A total of 56 players were non-tendered before Monday night’s deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players, adding more to an already crowded free-agent market.
Some of the names were very intriguing, which seems to be the case every year. Last year, Jonathan Schoop and Avisaíl García were among the non-tendered players, and both went on to help their new teams reach the postseason in 2019.
Who might be the difference-makers from this year's crop of non-tenders? Here's a look at the players who suddenly find themselves without a team. Players are listed in order based on 2019 FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement totals.
César Hernández, 2B (1.7 fWAR)
Hernández has been a steady if unspectacular presence in the Phillies’ lineup for the past four-plus years, playing at least 155 games in three of the last four seasons. Hernández's power has spiked (like so many other players) during the past two years, but his WAR totals have dropped since he averaged 3.1 bWAR in 2016-17. Defensive metrics have not been kind to the 29-year-old, but his sturdy nature and solid on-base skills (.352 career OBP) should make him an attractive option for infield-needy teams.
Kevin Gausman, RHP (1.6 fWAR)
The Braves appeared to have unlocked Gausman’s potential when they acquired him at the 2018 Trade Deadline, as he posted a 2.87 ERA in 10 starts down the stretch. But ‘19 wasn’t as kind for Gausman, who had a 6.19 ERA in 16 starts for Atlanta before being claimed off waivers by Cincinnati, where he pitched primarily out of the bullpen. Gausman will be 29 in January, so the former top-five overall Draft pick could get one more chance to prove himself at the back of a rotation.
Kevin Pillar, OF (1.5 fWAR)
Pillar had the best season of his seven-year career, pacing the Giants with 21 home runs, 87 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. The 30-year-old earned $5.8 million in 2019, and was headed for his third year of arbitration eligibility, so the Giants opted to let him go rather than pay him $8 million or more. Pillar’s on-base skills aren’t great (.296 career OBP), and he’s not the same defender he once was, but given the lack of center-field options on the free-agent market, he should get a look from teams looking for help at the position.
Yolmer Sánchez, 2B (1.0 fWAR)
The American League's reigning Gold Glove Award winner at second base was non-tendered by the White Sox on Monday, after he was reportedly placed on outright waivers last week. The 27-year-old hit .252/.318/.321 with two homers and five stolen bases in 149 games in 2019.
Aaron Sanchez, RHP (0.8 fWAR)
Sanchez’s brief stint with the Astros started out well, as he twirled six no-hit innings against the Mariners in what became a four-man combined no-no. But the right-hander posted a 7.11 ERA over his next three starts before a shoulder injury ended his season in late August. Sanchez underwent surgery and is expected to miss the start of the 2020 season, so given that he was projected to get a raise from his ‘19 salary ($3.9 million), this decision was not surprising. Still, Sanchez is 27 and only three years removed from an AL ERA title and All-Star selection, so teams will surely have interest in him as a bounce-back candidate.
Addison Russell, SS (0.5 fWAR)
The Cubs cut ties with their onetime shortstop of the future, non-tendering the soon-to-be 26-year-old Russell. Russell’s on-field performance the past three seasons has dipped from his 2016 All-Star campaign, though it’s his off-field situation -- a 40-game domestic violence suspension -- that clouded his 2018 and '19 campaigns. Chicago’s decision to part ways with Russell was likely more baseball-related, but given his age and previous performance, he should get another opportunity at a starting job -- or at least compete for one -- in 2020.
Tim Beckham, SS (0.4 fWAR)
Beckham was suspended 80 games in August for violating the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, so he’ll be ineligible to play the first 32 games of 2020 once he signs with a team. The first overall pick of the 2008 Draft, Beckham has never lived up to that status, bouncing from Tampa Bay to Baltimore to Seattle since breaking into the Majors in 2013. Beckham’s two-month run with the Orioles to end ‘17 (.871 OPS) appears to be something of an aberration, and while he could be given a chance to prove himself yet again, it’s unlikely a team would sign him to be an everyday player.
Javy Guerra, RHP (0.4 fWAR)
Guerra, who was claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays in May, posted a 4.86 ERA over 40 outings for the World Series champion Nationals. The 34-year-old veteran reliever has a 3.72 career ERA over nine seasons spent with six teams.
Junior Guerra, RHP (0.3 fWAR)
Guerra had a 3.55 ERA in 83 2/3 innings out of the bullpen for the Brewers this past season. He’ll turn 35 in January, yet he still has three years of arbitration eligibility remaining.
Jason Adam, RHP (0.3 fWAR)
Adam was impressive in a limited sample with the Blue Jays in 2019, posting a 2.91 ERA over 21 2/3 innings in 23 appearances. That came after putting up a 6.12 ERA in 31 appearances as a rookie with the Royals the previous season.
