With last night’s passing of the juicy Tender deadline the free agent pool has expanded to include another 43 lost souls. Unlike highly coveted players like Robinson Cano or A.J. Piershitski these guys were just let go by their team rather than be forced to pay out some amount in arbitration. It’s easy to think of these guys as utter trash, but remember that Andrew Friedman is the master of turning trash into slightly shinier trash.
The positives include that all of these guys have major league service time so you’re not getting some dumb bunny off the farm and due to being released by a team that didn’t want to pay them less than they’re worth you can rest assured that the cost will be in the signing team’s favor. The cons are that you’re digging through the $5 DVD bin so you know there’s going to be flaws. Look hard enough, though, and you may just find that Steven Seagal 3-pack of your dreams.
The trick is to know what you’re looking for. It’s entirely possible to find a guy that is somewhat competent at hitting a certain pitcher or getting a certain batter out. This is where we can lean heavily on our platoon splits regressor to get an idea of where da gold at:
The former Ray Wesley Wright is the lone lefty that was just let go which seems a bit odd. Teams love to hoard lefty pitching, but it’s a little surprising that he was the only guy let go, then again, he does have the widest regressed split, which has it’s advantages. Wright is projected to be the best lefty killer of this bunch as the only guy with a sub-.300 projected wOBA, but he’s strictly a LOOGY.
The list is sorted by overall projected wOBA courtesy of a homemade projection using established Big League numbers. I’m sure most will remember Andrew Bailey, and he certainly brings the curb appeal, but would you have guessed that Ronald Belisario is a reasonable facsimile? His splits are a little larger, but the guy can absolutely kill a righty and that’s an area this analyst feels the team could use some improvement. Daniel Bard might seem like a good option based on these numbers, but the projector doesn’t know that he went crazy two years ago and has to fight his way out of the shadowlands before he can become a good pitcher again.
There’s some other interesting things in here. Cristhian Martinez, Kyle McPherson, and Sandy Rosario all feature observed negative platoon splits, which regress to be quite small. This is an area the Rays have been increasingly moving in order to bait other teams into what is hoped to be a fruitless pinch-hit appearance. Ryan Webb looks like a fairly decent option against righties and he could probably be used up to mid-leverage against lefties. Tommy Hanson and Daniel Hudson are high beta guys with the potential to regain past usefulness as a start or in the pen, but the more likely scenario is that their right arm flies off and punches a fan in the face in the third row. Let’s move on to the batters:
Again, these are sorted by overall Projected wOBA via Steamer. We immediately see some more balance between lefties and righties here, in fact, the top-four projected guys are all lefties. You’d think the reason is due to having the platoon advantage more often, and while that’s probably true, we see right off the bat that Mat Gamel has a negative observed split in his 269 career plate appearances. We do see some very wide split guys to follow with Jones and Paul really standing out.
Garrett Jones would be a nice addition for most teams as he is a pretty good hitter against righties, though that’s about all he brings to the table. That’s a useful player if you want to stick him on 1B two-thirds of the time or even better if DH is an option, but he’s not an everyday starter. With the Rays already featuring a couple of wide-split lefties in DeJesus and Joyce it seems unlikely that they would add another platoon guy, but the surrounding flexibility and Joe Maddon’s beautiful mind make it a possibility.
With those two guys showing wide splits it might make sense to look for a righty bat like Francisco Peguero. In his 46 PA he has shown an impossibly wide negative split, but that regresses almost essentially to the mean. He features the best projection against righties in this list, which is more of an indictment on his peers than anything, but I digress. Peggy also brings borderline elite defense and an ability to run the bases quite well. If you’re looking for a new Sam Fuld, then this might just be your man.
The rest of the list is a motely crew of guys that don’t even hit opposite-handed pitching all that well. You should see David Adams latch on somewhere as he has a slick glove and profiles as a guy that can be a league average hitter against lefties. In fact, if any of these guys aren’t an average or better fielder then you might have to hit a AAA park in the future if you want to seem them play again.
After wading through this cesspool of filth it looks like there are a couple of decent options for the Rays out there. Garrett Jones or Francisco Peguero might be guys that could come in and settle into a niche here. In fact, Jones might be a decent enough option to be our starting first basemen most of the time. On the pitching side we see some more useful options. Righty killers like Belisario, Bailey, or Webb might be nice additions if the price is right. There is no true LOOGY out there unless you think the team brings back Wesley Wright, but the bullpen is quite stocked with lefties. Daniel Bard might be an interesting option, but he really needs to either stop or start doing heroin because his brain is making it so that he cannot throw a strike. I mean like at all. Happy hunting, Friedman, looks like there is some shit to slog through before you find that gem.