MLB free agency tracker: Grading and analyzing every free agent signing

Yusei Kikuchi
Moto "Club4AG" Miwa from USA, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

It’s time for our MLB offseason grades 2021-22. The stove is at a good temperature after the lockout with free agency moves piling up.

MLB offseason grades 2021-22

We’re diving into every MLB offseason move with our grades and reactions. Read below for analysis and contract details of the main MLB free agency signings to date.

Tommy Pham to Reds, one year, $7.5 million

Receiving $6 million in 2022, Tommy Pham and the Reds have a mutual option in 2023 with a $1.5 million buyout. Pham earned MVP votes with the Cardinals in 2017. He was a 120 wRC+ or better hitter in 2018 and 2019, but had a rough 2020 and was around league average in 2021.

A stabbing outside a San Diego club has clearly impacted Pham’s play, and the Reds are betting on him to return to his late-2010s form.

The days of elite defense are behind him, but he remains an ultra-disciplined hitter with good-to-great power. He could be a valuable trade asset for the rebuilding Reds.

Grade: B+

Trevor Story to Red Sox, six years, $140 million

Trevor Story lands a medium-length deal with an opt out after four, falling between Carlos Correa’s short-term approach and the decade-long pact signed by Trevor Story.

Initially playing second, Story provides insurance against Xander Bogaerts leaving at the end of next season. He’s an elite defender, useful on the bases and will be a threat at the plate even away from the friendly confines of Coors Field. This AAV is lower than we might have expected for Story, particularly after rumors he could take a short deal and test the market again in 2023 or 2024.


Yet to celebrate his 30th birthday, Story could opt out and go for another long deal after four. Even if that happens, though, Boston has an All-Star infielder locked up for the foreseeable. This is a really solid deal for both parties.

Grade: B+

Jorge Soler to Marlins, three years, $36 million

Taking a leaf out of Carlos Correa’s book, Jorge Soler has opt outs after each of the first two seasons. The second year on the deal is the highest-paying at $15 million, with Soler receiving just $9 million in 2024.

Soler is only a shade above league average since the start of 2020. He’s got big-time power upside, but with the opt outs, the benefit for the Marlins is relatively limited. This looks to be a very player-friendly deal for a guy who should be a pure DH. With Miami unlikely to compete in 2022, Soler could prove to be a trade chip if he’s having a big year, though the contract complicates things.

It’s tricky to see what the best case scenario is for Miami. If Soler opts in to next year, it’s likely a hefty overpay.

Grade: C-

Carlos Correa to Twins, three years, $105 million

This one came from nowhere. After some interesting trades, the Twins swung big on Friday to land Carlos Correa on a three-year deal with opt outs after each of the first two seasons. Correa gets his high AAV, and Minnesota lands one of the best position players in the sport.

It’s the sort of deal that leaves other fan bases wondering why their team didn’t do it.

Correa gets his flexibility and the chance of a longer deal, while the Twins get a true superstar. Even if Minnesota isn’t competitive, they will have an immense trade chip at the deadline.

Grade: A

Kenley Jansen to Braves, one year, $16 million

Kenley Jansen enjoyed a big-time bounce back year in 2021. His underlying numbers were exceptional across the board, and while there are some durability worries for a reliever with so many innings in his arm, this looks like a shrewd one-year deal for the Braves.

A back end of Will Smith, Collin McHugh and Jansen is a great bullpen foundation. There’s a lot to like about this for the 2021 champions.

Grade: A-

Nick Castellanos to Phillies, five years, $100 million

The Phillies are going all-in on offense. Nick Castellanos follows Kyle Schwarber to the city of brotherly love on a five-year pact which pushes Philadelphia into the luxury tax.

Castellanos was a 140 wRC+ in 2021 in what was a career year. He’s a poor defender, but will likely get a lot of time in left field with Alec Bohm, Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins and Kyle Schwarber expected to share DH duties.

Philadelphia suddenly had as an exciting line-up around Harper, albeit lacking a bit of depth. This is a great value contract if Castellanos is close to the hitter he was last year, but there’s definite risk in this.

Grade: B

Ryan Tepera to Angels, two years, $14 million

The first of two signings to the Angels bullpen on Thursday, Ryan Tepera is coming off a superb 2021. He will slot right into a set up role in front of Raisel Iglesias and gives Los Angeles another proven arm.

While Tepera has been good in consecutive seasons, this is a lot of money for a reliever heading into his age-34 campaign. The underlying numbers, though, were so good that it’s hard to dislike this move for a big-market franchise.

Grade: B

Archie Bradley to Angels, one year, $3.75 million

The Angels are banking on 2021 being a down year for Bradley. This has the potential to be a real bargain given his performances between 2017 and 2020. Perhaps he was just hit by the Phillies’ bullpen curse.

Even if Los Angeles gets the 2021 version of Bradley, he helps their relief group and provides depth to a bullpen which struggled last season. There’s not much to lose here.

Grade: A-

Jonathan Villar to Cubs, one year, $6 million

You know what you’re getting with Jonathan Villar. He’s a league-average hitter. He can steal a few bases. Defensively, he’s versatile, albeit not that great at any position.

There’s some raw power there, and he hits well from both sides of the plate for his career. Villar’s signing doesn’t bolt the Cubs into contention, but this is a useful depth piece. They should be able to get a prospect for the former Met at the deadline.

Grade: C+

Corey Dickerson to Cardinals, one year, $5 million

Corey Dickerson was back to the hitter we’re accustomed to once he was traded to Toronto after sitting just below league average with the Marlins. He owns an .845 OPS against righties for his career and can play above-average corner defense.

