Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

6 new free agents who should draw interest

Smyly, Adams, Rondon among players not offered deals before non-tender deadline
MLB.com @feinsand

Friday night's deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players passed without any major surprises, but the free-agent market got a little more crowded as more than two dozen players were non-tendered by their clubs.

Though none were unexpected, players such as Matt Adams, Jared Hughes and Drew Smyly should have plenty of teams interested in their services.

Friday night's deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players passed without any major surprises, but the free-agent market got a little more crowded as more than two dozen players were non-tendered by their clubs.

Though none were unexpected, players such as Matt Adams, Jared Hughes and Drew Smyly should have plenty of teams interested in their services.

Hot Stove Tracker

Here's a look at a half-dozen newly minted free agents who could create a stir in this winter's league-wide roster carousel.

Smyly, LHP (non-tendered by Mariners)

Smyly never pitched for the Mariners after injuring his elbow and undergoing Tommy John surgery, a procedure that will cost him at least the first half of the 2018 season. He earned $6.85 million last season, but he figures to draw plenty of interest from teams looking toward '19.

For comparison's sake, Nathan Eovaldi made $5.6 million in 2016 before tearing his UCL and being cut loose by the Yankees. Eovaldi signed a $2 million pact with the Rays for '17 with a $2 million option for '18, giving Tampa Bay an affordable arm for the upcoming season. Expect Smyly to land a similar type of deal.

Video: Mariners decline to tender Smyly

Hughes, RHP (non-tendered by Brewers)

Following a lengthy run with the Pirates, Hughes continued to post solid numbers in the Brewers' bullpen in 2017. Hughes cut down his hits per nine innings from 9.4 to 7.4, while boosting his strikeouts per nine from 5.2 to 7.2. The 32-year-old ground-ball expert -- he has a career ground-ball rate of 62.2 percent -- should be coveted by a number of teams looking for bullpen help.

Mike Fiers, RHP (non-tendered by Astros)

After two good seasons in 2014-15, Fiers' past two campaigns have been progressively worse. His 5.22 ERA in 29 games (28 starts) in '17 contributed to the Astros leaving him off their postseason roster in all three rounds. His walks and home run rate were up last season, though his hits per nine innings and strikeouts per nine were both better. At the age of 32 with some success in the not-too-distant past, the right-hander should get a shot to make a rotation somewhere.

Adams, 1B (non-tendered by Braves)

In most situations, Adams would have been brought back after hitting 19 home runs with a .858 OPS in 100 games for the Braves last season, but Atlanta simply doesn't have room for the 29-year-old with Freddie Freeman occupying first base.

New general manager Alex Anthopoulos hoped to deal Adams before Friday night's deadline, but teams likely figured that Adams was headed for a non-tender and could ultimately be had for less money without giving up a prospect. Adams seems destined for an American League team, providing a power bat at both first base and DH, though the first-base market is flush with talent this winter.

Video: TEX@ATL: Adams crushes a two-run homer to right field

Hector Rondon, RHP (non-tendered by Cubs)

It wasn't long ago that Rondon was the Cubs' closer, saving 59 games in 2014-15. Even after losing that job to Aroldis Chapman at the 2016 non-waiver Trade Deadline, Rondon managed a sub-1.000 WHIP, 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings and a 7.25-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio that season.

But while 2017 was a step backward for the right-hander, he turns 30 in February and could be a prime candidate for a bounceback year at a reasonable price. He'll need to cut down on the walks, but he struck out a career-best 10.8 batters per nine innings in 57 1/3 innings last year.

Video: Cubs decide to non-tender Rondon

Tom Koehler, RHP (non-tendered by Blue Jays)

Once a mainstay in the Marlins' rotation, Koehler pitched to a dreadful 7.92 ERA in 12 starts and spent time in the Minor Leagues before being traded to the Blue Jays in mid-August. He threw only 17 innings for Toronto and had no place on the staff going forward given his $5.75 million salary and expected arbitration raise. The 31-year-old topped the 175-inning mark in three straight seasons (2014-16) and could be given an opportunity to win a spot in a rotation next spring.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.