Not every team in MLB can spend big in free agency, so they have to target players that could turn into difference-makers.
There’s a big crop of free agents available this winter and plenty that can help win ball games without breaking the bank.
Below is the top-ten value free agents teams could look at instead of trying to outbid one another for elite talent.
1. Jose Abreu (1B, 35)
One of the best power hitters in MLB over the last few years can still impact a roster, whether at first base or DH. It’s not often you see players like Jose Abreu fetch a big bag heading into their age-36 season. A team will likely not have to commit a ton of term, opting to instead pay him a higher AAV. Abreu hasn’t recorded an OPS below .800 since 2018 and should be a valuable signing that can make an impact in the short term.
2. Andrew Benintendi (OF, 28)
It’s been a weird couple of seasons for Andrew Benintendi. He’s slowly reinvented himself as a hitter, splitting time with the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees. His power has disappeared, but he’s shifted to become a contact hitter with the ability to get on base. He won’t command a lot of term but could make a difference on a three-year deal.
3. Christian Vazquez (C, 32)
Multiple catchers are available in free agency and via trade this offseason, but Christian Vazquez is fresh off helping the Houston Astros win the World Series. His defense is fine, and he doesn’t get the credit he deserves behind the dish. He should see a multi-year deal that shouldn’t come at an unreasonable price. For whatever reason, Vazquez hasn’t been a full-time starter for most of his career, but that could change this offseason with a new destination.
4. Jurickson Profar (LF, 29)
Jurickson Profar has always come with hype but has yet to become a star at the MLB level. That doesn’t mean he can’t bring value to a franchise. It’s hard to see him getting a big payday, but he should find himself as a middle-of-the-pack free agent and a potential bargain for whichever team lands him.
5. Michael Wacha (SP, 31)
Michael Wacha will look to build off a strong season with the Boston Red Sox and parlay that into a nice contract. Despite solid numbers last year, Wacha won’t be a top-of-the-rotation starter, but he will provide value at the back end of a rotation. He’ll likely come in at a rate and term that won’t hinder a team from signing other big-ticket free agents.
6. Jose Quintana (SP, 33)
Sticking with starting pitchers, despite fireballers taking over MLB, there’s still value in starters that can paint the corners. Jose Quintana finished 2022 with the St. Louis Cardinals, which was a great environment for him. He’s a game manager that relies on contact and defense. Quintana won’t break the bank and has the potential to be a massive bargain with the right fit.
7. Brandon Drury (INF, 30)
Some major leaguers are specialty players, so they won’t cost much. Brandon Drury mashed left-handed pitching and is a great utility player that can play multiple positions. He brought power to the dish in his time with the Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres, which should be attractive on the free-agent market. Still, he isn’t the type of player that will get term or big dollars, meaning he should be able to help a team if given the proper role.
8. Trey Mancini (1B, 30)
Trey Mancini had been a solid hitter for the Baltimore Orioles and a reasonably priced addition for the Houston Astros. Still, he never got comfortable with the Astros and is likely in need of a fresh start. Mancini has been a consistent threat at the dish, but teams won’t be lining up to sign him, so whoever lands him will likely find themselves a bargain.
9. Rafael Montero (RP, 32)
A powerful bullpen pitcher, Rafael Montero has done an excellent job mixing in as a relief pitcher and paid dividends in his time with the Astros. The right-hander will look for a multi-year deal this winter, but there will be questions about his results before joining Houston.
10. Johnny Cueto (SP, 36)
Like Quintana, veteran right-hander Johnny Cueto doesn’t blow by hitters with velocity. He has excellent movement on his pitches and will continue to be a difference-maker in a big-league rotation. He’s unlikely to get term with his next contract, but he’s an excellent bet for a one-year deal, which could pay dividends in the backend of a team’s rotation.
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