While the Cards have plenty of outfield options, Dickerson is a nice depth piece who will get plenty of plate appearances in 2022. This is a bargain.

Grade: A-

Freddie Freeman to Dodgers, six years, $162 million

The rich get richer. Freddie Freeman, owner of the ninth-best wRC+ since the start of 2018, joins an already elite Dodgers offense. Los Angeles has one of the most fearsome lineups in MLB history.

Losing Corey Seager hurts much less now. Freeman returns to his home state, and will have several chances to add to his 2021 World Series ring. Atlanta reportedly wouldn’t go to six years, and they can be content with the Matt Olson trade and extension.

There’s no way to look at this other than a win for the Dodgers, though. They have added yet another MVP-caliber player to their All-Star roster.

Grade: A

Matt Boyd to Giants, one year, $5.2 million plus incentives

Likely out until June, Matt Boyd isn’t going to have an immediate impact with the Giants. Still, this is further pitching depth for a rotation which has an array of durability concerns from Carlos Rodon to Alex Cobb.

Boyd has been a shade above average in 2018, 2019 and 2021. He struck 11.6 per nine in 2019. There’s some stuff to work with for the Giants’ pitching coaches, who have turned several careers around in the last couple of seasons.

A Kevin Gausman-esque breakout is unlikely, but this is one to keep an eye on.

Grade: B

Joc Pederson to Giants, one year, $6 million

Seiya Suzuki signed elsewhere. Nicholas Castellanos was likely asking for more than Farhan Zaidi was willing to pay. Joc Pederson has long looked a good fit for the Giants, and especially so on a deal like this.

Pederson has a 120 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers since 2018. He takes his walks and hits for power. There’s no risk for the Giants on this deal – Gabe Kapler has even more outfield flexibility.

Grade: B+

Kris Bryant to Rockies, seven years, $182 million

Has a deal ever made this little sense? The Rockies just paid $50 million to shift Nolan Arenado. They are clearly not re-signing Trevor Story. Jon Gray was allowed to walk. This is a team which projects to be one of the worst in the league in 2022, and they have committed a long deal to a player who has already declined from his MVP peak.

Bryant gets the big contract he wanted, earning a degree of payback after the Cubs’ service time shenanigans. He’s still a good hitter and a sort of versatile defender. At least Colorado is trying to improve despite not being a contender, but surely they would have been better off spreading this money across multiple shorter contracts?

This isn’t a judgement on Bryant, who could make several more All-Star teams. It’s just a baffling move from the Rockies (again).

Grade: D

Nick Martinez to Padres, four years, $25.5 million

Since struggling with the Rangers in 2017 and 2018, Nick Williams has been impressive in Japan. He pitched just shy of 150 innings to a 1.62 ERA in 2021, earning a return to the bigs with the San Diego Padres.

This is a low-cost dice roll for the Friars, though Martinez having opt outs after each season limits the upside.

Grade: C

Zack Greinke to Royals, one year, $13 million

Back to where it all started for Zack Greinke, who was subject to some retirement rumors earlier in the offseason. He’s not the pitcher he once was, yet Greinke is still an average-to-good starter and provides a veteran presence for an inexperienced Royals staff.

This is a fun deal and it makes a lot of sense for where the Royals are at. More Greinke in the Majors can only be a good thing.

Grade: B+

Eddie Rosario to Braves, two years with club option in 2024, $18 million over first two seasons

Signing Eddie Rosario isn’t exactly going to lessen the blow of losing Freddie Freeman for Braves fans, but the return of a playoff hero is something to be excited about. Rosario has reliably been an above-average hitter over the last few seasons.

Still, this feels a pretty sentimental deal. Rosario is a subpar defender on the corners and barely ever walks. He should strictly be a platoon hitter. This sort of production could likely be found without the two-year commitment.

Grade: D

Andrew Chafin to Tigers, two years, $13 million

Coming off an elite season with the Athletics and Cubs, Andrew Chafin was one of the more underrated free agents. The Tigers had a below average bullpen last year, and Chafin is an immediate upgrade.

Not turning 32 until June, Chafin has the track record to suggest he can be very effective through both years of this contract. This is a smart move from Detroit as they look to end a long rebuild.

Grade: A-

Seiya Suzuki to Cubs, five years, $85 million

The Cubs were a surprise winner of the Seiya Suzuki sweepstakes. This contract broke records, and it represents a real risk for a rebuilding team.

Sure, Chicago has cut a lot of payroll over the last few months, but as great as Suzuki has been so far through his career, there is no guarantee he is a productive Major League player. In fact, he’s got to be a well-above average hitter for this to be anything other than a poor contract.

It’s a leap into the unknown for the Cubs and Suzuki. This is a fun way to spend when you’re rebuilding, if nothing else.

Grade: C

Kyle Schwarber to Phillies, four years, ≈$80 million

Always set to benefit from the universal DH, Kyle Schwarber has got paid in a big way. Philadelphia adds another elite left-handed bat to the middle of its lineup after Schwarber was in the fifth percentile in xwOBA in 2021.

If they get the .928 OPS version of Schwarber from last year, the Phillies can only be pleased with this. There is downside, though. Schwarber is pretty much a pure DH, and this risks looking like an overpay even if he slips to his production from 2018 and 2019.

It is very Phillies to sign name rather than value. Schwarber isn’t necessarily that, but this feels like a crude way to address their offensive issues.

Grade: B-

Andrew McCutchen to Brewers, one year

The exact cost of this move hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it’s unlikely to be a huge outlay for the Brewers. Milwaukee was poor against lefties last year, and while he’s not the player he once was, Andrew McCutchen still mashes southpaws.

