit .300 or better in four consecutive seasons, finishing the 2022 campaign at .288. The power numbers are gone, but the guy can still hit. Brantley would be a nice pickup for any team looking for platoon players in left field.
He’s also a veteran player and senior leader who played in the postseason five straight years before missing the 2022 playoffs due to injury.
8. Ross Stripling
No one sees Ross Stripling as a high-end starter who can lead the rotation. But he was a savior for the Blue Jays this past season, winning 10 games in 24 starts and winning eight innings in relief while posting a 3.01 ERA.
People forget that he was just as useful to the Dodgers in the prime of his career. Stripling is a classic swing, so it’s easy to overlook. But any team that needs help in the back of the rotation should take a close look at Stripling who also wants the flexibility to push someone into the bullpen.
7. Justin Turner
Among the Dodgers’ open offseason predictions is to finally cut ties with Justin Turner after opting out of his option for next season. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be a useful option at third base or a part-time DH role for another team.
After hitting just 13 homers in 2022 and posting his lowest OPS since joining the Dodgers, his slugging home run power has certainly begun to fade.
However, Turner still registered 36 doubles and 81 RBI last season. He won’t require a long-term deal and could still be a productive hitter, especially for a team with enough depth to put him in the bottom half of the order. Turner would be worth a short-term deal to any team looking for a veteran player with postseason experience.
6. Martin Perez
Martin Perez was one of the biggest surprises of the 2022 season. The lefty signed a one-year, $4 million deal with Texas last winter and has since become the team’s ace.
He went 12-8 with a 2.89 ERA.
Between May and July, the Rangers were 14-2 in his starts. That tells you everything you need to know about how important Perez is to the Rangers in 2022. He will only be 32 in 2023, so his talent isn’t expected to decline drastically. This could make Perez a great addition to the middle of a true contender’s rotation.
5. Christian Vasquez
This year’s free agent catching class is pretty weak outside of Willson Contreras, so it’s surprising why Christian Vazquez wasn’t given more attention. Although he is 32 years old, Vazquez still looks in his prime and is having one of his best offensive seasons.
Plus, his defensive reputation speaks for itself. Remember, because he was traded to the Astros at the deadline, he’s now part of two teams that have won a World Series. That’s enough for opposing teams to take a closer look at Vazquez.
4. Andrew Benintendi
There was a lot of talk about Andrew Benintendi at the trade deadline, but less now that he’s a free agent. Obviously, his lack of power hurts his value on the free agent market.
However, Benintendi hit .304 last season and is one of the elite defensive left fielders in baseball. Even if his season ends early due to injury, it has to be worth something. He may not be a star that warrants a big contract, but Benintendi is the type of player that winning teams should covet.
3. Brandon Drury
It’s been a tough few years for Brandon Drury as he struggles to overcome some health issues. However, he returned to the basics in a big way with the Reds in 2022 and was eventually traded to the Padres.
On the season, Drury hit .263 with 38 homers and 31 doubles. For a player who is only 30 years old and can play multiple positions, this should make Drury a hot commodity on the open market. Teams may be a little wary of committing to him after a good season. However, Drury’s upside is still incredibly high, and despite being a bit overlooked, he deserves a long-term contract.
2. Mitch Haniger
Had Mitch Haniger hit the open market a year ago, he would have been a huge catch. In the 2021 season, Haniger hit 39 home runs and collected 100 RBI. Injuries hampered him last season and limited him to just 57 games, so he wasn’t a big part of Seattle’s postseason run.
However, more teams should look at him as someone who can quickly repeat his numbers starting in 2021 if he can stay healthy. The Mariners likely won’t re-sign Haniger after trading for Teoscar Hernandez, so he could end up anywhere. Given his power, Haniger should be a hotter commodity than the early interest in him suggests.
1. Tyjuan Walker
It’s a little surprising that Taijuan Walker isn’t talked about as one of the more valuable starters available. He was an all-star in 2021 and went 12-5 in 29 starts with the Mets this past season.
Walker was once the 43rd pick in the draft and is 30 years old. Injuries limited him to just 15 starts between 2018 and 2020. But he’s been healthy the last two seasons with the Mets, making 29 starts each year. He’s a consistent starter who can eat up innings in the middle of the rotation, though Walker still has a lot of upside and can look like a front-line starter on a good day.