C.J. Cron, 1B (0.3 fWAR)
Cron has hit 55 home runs over the past two seasons, but the Twins -- who have their fair share of power hitters -- decided his salary (he was estimated by Cot’s Baseball Contracts to earn $6.9 million next season) was more than they were willing to pay. Cron’s performance with Minnesota and Tampa Bay the past two years should be enough to draw interest in the first baseman/DH market from multiple clubs.
Charlie Culberson, UTIL (0.3 fWAR)
Culberson was productive for the Braves in 2018, posting a .792 OPS with 12 home runs in 322 plate appearances while playing all four infield positions, both corner outfield spots and even pitching an inning. Last season wasn’t nearly as kind to the 30-year-old, who was limited to 144 plate appearances while posting a .731 OPS. Culberson earned about $1.4 million last year in his first year of arbitration eligibility, but Atlanta decided his potential 2020 salary was more than it wanted to spend. His versatility remains a plus as he joins the free-agent market, as does the fact that he’s under club control through 2021.
Guillermo Heredia, OF (0.3 fWAR)
The move comes a year after Tampa Bay acquired him, along with catcher Mike Zunino, in a trade with Seattle. Heredia hit .225/.306/.363 with five home runs in 89 games for the Rays in 2019, numbers not far from his career norms. Over the past three seasons, however, the slick fielder has been worth plus-18 Outs Above Average, per Statcast.
Josh Phegley, C (0.3 fWAR)
Phegley achieved career highs in 2019 in games played (106) and other associated counting stats, like homers (12), RBIs (62) and doubles (18). He was the A's primary catcher for most of the season, minus a stint on the injured list in late July and early August with a thumb injury. He was non-tendered Monday.
John Ryan Murphy, C (0.2 fWAR)
Murphy appeared in only one game with the Braves after being acquired by the D-backs at the Trade Deadline. He hit .175 with a .659 OPS in 26 combined games between Arizona and Atlanta, while spending the majority of his time at Triple-A. The 28-year-old catcher has a .219 career average over seven big league seasons.
Kevin Plawecki, C (0.2 fWAR)
Plawecki started 46 games behind the plate for Cleveland last year after spending the previous four seasons with the Mets. He had a .629 OPS but did rate well on Statcast’s pitch-framing metric.
Pedro Avila, RHP (0.2 fWAR)
Avila allowed one run over 5 1/3 innings in his MLB debut on April 11, but it proved to be his lone big league appearance of the season. He returned to the Minors following that outing and pitched just 24 innings before undergoing Tommy John surgery in late August.
Ryan Burr, RHP (0.1 fWAR)
The White Sox non-tendered the 25-year-old reliever, who had a 4.58 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 16 appearances in 2019.
Ian Gibaut, RHP (0.1 fWAR)
Gibaut made a combined 10 appearances between the Rays and the Rangers in 2019, posting a 5.65 ERA over 14 1/3 innings. The 26-year-old also put up a 7.50 ERA across 19 appearances in the Minors.
Danny Hultzen, LHP (0.1 fWAR)
Hultzen made the most of his first six career big league appearances in 2019, tossing 3 1/3 scoreless frames for the Cubs. The 30-year-old lefty was also solid at Triple-A Iowa, posting a 1.26 ERA over 14 1/3 innings in 14 appearances.
Jeffrey Springs, LHP (0.1 fWAR)
Springs had a 6.40 ERA over 25 appearances for the Rangers in 2019. That came after the lefty had posted a solid 3.38 ERA in 18 outings (including two starts) in his rookie season the previous year.
Trevor Hildenberger, RHP (0.0 fWAR)
The Twins non-tendered the 28-year-old reliever, who made 22 appearances with a 10.47 ERA in 2019.
James Hoyt, RHP (0.0 fWAR)
The Indians non-tendered Hoyt after he spent most of 2019 at Triple-A. He did make eight relief appearances for Cleveland in September, and he struck out 10 batters in 8 1/3 innings.
Wei-Chieh Huang, RHP (0.0 fWAR)
Huang made four big league appearances in his debut season in 2019, posting a 3.18 ERA over 5 2/3 innings. The 26-year-old righty had a 1.86 ERA in six outings at Double-A Frisco, but he struggled to a 6.10 mark in 18 appearances at Triple-A Nashville.
Caleb Joseph, C (0.0 fWAR)
The D-backs non-tendered the 33-year-old backup catcher, who hit .211 in 20 games in 2019.
Derek Law, RHP (0.0 fWAR)
Acquired from the Giants as part of the Kevin Pillar deal in early April, Law put up a 4.90 ERA over 58 appearances in his lone season with the Blue Jays. After recording a 2.13 ERA in 61 outings in an impressive 2016 rookie season, Law has struggled to a 5.25 ERA in the three years since. That said, the right-hander still racked up 67 strikeouts in just 60 2/3 innings in '19.