McCutchen still takes his walks, too. He notched 27 dingers in 2021. For a front office that isn’t going to be after the biggest names on the market, McCutchen is a smart addition.

Grade: B+

Chad Kuhl to Rockies, one year, $3 million

Someone has to get some outs for the Rockies and Chad Kuhl is a bargain way of doing just that. He was moved between starter and reliever last season with limited success. If this was another organization, we’d think the front office had seen something to work with.

Given that it’s the Rockies, this is probably just about getting a cheap arm with Major League experience. Very limited upside with this one.

Grade: C-

Anthony Rizzo to Yankees, two years, $32 million

The Yankees re-signing Anthony Rizzo always made a lot of sense. New York was linked heavily with Freddie Freeman, but it seemed no more than a longshot. Matt Olson’s trade to the Braves all-but confirmed Rizzo to the Yankees.

Rizzo is a perfect fit for Yankee Stadium. His performances over the last two seasons make him a solid rather than All-Star caliber player, though. While that’s good enough if the Yankees other big names perform, this deal only becomes a good value one for the Yanks if Rizzo can get back to the 130 OPS+ ballpark.

Grade: C

Collin McHugh to Braves, two years with club option in 2024, $10 million guaranteed

Pitching to a 1.55 ERA with the Rays last season, Collin McHugh was always heading for a big deal this offseason despite coming off his age-34 campaign.

McHugh brings much-needed depth to the Atlanta bullpen in front of Will Smith. His experience will be invaluable.

Grade: B+

Daniel Vogelbach to Pirates, one year with club option in 2023, $1.2 million guaranteed

There’s no such thing as a bad deal at this price, particularly with the DH arriving in the National League.

Vogelbach was around a league-average hitter last season. Pittsburgh will be hoping he can get back towards the 110 OPS+ from a couple of years ago, and then he potentially becomes a trade asset at the deadline.

Grade: C

Brad Hand to Phillies, one year, $6 million

Joining fellow former Met Jeurys Familia in Philadelphia, Brad Hand is coming off a turbulent 2021 across three teams. The Phils are crossing their fingers that last season was an anomaly from Hand, who has been one of the best southpaws in the sport over the last few years.

Hand, Familia, Jose Alvarado and Corey Knebel looks like a fearsome backend of the ‘pen. It’s never that straight forward, though, particularly for a team with perennial relief struggles.

It’s a lot of money given the 2021 Hand had.

Grade: C-

Sean Doolittle to Nationals, one year

Sean Doolittle is back in the capital. The lefty didn’t have the best of times across Cincinnati and Seattle last year, and will hope to regain his All-Star form with the Nationals.

Washington has been active since the end of the lockout, which is nice to see from a rebuilder. This Doolittle deal doesn’t move the needle, though.

Grade: C

Ian Kennedy to Diamondbacks, one year, $4.75 million plus incentives

Good with the Rangers and calamitous with the Phillies, it’s hard to know which Ian Kennedy the Diamondbacks are getting here. It’s a high-price deal for a reliever heading into his age-37 season after sitting in the 10th percentile in hard hit rate.

Kennedy still has decent stuff. He strikes out plenty. Yet, the upside is surely minimal here for the Diamondbacks. His trade value isn’t going to be particularly high, and they could have used this money on a more inventive move.

Grade: C-

Nelson Cruz to Nationals, one year, $15 million with 2023 mutual option

The Nationals aren’t going to be competitive in 2022, but a signing like Nelson Cruz suddenly makes their lineup considerably scarier. Cruz was always going to be a beneficiary of the universal DH as one of the best hitters in baseball over the last half-decade.

Cruz joins Juan Soto in the heart of the Nats order. The mutual option is significant here, particularly if Washington looks to flip Cruz at the deadline. It seems like a big number for one year, but the Nationals can afford it after cutting so much salary.

Grade: A

Brad Boxberger to Brewers, one year, $2.5 million

Journeyman reliever Brad Boxberger returns to the Brewers after a 2021 season which saw him post his best FIP since 2017. It’s a move which works for both parties, with Boxberger getting a solid guaranteed deal and Milwaukee keeping a key part of their bullpen.

Other teams should have been in the running for Boxberger at this price — he’s a very solid arm for just $2.5 million.

Grade: B+

Nick Wittgren to Cardinals, one year, $1.2 million

The 2021 season was a rough one for Nick Wittgren, but he’s not so far removed from stronger numbers in 2018 and 2019. The underlying figures weren’t great in 2019, but he pitched to a 3.65 expected ERA in 2018, and he’s a real bargain if he can get back to that level.

Following the Drew VerHagen signing, the Cardinals’ relief corps has really taken shape. Wittgren is another interesting arm who could provide a bridge to Alex Reyes and Giovanny Gallegos.

Grade: C+

Adam Ottavino to Mets, one year, $4 million

In the top five percent in hard hit rate, Adam Ottavino remains an above-average reliever. His command is a worry, but that can be managed with a short leash.

New York can slot Ottavino into a righty-specialist role in the late innings or use him as a firefighter. This is a really nice depth move for a team which has splashed considerably on its rotation and offense.

Grade: B+

Hanser Alberto to Dodgers, one year

With low walk and exit velocity numbers, Hanser Alberto doesn’t check the Dodgers’ normal boxes. Los Angeles has earned the benefit of the doubt with such signings, though, and Alberto’s versatility is a bonus for the Dodgers after missing out on Josh Harrison.

