Because the offseason approaches, MLBTR is taking a position-by-position take a look at the upcoming free agent class. As we speak, we’ll deal with first base, a gaggle with a couple of well-regarded veterans coming off high quality seasons on the high.
High of the Class
Abreu is coming off arguably the perfect season of any impending free agent first baseman. At the same time as he’s gotten into his mid-30s, he stays one of many higher hitters within the recreation. Abreu carries a .304/.377/.445 line over 652 plate appearances, and he’s tied for the American League lead with 176 hits. He solely has 15 residence runs and is sort of sure to complete with the bottom residence run complete of his nine-year MLB profession, however he’s collected 36 doubles. Abreu additionally hasn’t misplaced a lot, if any, bat pace. His 92.1 MPH common exit velocity and 51.7% laborious contact price are each according to the perfect marks of his profession and close to the highest of the league total. He’s hitting a couple of extra ground-balls than earlier than, however there’s no indication his bodily talents are dwindling.
Even heading into his age-36 season, Abreu will probably be one of many higher offensive gamers available on the market. Over the previous three years, he owns a .289/.365/.489 line, rating 14th in on-base proportion and twenty sixth in slugging amongst 118 certified hitters. He’s powerful to strike out, has posted barely above-average stroll charges in every of the previous two years and nonetheless has wonderful batted ball metrics. He additionally hasn’t gone on the injured listing in 4 seasons and has drawn plaudits for his clubhouse management in Chicago. The one actual concern with Abreu is his age, however there’s already proof of idea he can stay productive past his prime-aged years. The White Sox issued him a qualifying supply again in 2019, which means he’ll be ineligible to obtain one this offseason.
Bell has proven the flexibility to hold a lineup at his greatest. He hit 37 residence runs with a .277/.367/.569 line for the Pirates in 2019, and he mashed at a .301/.384/.493 clip over 437 plate appearances with the Nationals earlier this season. But he’s additionally been liable to prolonged down stretches, and he’s headed in direction of free company amidst a pointy downturn in manufacturing. For the reason that Padres landed him on the commerce deadline, he’s hitting .191/.310/.280 with solely a trio of homers in 45 video games. He additionally had a tough 2020 season and began slowly final yr earlier than catching hearth within the second half.
Even with some inconsistency, there’s quite a bit to love about Bell. His total .265/.355/.452 line courting again to the beginning of 2021 is a good bit higher than the .254/.331/.440 league mark for first basemen. Bell is a switch-hitter with wonderful plate self-discipline, and he constantly attracts walks in over 10% of his plate appearances. He has three 25-homer seasons on his resume and sometimes charges close to the highest of the league in common exit velocity and laborious contact proportion, though his batted ball metrics this season have been proper round league common. Bell has proven a promising mixture of energy and endurance in years previous, and he’s not a prototypical strikeout-prone slugger. His 15.6% strikeout price this season is almost seven factors decrease than the league mark. He seems to be like an influence bat when all the pieces’s clicking, however he’ll hit the market coming off a tough couple months. Due to the midseason commerce, Bell is ineligible to obtain a qualifying supply.
Mancini made an unimaginable comeback from a battle with colon most cancers that price him the whole 2020 season. He’s hit at a barely above-average degree in every of the next two years, compiling 39 complete residence runs with a .251/.326/.418 line. Mancini’s manufacturing in every of the final two years has been roughly the identical: common strikeout and stroll charges with barely higher than par batted ball metrics and energy output. Mancini’s over-the-fence pop was down throughout his first few months with the Orioles this season, however that’s actually partially because of the changing dimensions at Camden Yards that weren’t pleasant to right-handed hitters. Mancini is extra a stable hitter than an influence one, along with his .291/.364/.535 exhibiting in 2019 trying more and more like an outlier. He does most issues effectively, although, and he was a beloved clubhouse and group presence in Baltimore. Mancini most likely wouldn’t have obtained a qualifying supply regardless, however a midseason commerce to the Astros formally took that off the desk.
Veterans Coming Off Down Years
Gurriel is a season faraway from profitable the American League batting title with a .319/.383/.462 exhibiting in 2021. Sadly, he’s adopted that up with a woeful .238/.283/.357 line over 558 plate appearances. Gurriel has been one of many least productive on a regular basis gamers within the large leagues, and he’s now posted below-average showings in two of the previous three seasons. Now previous his thirty eighth birthday, it appears he’s nearing or previous the purpose the place he’ll be a productive large leaguer. That additionally the case in 2020, although, and he responded with a superb ’21 marketing campaign. He’ll get one other probability to do the identical this winter, however there aren’t many positives to remove from his 2022 efficiency.
One of many recreation’s greatest on-base hitters at his peak, Santana has seen his manufacturing dip over the previous three years. He had effectively below-average numbers in 2020-21 however has bounced again considerably this season, compiling a .194/.311/.378 line in 473 plate appearances between the Royals and Mariners. The sub-Mendoza line batting common is an apparent eyesore, however Santana’s total hitting checks in at league common, by measure of wRC+. That’s largely due to his extraordinarily affected person method, which has allowed him to work a stroll in 14.2% of his plate appearances whilst his outcomes on batted balls have plummeted. Santana might be miscast as an everyday at this stage of his profession, however he’s gotten vital run between first base and designated hitter with two groups this yr due to his plate self-discipline.
Like Gurriel, Belt was one of many higher first basemen in 2021. A .274/.378/.597 exhibiting earned him an $18.4M qualifying supply from the Giants, which he accepted. The left-handed hitter didn’t come near replicating that manufacturing this season, along with his yr largely derailed by knee issues. Belt hit .213/.326/.350 over 298 plate appearances whereas battling harm, and he underwent season-ending surgical procedure on his proper knee earlier this month. Indications are the surgical procedure went effectively and he’s going to be prepared for Spring Coaching. When wholesome, Belt is able to anchoring a lineup. But he’s battled loads of accidents lately, and this journey to the market comes on the heels of a season diminished by knee points.
