The deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players came and went on Friday night. The deadline is rarely a blockbuster moment during the offseason, but it often times leads to some interesting players hitting the free agent market. This year was no different.
Of the roughly two dozen players to not be tendered a contract, a good handful figure to draw immediate and perhaps even significant interest. It’s not that these players are superstars, but they could represent bargains for teams looking to build depth or save money for a bigger fish in the free agency pool.
After scouring the list a few times, we’ve come up with four players we believe will offer the most intrigue and draw the most interest.
Matt Adams, first baseman (non-tendered by Atlanta Braves)
Adams was a big contributor to the Braves in 2017, hitting 19 home runs while posting a .858 OPS in 100 games for the Braves. He was originally acquired from the Cardinals to fill in for all-star first baseman Freddie Freeman, who missed several weeks with an injury. By the time Freeman returned, they decided to move the All-Star to third base in part so Adams could continue at first base.
With that in mind, it’s somewhat surprising Adams was non-tendered. But the Braves have also revamped their front office and are certainly looking to go a different direction. That could work out great for whichever team ends up landing Adams. His power is legit but he also looked like a more complete hitter in 2017, which could bode well for the future. Still only 28, he profiles as a solid first base or designated hitter option.
Drew Smyly, left-handed pitcher (non-tendered by Seattle Mariners)
Smyly could be an interesting stash for a contender. The 28-year-old left-hander never pitched for the Seattle Mariners in 2017 after injuring his elbow in spring training and undergoing Tommy John surgery. Figuring he won’t get in a full spring training even in a best-case scenario, Smyly likely wouldn’t be a candidate to pitch in the big leagues again until around the 2018 All-Star break.
For teams with the luxury of waiting, that might not sound too bad for a potential mid-rotation starter who when healthy has been pretty effective. Teams are often willing to offer one-year plus a team option year to pitchers in Smyly’s position. That would have to be appealing. Even if he doesn’t get back to full strength in 2018 that would give both sides a chance to focus on 2019.
Mike Fiers, right-handed pitcher (non-tendered by Houston Astros)
Any pitcher with a couple good years under his belt will get some attention on the open market. Veteran right-hander Mike Fiers fits that bill. Unfortunately, you have to go back to 2014 and 2015 to find his most productive season, but some pitching coach will relish the challenge of getting him back on track.
Over his last two seasons with the Astros, Fiers posted a combined 4.88 ERA with 58 home runs allowed over 322 innings. That wasn’t going to work in Houston, and was one of the many reasons the team went out and added Verlander. Now they’re willing to give up the two years of control on the 32-year-old, which suggests they don’t see much upside. Still, we’re talking about a pitcher with a no-hitter to his name and a pretty good arm. Several teams should be interested.
Hector Rondon, relief pitcher (non-tendered by Chicago Cubs)
The former Chicago Cubs closer fell out of favor with Joe Maddon, but he could be a solid addition for a team needing bullpen help. Rondon has notched 77 saves over his career, so he’s been tried and tested in the ninth inning. He posted a 2.03 ERA from 2014-15, which highlights how dominant he can be. Unfortunately, his durability has taken a hit the last two seasons and he’s also been hit a little too hard, allowing 18 home runs in his last 108 innings.
Still, he’ll only be 30 to start next season, and it seems like he could easily correct the issues he’s dealt with the last two seasons. He feels like a solid bounce back candidate that could provide exceptional value for someone.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
– – – – – – –