It’s a nice story for Alberto, and while the financial details are yet to be made public, there’s nothing to dislike here.

Grade: C

Jose Iglesias to Rockies, one year, $5 million

The Trevor Story era is officially over. No one really believed Colorado was going to stump up for the All-Star shortstop, but Jose Iglesias’ arrival on this one-year pact confirms Story is heading elsewhere.

Despite a .942 OPS with Boston, we know what the Rockies are getting with Iglesias. He’s a below average hitter for his career and a good to great defender. It’s a nice placeholder as Colorado rebuilds.

Grade: B

Yusei Kikuchi to Blue Jays, three years, $36 million

After signing Kevin Gausman, the Blue Jays already looked to have a strong rotation. Yusei Kikuchi puts them in the discussion for the best group of starters in the sport with the former Mariner slotting in behind Gausman, Jose Berrios and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Kikuchi turned down a $13 million option with the Mariners and gets his longer term deal. For Toronto, this is a moderate gamble given some of Kikuchi’s underlying numbers, but their success with Robbie Ray has earned them the benefit of the doubt.

Even if Kikuchi is a mid-fours FIP pitcher like he was in 2021, he’s a solid back end of the rotation guy for a team with a raft of starting options.

Grade: B

Steve Cishek to Nationals, one year, $1.75 million

This is a zero-risk deal for the Nationals. Steve Cishek is one of the most reliable relievers in the sport. He’s always available, and has largely been a consistent performer aside from a blip in 2020.

Washington tore it down at the deadline last year, and they’re clearly not going to be big spenders this offseason. Cishek can be a calming presence for a young bullpen and could fetch a prospect at the deadline.

Grade: C+

Alex Colome to Rockies, one year

The Twins passed up a $5.25 million option on Alex Colome for 2022, leading the Santo Domingo native to his first National League stint after previously representing the Rays, Mariners, White Sox and Twins.

Colome endured a solid, if unspectacular, 2021 campaign after dominating through 2020’s shortened season. It’s a no-risk move for Colorado, who will hope they can flip the former Ray for prospects at the deadline.

Grade: B

Jeurys Familia to Phillies, one year, $6 million

A $6 million pact which can rise to $7 million, long-time Mets reliever Jeurys Familia remains in the National League East with the Phillies.

While not the pitcher he was in his first couple of seasons in the league, Familia has a track record as a solid reliever, and that’s something the Phillies could do with given their bullpen troubles over the last couple of seasons.

Grade: B-

Josh Harrison to White Sox, one year, $7 million guaranteed

Josh Harrison gets $5.5 million in 2022 after a solid year with the Nationals and Athletics. The utility infielder has a $1.5 million buyout on a club option in 2023.

A solid contact hitter well into his thirties, Harrison isn’t going to be locked into a lineup spot with the White Sox, but will likely fill in as and when required, particularly after Leury Garcia’s curious contract extension prior to the lockout. This is a nice depth piece for the South Siders.

Grade: B+

Joe Kelly to White Sox, two years with an option, $17 million

The White Sox add to an already stacked bullpen with flame-throwing right-hander Joe Kelly. Perhaps this opens the door for a Craig Kimbrel trade or Kelly will slot into a middle-relief role in front of Kimbrel, Liam Hendriks and Kendall Graveman.

Kelly can be wild, but he impressed with the Dodgers and brings yet more experience to an already strong ‘pen. Chicago was fifth in wins above average from their relief corps last year — it would be a surprise if they’re outside the top three in 2022.

Grade: A-

Drew VerHagen to Cardinals, two years, $5.5 million

Having struggled in his years with the Tigers, Drew VerHagen wasn’t tipped as a favorite to be the first player signed after the lockout. Still, it was the Cardinals who struck first and picked up the towering righty after two strong years with the Nippon-Ham Fighters.

St Louis has often pursued players who have excelled in Korea, and VerHagen looked to rebuild his career in Asia, pitching to a 3.51 ERA with a low walk rate and a power sinker.

He’s a groundball machine, and the Cards have the infield defense to back him up.

Grade: B+

Carlos Rodon to Giants, two years, $44 million

Carlos Rodon’s free agency was always interesting. His velocity dropped late in the year, and durability concerns are very real. Rodon, though, was a Cy Young candidate for much of 2021, and has some exceptional advanced numbers from what was a breakout year.

His fastball is one of the best in the game, and this signing follows a familiar pattern for the Giants. It’s the fourth starter they’ve signed to a multi-year deal this offseason, but it’s one that has the potential to be a bargain if Rodon can get close to the 183 ERA+ from 2021.

Grade: A-

Andrelton Simmons to Cubs, one year, $4 million

While still an elite defender, Andrelton Simmons has become a complete negative on offense after a 57 OPS+ in 2021. The Cubs aren’t risking much in this deal, and at the very least Simmons gives more infield options alongside Nick Madrigal and Nico Hoerner, but it’s a bit of an uninspiring one.

Simmons isn’t going to have much value as a trade piece unless he regains his 2017-2018 form at the plate. Chicago don’t gain a huge amount here.

Grade: C

Martin Perez to Rangers, one year, $4 million

Texas has been as active as any team so far this offseason. Martin Perez isn’t the highest upside or most exciting of signings, but pitching depth is a must for the Rangers behind Jon Gray.

Perez returns to the team he left in 2019 on the back of a rough year with Minnesota and a couple of okayish seasons with the Red Sox.

This isn’t a deal which moves the needle, but it should help the Rangers get some decent innings. Nothing to lose at this price.

