Post-tender deadline, here are 10 intriguing new free agents

November 18th, 2023

With the deadline for tendering contracts to arbitration-eligible players passing Friday night, several intriguing new free agents have hit the open market.

From one of the game’s best starting pitchers over the past few years to a slugging first baseman who launched 35 home runs just two seasons ago, here’s a look at 10 notable new names in the pool.

Woodruff, a two-time All-Star and one of the best starters in the National League over the last half-decade, is unlikely to pitch much -- or at all -- next season after undergoing right shoulder surgery in October.

A team, including the Brewers, could sign Woodruff in hopes of getting him healthy by the postseason or setting up a potential partnership for 2025 and beyond -- or both.

It just never worked out for Senzel and the Reds after Cincinnati drafted him second overall out of the University of Tennessee in 2016. Senzel hit at every level along the way in the Minor Leagues, reaching the Majors within three years. But the versatile defender, who saw time at all three outfield positions, as well as at second base and third base for Cincinnati, never got going at the plate in the big leagues. In parts of five MLB seasons, he hit .239/.302/.369.

Senzel is only 28 years old, can play all over the diamond, and the right-handed batter has actually hit pretty well against left-handed pitching -- he has a career slash line of .287/.334/.460 against southpaws. He could certainly be a low-cost/high-upside pickup for a team looking for a utility player.

After a midseason trade from the Brewers in 2022, Vogelbach mashed in Queens, hitting .255/.393/.436 with six home runs in 149 at-bats. But the left-hander took a significant step back at the plate in 2023, hitting just 13 home runs and slashing .233/.339/.404. His walk and strikeout rates both ticked in the wrong direction as well. Vogelbach is virtually unplayable against left-handed pitching, hitting .129/.248/.215 (35 wRC+) against southpaws throughout his career.

That apparently won’t cut it as a DH-only type for the Mets. The soon-to-be 31-year-old is still capable of hitting the ball as hard as anyone -- his 2023 hard-hit rate (50 percent) was among the best in baseball. Although his value is limited in the field and on the bases, Vogelbach could provide value as a platoon bat or in a backup role.

Injuries derailed Tellez’s 2023 campaign and limited him to 105 games, during which he posted a .667 OPS with 13 home runs. The big first baseman spent time on the injured list due to forearm inflammation and a freak injury to his left ring finger that required surgery after he got it stuck in the padding of the outfield wall while shagging fly balls.

But Tellez is only a season removed from a career year at the plate -- in 2022 he played in 153 games for Milwaukee and belted a career-best 35 home runs. There isn’t a team in the Majors that couldn’t use that type of production if it’s still in him.

, SP (non-tendered by the Tigers)

It’s been a rough few seasons health-wise for Turnbull. The 31-year-old right-hander missed the entire 2022 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and was limited to just 31 innings last year with neck discomfort.

But if Turnbull can return to his pre-2022 form, he’d be a welcome addition to any team’s pitching staff. Over 271 1/3 innings from 2018-21, Turnbull posted a 4.25 ERA and 3.63 FIP while proving to be a ground-ball machine.

After a solid debut in 2022, Yepez opened last season in Triple-A and never caught on during a couple of brief big league cameos, hitting .183/.246/.300 (51 wRC+) in 65 plate appearances with the Cardinals.

Yepez is still just 25 years old, though, and as mentioned, he hit well in the Majors just a year ago. As a rookie in 2022, he hit 12 home runs and 13 doubles with a 107 wRC+ over 274 plate appearances. The native of Venezuela is talented enough to serve as a strong right-handed bat off the bench, with room to grow into something more at his young age.

Cimber had a season he’d like to forget in 2023, posting a 7.40 ERA in 20 2/3 innings before a right shoulder impingement ended his campaign in late June. The 33-year-old atypically struggled with both free passes (3.05 BB/9) and the long ball (2.61 HR/9) last season after limiting both prior to 2023.

Whoever lands Cimber will hope he returns to the pitcher he was in 2021 and 2022, when he was one of the best middle relievers in baseball. He tossed 70-plus innings in both seasons with a combined 2.53 ERA.

It’s been a long fall since Lewis won the 2020 American League Rookie of the Year Award. During that season, at 24 years old, Lewis clubbed 11 home runs and posted a 127 wRC+, with solid defense and baserunning over 58 games.

But he’s struggled since suffering a right meniscus tear in June 2021, hitting just .150/.216/.280 in 116 Major League plate appearances over the last two seasons. He was once one of the most talented prospects in baseball, though, making him a potentially appealing upside pickup this winter.

A former Top 100 prospect, Hudson had the best season of his career in 2019, when he went 16-7 with a 3.35 ERA and an MLB-best 56.9 percent ground-ball rate over 174 2/3 innings. But like Turnbull, Hudson hasn’t been the same since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2020.

In 18 outings (12 starts) last season, Hudson struck out fewer than five batters per nine innings, although he maintained his ability to get the ball on the ground. If a team believes it can get a few more whiffs out of the right-hander, Hudson is worth a flier.

Knizner has served as the Cardinals’ primary backup catcher over the past three seasons. In 241 plate appearances in 2023, he put up a solid .712 OPS, but that wasn’t enough to be tendered a contract.

The 28-year-old hasn’t been stout with the glove behind the plate over five big league seasons, posting below-average caught-stealing and framing numbers over each of the last three years. But if he hits like he did in 2023, Knizner is a worthy pickup.