Which FAs have more value than projected?

November 8th, 2017

As usually happens this time of year, we tend to focus on the big-name free agents. Of course, that thought process creates two issues: 1) Only a few teams are going to be bidding on the likes of and J.D. Martinez, and 2) It ignores the fact that there are plenty of other quality free agents out there who will make a major impact in 2018 in beyond.

With that in mind, here's a look at 10 free agents who have more value than you might realize. We're only including players who did not receive a qualifying offer. Even if the new QO system is less punitive than the previous system, there is still a Draft pick penalty paid for signing a player who received a QO, but none of the names below will have to worry about any of that.

Ages listed are as of Opening Day 2018

Hot Stove Tracker

, 1B, age 30

The erstwhile Marlin/Mariner revived his career during two seasons in Tampa Bay, but he thrived while seldom being hot at home. Morrison hit 27 of his 38 home runs on the road in 2017, delivering an OPS+ of 175 in road games and 85 in home games. That should speak loudly to teams looking to add an impact bat. He's an intriguing option for teams that miss out on and J.D. Martinez, and he will interest teams reluctant to part with a draft pick to add . Morrison could interest the Red Sox, Indians, Rangers, Yankees, Mariners, Rockies and Cardinals, among others.

, RHP, 31

You know he's tough because he's pitched six seasons since a line drive off his face by almost ended his career, just as it was getting started. Nicasio heads into his age-31 season off a confusing 2016 in which he thrived despite changing teams at the Trade Deadline and then a week later. He wound up as the Cardinals' closer down the stretch and did good work. Nicasio pitched in an NL-high 76 games for the Pirates, Phillies and Cardinals, using the best velocity of his career to compile a 2.61 ERA and a 1.078 WHIP.

Zack Cozart, SS, 32

The Reds' shortstop since 2012 turned in a career year at the exact right time, hitting with 24 home runs and a .933 OPS. He suffered a strained quad about a week before the July 31 Trade Deadline, which is probably the only reason he finished out the year in Cincinnati. Cozart is entering his age-32 season, which will limit the length of a deal. He could provide a major boost for the Padres or an upgrade for several teams, including the Pirates, Diamondbacks, Marlins, A's and Tigers.

, 3B, 32

Frazier flashed his two-way value in 66 games for the Yankees after being traded from the White Sox. His .220 batting average over the last two seasons limits his value, but he was thriving in New York and could generate a bidding war between the Yankees and Mets. Power is Frazier's leading tool, as he has averaged 34 homers over the past three years, but he also had 10 Defensive Runs Saved in 2017, fourth among qualifiers behind , and . The combination of defense and clubhouse presence gets him over the top with teams looking to win soon.

, P, 27

Youth is always on a free agent's side, and the often-injured Chatwood heads into his age-28 season. He was on his way to a breakout last year in Colorado before suffering a strained calf in June. Chatwood held opponents to two runs or less in seven of nine starts from May 7 through June 18, with a fastball that sat 95-97 mph, a hard slider and a put-away changeup that he hasn't always commanded. He's also shown that he can dominate away from Coors Field. That's the guy that front offices will dream about when they put together their offers.

, OF, 33

While the Cubs are deep in outfielders, they might want to think about bringing back Jay, who was their center fielder/leadoff man for most of October. He turned in a .374 on-base percentage after signing a one-year deal with the Cubs and has hardly any platoon split. If the Cubs truly want to turn center field over to Albert Almora Jr., lots of other teams should be interested. Jay enters his age-33 season after putting a .749 OPS over 433 plate appearances. He can play all three outfield spots, but he has only average range and arm strength.

, OF, 33

A .551 career OPS against left-handers says the lefty-hitting Dyson will never be an everyday outfielder, but his speed-defense combination is a perfect complement to the mashers. He's stolen 20-plus bases fives of the last six seasons and shows no signs of slowing down. Dyson ranked sixth in the Major Leagues with 10 DRS in center field. He's always been a tough guy to strike out, which adds to his value.

Jake McGee, LHP, 31

Two seasons based in Coors Field wasn't the best thing for his portfolio, but McGee was much better in 2017 than '16, which helps his value. He was one of the best lefty relievers in the Major Leagues at times in Tampa Bay thanks almost entirely to his fastball. McGee averaged 95-plus for the seventh time in eight seasons last year, the only exception being 2016. He held opponents to a .218 average with his heater last season and allowed only four home runs. McGee will be in play with a number of strong teams, including the Cubs and possibly the Dodgers.