MLB free agents: Who are the decent gambles in an odd year?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 7: Relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal #40 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates a win against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 7, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 7: Relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal #40 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates a win against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 7, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
1 of 3
Next
New York Yankees pitcher James Paxton
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

As teams are more focused on minimizing costs than ever before, let’s take a look at some worthwhile gambles amongst the MLB free agents.

There are two facts about current MLB free agents beginning to emerge: A) Everybody says this is a bad year to be one because all MLB owners are going to pinch pennies until they squeal because…COVID revenue losses (not to be confused with actual losses). And B) Older guys without teams had better be really healthy.

Nonetheless, players will be needed to play baseball next season before MLB crowds, we hope, so who are the tempting, potential signees?

Keeping in mind that “tempting” doesn’t mean “do it,” which MLB free agents might reasonably be considered early, especially for those sad sack teams that didn’t make the 2020 expanded playoffs like the Orioles and Phillies?

James Paxton

James Paxton comes with flashing red lights because he’s been a medical mess. If he weren’t a rich man, he’d probably be happy he’s Canadian. He’d probably not even mind those alleged long waits for surgery and what-not.

Paxton actually began his career by going on the IL, then the DL, after his first few starts with the Mariners in 2014. That was for a strained lat. At the time that occurred, he was sporting a 1.75 ERA and 0.83 WHIP.

This was the first of several DL/IL visits, including two for being hit by line  drives to his pitching arm. One was before and one after his no-hitter against the Blue Jays in May, 2018.

So…talent, but snake-bit, right? Still….

In the three years before 2020 with the Mariners and Yankees, Paxton was 38-17 with a 1.161 WHIP. And then, of course, he went onto the IL this season with a lumbar cyst and herniated disc (now removed and repaired, microscopically).

MLB.com puts Paxton only on “tier four” (of five) among MLB free agents, despite his age (32 on Nov. 6) and a high 90’s fastball. Is he a chancy choice? Absolutely. He didn’t pitch this year until July 25. The red lights are still flashing, but if Paxton is willing to be reasonable about a one-year contract, he has an opportunity to prove he’s still a major talent since he’s said to be fully recovered.

Because of all his Mickey Mouse injuries, he has pitched only 753.1 innings in eight years.