Drury will most likely draw curiosity from groups in search of assist throughout the infield. He’s performed principally third base this season but in addition logged 25+ video games at every of second and first base. A minor league signee by the Reds final winter, Drury has elevated his inventory with a profession exhibiting in 2022. He mashed at a .274/.335/.520 clip with 20 homers in 385 plate appearances with Cincinnati. The Reds flipped him to the Padres on the commerce deadline. He’s tailed off in San Diego, posting a meager .265 on-base proportion however gathering one other eight round-trippers in 37 video games. Drury in journeyman territory presently final yr, however his .261/.316/.501 cumulative line this season ought to get him a multi-year deal.
Drury’s former teammate in Cincinnati, Solano performs the same bat-first utility position. He’s labored principally as a delegated hitter this yr, however he’s performed regularly on the nook infield spots and second base as effectively. He’s hitting .292/.343/.397 over 280 plate appearances, his fourth straight above-average offensive yr since reemerging late in his profession as a member of the Giants. A glove-first second baseman early in his profession with the Marlins, he’s compensated for declining defensive marks by hitting .280 or higher in 4 consecutive seasons. Solano doesn’t stroll a lot or have a ton of energy, however his high-average recreation is atypical in at present’s offensive setting. As with Drury, groups aren’t going to view him as an on a regular basis choice at first base, however he’s an excellent addition to a bench who can cowl a number of spots on the infield.
Aguilar hit 35 residence runs a couple of seasons in the past, and he was nonetheless an above-average hitter with the Marlins between 2020-21. The 2022 season has been a wrestle, as he hit .236/.286/.388 over 456 plate appearances with the Fish and was launched late final month. He hooked on with the Orioles however hasn’t contributed a lot in 12 video games in Baltimore. Aguilar may very well be a minor league cope with a Spring Coaching invite this winter.
A daily for a couple of seasons with the Pirates, Moran was on and off the Reds roster this yr. He hit solely .211/.305/.376 with 5 homers in 128 MLB plate appearances and posted barely below-average numbers in Triple-A. Cincinnati launched him earlier this month.
A longtime minor leaguer, Schwindel had a unbelievable second half to the 2021 marketing campaign. Getting his first prolonged MLB motion with the Cubs, he hit .342/.389/.613 over 56 video games. Chicago gave him a chance to see if he may emerge as a late-blooming common, however he hit .229/.277/.358 in 292 journeys to the plate this season. The Cubs launched Schwindel final week.
Tsutsugo caught on with the Pirates late in 2021 and had a terrific remaining month. That earned him a $4M contract to return to Pittsburgh, however he stumbled to a .171/.249/.229 line with solely two homers in 193 plate appearances. The Bucs launched him in August, and he signed a minor league cope with the Blue Jays. He’s hitting effectively in Triple-A total however placing out a 3rd of the time there, and he hasn’t gotten a giant league name from Toronto. Whether or not the Jays ultimately add him to the MLB roster or not, he’ll be a free agent at yr’s finish.
Rizzo signed a two-year, $32M assure with the Yankees final offseason. That deal afforded him an opt-out probability after this yr, and there’s a stable case for Rizzo to take it following his greatest season since 2019. He’s related on 32 residence runs and slugged .492. Rizzo’s .223 batting common is among the many worst of his profession, however that’s largely as a result of a personal-worst .212 common on balls in play. A pull hitter who has been shifted on over 84% of his at-bats this season, per Statcast, he’s more likely to be among the many high beneficiaries of the forthcoming shift limitations. Even a slight uptick in his ball in play outcomes may assist Rizzo regain his peak type, since he’s nonetheless hitting the ball laborious and is tough to strike out.
The longtime Cub has a robust defensive status, though his public metrics have dipped over the previous couple seasons. He’s additionally broadly thought to be a superb clubhouse presence and staff chief. If Rizzo triggers his opt-out clause, the Yankees would have the flexibility to make him a qualifying supply.
- Eric Hosmer (33), can choose out of ultimate three years and $39M remaining on his contract
There’s little intrigue with Hosmer’s opt-out resolution. He’ll actually choose in to the ultimate $39M on his deal (virtually all of which will probably be paid by the Padres) to return to the Crimson Sox. Hosmer has a .267/.333/.381 line with eight homers in 414 plate appearances this season.
- Wil Myers (32), $20M staff choice with $1M buyout
The Padres will clearly purchase Myers out, possible ending an eight-year run within the group. Other than a monster exhibiting through the shortened 2020 marketing campaign, the right-handed hitter has been a barely above-average hitter for many of his time in San Diego. This season’s .255/.306/.379 exhibiting throughout 265 plate appearances is his worst as a Padre, and he’s been restricted to a situational position — primarily between the nook outfield and first base. Myers has some energy and is a serviceable defender within the corners. He’s more likely to land a giant league deal however might be miscast as an on a regular basis participant.
Sanó’s time with the Twins might be nearing its finish, as Minnesota is definite to purchase out his 2023 choice. The burly slugger has virtually as a lot uncooked energy as anybody within the sport, however his manufacturing has been inconsistent due to his enormous strikeout totals. Sanó performed in solely 20 video games this season due to left knee points and hit terribly when on the sphere.
Notice: Albert Pujols is taking part in on a one-year contract with the Cardinals and can technically qualify without spending a dime company at season’s finish. He has began 18 video games at first base, however he’s already introduced he’ll retire after the 2022 marketing campaign.
* Participant age for 2023 season
Earlier FA positional previews: catcher