Erick Mejia, OF (0.0 fWAR)
Mejia appeared in just nine games at the big league level in 2019, but his versatility was on full display in the Minors. The 25-year-old split time evenly between shortstop, second base, third base and center field in 128 games at Triple-A Omaha, while also logging eight appearances in right field.
Josh Osich, LHP (0.0 fWAR)
Osich put up a 4.66 ERA over a career-high 67 2/3 innings for the White Sox in 2019. The lefty racked up 61 strikeouts to just 15 walks, good for a career-best 4.07 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Domingo Santana, OF (0.0 fWAR)
Following his breakout 2017 season in Milwaukee (.875 OPS, 30 home runs), Santana appeared to be a star in the making. But he was limited to 85 uninspiring games in ‘18 before being traded to Seattle, where he posted a .770 OPS with 21 homers in 507 plate appearances this past season. A tough, injury-riddled second half (.468 OPS, 3 homers in 108 plate appearances) was the likely impetus for the Mariners’ decision to non-tender the 27-year-old, who made $1.95 million in 2019 and was headed into his second year of arbitration eligibility. Santana’s ability to play both corner-outfield spots should help him land with another club.
Taijuan Walker, RHP (0.0 fWAR)
Walker has made only four starts since 2017, missing time due to Tommy John surgery and shoulder issues. The 27-year-old was viewed as a prime bounce-back candidate in ‘20, but Arizona decided his salary -- he earned $5.025 million last season and was entering his fourth year of arbitration eligibility -- wasn’t worth the risk. Walker has a 3.95 ERA in 97 career outings (94 starts), so there should be teams willing to give him a fresh start as he tries to regain his pre-surgery form.
Miguel Diaz, RHP (0.0 fWAR)
The 25-year-old Díaz was limited to just five big league appearances in 2019 while battling a pair of knee injuries. He was sidelined to start the season after undergoing right knee surgery in February, then missed the final two and a half months of the season following left knee surgery.
Ryan Buchter, LHP (-0.1 fWAR)
Buchter is coming off a 2019 in which he posted a sub-3.00 ERA (2.98) for the fourth straight season, throwing 45 1/3 innings. But his walk and home run rates surged, and right-handed batters produced a .904 OPS against him, making him a tricky reliever given the new three-batter rule.
Caleb Frare, LHP (-0.1 fWAR)
The 26-year-old reliever was non-tendered by the White Sox after allowing three runs in 2 2/3 innings over five appearances this season.
Jesse Hahn, RHP (-0.1 fWAR)
Hahn missed the entire 2018 season and made just six appearances in '19 after undergoing surgery to repair the UCL in his right elbow. Hahn, who underwent Tommy John surgery in '10, chose an alternative procedure this time around, and he returned to a big league mound in September for the first time in more than two years.
Jimmy Nelson, P (-0.1 fWAR)
The 30-year-old Nelson threw only 22 innings for the Brewers this past season as he came back from shoulder surgery.
Rafael Ortega, OF (-0.1 fWAR)
Ortega spent most of the 2019 season at Triple-A Gwinnett, where he hit .285 with 21 homers and an .898 OPS over 111 games. In 34 games with the Braves, however, he hit just .205 with a .578 OPS. The 28-year-old outfielder has a .229 average in 143 games over four seasons with four teams -- the Rockies, Angels, Marlins and Braves.
Joey Rickard, OF (-0.1 fWAR)
The Giants selected Rickard off waivers from the Orioles in late June as they attempted to figure out their outfield situation. In 26 games for San Francisco, he hit .280 with a .380 slugging percentage.
Alex Claudio, RP (-0.2 fWAR)
Claudio appeared in a Major League-leading 83 games in 2019, posting a 4.06 ERA in 62 innings pitched. Claudio joined the Brewers last December, when he was traded by the Rangers for a competitive balance pick.
Kevan Smith, C (-0.2 fWAR)
Smith hit .251 with a .318 on-base percentage and .393 slugging percentage in 2019 for the Angels, who non-tendered him on Monday, according to a source. Smith, 31, has never played more than 87 games in a season, playing the backup catcher role with the White Sox in 2017 and 2018 before joining the Angels in 2019 on a waiver claim.
Luke Maile, C (-0.3 fWAR)
Maile, who will turn 29 in February, had some impressive stretches over the last three seasons in Toronto, but he struggled to a .151 average in 44 games in 2019. He hit .248 with 13 doubles and three homers in '18, but he had trouble replicating that success last season.
Blake Treinen, RHP (-0.3 fWAR)
A year ago, the idea of Treinen being non-tendered would have been absurd. His 2018 season was one of the best we’ve seen from a late-inning reliever this decade, having posted a 0.78 ERA in 80 1/3 innings. But ‘19 was a mess for the right-hander, who pitched to a 4.91 ERA and lost his closing job, prompting Oakland to cut ties with the 31-year-old. Treinen, who earned $6.4 million this past season, will be a prime buy-low candidate who should have a number of clubs interested in his services.
