Nicholas Castellanos is probably the biggest name still available on the free-agent market. His signing will be a big deal because he’s the kind of impact player who could mean the difference in some team making the playoffs.
But there are other very good players available. Despite all the comings and goings among free agents this offseason, teams can find help at pretty much every position.
With Josh Donaldson -- the last top-tier free agent -- off the board, that got us to thinking about what kind of team could still be put together from the unsigned free agents. We’d have power in the middle of the lineup, very good defense in the outfield, and an array of guys with World Series rings.
Let’s give it a go. (Players listed with their 2019 stats and ages as of Opening Day 2020.)
Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy, age 33
.660 OPS, 8 HR, 101 games
Catchers are difficult to project because their position is so physically demanding, and Lucroy’s numbers have declined since his .855 OPS in 2016. He has also been with six teams in the last four seasons, which is unsettling. Here’s to believing there’s still quality baseball left in one of the game’s really good guys.
Also available: Russell Martin, age 37
1B: Ryan Zimmerman, age 35
.736 OPS, 6 HR, 52 games
Given that he missed 187 games the last two seasons, his ability to stay healthy is the only question. At 35, he has shown he can still be productive, compiling a .791 OPS in those two years.
Also available: Mitch Moreland, age 34
2B: Wilmer Flores, age 28
.848 OPS, 89 games
He can fill in at first, second and third, and is still only 28 despite seven seasons in the Majors. He had a solid offensive season in limited duty for the D-backs in 2019 and an average 110 OPS+ the last three seasons.
Also available: Brock Holt, age 31
3B: Matt Duffy, age 29
.670 OPS, .343 OBP, 46 games
His career .338 OBP stands out after injuries kept him sidelined most of 2019. He’s a high-contact, low-strikeout hitter who could contribute to a winning team. Duffy's last full season was 2018, when his 16.6 percent strikeout rate was way below the league average of 22.3.
Also available: Pablo Sandoval, age 33
SS: Adeiny Hechavarria, age 30
.742 OPS, 84 games
He’s a solid defensive player who had an excellent offensive stretch (1.039 OPS) in 24 games for the Braves last season. Hechavarria has played for five teams the last two seasons, which says lots of teams believe his skill set is worth taking a chance on.
Also available: Gordon Beckham, age 33
LF: Marcell Ozuna, age 29
.800 OPS, 29 HR, 130 games
He seems likely to return to the Cardinals even as the team explores a trade for Nolan Arenado, which would probably take Ozuna out of the mix. Ozuna had a nice bounceback season in 2019.
Also available: Alex Gordon, age 36
CF: Kevin Pillar, age 31
.719 OPS, 37 2B, 21 HR, 14 SB
His defensive metrics declined some the last couple of years, but those should be taken in the context of changing teams in 2019 and how he contributes offensively with both power and speed. Pillar’s also incredibly durable, having averaged 152 games over the last five seasons.
Also available: Billy Hamilton, age 29
RF: Nicholas Castellanos, age 28
.863 OPS, 58 2B, 151 games
He’s that rare free agent who might upgrade all 30 teams. At this point, it’s about teams' budgets and Castellanos’ preference as to where he’d like to play. His 51 games with the Cubs (1.002 OPS) was the best stretch of a solid career.
Also available: Yasiel Puig, age 29
DH: Hunter Pence, age 36
.910 OPS, 18 HR, 83 games
His 13th season was successful until a back injury ended his campaign on August 22. But when he played, he proved that he can still be productive.
Also available: Kendrys Morales, age 36
Starting pitcher: Drew Smyly, age 30
6.24 ERA, 1.588 WHIP, 25 games
Let’s just say the starting-pitching market is starting to thin out a bit, and while Smyly’s ERA was underwhelming, the 2019 season was a huge breakthrough in the 30-year-old’s ability to pitch in 25 games after an elbow injury sidelined him the previous two seasons. This lefty’s challenge in 2020 will be getting back to the level at which he pitched 2012-15 (126 games, 3.24 ERA, 1.167 WHIP). There is still some upside here.
Also available: Andrew Cashner, age 33
Bullpen: Brandon Kintzler, age 35
2.68 ERA, 1.018 WHIP, 62 games
He had a solid bounceback season for the Cubs and was especially tough on left-handed hitters (.163 batting average), a unique trait for a righty. Whether he can still be an everyday closer or a setup man is what teams are debating.
Also available: Pedro Strop, age 34
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.