Breaking down the best free agents still available

February 14th, 2024

This offseason has been full of big surprises. Here's one more: There is a glut of quality players still available on the open market with Spring Training just beyond the horizon.

Is your favorite team looking for a frontline starting pitcher? An innings-eater? A big bopper at the plate? A Gold Glove defender? No matter the need, there are players who can help.

With spring camps set to open around the Majors this week, here is a breakdown of the top remaining free agents.

Four of the top players on the board when free agency began back in November -- two pitchers and two position players, all represented by agent Scott Boras -- are still searching for homes. Players of this caliber typically aren't available so late into free agency, providing teams with a rare opportunity to make a substantial addition just weeks before Opening Day.

Despite leading the Majors in walks, Snell was dominant in 2023, recording an MLB-best 2.25 ERA and striking out 234 batters over 180 innings for the Padres to earn his second Cy Young Award. Though the 31-year-old posted an unremarkable 104 ERA+ from 2019-22 and has only reached 130 innings in a season twice (in his two Cy Young campaigns), his ceiling is certainly enticing.

Montgomery doesn't have the same upside as Snell, but he's arguably a less risky option for teams eyeing the top two arms left on the market. The left-hander provided a huge lift to the Rangers after coming over from St. Louis at the Trade Deadline. He registered a 2.83 ERA across 98 2/3 innings, postseason included, to help Texas capture its first World Series championship.

After a couple of injury-plagued seasons, Bellinger won National League Comeback Player of the Year honors this year, his first with the Cubs. He slashed .307/.356/.525 with 26 home runs and 20 steals, showcasing the talent that helped him take home the NL MVP Award in 2019 with the Dodgers. The 28-year-old also brings quality defense in center field; he has recorded 10 outs above average at the position since the beginning of 2022.

Chapman continued to be rock solid at the hot corner as he received his fourth Gold Glove in the past six seasons. The right-handed slugger got off to a blazing-hot start at the plate, leading all hitters with a 1.152 OPS during the season’s first full month. But after April 30, Chapman had a .659 OPS and a 29.8% strikeout rate. His 17 homers were his fewest in a full season. On the bright side, Chapman's 56.4% hard-hit rate trailed only among qualified hitters, and his 17.1% barrel rate was bested by only Judge, and .

The mid-rotation options: LHP , RHP , RHP

This may not be the most glamorous list of names, but each of these hurlers can help raise the floor for a team's rotation.

Ryu returned from Tommy John surgery to post a 3.46 ERA over 11 starts for the Blue Jays in 2023, finishing up a four-year, $80 million deal with Toronto. Lorenzen threw a no-hitter for the Phillies last August and finished the season with a 4.18 ERA over a career-high 153 innings between Detroit and Philadelphia. Clevinger, meanwhile, had a 3.77 ERA over 131 1/3 innings for the White Sox.

The power bats: DH , OF

Teams looking to add a jolt to their lineups have a few options from which to choose. Martinez (33 HR, .572 SLG) reached the 30-homer plateau in 2023, and Duvall likely would have done it too if he hadn't missed so much time due to injury. The outfielder hit 21 homers with a .531 slugging percentage over 92 games.

The star arms on the mend: RHP , RHP

Woodruff and Hendriks are both recovering from surgery -- shoulder surgery for Woodruff and Tommy John surgery for Hendriks -- and could miss most or all of 2024, but their track records make them intriguing options nonetheless.

Woodruff has been one of the best pitchers in the NL across the past five seasons, recording a 2.93 ERA with a 4.79 K/BB ratio in 103 starts. Hendriks was one of baseball's top closers from 2019-22, collecting 114 saves and posting a 2.26 ERA with a 0.88 WHIP and a 7.64 K/BB ratio. He'll try to capture that form after an arduous 2023 season, during which he underwent treatment for cancer and then suffered an elbow injury shortly after making an emotional return to the mound for the White Sox.

Clubs could look to sign either pitcher to a two-year deal with the hope that he’ll make a late-season return in 2024 and be ready to go full throttle in '25.

Injuries are a common occurrence with Belt -- his 103 games in 2023 were a four-year high -- but he remains a productive lefty bat. He finished with 19 homers and a 136 OPS+ this past season. His 44.5% sweet-spot rate ranked third among all hitters with at least 400 plate appearances.

Taylor is known more for his defense in center field (+9 outs above average in 2023) than his bat, though he did hit a career-high 21 homers last season.

Pham recorded a 124 OPS+ in 79 games with the Mets before being dealt to the D-backs last year. He wasn't as productive in Arizona during the regular season (94 OPS+), but he did go 8-for-19 in the World Series, including a four-hit performance in Game 2. Pham, who turns 36 next month, finished with at least a 10% barrel rate for the second time in three seasons. He has ranked above the 80th percentile in hard-hit rate and chase rate in each of the past three seasons, split between five teams.

Rosario and Urshela are two options for any club looking for an infielder who can make a good amount of contact; both commonly have strikeout rates below 20%. Rosario has a near-elite 29.4 feet per second sprint speed while Urshela registered six defensive runs saved in just 270 innings at third base before suffering a season-ending pelvic fracture in June.

The 35-year-old Merrifield turned in a lowly 24.3% hard-hit rate last year, but he contributed double-digit home runs for the fifth consecutive season. He maintains good speed at his age -- he stole 26 bases last year -- and can handle both second base and left field.

A former batting champion, Anderson hit .245 with an MLB-worst .582 OPS last season. He hasn't played in more than 123 games since 2018 and dealt with a nagging left knee injury for almost all of 2023. Anderson, who won't turn 31 years old until June, might have bounce-back potential if his body can hold up.