The Best Unsigned MLB Free Agents
There are still quality players looking for a home as the 2021 Major League Baseball season is about to kick off
The 2021 Major League Baseball season is about to kick off with the opening of spring training camps. Teams are still fine-tuning their rosters but, in most cases, they made their most significant transactions earlier in the offseason. However, there are still quality free agents still looking for a place to play during the upcoming season for anyone looking for an upgrade or to cover for an injury. Here is the best of those available players.
Yasiel Puig, Outfielder: Although it seems like he has been around forever, the right-handed slugger just barely turned 30. He did not play during the abbreviated 2020 season, as a contract with the Atlanta Braves fell through after a positive Covid-19 diagnosis. He hit .267 with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs in 2019 and could provide some easy pop for any team looking to add beef to their lineup.
Shin-Soo Choo, Outfielder: The 16-year big-league vet is 38 but has been remarkably consistent throughout his career. He slumped to .233 in 33 games last year but it’s his rising age and declining defensive ability that has narrowed his market. Despite being a more specific fit (as a DH and part-time outfielder in all likelihood) than most players, he could provide his usual high on-base percentage (career mark of .377) along with some power and speed for any team able to use him the right way.
Jackie Bradley, Jr., Outfielder: After spending the first eight years of his career with the Boston Red Sox, Bradley hit the market and surprisingly has not yet landed with anyone. About to turn 31, he is a superior defensive player and a plus-plus clubhouse presence. On offense, the left-handed hitter has always endured lengthy cold streaks interspersed with hot runs. He is a career .239 hitter but has averaged 18 home runs per 162 games, making the 30-year-old a viable starter for some team.
Jake Odorizzi, Pitcher: The 30-year-old right-hander won 15 games in a season as recently as 2019 with the Minnesota Twins. Injuries limited him to 13.2 ineffective innings in 2020 that resulted in a 6.59 ERA. He had reached 150 or more innings in five of the previous six seasons, so he should be a coveted candidate for teams looking to shore up their rotation.
Shane Greene, Pitcher: Given the success the right-hander has had over the past several seasons after converting to relief fulltime, it’s surprising that he is still available as we enter spring training. He combined for 55 saves in 2018–19 and had a solid 2.60 ERA in 28 appearances with the Atlanta Braves in 2020. He’s not a big strikeout pitcher but his ability to set up or close should make him very desirable and find a home before long.
Maikel Franco, Third Baseman: It must be quite disappointing to the 28-year-old that he is in this position after coming off the best season of his seven-year big-league career. In 60 games with the Kansas City Royals last year, he hit .278 with eight home runs and 38 RBIs, also playing better defense than he has in the past. He offers some pop, but his upside is limited, which may have scared teams off figuring they can find similar, if not cheaper, help elsewhere.
Edwin Encarnacion, Designated Hitter: The 38-year-old bombed miserably in 2020, batting just .157 with 10 home runs in 44 games for the Chicago White Sox. However, in a 16-year-career, he has blasted 424 long balls and driven in 1,261. His market is limited due to the increasing scarcity of teams who rely on a dedicated DH, along with his sudden drop in productivity last year. Teams who believe that such an enormous sudden decline was just an aberration may be rewarded if they sign the aging slugger.