Yimi García , RHP (-0.3 fWAR)
García had a solid 2019 season, posting a 3.61 ERA over a career-high 64 appearances with the Dodgers. The 29-year-old righty racked up 66 strikeouts over 62 1/3 innings.
Marco Hernandez, 2B (-0.4 fWAR)
Hernandez hit a respectable .265 while serving in a utility role for the Red Sox over the past four seasons. Though primarily a second baseman, the 27-year-old infielder also spent time at third base and shortstop.
Tyler Saladino, INF (-0.4 fWAR)
Saladino hit .123 in 28 games for the Brewers in 2019, his fifth Major League season and second in Milwaukee after being acquired from the White Sox in April '18.
Maikel Franco, 3B (-0.5 fWAR)
Franco looked like a rising star in 2015, after hitting 14 home runs with an .840 OPS in 80 games, posting a 1.9 bWAR in a half-season. But that remains his career year. He’s compiled a cumulative 0.1 bWAR over the past four seasons, posting a .725 OPS with an average of 22 homers and 72 RBIs in 140 games during that stretch. The Phillies are reportedly on the hunt for a new third baseman, so it wasn’t a shock the club chose not to retain Franco, who earned $5.2 million last year and was entering the third of his four arbitration-eligible seasons. A new team would control Franco for two seasons, which could help his cause as he searches for a job.
José Peraza, INF (-0.6 fWAR)
Peraza started double-digit games at second base (50), shortstop (22) and left field (13) in 2019, but he regressed at the plate (.631 OPS) after taking a step forward in ‘18 (.742 OPS). Shortly after the news broke Monday that Peraza – whose second-year arbitration salary likely would have exceeded $3 million – had been non-tendered, the Reds signed Mike Moustakas to a four-year, $64 million deal, giving Cincinnati an upgrade in the infield. Peraza turns 26 in April, and given his positional versatility and three years of club control, he should have no trouble finding a big league job.
JT Riddle , SS (-0.6 fWAR)
Riddle, 28, had an injury-plagued 2019 season in which he hit .189 with six home runs in 51 games.
Humberto Arteaga, SS (-0.7 fWAR)
Arteaga hit .197 while appearing in 41 games for the Royals in 2019, his debut season in the big leagues. The 25-year-old middle infielder had shown flashes during his time at Triple-A Omaha, where he hit .299 with a .728 OPS and 11 stolen bases in 66 games last season.
Wes Parsons, RHP (-0.7 fWAR)
Parsons had a 3.52 ERA in 17 appearances with the Braves in 2019 before getting selected off waivers by the Rockies in August. The righty struggled to a 6.98 ERA over 15 outings with Colorado.
Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B (-0.8 fWAR)
Cuthbert hit .246 with nine homers and 40 RBIs for the Royals in 2019. He had a breakout season of sorts in '16, hitting .274 with 12 homers, 28 doubles and 46 RBIs over 128 games, but he hadn't found a consistent role in Kansas City in the three years since.
Travis Shaw, 3B (-0.8 fWAR)
Shaw had a pair of highly productive seasons for the Brewers in 2017 and ‘18, hitting 63 total home runs with an .844 OPS while averaging 148 games per year. But a dreadful 2019 in which he struggled before being sent to the Minors convinced the Crew that Shaw wasn’t worth more than $4 million. Shaw will be a prime candidate for a one-year deal as he tries to bounce back from his tough season.
Elias Díaz, C (-1.5 fWAR)
Díaz played in a career-high 101 games in 2019, but he mustered fewer homers (two) than in 2018 when he hit 10, and he had a lower RBI total as well. His -1.5 WAR according to FanGraphs was the lowest among 30 Major League catchers with at least 300 PA this season.
Steven Souza Jr., RF (DNP in 2019)
Souza did not play in 2019 due to his recovery from left knee surgery. He hit 30 homers in 148 games for the Rays in 2017, but he dealt with injury issues in his tenure with the D-backs -- missing time in 2018 with a strained right pectoral muscle and then the entirety of 2019 with the knee injury. The D-backs, who acquired Souza in February 2018 in a three-team deal, non-tendered him on Monday.
Koda Glover, RHP (DNP in 2019)
Glover announced his retirement on Twitter on Monday afternoon, ending a nearly three-year battle with injuries that resulted in him missing the entire 2019 season.
Tyler Anderson, LHP (N/A)
Anderson spent 2019 with the Rockies, but he was selected off waivers by the Giants in late October. After being non-tendered, Anderson agreed to terms with the Giants on a one-year deal for 2020.
Rico Garcia, RHP (N/A)
Garcia spent 2019 with the Rockies, but he was selected off waivers by the Giants in early November.