Grade: C+

Clayton Kershaw to Dodgers, one year, $17 million

Retirement was rumored, as was a move to Texas, but re-upping with the Dodgers was always the most likely outcome.

Kershaw isn’t the pitcher he once was, yet he remains a well-above average starter when he’s healthy. Health will be the question here, and the Dodgers will know more about Kershaw’s left elbow than anyone else.

Grade: C

Noah Syndergaard to Angels, one year, $21.5 million

Pitching just two innings since 2019, this one is clearly a risk for the Angels, who also gave up a draft pick after Noah Syndergaard turned down the qualifying offer from the Mets.

There’s high upside of a one-two punch with Syndergaard backing up Shohei Ohtani, though. It’s an optimistic play from LA in that sense.

This deal can only be judged on how many reliable innings they add to their rotation. It’s exciting, but we’d like it a lot more with another year.

Grade: B

Justin Verlander to Astros, one year, $25 million with a player option

Like Syndergaard, Verlander turned down the QO and got more money coming off a missed season.

Not many other pitchers in recent history could get a contract like this following Tommy John and nearing their 40th birthday. Verlander is different, and the Astros are banking on another couple of years of elite pitching from the future Hall of Famer.

It’s great if he’s still Verlander. The Astros will know his condition better than anyone – we’re inclined to trust them here.

Grade: B+

Anthony DeSclafani to Giants, three years, $36 million

Anthony DeSclafani’s free agency was always going to be interesting. He got it wrapped up before Thanksgiving, returning to Oracle Park on the back of the best year of his career.

San Francisco had 80% of its rotation hitting free agency, and they have to be delighted to get DeSclafani for just three years and $36 million.

It’s just the start of a busy Giants offseason, but it’s a good one.

Grade: B+

Eduardo Rodriguez to Tigers, five years, $77 million

Age and strong underlying numbers landed Eduardo Rodriguez a five-year deal with an opt out after season two. It was surprising to see the five years for Rodriguez, but it fits well with the timeline of this Detroit Tigers ballclub as they come out of a lengthy rebuild.

The opt out is a bit of a worry. If this looks a good deal for the Tigers, do they lose Rodriguez before they’re properly ready to contend?

Grade: B-

Manny Pina to Braves, two years, $8 million with a club option

Manny Pina is earning $4 million per year in 2022 and 2023, and the Atlanta Braves managed to tag on a club option at the same value in 2024.

Atlanta ranked dead-last in wins above average from catcher, so this outlay on Pina to backup Travis d’Arnaud makes a lot of sense. He’s a solid hitter for his position and ranked 14th in Statcast’s framing metrics in 2021.

There’s more to come from the Braves after winning the World Series, but this is a nice start.

Grade: A-

Read more: Best trades in MLB history

Aaron Loup to Angels, two years, $15 million with a $7.5 million club option in 2024

Even with Raisel Iglesias at the backend, the Angels were below average in the ‘pen last season. Aaron Loup was 16th among relievers with over 20 innings in FIP and ranked 23rd in left on base rate.

Only 18 relievers posted a better fWAR. Loup was dominant against lefties, holding them to an average under .165.

Their bullpen needs some cheaper depth as well, but Loup gives the Angels someone to build around regardless of Iglesias’ future.

Grade: A

Andrew Heaney to Dodgers, one year, $10 million

Trouble with the long ball led to some ugly numbers for Andrew Heaney in 2021. He’s the perfect reclamation project for a Dodgers staff which has turned around numerous careers.

Heaney was 91st percentile in chase rate with a high-spin fastball. He even ranked above average in strikeout and walk rate.

Los Angeles will tweak his pitch mix, perhaps cutting down the changeups.

While we want to look at these signings in isolation, the fact it’s the Dodgers giving out this deal clearly matters. You’d back them to make Heaney into an effective arm, making this a bargain. And there’s no risk on a one-year deal when you’re as rich as LA.

Grade: B+

Steven Matz to Cardinals, four years, $44 million

Four years is a lot for a pitcher with Steven Matz’s track record and injury history. Solid for the Jays in 2021, Matz could benefit from the stellar infield defense in St Louis, and the Cardinals will be hoping he can hover around the 3.81 ERA he posted in 2021.

Slotting in behind Jack Flaherty and Adam Wainwright in the rotation, this is unlikely to be much more than fine. There’s real downside with a four-year pact.

Grade: C-

Kendall Graveman to White Sox, three years, $24 million

This looks like a big commitment for a pitcher with one season as an elite reliever. Kendall Graveman was exceptional in 2021, but he exceeded his expected numbers across the board, ranking just above average in expected ERA.

Chicago was already trying to trade Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel is clearly on the market, leaving Graveman as their setup man.

The South Siders might have been better off spreading this money across a couple of arms – the volatility of relief pitching makes any multi-year deal risky.

Grade: D

Starling Marte to Mets, four years, $78 million

Starling Marte was the best outfielder on the market. He’s an All-Star with above average defense, great speed and more than a healthy dose of pop.

Marte makes the Mets better, and it’s an exciting win-now signing. He’s just celebrated his 33rd birthday, though, and history doesn’t tell a happy story about these sort of free agent deals.

The Lorenzo Cain contract in Milwaukee likely serves as a blueprint for how this works out. There’s going to be pain for the Mets at the back end of this deal.

Grade: C

Mark Canha to Mets, two years, $26.5 million

Including a third year on a club option, Mark Canha was one of the most underrated free agents on the market.

A strong corner outfield defender, Canha has put together four consecutive seasons of comfortably above average offensive production. He can hit lefties and righties and provides flexibility for the Mets as a defender.

