5 under-the-radar free agents teams should consider
Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman and Trevor Story may dominate the headlines during the final free-agent sprint, but there are a number of players available who could prove to be sneaky-good acquisitions heading into 2022.
Here’s a look at five under-the-radar free agents (listed alphabetically) who could make a significant impact this year:
Tommy Pham, OF
Pham’s two seasons in San Diego were a disappointment, as he slashed .226/.335/.370 with 18 home runs and 61 RBIs in 186 games. But the soon-to-be 34-year-old is just two seasons removed from a three-year run that saw him slash .284/.381/.475 with an average of 22 homers per season. Even during his down 2021, Pham ranked in the top five percent in the league in chase rate and walk percentage, showing his ability to get on base remains intact.
Michael Pineda, RHP
Once again, injuries limited Pineda during the 2021 season, but he performed well (3.62 ERA) in the 109 1/3 innings he was able to throw. Pineda plummeted into the bottom five percent in average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage last season, so having a good defense behind him is key. But he was in the 96th percentile in both chase rate and walk percentage, so he doesn’t hurt himself often.
Jorge Soler, OF
Soler might never again approach his career 2019 season, during which he hit 48 home runs for the Royals, but his performance with the Braves last season showed the type of impactful offensive player he can be. Soler hit 14 homers with an .882 OPS in 55 regular-season games following his trade from Kansas City, then was named World Series MVP after his stellar performance against the Astros.
Ryan Tepera, RHP
Tepera was a solid bullpen contributor on both sides of Chicago last season, combining for a 2.79 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 65 appearances for the Cubs and White Sox. A closer look at Tepera’s numbers show just how good he was: He ranked in the top five percent of the league in whiff percentage, xBA, xERA, xSLG and xwOBA, while his strikeout percentage and chase rate were in the top 15 percent.
Jonathan Villar, 2B/SS/3B
Like Harrison, Villar offers defensive versatility, starting games at third base (86), shortstop (23) and second base (8) for the Mets in 2021. Villar carries a respectable bat (18 homers, .738 OPS) into a lineup, and while his defense at third was below average (-5 OAA), he was better at shortstop (2 OAA) last season.