While he’s not got much raw power, the former Athletic has a great eye, which should see him age pretty kindly as he moves into his mid-thirties.

Grade: B

Eduardo Escobar to Mets, two years, $20 million

One of the league’s better switch hitters, Eduardo Escobar brings versatility to the Mets on both sides of the ball. This is a low-risk deal with just two years of commitment, and Escobar has been a reliable performer throughout the last few seasons if we write off a down year in the shortened 2020 campaign.

Escobar has a 105 wRC+ since the start of 2018. He can play second, third or first to a passable level, and has experience on the outfield corners if required.

Rarely missing games and producing at a solid level, this is a good value deal for New York.

Grade: B+

Hector Neris to Astros, two years, $17 million

The Astros needed another backend arm after seeing Kendall Graveman walk in free agency. Hector Neris is their guy on a two-year pact, and it seems to make sense.

Neris had a turbulent few years with the Phillies, flipping between closer and setup. He enjoyed a good second half of 2021 when taken away from the ninth, though, and that’s the role he’ll fulfil in Texas.

With supreme underlying numbers, and working with Houston’s coaches, this looks like a stellar deal for the AL champs.

Grade: A-

Yimi Garcia to Blue Jays, two years, $11 million

With Rafael Dolis, David Phelps, Joakim Soria and Kirby Yates all hitting the free agent market, Toronto needed to be active in pursuit of relief pitching. They have done just that by landing Yimi Garcia to a two-year pact with a club option.

Garcia is coming off a rough year. Perhaps that worries some Jays fans. The track record is there to suggest he can bounce back in a big way in 2022, though, and his fastball added 1.4mph last year.

He ranks very well in spin rate on his hard and soft stuff – don’t be surprised to see Garcia flourish north of the border.

Grade: B-

Corey Kluber to Rays, one year, $8 million

Look, sometimes free agent deals just fit. A late-career former Cy Young winner heading to the Rays on a one-year pact is one of those.

Kluber enjoyed a no-hitter and a solid year with the Yankees before health issues once again derailed his campaign. This is an ultra-low-risk move for Tampa Bay, who will manage Kluber’s workload carefully and get his stuff as sharp as it can be.

Tampa has enough pitching depth to cover for Kluber’s durability issues. He’s unlikely to throw more than 120 innings, but would anyone be surprised if he pitches to a sub-three ERA?

Grade: A-

Marcus Semien to Rangers, seven years, $175 million

Marcus Semien has finished third in MVP voting in the last two full seasons. Records tumbled in his explosive campaign with Toronto, and he brings versatility on defense.

He’s also heading into his age-31 campaign. Even with some other moves – two of which the Rangers made on November 28th – Texas isn’t going to be contending for at least a couple of seasons.

There’s a lot of downside here. Semien’s contract could weigh down the organisation when they’re ready to be good again.

Texas is relying on making a playoff push in the next year or two for this deal to make any sense at all.

Grade: D

Kevin Gausman to Blue Jays, five years, $110 million

Pairing Kevin Gausman with Jose Berrios and Hyun-Jin Ryu is a pretty exciting prospect north of the border. Paying the former Giant for five years looks favorable given what Semien received.

Yet, there’s cause for concern here, too. Gausman is a two-pitch guy who posted average numbers in the second half of 2021.

His track record as an All-Star level guy is very limited, and without developing his repertoire, there’s a limit on his effectiveness over 150+ innings.

Grade: C

Jon Gray to Rangers, four years, $56 million

Four years and $56 million for Jon Gray is a great deal in this market. That’s pretty much half of what Gausman received, and only $12 million more than Steven Matz landed from St Louis.

Gray’s stuff has always ranked favorably. His results haven’t always matched up, but much of that can be attributed to Coors and the Rockies’ player development.

Going to four years gives the Rangers time to figure this out, and an opportunity to see Gray’s peak in Texas. The annual value is very reasonable for a starter with his upside.

Grade: B+

Michael Lorenzen to Angels, one year, $7 million

A lot has been made of Michael Lorenzen’s desire to play as a hitter and start on the mound. The Angels obviously have experience in this, so it kind of makes sense.

Lorenzen is no Ohtani, though. He’s a project starter and no more than a wildcard at the plate.

Alongside the Noah Syndergaard pact, Los Angeles has taken two gambles. It’s a fun risk with only one year of commitment, but we need to see how the rest of their offseason plays out.

Grade: B

Avisail Garcia to Marlins, four years, $53 million

Impressive numbers across the board have Miamians excited about the arrival of Avisail Garcia. This is the first big splash in free agency of the Derek Jeter era and follows Sandy Alcantara’s six-year extension.

Garcia is also heading into his age-31 season and is just a 113 wRC+ hitter since the start of 2017. He’s a subpar corner outfielder, potentially best suited to a DH over the life of this contract.

Miami isn’t an organization that can misjudge contracts like this. Garcia makes them better, but this is a long deal for a team that’s likely not competing until his age-32 campaign.

Grade: C

Kole Calhoun to Rangers, one-year, $5.2 million with club option

Projected as a league average hitter in 2022 by Steamer, this deal is fine. League-average is much better than many of the Rangers’ hitters.

Kole Calhoun has pop, but he’s lucky to be average on defense these days.

This is okay as a depth piece. The Rangers need much more if they’re to build anything close to a contender around Semien and Gray.

Grade: B-

Max Scherzer to Mets, three years, $130 million

Well, Steve Cohen is serious about spending this offseason. Max Scherzer’s desire to be in California was clearly outweighed by a truly historic contract.

Pairing Scherzer and Jacob deGrom will have Mets fans giddy with excitement, and with good reason. Still a Cy Young contender heading into this age-37 campaign, this is as win-now as it gets, and it’s very reliant on Scherzer being Scherzer for three more seasons.

The drop off late in the year and some postseason struggles can be pointed to as potential warning signs that Father Time is catching up with Mad Max. The weight of evidence is still in Scherzer’s favor, though, and keeping it to three years rather than four has to be viewed as a win of sorts for New York given the reporting over the last few days.

Grade: B

Robbie Ray to Mariners, five years, $115 million

Same years, $5 million more than Gausman seems about right. Ray has a patchy track record, but he’s coming off a Cy Young year, and if he can continue that in 2022, Seattle has an ace to lead their rotation long-term.

There’s risk here, though. Ray doesn’t bring a long back catalogue of elite seasons on the mound despite his historic strikeout marks. If he becomes the pre-Toronto pitcher again, this could be a pretty brutal overpay for the ambitious Mariners.

It’s a solid deal and nothing more. The Mariners have kept the years down, though, which makes it feel that bit safer.

Grade: B

Corey Seager to Rangers, 10 years, $325 million

The first of the big shortstops is off the market and it’s the Texas Rangers who’ve hit this one out the park. These deals always bring the risk for pain at the back end of the deal, but Texas has just created arguably the best middle infield in the sport.

When healthy, Seager is a truly elite hitter. He’s got a 132 wRC+ for his career and he’s just heading into his age-28 campaign. There’s so much to like about this for the Rangers.

It’s a matter of when, not if, for Seager’s move to third base, but the DH also gives Texas the opportunity to manage his workload throughout this deal. The AL West will be bonkers in 2022.

Grade: A-

Daniel Hudson to Dodgers, one year, $7 million

Coming off another strong year with big strikeout numbers and a power fastball, Daniel Hudson is the perfect Dodgers reliever.

Into his mid-thirties, the Dodgers will still be delighted to get Hudson on this deal. It’s low-risk on a one-year pact – it’s amazing no one went to two years for the former National.

He got hit hard at times last season, but he’s a prime candidate to follow in the footsteps of Corey Knebel and Blake Treinen with a big year at Chavez Ravine.

Grade: A

Kirby Yates to Braves, two years, $8.25 million guaranteed with 2024 club option

An interestingly structured deal, the Braves have taken a swing on Kirby Yates coming off Tommy John. The former San Diego closer will earn just $1 million in 2022 before pocketing $6 million in 2023, and there’s a $1.25 million buyout in 2024.

Yates was one of the best relievers in the sport in his last full season. Atlanta will know more than we do about how he’s looked, but there’s still an element of risk in any signing after surgery.

We like the upside, though. Yates could take the Braves bullpen from shaky to solid.

Grade: B

Alex Wood to Giants, two years, $25 million

Thought to be finalizing a deal about a week ago, Alex Wood’s return to San Francisco is all-but confirmed.

This is a signing that works for the Giants, who carefully managed Wood’s innings to get solid production from the veteran southpaw. He once again provides quality rather than quantity, leaving San Francisco still searching for rotation arms.

This one can only be properly judged when sitting alongside the Giants’ other signings.

Grade: B-

Javier Baez to Tigers, six years, $140 million with an opt out

This is the most surprising deal of the offseason to date. Javier Baez has been the 97th best hitter in baseball since 2018. He’s an elite defender at multiple infield positions, but he’s a strikeout machine whose game may not age well.

Detroit has long been linked with Carlos Correa. While this doesn’t rule them out of the Correa sweepstakes, it makes a move much less likely. Sure, Baez is cheaper, but he’s a far more flawed player, too.

Any drop off in power and athleticism will Baez’s value hard. Detroit need a lot of production in the next three seasons for this to be a worthwhile deal.

Grade: D+

Yan Gomes to Cubs, two years, $13 million

Well this should throw some petrol on the Willson Contreras trade rumors bonfire. Yan Gomes is a solid veteran catcher and looks like an ideal replacement for Contreras in 2022, as the Cubs dive further into a rebuild.

An average framer and a league-average hitter at best, Gomes is a contact hitter with a bit of pop. This looks like a signing to stabilize behind the plate in 2022 and potentially bring in some more prospects as a deadline day trade.

Grade: C

Alex Cobb to Giants, two years, $20 million with a 2024 club option

This one has been in the pipeline for a while. Alex Cobb lands in San Francisco off a low-innings season with the Angels. Cobb was good in the innings he did pitch, though, posting an impressive strikeout to walk rate.

The 2024 club option gives additional upside to this deal that makes us like it for San Francisco. If their coaches work their magic on Cobb as they did with Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani and Logan Webb, he could be a bargain 20-ish starts guy for them for three seasons.

Grade: B+

Cesar Hernandez to Nationals, one year, $4 million

Okay, the Nationals aren’t going to be good in 2022. This signing doesn’t exactly make life much more exciting in the capital either.

Cesar Hernandez is somewhere between a 90 and 110 wRC+ hitter. He takes his walks, has good speed, and plays okay-ish defense.

It’s a solid depth signing. Nothing more, nothing less.

Grade: C

Raisel Iglesias to Angels, four years, $58 million

The best relief pitcher is off the board. Raisel Iglesias’ decision to turn down the qualifying offer has been vindicated as he becomes just the third reliever over the last three offseasons to land a four-year pact.

Iglesias has spectacular advanced numbers. He manages to combine closer-level stuff with impressive command, a formula that should last well into the latter years of his career.

Multi-year deals for relief pitchers always bring a degree of skepticism, but this looks like a decent call from the Angels.

Grade: B

James Paxton to Red Sox, one year, $6 million

Held to five innings before injury in 2020 and requiring Tommy John surgery in 2021, the Red Sox are wagering on a bounce back from James Paxton.

As with many players coming off an injury, this is a complex deal. Paxton receives $6 million in 2022, with a $13 million club option for 2023. He has a $4 million player option if the franchise decline their option. If Boston picks it up, they have another option for 2024.

Paxton is a career 114 ERA+ southpaw, but injuries have held him back. He’s unlikely to be available until summer, assuming the usual time period to recover from surgery.

Boston needs some guarantees in its rotation. Paxton isn’t it, but he could prove a nice boost in the second half.
Grade: C

Leury Garcia to White Sox, three years, $16.5 million

A popular player in the Windy City, Leury Garcia wanted a return to the White Sox and he got just that on a three-year deal.

Garcia has speed and versatility on defense, though advanced numbers aren’t as kind to his glove as his reputation might suggest.

Chicago could have picked up a similar player without committing to multiple years. He’s just an 81 OPS+ hitter for his career – this is an emotional rather than pragmatic signing.

Grade: D

Chris Taylor to Dodgers, four years, $60 million with a club option for a fifth year

Chris Taylor is the premium superutility player in the sport right now. Comfortable all over the diamond, Taylor brings pop and useful speed to a Dodgers club that has suffered some painful losses this offseason.

Going into his age-31 season, it’s a bit of a surprise to see a four-year deal. There’s downside for the Dodgers here if Taylor’s athleticism drops off, impacting his versatility.

In the short-term, though, this is a pretty big pick up for Los Angeles. This is decent value with their spending power.

Grade: B

Marcus Stroman to Cubs, three years, $71 million with an opt-out after year two

Featuring escalators for innings pitched and with $48 million guaranteed across the first two seasons, Marcus Stroman opted for high-AAV over the longer deals that some of his fellow free agents received.

The sinker-heavy right-hander is coming off his best FIP season since his rookie campaign. He posted a career-high strikeout rate, but that was counterbalanced by a lot of hard contact.

Stroman clearly believes this can set him up for another big deal in a couple of years. It’s nice to see a franchise adding talented veterans during a rebuild, and the former Met could return a decent haul if he’s made available on the trade market in the next year or so.

Grade: A-

Rich Hill to Red Sox, one year, $5 million rising to $8 million

Yep, Rich Hill is still going. The well-travelled lefty is preparing for his age-42 campaign and yet another stint with the Red Sox.

The numbers were consistent across spells with the Rays and Mets in 2021. Hill remains a sub-4.00 ERA kind of pitcher, with impressive spin rates on his fastball and curve.

His underlying statistics are a long way from the dizzy heights of 2019 in LA – it will be interesting to see how the Red Sox use him.

Grade: C+

Dylan Bundy to Twins, one year, $5 million guaranteed including buyout of $11 million club option in 2023

We applauded the Angels’ trade for Dylan Bundy a couple of years ago. Then he got Cy Young votes in the shortened 2020 season.

The 2021 campaign was a mess. He posted an ERA over six and pitched from the bullpen for a bit in the summer.

He’s always got hit hard and his strikeout and walk rates reverted after strong showings in 2020. The numbers say he’s a below-average pitcher for his career, and at some point, we might need to give up on the supposed upside.

Grade: C-

Mark Melancon to Diamondbacks, two years, $12 million with mutual option in 2024

Mark Melancon continues his tour of the National League West with a two-year deal in Arizona. He immediately gets pencilled in to our list of players available at the trade deadline.

He’s not the dominant pitcher of his Pittsburgh days, but Melancon was an All-Star in 2021, and pitched to a 3.36 FIP. There’s a lot of soft contact from that trademark cutter-curveball blend.

This is what rebuilders should be doing. Melancon could fetch a couple of decent prospects at the deadline or next offseason.

Grade: A

Luis Garcia to Padres, two years, $7 million

Albeit pitching just 33 innings, Luis Garcia is coming off the best year of his lengthy career in the Majors.

This is a Padres bullpen which needs a bit of help. Garcia isn’t the biggest name, nor is he a lockdown guy, but he’s got a power sinker and appeared to fix his command issues in 2021.

Leaning on the sinker-slider mix, he could be a smart add for the Friars.

Grade: B+

Corey Knebel to Phillies, one year, $10 million

While Philadelphia’s bullpen was surprisingly 16th in wins above average, they needed to add an arm or two this winter. Hector Neris has left for Houston, and the relief corps has been notoriously unreliable over the last couple of years.

Corey Knebel is one of many pitchers to rebuild his career with the Dodgers. He’s not the guy he was with Milwaukee, and maybe he never will be, but he’s still one of the harder pitchers to hit in the Majors.

It’s a lot for one relief arm. There’s risk here, but it’s easy to see why the Phils went for it.

Grade: B-

Johan Camargo to Phillies, one year, $1.4 million

Non-tendered by the Braves, Johan Camargo didn’t take long to sign a free agent deal with their division rival Phillies.

Camargo is projected to be a 102 wRC+ hitter in 2022, and he provides okay-to-good defense at multiple positions. While he’s better hitting right-handed, he’s solid enough from the left side.

This is potentially a bargain pickup for the Phillies, who have landed some much-needed depth.

Grade: B

Follow us on social media

About Sam Cox 725 Articles
Sam is a widely published freelance writer, covering basketball, baseball and a range of other sports. He's still trying to decide if he prefers a rundown shot block or a smooth double play.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply