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Ed Hand’s MLB Free Agency Tracker 2022/23

LAST UPDATED 11/25/2022

Yahoo Sports used to have a list of just about every MLB free agent on the market during the offseason. I looked forward to their rankings and insight every year with commentary on players from the biggest names to the most random third string catcher. For whatever reason, they no longer do the long, detailed list, instead focusing on the top fifty or so. While it’s a fine product, I’ve missed the information on the more obscure players, but outlining and trying to organize them is a lot of fun for me. With that in mind, from the fall until the beginning of the 2022 season, I’ll be covering all Free Agent signings. This list will be updated on a regular basis as more players are non-tendered or designated for assignment and new names join the market. If you like what you see, I’d recommend bookmarking it due to these daily updates. 

Note- The easiest way to find a specific player on the list is Ctrl-F.

Tracker currently contains 260 players. 16 players have signed, re-signed or retired (6%)

1. Aaron Judge OF- Bet on himself by not signing an extension pre-2022 and absolutely hit the jackpot with a ludicrous 10.9 WAR season. When the dust settled, the 30-year-old from California slashed .311/.425/.686 with an AL record 62 home runs, 133 RBI, 111 walks, and 16 stolen bases. There will always be injury risk due to his size and age but even half the output he had in 2022 makes him an All-Star. DECLINED QUALIFYING OFFER

2. Trea Turner SS- It is pretty remarkable that the 29-year-old shortstop led the league in plate appearances while slashing .298/.343/.466 with 39 doubles, 21 homers, 100 RBI, and 27 stolen bases and it was still considered a down year for him. That’s the talent level the Florida native brings to the table. It’s a strong shortstop class but Turner is the most athletic, the most versatile, and still on the right side of 30 which pushes him to the top of the group. DECLINED QUALIFYING OFFER

3. Justin Verlander SP- There were high expectations on Verlander heading into 2022 especially considering he was 39 on Opening Day but he utterly demolished them en route to a Cy Young caliber season posting a ridiculous, league leading 18 wins, and MLB leading 1.75 ERA and 0.829 WHIP. He also had a 185 K/23 BB ratio over 175 innings. Its hard to expect him to repeat these numbers as he enters his age 40 season but Verlander has expressed his desire to pitch until he’s 45. If anyone is going to be MLB’s answer to Tom Brady, its him.

4. Jacob deGrom SP- There’s a strong case that as far as pure stuff goes, deGrom is not only the best free agent but the best pitcher in baseball. The problem for him has been his health. Anyone about to be paid the amount of money he’s going to get needs to be able to stay on the field. In 2022 he only was able to make 11 starts, posting a 3.08 ERA over 64.1 innings with 102 strikeouts to eight walks, a 0.746 WHIP, and a 2.13 FIP. DECLINED QUALIFYING OFFER

5. Willson Contreras C- There simply aren’t a lot of consistent catchers in this day and age that can hit but year in and year out Contreres does and 2022 was no different. The 30-year-old backstop made his third All-Star team and slashed .243/.349/.466 with 22 home runs over 487 PA. He’s the kind of catcher that you can plug in as a DH on his off days. While some of the players he’s ahead of might be better hitters, catchers of this quality rarely become free agents. Supply and demand. DECLINED QUALIFYING OFFER

6. Xander Bogaerts SS- Described as “boring good” by Red Sox CBO Chaim Bloom. The 29-year-old shortstop put up a 5.7 WAR season despite his power output somewhat dropping. He’s a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger, and a two-time World Series champion with a career slash line of .292/.377/.458. Perhaps not the highest ceiling but the highest floor of the available free agent shortstops. DECLINED QUALIFYING OFFER

7. Carlos Correa SS- Surprisingly the youngest of the big four shortstop free agents, Correa is also the most injury-prone. Nonetheless he’s been able to stay on the field for the most part over the last two seasons, winning a Gold Glove in 2021 and slashing .291/.366/.467 with 22 home runs in 2022. The kind of player you can build around but comes with some injury risk.

8. Dansby Swanson SS- In other years, Swanson would be higher up on the list. He’s an excellent fielder who has put up consecutive strong offensive seasons including a 2022 that saw him post a 5.5 WAR and a .277/.329/.447 slash line with 32 doubles, 25 home runs, 96 RBI, and 18 stolen bases. Lots of swing and miss in his game (182 in 2022, 167 in 2021) and he can be slump prone but he’s a proven winner who should provide value wherever he lands. DECLINED QUALIFYING OFFER

Dansby Swanson

9. Carlos Rodon SP- He’s comparable to deGrom and Verlander in terms of pure stuff and much younger so why is Rodon this far behind them? The age old problem that is durability. The lefty will be 30 years old in December and just pitched the most innings in his career (178). He’s missed plenty of time with injury over the course of his career but when healthy (as he has been the last two seasons) he’s as good as there is (2.88 ERA, 237 K/52 BB, 2.25 FIP). A team will drop big money on him. The question is which team and for how many years? DECLINED QUALIFYING OFFER

10. Chris Bassitt SP- Its relatively weak starting pitcher class, and while Chris Bassitt might not be a true ace but he’s a reliable top of the rotation arm as illustrated by his 3.42 ERA and 3.2 WAR over 181.1 innings last season for the Mets. A little bit on the older side (34 in February) but has done nothing to indicate he can’t pitch at a high level into his mid-30s. DECLINED QUALIFYING OFFER

11. Edwin Diaz RP– Best available closer and its not especially close. The 28-year-old righty stands to make a lot of money considering his next best competition is in his mid-30s on trending in the wrong direction. He put up a 1.31 ERA over 62 innings in 2022 earning 32 saves while striking out a ridiculous 118 batters to just 18 walks. RE-SIGNED: 11/6- New York Mets, $102 Million/5 Years, 6th year option, full no-trade clause, opt out.

12. Brandon Nimmo OF– In another year, Nimmo wouldn’t be this high on the list but its a weak outfield class, he’s a good leadoff hitter, and a very good defender.  His .274/.367/.433 line with 16 homers and 71 walks this year is tantalizing but a major concern is his ability to stay on the field- 2022 was only the second time in his career that he’s played in over 100 games. DECLINED QUALIFYING OFFER

13. Jose Abreu 1B- The 2020 MVP experienced a drop in home run power (down to 15 from 30) in 2022 but otherwise improved in AVG, OBP, doubles, and WAR. He also dropped his strikeouts noticeably despite having more plate appearances (143 to 110). He’s getting a bit on the old side (36 in January) but there’s nothing that indicates Abreu won’t be an effective hitter going into his late 30s.

14. Clayton Kershaw SP- The future Hall of Famer put together another strong season with the Dodgers (12-3 W/L, 2.28 ERA, 126.1 IP, 0.942 WHIP, 137 K/23 BB, 2.57 FIP). There are rumors that he’s thinking about retiring but with the level of success he’s been able to maintain and the continued competitiveness of the Dodgers, I find it hard to imagine him leaving them. Nonetheless, he is still technically a free agent.  RE-SIGNED: 11/11- Los Angeles Dodgers, $20 Million/1 Year

15. Koudai Senga SP- Hard throwing righty with a nasty forkball dubbed the “ghost fork”. He’s been exceptional in Japan over the last 11 years (2.59 ERA, 1252 K, 1089 IP). Probably the best pitcher that doesn’t also hit heading stateside since Kenta Maeda.

16. Josh Bell 1B- Did not perform well after being traded to the Padres at the deadline but put up a .266/.362/.422 line with 17 homers on the season regardless. Has played a little bit of outfield as recently as 2021 but is mostly a 1B/DH type at this point. His numbers with the Padres probably shouldn’t be read too deeply into but teams probably shouldn’t be paying for his numbers with the Nationals either. .275 with a lot of walks and between 20 and 25 homers is probably the median you’re looking at from Bell.

17. Mitch Haniger OF- Good power and solid defender but has struggled to stay on the field due to various injuries and that’s not likely going to get any better as he gets older. Still, the specter of his 2021 season (.253/.308/.475, 39 HR, 100 RBI) looms in the not-so-distant past. If he can do anything resembling that for another full season, he’s worth every penny.

18. Jameson Taillon SP– Went 14-5 for the Yankees this season with a 3.91 ERA and 151 strikeouts over 177.1 innings. He’ll probably never live up to his pedigree after being taken second in the 2010 draft but he’s a serviceable #3 guy who can eat innings with the best of them. Pitches to contact so fits best with a strong infield defense.

19. Taijuan Walker SP- Has stayed mostly healthy the last couple years, 2022 was especially solid as the 30-year-old righty posted a 3.49 ERA over 157.1 innings with 132 strikeouts to 45 walks. A career ERA of 3.89 supports that if he’s healthy, the numbers should be sustainable. It’s not a great market for starting pitchers but Walker can slide right into the middle of most team’s rotations.

Taijuan Walker

20. Tyler Anderson SP- Long a useful but unspectacular backend of the rotation type, Anderson had a breakout season in 2022 at the age of 32, posting a career high 4.3 WAR backed up by a 2.57 ERA, 15-5 record, and 1.002 WHIP over 178.2 innings with the Dodgers. For the first time in his career, he likely will be seeking more than a one-year commitment. DECLINED QUALIFYING OFFER. SIGNED: 11/15- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, $39 million/3 years

21. Brandon Drury UT- At one time, Drury was one of the hottest up and coming players in baseball posting strong 2016 + 2017 seasons in his early 20s before falling off a cliff. The now 30-year-old utility man put together his first good season in four years with a line of .263/.320/.492 and 28 home runs for the Reds and Padres. He can play any position outside of pitcher and catcher, making him a fit with just about any team. 

22. Jean Segura 2B- When he’s healthy, Segura is a career .285/.330/.408 hitter. The problem has been injuries through his 11 seasons in the majors. In 2022, he hit .277 with 10 home runs and 13 stolen bases but was limited to just 387 PA due to injuries. He’ll be 33 in December so while it’s unwise to expect him to stay healthy all season, he’s likely the best pure 2B option available.

23. Michael Wacha SP- The big Iowan revitalized his career with a 3.4 WAR season that included a 3.32 ERA over 127.1 innings, and an 11-2 record. He’d sort of fallen off the map in the years prior, bouncing from one-year deals, but a contract similar to Anthony DeScalfani’s last year ($36 Million/3 Yr) is possible after an impressive 2022 showing.

24. Nathan Eovaldi SP- Good pitcher with a big fastball when healthy who has done well in big spots and even made his first All-Star team in 2021. He is also a two-time TJS survivor who has made 30 starts or more once since 2015 and will be entering his age 33 season. Buyer beware. DECLINED QUALIFYING OFFER

25. Andrew Benintendi OF- Kind of like the poor man’s Nimmo. He does everything just a little bit worse except hit for average which he’s better at. Like Nimmo, he’s struggled to maintain his health, battling injuries every season since 2019. Still, he won a Gold Glove in 2021, made the 2022 All-Star team, and slashed .304/.373/.399 with 23 doubles and five homers. Good but not great.

26. Joc Pederson OF- Its a weak outfield class but Pederson has been a quietly solid role player for a few years now with 2022 being his apex thus far. The 30-year-old, two-time World Champion made his second All-Star team while slashing .274/.353/.521 with 23 homers and 70 RBI over 433 PA. An ideal candidate for the larger portion of a platoon. ACCEPTED QUALIFYING OFFER- 11/15, San Francisco Giants, $19.65 million/1 year

27. Noah Syndergaard SP- Finally pitched a full season and although the strikeouts were way down (only 95 over 134.2 IP), he was nonetheless successful for both the Angels and the Phillies posting a 3.95 ERA while walking just 31 batters. Now with a full season under his belt post-TJS the 30-year-old righty will look to miss more bats and improve on a solid return. A good bet for another one-year “show me” deal. 

28. Kenley Jansen RP- Led the NL in saves for the second time with 41 for the Braves in 2022 while striking out 85 and posting a 3.38 ERA over 64 innings. The 35-year-old righty isn’t quite as ferocious as in his prime, but he’s still seasoned, serviceable, and one of the better bullpen options available for a contender.

29. Christian Vazquez C- It’s not easy finding a reliable catcher but that’s exactly what Christian Vazquez was for the Red Sox and will be for whoever signs him. Nothing about his offensive numbers are especially exciting but he puts up competitive at-bats every time, makes good contact, and will hit the occasional home run while playing solid defense.

30. Mike Clevinger SP– Came back from Tommy John Surgery to mediocre results (4.33 ERA, 1.198 WHIP, 91 K/35 BB, 114.1 IP), but the hard part is over now for him and did well enough in the playoffs to think that improvement in 2023 is reasonable. At his best, he was a solid #2 starter. That might not be a reasonable expectation anymore but he’s a good bet to function as a #3 with the right team.

Mike Clevinger

31. Anthony Rizzo 1B– Not much for batting average but the power and defense are very real. The 33-year-old hit 32 homers and posted a .224/.338/.480 line with 75 RBI for the Yankees in 2022. It was the fourth time in his career Rizzo hit 32 homers, a season high he has never managed to top. DECLINED QUALIFYING OFFER RE-SIGNED: 11/16- New York Yankees, $34 Million/2 Years + $17 million 2025 club option with $6 million buyout ($40 million total)

32. Justin Turner 3B- It was an off-year by his standards but for Turner, that’s still a .278/.350/.438 line, 36 doubles, and 13 homers over 532 PA. Might have to move to 1B but can still play 3B adequately enough or DH. Solid veteran hitter who has had an underrated career.

33. Jurickson Profar OF- Moved into the outfield full time and posted a 3.1 WAR with a .243/.331/.391 slash line with 36 doubles, 15 home runs and a 103/73 strikeout to walk ratio. He’ll be 30 in February- useful starter who can immediately help in a good part of many lineups. 

34.  Trey Mancini 1B/OF- Good but not great hitter (career .265/.330/457) who can play the outfield and first base but probably fits a team best as a primary DH who can play the first a couple days a week. Wasn’t good with the Astros after heading to Houston at the trade deadline which may drop his price.

35. Cody Bellinger OF/1B- 2017 Rookie of the Year and 2019 MVP has lost quite a bit of his luster. He slashed a meager .210/.265/.389 with 19 home runs over 550 PA in 2022 and this was actually an improvement over his 2021 season. His defense is solid, there’s still a little pop in his bat, he’s quick on the basepaths (14 SB), and at just 27 he’s plenty young enough to turn things around. Interesting reclamation project- high risk, high reward.

36. Michael Brantley OF- Before he got hurt, he did what he always does. Good batting average, plenty of walks, and a little bit of pop. It’s been a quietly excellent career for the 35-year-old but he’s reaching the age where his body may start breaking down and he’s got the profile of someone who’s collapse could be very sudden.

37. Johnny Cueto SP- Career appeared to be on the brink but revived himself with an outstanding 2022 for the White Sox (3.35 ERA, 3.5 WAR over 158.1 IP). He was much more of a control/pitch to contact starter than in the past, far from the guy who struck out 242 batters in 2014 but it worked. Such is the difference between a pitcher and a thrower. Cueto has become a pitcher. The question now is how much is left in the 36-year-old righty’s arm?

38. Martin Perez SP- Signed a contract as an innings eater for the Rangers and earned his first ever All-Star selection while posting a 5.0 WAR (2.89 ERA, 196.1 IP, 32 GS). Probably not going to put up numbers like that again but the 31-year-old lefty showed he has way more potential in him than that of a meager innings eater. ACCEPTED QUALIFYING OFFER- 11/15, Texas Rangers, $19.65 million/1 year

39. Jose Quintana SP- Another pitcher that revived his career with the opportunity given to him by the bottom feeding Pirates, he earned himself a trade to the World Series contending Cardinals and finished the season with a 2.95 ERA and 3.5 WAR over 165.2 innings. He impressively made 32 starts. Not an ace but has proven he can be a useful veteran arm in the middle of a contender’s rotation.

40. Adam Ottavino RP- After being overused in 2021 with the Red Sox, Ottavino settled into a setup with the Mets nicely posting a 2.06 ERA with 79 strikeouts and a 0.975 WHIP over 65.2 innings. Most notably, the 37-year-old righty’s control improved significantly, walking only 16 batters.

Adam Ottavino

41. Andrew Chafin RP- One of the better lefty relievers in the league the last two years, the 32-year-old Chafin opted out of his deal with the Tigers after posting a 2.83 ERA over 57.1 innings with 67 strikeouts to 19 walks. Solid setup option.

42. Jose Iglesias UT- Underrated shortstop plays great defense and puts up respectable offensive numbers each season. The 2022 season was more of the same for the 32-year-old Cuban: .292/.328/.380, 30 doubles, 47 RBI. Reasonable backup plan for a team that fails to land one of the big four.

43. Ross Stripling SP- Posted the best season of his career at age 32 with a 3.04 ERA over 24 starts, 134.2 IP, and a 3.11 FIP to support the results. He was a fairly indispensable piece of a Blue Jays pitching staff that needed all the help it could get. Probably unreasonable to expect a repeat in 2023 but can’t deny how strong his 2022 was.

44. Matt Moore RP- Returned from the dead to be one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball. Moore posted a 1.95 ERA with five saves, and 83 strikeouts over 74 innings for the Rangers in 2022. A 2.98 FIP indicates there was some luck involved but not so much that he won’t be able to put up productive numbers in 2023.

45. Jeimer Candelario 3B- Switch hitting corner infielder led baseball with 42 doubles in 2021 but was non-tendered by the Tigers after slashing an admittedly weak .217/.272/.361 with 13 HR over 467 PA in 2022. Relatively young age (29), past success, and weak third base class should give him plenty of opportunity for a 2023 rebound.

46. Adam Frazier 2B/OF- Picked a bad time to have the worst season of his career statistically (.238/.301/.311). Compare that to his career average of .273/.336/.392. Something of a throwback player in that he doesn’t strike out much and typically hits for a good average and doubles power while flashing the occasional home run. His defense, and track record should net him a starting job, but it could be on a “prove it” deal that may determine if he’s a starter or bench piece moving forward.

47. Sean Manaea SP– The 30-year-old lefty had some good seasons for the A’s but he did not perform anywhere near that quality for the Padres in 2022. Manaea posted a 4.96 ERA with a 1.297 WHIP over 158 innings and a -0.8 WAR. Gotta believe he’s closer to the Oakland A’s incarnation that made him an effective workhorse but having the worst season of his career just before free agency is never good for one’s bank account.

48. Michael Fulmer RP- The 2016 AL Rookie of the Year has transformed himself into one of the more reliable bullpen pieces in the league over the last two years. The 29-year-old righty finished up the 2022 campaign with a 3.39 ERA and 61 strikeouts. A solid option for any bullpen in a somewhat weak reliever class.

49. Masataka Yoshida OF- Career .326/.419/.561 hitter over seven seasons in Japan. Who knows if that translates over stateside but given the talent level of this year’s outfield class, the 29-year-old four-time NPB All-Star, and two-time Pacific League batting champion is well worth a shot for any outfield needy team.

50. David Robertson RP- Pitched 18.2 IP in the majors from 2019 to 2021, then emerged as closer for the Cubs before getting traded to the Phillies. When all was said and done, the 37-year-old righty posted a 2.40 ERA over 63.2 innings with 81 strikeouts and 20 saves. He’s on the older side, and some of the peripherals indicate the ERA is a little misleading (1.162 WHIP, 3.58 FIP) but he should be considered a solid setup man at least for contenders.

51. JD Martinez DH- Made his fourth All-Star team in five seasons but 2022 was a 2022 drop-off for the slugger. His home run power diminished from 28 homers to 16, two of which came in the last day of the season, and although he hit 43 doubles, the slugging percentage dipped down to .448 (his career average is currently .520). His overall production (.274/.341/.448, 62 RBI) was fine in a bubble, but he doesn’t play a defensive position anymore and missed time with back spasms throughout the season. 2023 is his age 35 season. How much does he have left?

JD Martinez

52. Harold Castro UT- Career .284/.309/.377 hitter who plays just about every position. At 29 years old, he’s a true super utility player. Even pitched four innings of 4.50 ERA relief. Hit a career high 21 doubles and seven homers over a career high 443 PA in 2022 (.271/.300/.381) offering some hope that he can perform in a larger role. Considering his skill set, it is surprising he doesn’t really steal bases. 

53. Elvis Andrus SS- Appears to have salvaged his career after disappointing 2020 and 2021 campaigns, slashing .249/.303/.404 with 32 doubles, 17 homers, and 18 stolen bases over 577 PA in 2022. Was especially good after a trade to the White Sox put him on a contender.

54. Mike Zunino C- Good defensive catcher with plenty of pop but the hit tool has never been good and there are huge questions about his arm after missing the second half of 2022 due to thoracic outlet syndrome. High risk, high reward.

55. Andrew Heaney SP- Pitched well with the Dodgers when healthy (3.10 ERA, 110 K, 1.087 WHIP, 14 GS, 72.2 IP) but only was able to stay on the mound for about half the season. The potential has always been there which is why he’s kept getting opportunities despite most mediocre performances throughout his career (his career ERA is 4.56). Did he figure something out? Did he get lucky? As he’ll be 32 in June, he’s running out of time to put it all together.

56. Brad Boxberger RP- Quietly an effective setup man for the last three years, Boxberger’s 2022 season was especially solid posting a 2.95 ERA with 68 strikeouts to 27 walks over 64 innings. A little on the older side (35 in May) but he does have some closing experience, even leading the AL with 41 back in 2015, his lone All-Star season.

57. Zack Grienke SP- Future Hall of Famer and sociopath could call it a career or he could just kind of keep going indefinitely. Fits into the backend of most rotations as he demonstrated with a quietly solid 3.68 ERA over 137 innings for the Royals in 2022. Definition of a pitcher rather than a thrower.

58. Drew Smyly SP- Veteran lefty was under-the-radar good for the Cubs in 2022 although he did deal with some injuries, only making 22 starts. When he was on the mound, he pitched to an effective 3.47 ERA over 106.1 innings with 91 strikeouts to 26 walks. Not a top-of-the-line guy anymore but a useful #4.

59. Corey Kluber SP- Made 31 starts and stayed healthy for the whole season for the first time since 2018. Results nowhere near what he was at his prime, but one can do worse than a 4.34 ERA over 164 IP with 139 K to 21 BB. A 3.57 FIP suggests he pitched into some bad luck but at 37 years old come April its hard to imagine a vast improvement after pitching his most innings in four years.

60. Taylor Rogers RP- Left-handed former Twins closer was fine with the Padres but then very bad after a trade to the Brewers. Ended the season with a 4.76 ERA over 64.1 innings and 31 saves with 84 strikeouts to 19 walks. His 3.32 FIP and strikeout/walk numbers indicate that he got pretty unlucky and could be a nice candidate for a comeback season in 2023.

61. Mychal Givens RP- Over 61.1 innings in 2022, the 32-year-old righty posted a 3.38 ERA with 71 strikeouts to 25 walks. This was pretty par for the course with Givens who has been a steady setup man since 2015. Quietly consistent.

Mychal Givens

62. Seth Lugo RP- His career 3.48 ERA is pretty much who he is at this point. A reliable right-handed bullpen arm that can eat innings and pitch in a variety of roles ranging from starter to closer as his team needs. Probably best suited for setup work.

63. Robert Suarez RP- Had a very nice debut with the Padres at age 31 after several seasons in Japan- 2.27 ERA, 47.2 IP, 61/21 K-BB although he did miss a significant amount of time due to a knee injury. Solid right-handed option. RE-SIGNED: 11/10- San Diego Padres, $46 Million/5 Years, opt out after year three (2025)

64. Omar Narvaez C- An All-Star in 2021, the 30-year-old Narvaez only got into 84 games in 2022, a combination of injuries, poor performance, and the Brewers having a plethora of catching options. He’ll try to bounce back in 2023 mostly likely with a new team who values the proven hitting potential and high-quality framing he provides.

65. Rafael Montero RP– He’s been around since 2014 but 2022 was inarguably the best season of the 32-year-old righty’s career posting career bests in ERA (2.37), WHIP (1.024), and saves (14), while striking out 73 batters to 23 walks over 68.1 innings. This was obviously a great season, but it should be noted that even with those numbers his career ERA is 4.64 and his career WHIP is 1.458. Proceed with caution. RE-SIGNED: 11/12- Houston Astros, $34.5 Million/3 Years

66. Ramiel Tapia OF- Boring but quietly reliable career .277/.318/.392 hitter. Weak outfield market and relatively young age (29 in February) make him a surprisingly desirable option for the larger part of a platoon in this market.

67. Andrew McCutchen OF- The 2013 NL MVP got his most PAs since 2018 (580) and was a mostly serviceable outfielder for the Brewers, slashing .237/.316/.384 with 17 home runs and 69 RBI. No longer a regular All-Star but he’s a reliable, experienced hitter that knows the strike zone as well as anyone. There are worse right-handed outfield bats out there even as he enters his age 36 season.

68. Jorge Alfaro C- Not a bad bat for a catcher- .246/.285/.383 with seven homers in 2022 over 247 PA. Career .256/.305/.396 hitter. He turns 30 in June. Lukewarm defense. One of the better catching options in a thin market.

Jorge Alfaro

69. Robbie Grossman OF- After a career best 2021 season in which he joined the 20/20 club, Grossman struggled for much of 2022 before being traded to the Braves and performing there somewhat better, especially in the power department. Draws a lot of walks and has a pretty decent overall skill set. Given his past success he’s likely to get picked up on a discount by a team that really values OBP.

70. Joey Gallo OF- His game is all defense, walks and home runs with little else unless you count the excessive number of strikeouts he brings to the table. Certainly, he has a role on a competitive baseball team but as it stands, it should be as a left-handed end of a platoon or 4th outfielder.

71. Donovan Solano UT- Chronically underrated infielder slashed .284/.339/.385 over 304 PA for the Reds playing mostly first base but also second and third base. Not a ton of power but he’ll get you hits at a nice clip and won’t hurt you with the glove. Starter on a second-tier team, very useful bench piece for a contender.

72. Will Smith RP- Another playoff seasoned veteran, the 33-year-old lefty picked up a World Series his second consecutive World Series ring after a trade to Astros. Smith posted a 3.97 ERA with 65 K/25 BB, and five saves over 59 innings.

73. Brian Anderson 3B/OF- Put together a nice little career with the Marlins in which he posted a career .256/.341/.410 line but simply did not perform well in 2022 and was non-tendered. Veteran with limited skill set but decent track record and young enough (30 in May) to bounce back. Medium risk/medium reward.

74. Adam Duvall OF- Power hitting outfielder did his thing and hit for some power (.401 SLG) in 2022 before getting hurt after 315 PA. In 2021 he hit 38 homers and won a gold glove so good chance someone gives him an opportunity even as he enters his age 34 season.

75. Zach Davies SP- Can’t exactly call it a comeback, but Davies pitched much better in 2022 than 2021, posting a 4.09 ERA over 134.1 innings for the Diamondbacks. His control was much better after he led the NL in walks in 2021 and he stayed mostly healthy making 27 starts. Backend piece innings eater floor with a #3 ceiling if he can find some of his 2019/20 stuff again.

Zach Davies

76. Michael Lorenzen SP- Dealt with injuries but in the 18 starts he made, Lorenzen posted an 8-6 record with a 4.24 ERA and 85 strikeouts to 44 walks over 97.2 innings. It was his first year as a starter since his rookie campaign in 2015 and he showed he can hang as a backend starter at the moment. If his control improves, there’s potential to be more than that.

77. Chris Martin RP- Boring but solid setup man- 3.05 ERA, 56 IP, 74 K/5 BB, 2 SV. Getting up there in age (37 in June) but he’s a good option for someone whether it’s a contender or a rebuilding team that wants to flip him for prospects at the deadline.

78. Luke Voit 1B- Good power in his bat; slashed .226/.308/.402 in 2022 with 22 doubles and 22 homers and his career .254/.342/.476 indicates the 32-year-old first baseman can hit a little better than his 2022 showing. Probably best in a DH or platoon role.

79. Brad Hand RP– Nice enough rebound after a difficult 2021- 2.80 ERA and five saves over 45 IP but the strikeouts were down, the walks were up and his 3.94 FIP suggests he got a little bit lucky. There were also some injuries. Still, he’s a proven veteran and a three-time All-Star. While he’ll be 33 in March, there’s no reason not to think he can be useful again in 2023.

80. Michael Conforto OF- Tricky one to gauge as he missed the entire 2022 season. Good player with 30 HR power when healthy and still relatively young (turns 30 in March) but who knows what he’ll look like after a year away with a labrum injury.

81. Aledmys Diaz UT- Did a little bit of everything for the Astros playing every position but pitcher and catcher. Hit for a little bit of power in 2022 (12 HR). His career .266/.320/.443 slash line is fine enough for a utility man.

82. AJ Pollock OF- Fell back down to earth (.245/.292/.389 over 527 PA) after a strong 2021, but he did stay mostly healthy and showed decent power (26 doubles, 14 HR). Not a solid bet to stay healthy all year but he’s a veteran option who can start and provide solid contact skills and acceptable defense.

83. Corey Dickerson OF- Quietly consistent, Dickerson has both an All-Star selection and Gold Glove under his belt as well as a career .281/.324/.481 slash line. His biggest flaw now as he enters his mid-30s is that he’s injury prone and has lost some of his speed. Ideally, a DH at this point who can competently give the outfield starters a rest a couple times a week.

84. Carl Edwards Jr. RP- His arm has always been considered excellent, but it had been a while since Edwards’ last effective season (2018 to be precise). He was finally able to stay healthy and keep a job for a full year working 62 innings with a 2.76 ERA and 56 strikeouts even picking up two saves along the way for the Nationals. His 4.24 FIP indicates some good luck along the way but he did enough to earn himself a guaranteed MLB deal in 2023.

85. Evan Longoria 3B- For the second consecutive season, the veteran third baseman posted strong power numbers (.244/.351/.451, 14 HR). Injuries unfortunately limited him to just 298 PA, only seven more than he had in 2021. Now 37 years old, the three-time All-Star is unlikely to stay healthy as a starter but is still capable as a veteran platoon piece. 

86. Wil Myers OF/1B- Not a bad player by any stretch, but he was certainly a disappointment in San Diego. In 2022 he slashed .261/.315/.398 over 286 PA with 15 doubles, and seven home runs. He’ll be 32 in December. Can play first and outfielder reasonably well and even had a game at third and several bullpen appearances as a mop-up guy. Appears to be best utilized as a fourth outfielder/backup first baseman at this point in his career.

87. Jace Peterson UT- Had been a fringy utility player for a while but in 2022, Peterson put together a solid campaign at a variety of positions, slashing .236/.316/.382 with a career high eight home runs, and 12 stolen bases. His defense was especially good. He probably shouldn’t be a starter but as far as bench pieces go, he’s amongst the best.

88. Zach Eflin SP- It was an odd season for the 28-year-old old righty that saw him pitch in numerous roles, but Zach Eflin was a useful piece of the puzzle for the Phillies in 2022 pitching to a 4.04 ERA over 75.1 innings with a 65 to 15 K/BB ratio. He started 13 games and finished two, even earning a save along the way. It’ll be interesting to see what role he’s signed to.

Zach Eflin

89. Craig Kimbrel RP- Now a shadow of the man that was the best closer in baseball for the 2010s, Kimbrel was serviceable but stressful for most of the season with the Dodgers posting 3.75 ERA, 72 strikeouts, and 22 saves over 60 innings. He wound up losing the closer job at the end of the season and being left off the NLDS roster. He’ll be 35 in May but the 3.23 FIP does indicate that he had some bad luck and that there’s something left in his arm even if he’s not a lockdown closer anymore.

90. Drew Rucinski SP- Before going to Korea, he had a 5.33 ERA over 54 innings in parts of four different seasons from 2014 – 2018. As happens sometimes, the now 33-year-old righty pitched well overseas going 53-36 over four seasons with a 3.06 ERA and 657 strikeouts to 191 walks in 732.2 innings. Could be a useful back of the rotation piece if he returns stateside.

91. David Peralta OF- Unheralded but solid throughout nine seasons with the Diamondbacks, Peralta was traded to the Rays at the 2022 deadline and finished the season slashing .251/.316/.415 with 30 doubles and 12 home runs. Best utilized in a platoon situation. Defense isn’t what it used to be but he’s not so bad that he has to DH.

92. Josh Harrison UT- Versatile defensive player (2B + 3B primarily but has played everywhere but catcher over 12 seasons). Slashed .256/.317/.370 with 19 doubles and seven home runs over 425 PA in 2022 for the White Sox. Won’t carry a lineup but Harrison is the type of useful veteran role player every team needs.

93. Matt Carpenter 1B– Resurrected his career with a spectacular .305/.412/.727 slash line with 15 home runs over 154 PA for the Yankees before breaking his foot and missing the remainder of the regular season. A return to Yankee Stadium could be in the cards or another club could scoop him up as a DH.

94. Matt Strahm P- Put together a decent enough comeback season as a setup man in the Red Sox bullpen in 2022 (44.2 IP, 3.83 ERA, 52 K, 4 SV). The 31-year-old lefty says he wants to be a starter and he certainly has the pitch arsenal for it, but lingering health questions could prove the bullpen to be a better spot for him.

95. Alex Reyes RP- Did not pitch a single inning in 2022 due to shoulder surgery. Though only 28, he also missed 2017 due to Tommy John Surgery. 2021 was his first full season and he was solid, saving 29 games and posting a 3.24 ERA over 72.1 innings with 95 strikeouts to 52 walks. Electric but exceedingly high risk.

96. Dominic Smith 1B/OF- At one point one of the most intriguing offensive prospects in the league, the Mets unceremoniously non-tendered him after a disappointing 2021 and miserable 2022. Won’t turn 28 until June but will have to find a new home to turn it around. Another interesting reclamation project. High risk/high reward.

97. Tommy Pham OF- Nothing really jumps off the board about his numbers (.236/.312/.374) with 17 home runs, eight stolen bases, and 63 RBI over 622 PA. He’ll be 35 in March and doesn’t really have a standout but he’s a polished veteran that won’t embarrass his team in any role he’s given.

98. Trevor Williams P- Pitched well as a reliever but also started nine games (87.1 IP on the season) to an ERA of 3.21 with 84 strikeouts to 23 walks. Seems to be best utilized in a swing-man role.

99. Tucker Barnhart C- A fine defensive catcher who did not hit well in 2022. Probably best utilized as a #2 but the way the game has been with catchers, his bat doesn’t necessarily disqualify him from starting.

100. Kyle Gibson SP- Innings eating veteran kind of fell apart in the second half of the season resulting in a 5.05 ERA but still started 31 games with 10 wins and pitched 167.2 innings. Now 35 years old, Gibson is the kind of player a non-contender signs to a one-year deal and sells to a pitching needy contender for prospects at the deadline.

Kyle Gibson

101. Jarlin Garcia RP- Unexciting but serviceable lefty bullpen option (65 IP, 3.74 ERA, 56 K to 18 BB).

102. Gary Sanchez C- Hits home runs and not much else. His value is that he can play catcher which he might not be able to do for long. As a DH or even a first baseman he’s below average.

103. Wade Miley SP- Veteran, 36-year-old lefty was effective when healthy (8 starts, 3.16 ERA). Good candidate to get picked up by a non-contender and flipped at the deadline a la Jose Quintana in 2022.

104. Yuli Gurriel 1B- The 2021 AL batting champ and first base Gold Glove winner fell back to earth a bit in 2022 which considering his age (38) was predictable. Nonetheless, he got plenty of playing time for the Astros and hit 40 doubles while slashing a below average but respectable .242/.288/.360 with eight home runs. Considering his aforementioned age, it will be very interesting to see where he ends up.

105. Nick Martinez RP- Pitched well in his return to the stats with a 3.47 ERA over 106.1 IP with eight saves and 95 strikeouts to 41 walks. A 4.43 FIP indicates he had luck on his side. Started 10 games and finished 15. Versatile. RE-SIGNED: 11/16- San Diego Padres, $26 Million + incentives/3 Years

106. Kevin Kiermaier OF- Excellent defender but injury prone, on the wrong side of 30, and never much of a hitter to begin with (.248/.308/.369 career line).

107. Luis Torrens C- Just 27, he profiles as an offensive first catcher. His defense actually improved in 2022 but his offense got significantly worse. A solid 2021 gives hope that 2022 was a blip in the radar. Considering his age and the rarity of catchers with good bats, someone will take a flyer. 

108. Dylan Bundy SP- Former top prospect lost his velocity and has found a niche as an innings eater for the Twins (4.89 ERA, 140 IP, 94 K/28 BB, 4.66 FIP). Profiles as a #5 starter at this point. 

110. Curt Casali C- Solid defensive with a little bit of pop and a good eye: career slash line of .223/.316/.392. Good #2 type.

111. David Phelps RP- Slow working righty put up a good season with the Blue Jays in 2022 with a 2.83 ERA over 63.2 innings and 64 strikeouts to 31 walks. Useful veteran.

112. Carlos Estevez RP- Posted the best season of his career with a 3.47 ERA over 57 innings with 54 strikeouts to 23 walks. His whole career has been with the Rockies at hitting paradise Coors Field. That he’s reached free agency despite this is an accomplishment in it of itself. It would be interesting to see what he could do with a different home stadium. 

113. Erasmo Ramirez RP- Middle-aged righty had a nice season for the Nationals mostly out of the pen (86.1 IP, 2 starts, 2.92 ERA, 1.077 WHIP). Doesn’t miss a ton of bats but his excellent control makes up for it (61 K/14 BB).

114. Rich Hill SP- Pitches the exact same way my dad pitched wiffle ball to me when I was a kid and probably about the same age. He’ll have a job on a big-league roster for as long as he wants to due to excellent curveball, and the fact that he’s left-handed. His generation’s answer to Jamie Moyer.

Rich Hill

115. Ryan Yarborough LHP- Soft-throwing lefty has had some success as a bulk reliever/swingman but 2021 and 2022 were rough. Hard to know if he can succeed away from the analytics heavy Rays but someone will take a flyer and find out.

116. Jordan Lyles SP- Definition of an innings eater- 32 GS, 12-11 W/L, 4.42 ERA, 179 IP, 4.49 FIP, 1.0 WAR for the Baltimore Orioles in 2022. One of his better seasons. At 32, probably not going to improve so best suited for a rotation spot with a non-contender.

117. Willi Castro UT- Plays all over the field, steals a few bases and hits the occasional home run. He’s very young for a free agent (26 in April) and posted a 1.2 WAR in 2022. Not a good enough hitter to get away with walking as little as he does though. Utility player.

118. Nelson Cruz DH- Some cracks in the armor finally started showing for the previously ageless slugger who slashed an unimpressive .234/.313/.337 with 10 home runs over 507 PA. He surgery to fix his vision at the end of the season and doesn’t appear interested in retiring, especially just 41 home runs away from 500 but he’ll be 43 in July- will any buyers come calling?

119. Chris Archer SP- Finally stayed healthy enough to pitch over 100 innings (102.2 IP, 25 starts). The results were pretty middling (4.56 ERA, 84 K/48 BB, 4.49 FIP) and he turned 34 in September, so odds aren’t great for a huge improvement but he’s a seasoned arm with a good reputation for his competitiveness. 

120. Cesar Hernandez UT- Has gone from starter to utility player where he hits just well enough and plays defense just well enough to stay in that role for a few more years on a B-list team.

121. Garrett Hampson UT- Speedy utility guy has never hit for much average but after a solid 2021, the wheels totally fell off in 2022. Just 27 years old so there’s still hope but he’s gotta hit better than .211/.287/.307 to have any shot at being more than the last guy on an MLB bench.

122. Michael Pineda SP- A reliable middle rotation arm for a while, the wheels fell off for Pineda in 2022 due to injury and underperformance resulting in a 5.79 ERA over a mere 11 starts. Will look to right the ship in 2023 but at age 34 he might have to settle for an MiLB contract with a non-contender.

123. Trevor May RP- Did not live up to his two-year contract with the Mets but pitched mostly okay. Injuries caused him to miss time in early 2022 but he pitched a lot better once he returned and still posted good strikeout numbers (30 over 25 IP). Interesting arm with some health concerns.

124. Tyler Naquin OF- Left handed hitting fourth outfielder with a little bit of pop. Career slash line of .264/.318/.448.

125. Aroldis Chapman RP- The arm is still lively but between bailing on his team in the postseason, a domestic violence suspension, and far and away the worst season of his career (4.46 ERA, 36.1 IP) it’s reasonable to wonder if anyone will be willing to give him an opportunity at age 35.

126. Jesse Chavez P- Old man Jesse had a nice season, although it took three tries to get there. He bombed out in Milwaukee and Chicago, but once he returned to Atlanta, he was quite useful posting a 2.72 ERA over 53 innings with 61 strikeouts to 14 walks. RE-SIGNED: 11/12- Atlanta Braves, MiLB deal ($1.2 Million at MLB)

127. Matt Boyd P- Dealt with a whole myriad of injuries again but was pretty good when he was on the mound- 13 IP, 1.35 ERA, 13 K, 0.975 WHIP. Was used exclusively as a reliever and it will be interesting to see what role teams want to use him in come 2023.

128. Wily Peralta P- Has pitched well with Detroit as both a starter and a reliever since 2021. Had a 2.58 ERA over 38.1 innings in 2022. Affordable swingman/sixth starter type.

129. Matt Wisler RP- Decent season with the Rays (44 IP, 2.25 ERA, 1.000 WHIP) but was DFA’d late and no one ever claimed him. Peculiar.

Matt Wisler

130. Pierce Johnson RP- Injuries limited him to just 14.1 innings in 2022 but he was a solid bullpen piece in 2020 and 2021 after improving his stock overseas. The injury was to his groin not his arm so a rebound is possible for the righty who will be 32 in May.

131. Tommy Kahnle RP- Completed TJS comeback with the Dodgers to reasonable success in 2022 (12.2 IP, 2.84 ERA, 14 K/3 BB, 1 SV). Solid veteran mid-relief arm.

132. Miguel Sano 1B- Tons of power (career .482 SLG, 162 career HR) but injuries and lack of contact have hurt him. Barely played in 2022. Still somehow under 30 until May. Could be a good change of scenery/one-year deal candidate but if he struggles again, the linebacker-sized Dominican might have to look overseas for work in 2023.

133. Archie Bradley RP- A stupid injury hopping a fence during a brawl cost him significant time but even when he was healthy it was an off year for the 30-year-old righty who prior to this season had put together five seasons ranging from serviceable to excellent.

134. Cody Stashak RP- Good control. Under-the-radar righty middle reliever with a career 2.98 FIP. Other career numbers: 72 IP, 4.11 ERA, 83 K/14 BB. Turns 29 in June. Interesting. 

135. Carlos Santana 1B- Veteran with a good eye and a little bit of pop (.202/.316/.376, 19 HR, 506 PA in 2022). The lack of hit tool and advanced age (37 in April) make him a better bench option than starter but there’s value in professional switch hitters like him. SIGNED: 11/25- Pittsburgh Pirates, $6.7 Million/1 Year

136. Chad Kuhl SP- Got off to a nice start in 2022 with the Rockies but they’re the Rockies and he’s a pitcher so inevitably his ERA ended up being pretty lousy (5.72). He also walked a lot of guys (58) but didn’t strikeout enough batters (110) over 137 innings to overlook that. At 30 years old, a move to the bullpen could be in the works.

137. Jose Urena SP- Probably won’t ever live up to the potential he showed early in his career with the Marlins, but the 31-year-old righty showed enough in 2022 with the Rockies to earn a back of the rotation innings eater spot on an MLB roster. RE-SIGNED: 11/11- Colorado Rockies, $3.5 Million/1 Year + $4 Million 2024 club option

138. Luke Jackson RP- Missed 2022 with TJS. Before that had been pretty good. A 2-year MiLB deal is a possibility.

139. Alex Colome RP- Some good seasons in the past including an All-Star selection in 2016, and a 2017 that saw him leading baseball in saves with 47. 2022 was not one of them as his ERA leaped up to a career worst 5.74. His career ERA even after that is still 3.34 and he did pitch for the Rockies which helps explain the substantially worse results. His 4.54 FIP wasn’t good, but it did indicate some bad luck. Someone who probably deserves another chance somewhere.

140. Andrelton Simmons SS- The defense will earn him a job somewhere if he wants one. Think of the impoverished man’s Jose Iglesias.

141. Austin Hedges C- Excellent defender. A little bit of power but virtually no hit tool. Profiles best as a #2 catcher.

142. Chad Pinder UT- Utility guy whose bat won’t hurt you thanks to decent power, but his defense won’t help much either- career line of .242/.294/.417. Career dWAR of -1.0.

Chad Pinder

143. Brandon Belt 1B- Giants mainstay was excellent in 2021 before collapsing to injury and underperformance in 2022. He’ll be 35 in April. A Giants reunion is his best chance due to his significance to the franchise as not a lot of teams will want to take a chance on an aging first baseman with his skillset.

144. Rafael Ortega OF- Lefty batting veteran probably peaked in 2021 but his 2022 showed he can be a useful role player after slashing .241/.331/.358 with seven homers and 12 steals over 371 PA. Best utilized in a bench role.

145. Dominic Leone RP- Terrible in 2019 and 2020. Excellent in 2021. Middling in 2022 (4.01 ERA, 52 K, 49.1 IP). Such is life for a relief pitcher, most volatile of all positions.

146. Roberto Perez C- Gold Glove catcher missed most of 2022 due to injury. Has shown some power in the past but most of his value comes from his defense.

147. Hanser Alberto UT- Solid utility guy. Good contact hitter, perhaps a bit too good as he doesn’t draw many walks (32 BB to 169 K over 1387 PA). .272 batting average won’t hurt though the defense is pretty mediocre no matter where you put the 30-year-old Dominican.

148. Joely Rodriguez RP- Middling lefty posted a meh 2022 season (4.47 ERA, 57 K, 50.1 IP). Unexciting but serviceable second lefty option in a pen. 3.23 FIP indicates bad luck and potential for improvement. SIGNED: 11/23- Boston Red Sox, $1.5 Million + $2 Million max incentives/ 1 Year + $4.5 Million 2024 club option

149. Edwin Rios 1B/3B- Quite a bit of power in his bat (.492 SLG, 20 HR over 291 career PA) but only has a 92 PA single-season high, and a career slash line of .219/.299/.492 only speaks well of his power. Still, that kind of pop doesn’t just grow on trees and the lack of at-bats is more due to injury than performance. Interesting flyer.

150. Jeff Hoffman RHP- Former first round pick posted a decent ERA (3.83) over 44.2 innings in his second season with the Reds, but a 1.410 WHIP implies that he let an awful lot of runners get on base and a career 5.68 ERA implies that he’s probably no more than the last guy in a bullpen for most teams.

151. Ben Gamel OF- About as consistently a mediocre outfielder you’re going to find, Gamel has managed to get consistent playing time over the year by signing for cheap with noncontenders which is honestly pretty smart from his end. 2022 was more of the same as the 30-year-old had a 0.0 WAR and slashed .232/.324/.369 with nine home runs and five stolen bases over 423 PA.

152. Matt Duffy UT- Singles hitting utility guy on the wrong side of 30.

153. Tyler Duffey RP- Reliable option for the Twins from 2019 – 2021. Pitched very mediocre in 2022- 4.91 ERA, 39 K/15 BB, 1.364 WHIP, 44 IP. Was unceremoniously cut in August and signed an MiLB contract with the Yankees soon after but never made it back to the majors. Duffey being ranked next to Duffy is purely coincidence.

154. Willians Astudillo UT- Legendary turtle-like utility man makes excellent contact. Versatile chemistry guy who can hit a little bit.

155. Rougned Odor 2B- Still hits some home runs. Still strikes out a ton. Still a lousy fielder. Somehow still only 28 until February.

156. Erick Fedde RHP- An innings eater in the Nationals rotation in 2021 and 2022, the righty started 27 games in back-to-back seasons. Didn’t do much with those starts (13-22 record, 5.64 ERA, 4.90 FIP). Backend starter on a third-tier team is probably his ceiling but he could be a swingman somewhere.

157. Hirokazu Sawamura RP- Posted a decent ERA and strikeout numbers but the control is too shaky to consider him anything higher than one of the weaker options in a bullpen even if there’s more potential there.

Hirokazu Sawamura

158. Miguel Castro RP- Heading into his age 28 season, he was up and down for the Yankees in 2022 with a 4.03 ERA over 29 innings and 31 strikeouts to 15 walks. Middling but still relatively young.

159. Jesus Aguilar 1B- Right handed bat with a little bit of pop (19 2B, 16 HR over 507 PA in 2022). Can fit with a team as the smaller part of a DH platoon and backup at first base.

160. Nomar Mazara OF- Can’t quite call it a comeback but the former top prospect slashed a respectable .264/.316/.352 over 171 PA last season for the Padres. Still only 27, he’s someone who’s skillset is limited but worth a team in need of left-handed bats taking a flyer.

161. Zack Britton RP- Comeback from Tommy John Surgery got him 0.2 innings in 2022. Now 34, he was excellent from 2014 to 2020. Worth a flyer to see what’s left in his arm, but far from anything resembling a guarantee.

162. Trevor Gott RP- Had a boring but adequate season out of the Brewers bullpen- 4.14 ERA over 45.2 IP. Random middle reliever.

163. Pedro Severino C- Was a decent enough hitter for a couple years with the Orioles, then was suspended for PEDs in 2022 and the wheel kind of fell off. Desperately needs an opportunity to build his stock back up. Somehow, he’s still only 29.

164. Jharel Cotton RP– Former top prospect had a solid season as a middle reliever (3.56 ERA, 43 IP) although his 4.95 FIP indicates some of this was due to good luck.

165. Luke Maile C- Professional backup catcher. Not much of a hitter but the defense makes him a reliable #2.

166. Marwin Gonzalez UT- Useful as a 25th or 26th man on the roster due to his versatility and occasional power, but anything more than 100-200 at-bats doesn’t bode well for his team’s fortunes.

167. Steve Cishek RP- Side-arm middle reliever. Getting up there in age (37 next June) but was still somewhat effective in 2022 (4.21 ERA, 74 K, 66.1 IP).

168. Michael Chavis 1B/3B/2B- Got an opportunity to get 426 PA and while he hit 16 doubles and 14 homers, the slash line (.229/.265/.389) left a lot to be desired. The versatility and power are nice but until he figures out better plate discipline the best that he can home for is being the smaller half of a platoon or a starter overseas.

169. Hunter Strickland RP- Serviceable righty in his mid-30s with closer experience had a mediocre 2022 with the Reds after an impressive 2021 with three different teams.

170. Jackie Bradley Jr OF- Still in possession of a gold glove and rocket arm but the days of JBJ being an everyday regular are gone.

171. Vince Velazquez RHP- Posted a kind of meh season as a swingman for the White Sox (4.78 ERA, 69 K/25 BB, 4.25 FIP). Nothing to write home about, nothing terrible. His arm has long been considered plus but he’s just never been able to put it all together.

172. Jake Marisnik OF- Good defense. Speedy. Little bit of power. A step above some of the other guys with similar talent set but still a fourth outfielder at best.

173. Sir Didi Gregorius SS- Apparently still hasn’t come back from a battle with psuedogout. Starting to look like he may never.

Sir Didi Gregorius

174. Aaron Sanchez SP- The 2016 All-Star and ERA champ stayed healthy all year which was an accomplishment all things considered. Unfortunately, he got hit pretty hard with a 6.60 ERA over 60 innings. His FIP was 4.48 indicating some bad luck and he’s only 30. Probably deserves another opportunity.

175. Joe Ross SP- Missed all of 2022. When healthy the changeup is nasty but like his brother Tyson, health stopped being guaranteed years ago.

176. Aristedes Aquino OF- Power in the bat (41 HR over 762 career PA) and a strong throwing arm but he doesn’t make enough contact or draw enough walks to be more than a bench outfielder or Triple-A depth.

177. Anibal Sanchez SP- Returned from the dead at the age of 38 to post a 4.28 ERA over 14 starts (69.1 IP) for the bottom-dwelling Washington Nationals despite a 48/33 K-BB ratio. Knows how to pitch but the stuff that won him the AL ERA crown in 2013 is long gone. If he still wants to pitch, he’s a veteran, innings-eater fifth starter on a team that isn’t contending.

178. Nick Anderson RP- Missed all of 2022. He’s consistently good to excellent when healthy which unfortunately hasn’t happened since 2019. Someone will take a shot on the 32-year-old righty. SIGNED: 11/11- Atlanta Braves, 11/6, Split Contract: $180K MiLB/875K MLB 1 Year

179. Frank Schwindel 1B- Frank the Tank broke out with an impressive slash line of .326/.371/.591 and 13 home runs over about a third of a season in 2021 before predictably falling back to earth in 2022. The Cubs DFA’d him and now the 30-year-old journeyman will try to recapture his 2021 magic with a new team in 2023.

180. Casey Sadler RP- Practically unhittable in 2021 (40.1 IP, 0.67 ERA, 0.719 WHIP) but missed the entire 2022 season due to a shoulder injury. Anyone’s guess where he’s at now but he’ll get an opportunity somewhere provided he’s healthy.

181. Franchy Cordero OF/1B- Talented athlete simply hasn’t been able to put it all together at the MLB level. Looking more and more like a very good Quad-A player.

182. Jonathon Villar UT- Bat first utility man didn’t have much of a bat in 2022. Now on the wrong side of 30, and possessing lackluster defensive skills, this is a problem.

183. Danny Mendick UT- Utility man hit pretty well in limited MLB time in 2022- .289/.343/.443 with three home runs over 106 PA. Career .278 hitter over four seasons at Triple-A. Good depth option.

184. Yu Chang UT- Played with four different teams in 2022 which is kind of an impressive feat similar to losing 20 games in a season- you have to have a degree of talent to have that many teams take a shot on you.

185. Maikel Franco 3B- Former top prospect flamed out with a bottom-dweller for the second year in a row, this time the Nationals (.229/.255/.342, 9 HR, -1.1 WAR). At 30 years old, he’s really starting to look like a candidate to play overseas.

Maikel Franco

186. Kole Calhoun OF- Rough year for the 35-year-old veteran. His 12 home runs weren’t bad but the .196/.257/.330 line over 424 PA and -1.5 WAR says all you need to know. Could maybe be a left-handed bench bat, but he appears to be approaching the end of a quietly useful career.

187. Ian Kennedy RP- Was a solid piece of the Diamondbacks pen until getting absolutely obliterated in the second half leaving him with a 5.36 ERA over 50.1 innings. He’s come back from the brink before and has some closing experience but at his age (38 in December) the opportunities are getting fewer and further between.

188. Mike Minor SP- Just a dreadful season in Cincinnati for the lefty who turns 35 in December- 19 GS, 98 IP, 6.06 ERA, 1.633 WHIP, 76/40 BB/K. Will likely get one more chance due to past experience but the end could be nigh for the Braves’ 2009 first round pick.

189. Eduard Bazardo RP– Did a pretty good job out of the pen for the Red Sox in limited work (16 IP) and has consistently posted good AAA numbers with a strong spin rate (if you’re into that). Nothing to write home about but should be a serviceable right-handed MLB middle reliever at a low price.

190. Tommy Hunter RP- Veteran righty pitched well in 2022 when he was healthy (2.42 ERA, 22 K over 22.1 IP). Key word there is healthy, something the 36-year-old righty hasn’t been over a full season since 2018.

191. Darren O’Day RP- Was somewhat effective over 21.2 innings with the Braves (4.15 ERA, 26 K) despite now being 40 years old because of his side arm delivery before being shut down with injuries. Could get an opportunity somewhere or could retire.

192. TJ McFarland RP- 2022 was a bad season for McFarland, but the 33-year-old lefty has a way of bouncing back. The kind of guy that could end up in the bullpen on a second-tier team and then get converted into a mid-tier prospect or two at the trade deadline.

193. Juan Minaya RP– Didn’t do well in his brief time in the majors in 2022 but career 3.69 ERA over 178 innings in relief indicates he can probably succeed in a middle relief role.

194. Josh Vanmeter UT- Plays all over the field and has gotten on-base at an okay clip in the past, but definitely not in 2022. At 28, seems to be little more than a good Triple-A depth option.

195. Odubel Herrera OF- Probably deserves to be higher if we’re going by pure talent but he’s going to have a hard time getting work with his domestic abuse track record, and a mediocre 2022 performance.

Odubel Herrera

196. Yermin Mercedes UT- Can hit a little but not well enough to justify a DH role which considering his defense would be necessary to remain on a team in any meaningful way. That said, he can play catcher which gives him a leg up on similar players.

197. Willie Calhoun OF- Baseball’s answer to the “Bad Luck Brian” meme, Calhoun was quite good in 2019 but hasn’t been able to stay healthy since, suffering a series of costly injuries and generally not performing well when healthy. That he doesn’t have a real position is not of much help either as unreliable DHs aren’t ever really in vogue. Still, he’s only 28 and someone will likely take a flyer on him just to see if he can once again find the swing that made him a key part in the trade that sent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers.

198. Garrett Richards SP/RP- Fell victim to the ban on sticky substance and hasn’t been able to regain his footing since. Struggled in 2022 (5.27 ERA, 42.2 IP before being cut). At 35 years old in May, he’s probably no more than a middle reliever at this point.

199. Craig Stammen RP- After a nice six year run with the Padres, the 39-year-old lefty might have hit the end of the road with a disappointing and injury-filled 2022. Then again, he’s a lefty so there’ll probably be a job somewhere if he wants it.

200. Brett Phillips OF- Good arm, good defense, good personality, a little bit of power but virtually zero hit tool. We’re officially in fifth outfielder/Triple-A depth territory, folks.

201. Stephen Piscotty OF- Flamed out in Oakland after knockout combo of injuries and underperformance. Will try to find redemption elsewhere, likely on an MiLB contract but heading into his age 32 season, a comeback is becoming less and less likely.

202. Jason Heyward OF- Still plays good enough defense but at 33 years old, the bat that earned him a massive contract from the Cubs is gone and likely not coming back.

203. Albert Almora OF- Was the sixth pick of the 2012 draft. Good glove but hasn’t hit since 2018. Even then he was a singles hitter.

204. Bradley Zimmer OF- Yet another speedy outfielder with good defense and minimal offensive skills.

205. Tyler Danish RP– Mediocre depth reliever with a funky arm slot. Useful to have around as a depth piece, not so much as someone to rely on for quality innings.

Tyler Danish

206. Big Fudge Davis RP- Was one of Boston’s better pitchers the first half before getting unceremoniously DFA’d after falling off a cliff. Will almost certainly get an MiLB deal with a spring training invite. SIGNED: 11/16- Houston Astros, 11/16, MiLB Contract

207. Tim Locastro OF- Light-hitting but speedy backup outfielder with a knack for getting on base via hit-by-pitch.

208. Roman Quinn OF- Another fast, defensively gifted outfielder that unfortunately can’t steal first base.

209. Sandy Leon C- Only active Hall of Famer can still be a serviceable backup veteran catcher but probably shouldn’t be anyone’s first or second choice for the role.

210. Silvino Bracho RP- Journeyman middle reliever showed to be all the way back from Tommy John Surgery. Will look for an MiLB deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Nothing overwhelming about his stuff but knows how to pitch.

211. Chasen Shreve RP- Lefty with a pulse. Seemingly effective every other season. 2022 was one of the bad ones.

212. Kyle Funkhouser RP- One of the coolest names in pro sports. Did not actually pitch in 2022 due to a shoulder injury.

213. Anderson Espinoza RP- Former top prospect feels like he’s been around forever but won’t turn 25 until March. Made his MLB debut with the Cubs in 2022 to mixed results, much of which was caused by poor control (16 walks over 18.1 IP). Tough to imagine him reaching his potential with his control like that but the pedigree makes him worth keeping an eye on.

214. Magneuris Sierra OF- Very fast. Good fielder. Unfortunately, he’s also a singles hitter who isn’t very good at hitting singles. The impoverished man’s Juan Pierre.

Magneuris Sierra

215. Hansel Robles RP- Started the 2022 season as a Red Sox late inning arm, ended it in the minors for the Dodgers. A case study in relief pitcher volatility.

216. Richie Martin SS- Defense first infielder who has just never managed to hit at the big-league level despite plenty of opportunity.

217. Josh James RHP- Oft injured righty missed all of 2022 and has only pitched over 25 innings in a season. Talented when healthy but those times have been few and far between. At 29, he’s running out of time to make good on that promise.

218. Jeurys Familia RP- Got bombed out in Philidelphia and then got bombed out again when the battered Red Sox bullpen gave him a tryout. Will probably get another tryout somewhere but he’s running out of opportunities in a hurry.

219. Dallas Keuchel SP- Pitched for three different teams in 2022 none especially well. The veteran lefty may be reaching the end of a solid career.

220. Ross Detwiler RP- Lefty with a pulse.

221. Kevin Plawecki C- Poor defensively and no bat in 2022 but pitchers like throwing to him and he’s a good teammate. Not a bad bench veteran, but likely will have to earn the job with a good Spring.

222. Andrew Knapp C- Spent time with the Mariners, Giants, and Padres in 2022. Didn’t perform well for any of them.

223. Billy Hamilton OF– Speed, defense, little else.

224. Austin Romine C- Career back-up catcher looking for one more season under the sunlight that is professional baseball.

225. Robinson Chirinos C- Veteran backstop depth.

Robinson Chirinos

226. Sean Doolittle RP- Lefty. Pulse. RE-SIGNED: 11/6- Washington Nationals, 11/6, MiLB Contract

227. Dereck Rodriguez SP- Pudge’s son had a promising rookie year in 2018 but has since shown he’s little more than Quadruple-A depth.

228. Paul Fry RP- Lefty. You know the drill.

229. Heath Hembree RP- Throws hard and looks kind of like Danny McBride’s character from “Eastbound and Down”.

230. Austin Brice RP- Righty with a quirky arm slot has had some success in the majors but not recently.

231. Jason Castro C- Old man catcher has had a solid career but appears to be on his last legs (in part due to his bad knees).

232. Abraham Almonte OF- Veteran depth who can draw a walk and hit the occasional home run but if he’s on your MLB roster on the last day of the season, something bad has happened.

233. Daniel Mengden SP- Some of the league’s best facial hair.

234. Travis Lakins Sr RP- Was pretty decent during the 2020 COVID season. Has done nothing to inspire confidence since.

235. Travis Jankowski OF– Speedy light hitting outfielder with a good glove.

236. Anthony Banda RP- Really bad 2022 and career ERA of 5.64 over 111.2 innings but he’s still under-30 and left-handed so he’ll get an opportunity somewhere. Living proof that it pays to raise your kids to be left-handed.

237. Greg Allen OF- Another speedy light hitting fifth outfielder.

Greg Allen

238. Geoff Hartlieb RP- Can hit 100 mph but until he knows where the pitch is going will never be more than a Quad-A type. Starting to get too old for the potential to be alluring.

239. Phil Gosselin UT- Bat first utility guy did a solid job for the Angels in 2021 but fell off a cliff in 2022. Never say never but at 34 years old, it will be difficult for him to climb back up it.

240. Jaylin Davis OF- Quadruple-A outfielder could probably be a 5th outfielder in the right situation, a description that fits a lot of talented people.

241. Johan Mieses OF- Looks exactly like Vladimir Guererro Jr. Has good power and moves surprisingly well for a man of his stature. AAA journeyman but he could help a team on the small side of a platoon if he ever gets the opportunity. I once saw him hit a home run off an Amtrak train.

242. Justin Upton OF- Running on fumes after what has been a good career, the end of which is nigh.

243. Sergio Romo RP- Long-time late inning arm will be 40 in March and got hammered in 2022. Appears to have reached the end of the line.

244. Kohei Arihara SP- A necessary reminder that not everyone coming over from Asia is going to be successful.

245. Adam Kolarek RP- Lefty. Pulse.

246. Joe Smith RP- Aging side-arm righty might have thrown his last major league pitch as he turns 39 in March and did not impress over 27.1 innings in 2022.

247. Chad Green RP- Got hurt after 15 IP and needed TJS. Will likely miss most if not all of 2023.

Chad Green

248. Jose Alvarez RP- Will be missing the 2023 season after Tommy John Surgery.

249. Justin Wilson RP- Will be missing the 2023 season after Tommy John Surgery.

250. Yolmer Sanchez UT- Good glove, no bat.

251. Jose Peraza UT- Utility guy seems to have peaked in his early 20s. Nothing more than a Quadruple-A depth piece for now.

252. Yoshi Tsutsugo OF/1B- Just a bad, bad year for the corner infielder. Wouldn’t be surprised if he heads back to Japan.

253. Dexter Fowler OF- Not sure if he officially retired or not.

254. Matt Davidson 1B/RP- Two-way player that is no longer good at hitting or pitching. SIGNED: 11/17, Hiroshima Carp, NPB, 1 year

255. Cam Bedrosian RP- Middle name is Rock which is kind of cool.

256. Deolis Guerra RP- Useful bullpen workhorse in 2021 for the A’s missed all of 2022 due to Tommy John Surgery.

257. Travis Shaw 1B/3B- Didn’t get a hit with the Red Sox after inexplicably making the team out of spring training. Got cut. Likely at the end of an underrated career.

Travis Shaw

258. Robinson Cano 2B- Was maybe a future Hall of Famer before the PED suspension.  Probably should retire.

259. Pablo Sandoval 3B/1B- Yes, he’s still alive. No, he’s probably not making a comeback.

260. Carlos Martinez RP- Suspended for PEDs after bombing an opportunity with the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate.

Red Sox 2022 Organizational Recap: Catchers

The Red Sox started the 2022 season with Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki as the starting catchers and they finished with Reese McGuire and Connor Wong. I don’t remember the last time a full battery swapped by the end of the season but I’m sure its happened before. Meanwhile, the farm system has a few interesting prospects none of whom are ready to take the reigns on the starting job. Its most likely going to be Reese McGuire or an outside party who starts 2023 as the backstop.

MLB

Christian Vazquez: 318 PA, .282/.327/.432, 83 H, 20 2B, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 18 BB, 1 SB– For years Christian Vazquez was a quietly consistent starter who didn’t do a ton with the bat (.262/.311/.389 with 54 HR over 2525 PA) but the defense was strong, he put up a lot of competitive at-bats, and he was well liked within the clubhouse. He’ll be fondly remembered as a homegrown success story.

Kevin Plawecki: 175 PA, .217/.287/.287, 34 H, 8 2B, 1 HR, 12 RBI– Played well in his first two seasons with the Red Sox serving as a bat-first backup that pitchers liked throwing to. Was finally dropped from the team in September due to poor offensive performance, noodle arm, and a -1.2 WAR. Nonetheless, he was immediately picked up by the Texas Rangers, and there was an inexplicable media storm over it after Nathan Eovaldi commented that Kevin Plawecki is the kind of guy you build championship teams around.

Reese McGuire: 108 PA, .337/.377/.500, 33 H, 5 2B, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB- The 2014 first round pick was quietly acquired as the primary return for Jake Diekman and quickly took to the role, tearing the cover off the ball for about two months while playing strong defense. It remains to be seen whether McGuire will enter 2022 as a starter or backup but it is safe to say he’s quickly made himself a part of the Red Sox future plans.

The less we talk about McGuire’s pre-Red Sox days the better. Those jokes got old fast.

Connor Wong: 56 PA, .188/.273/.313, 9 H, 3 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI- Long considered the least significant return of the Mookie Betts trade, the 26-year-old Wong surpassed Jeter Downs on the prospect chart. Didn’t hit amazing at the big league level but it was a short sample size and he showed solid defensive chops for a rookie. Was Worcester’s Player of the Year.

On the Farm

Ronaldo Hernandez (AAA)- 439 PA, .261/.298/.451, 107 H, 27 2B, 17 HR, 63 RBI- Never got a chance to play at the big league level but hit well enough to justify the call up if it had happened. Doesn’t walk much and the defense needs work but he’s got power, makes decent contact, and has a rifle for an arm. Will be interesting to see what the Red Sox do with him heading into 2023.

Kole Cottam (AAA/AA)- 307 PA, .256/.336/.365, 70 H, 20 2B, 2 HR, 28 RBI- The home run power vanished but the defense improved and the well mustached 25-year-old was able to set himself up for a good share of AAA playing time in 2023. Plays first base as well which will keep his bat in the lineup. Someone to keep an eye on from a depth perspective.

Kole Cottam’s interview with the Pesky Report (March 2022)

Stephen Scott (AA/A+) 410 PA, .219/.346/.377, 73 H, 19 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 66 BB, 9 SB: Part of the Meatball Gang, the 25-year-old Scott moved to full time catcher this season after spending time at first, and in the outfield previously. He has a good eye and decent power. Was one of eight Red Sox prospects selected for the Arizona Fall League.

Stephen Scott seen here back in his Vanderbilt days

Elih Marrero (AA) 289 PA, .207/.319/.272, 51 H, 10 2B, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 39 BB, 18 SB: Son of MLB catcher Eli Marrero, considered a good defensive catcher who is surprisingly athletic for the position but the hit tool just isn’t really there and the power is minimal.

Nathan Hickey (A+/A)- 328 PA, .263/.415/.522, 67 H, 18 2B, 16 HR, 62 RBI, 63 BB- Fifth round pick from the 2021 draft, Hickey has a terrific eye and a good bat. The defense improved a bit this year, but he’s still rough and might have to move to first base or the outfield. As of now though, he’s the best offensive catching prospect in the system.

Yorberto Mejicano (A) 277 PA, .262/.325/.373, 66 H, 11 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 37 RBI, 20 BB, 7 SB– The 21-year-old Venezuelan came pretty much out of nowhere to take a good chunk of the Salem catching job after Nathan Hickey was promoted. Even got some time in at first base and DH to keep his bat in the lineup. He’s hit well in every opportunity he’s been given, although he does struggle with velocity.

Daniel McElveny (A/FCL) 178 PA, .206/.376/.338, 28 H, 16 2B, 1 3B, 16 RBI, 36 BB, 5 SB- Teenager was a walks and doubles machine this year but didn’t do much else in an admittedly small sample size. Might not stick at catcher but played all over the infield and outfield in high school.

Brooks Brannon (FCL) 15 PA, .462/.533/.846, 6 H, 1 2B, 2 3B, 5 RBI, 2 BB– A 2022 ninth round pick, Brannon got a $712,500 signing bonus to keep him away from a UNC commitment. Has a lot of power and potential but at just 18 years of age, there’s a lot of development that needs to happen before he’s someone to get excited about.

Sports Communications Blog Assignment #9: Dream Job

Being the social media director for a Major League Baseball team with a rabid fanbase that demands perfection from its stars like the Boston Red Sox would be a challenge that many would probably not be up for. Its fortunate for me that I have little interest in working for a major league club. My interest lies with the building blocks of the big league team that is the minor leagues. Lets specifically say the Portland Sea Dogs of Double-A. Why Double-A you might ask? All the most talented players are at Double-A.

Future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera skipped Triple-A, as is often the case for a true superstar.

In a lot of ways, it’s a social media director’s dream. You’re getting to introduce the world to baseball’s next generation of stars while also bringing these young kids into the limelight for the first time. It’s a lot of very fun exposure that you’re not seeing a lot of minor league teams take advantage of. When I was nine, I remember seeing the A-Ball Frederick Keys play. One of their prospects was a black belt and broke board between innings, the sort of family entertainment you only get in minor league ballparks where the score doesn’t matter so much as the experience- fun for the whole family. As social media director, I’d advertise that aspect of the games like crazy.

Where else are you going to see two children in fat suits wrestling? Are you not entertained?

As I alluded to, however, I’d also focus on giving the players themselves some spotlight. Show off the highlights from each week as much as possible, and make it interactive. Have polls on twitter voting for play of the week and keep track of the winner each week. List the top performers stats for each game to have a “player of the game” every night and keep tally throughout the year, giving the fans more of a connection to the player.

By making the fans feel a connection to the player and involved with the team, you create a sense of community. With that sense of community, there’s a sense of loyalty. One of the big advantages of the minor leagues over the majors is that the team winning or losing is secondary. Its all about player development and family fun, which in a lot of ways is baseball in its purist form. As social media director for a Double-A team, that’s what I’d build my brand around.

Sports Communication Blog Assignment #8- Research

The main reason I joined the podcast I’m on is that I wanted a pretense to interview minor league ballplayers. I spent large portions of 2013 and 2014 doing this for an independent book project I’d had the idea to pursue fresh out of college. After saving money for the two years proceeding my college graduation, I drove across North America having conversations with a very specific subset of retired ballplayers- they had to have played at least eight years in the minors but spend no more than a month in the major leagues.

Real life Crash Davises for those who enjoyed “Bull Durham” (I didn’t). I’ve written at least four different drafts of it details both the cross country journey and the interviews themselves. Working title “The 26th Man”

Despite my journalism degree, I was woefully inexperienced when I started often forgetting to ask key follow up questions and not wanting to push for anything beyond cookie cutter stories. Like most things, I got a lot better at it as I continued both due to the experience of actually talking to the players, but also the kind of research I put into it, the core of I still use to this day. That core are the three things I need to know before I sit down with the player.

  1. Know the player- This is the easiest step. We have access to all the world’s information in our cell phones and we tend to just use it to find pictures of cute animals or complain to strangers on social media (or maybe that’s just me.) Most pro-ballplayers have been scouted since they were kids so there’s plenty of information on them out there. If they have any big league experience, there’s gonna at least be a Wikipedia page where you can gain basic information to build off of.
  2. Know their numbers- One of the great things about baseball is that the numbers can tell you a lot about the type of player and even the individual type of season they had. If you see a big change in them, good or bad, its probably a safe assumption that something notable occurred. There was one guy I talked to in Baltimore named Brian Kowitz who had this big gap in his numbers where he disappeared for four year, came back in his mid-thirties, and hit over .400 playing indy ball. Turned out he was friends with the owner of the team and played home games only as a favor while continuing his day job as a mortgage broker.
  3. Know where they come from– The world can be very small. Sometimes there are connections you can between a player and something else that you wouldn’t have know. I interviewed Kevin Mmahat in 2013. He was a Yankee prospect out of New Orleans who was supposed to be the reincarnation of Ron Guidry but couldn’t stay healthy. He went to Tulane University and was called up to the majors on the same day as Deion Sanders. Because I had the crash course in Tulane from talking to Kevin, I knew what to ask about when I talked to another Tulane product named Brendan Cellucci years later. There are all kinds of connections you can make to these guys. We’re all human, there’s always going to be common ground.
Mmahat now owns and operates an exterior coating company in his hometown of New Orleans

There’s of course a degree of variance based on who you’re talking to. Cellucci, for instance, is epileptic which led me down a rabbit-hole of how that might impact his playing career. Its always important to be flexible and well prepared when going into the conversation. The three points I mentioned, however, are good starting points that should always be considered.

Sports Communications Blog Assignment #7- The Best Laid Plans; Coping with Chaos

In a past life, way back in 2018, I was a corporate trainer for Amazon. Specifically, I was a language analyst trainer on Amazon’s home assistant device better known as Alexa. The job, initially, was teaching a four week orientation course in which new employees would learn how to train Alexa to recognize different words and speech patterns. After about a year, the program was shut down in the US because that kind of work was no longer necessary for English devices. I was then moved to providing this training for new employees on foreign language devices despite not speaking any language other than English.

Born from the ashes of the Fire Phone, named for the great library of Alexandria, Alexa is ALWAYS listening.

I would lead the trainings in English with bilingual new hires. With some languages, the training we’d use for English didn’t work in principle. For instance, individual words needed to be labeled with different meaning in English but in Mandarin, the first new language I was assigned to, each individual character is a word in it of itself. This presented a series of problems with even the most basic of training that took a day (and several hours of overtime on my end) to adjust to. I had the class do administrative trainings that they were typically expected to do in their down time instead and gave them longer breaks than usual.

Things like this would happen all the time. As the year continued, the volume of languages grew each presenting separate challenges. When a large amount of French-Canadian samples were accidentally deleted, I was sent to Toronto for three weeks to train a thirty person team to play catchup on the lost data. It was something of a rushed job. We didn’t have enough laptops for the new hires, and not all of them were listed on the initial roster I was given. Several weren’t actually bilingual and spoke English or French exclusively. I missed my flight home for one weekend after a power outage while I was on the monorail at the airport and didn’t have a place to stay until the next Monday. And yet despite these challenges it was perhaps the most rewarding experience of my professional career. The students were excited to be there, I was in a new environment with all my expenses being paid by a super corporation where money was anything but a concern, and I was effectively given complete control over the operation with limited input from a manager that rotated each week.

Me in the middle in the red sweater. They surprised me on my last day there with a going away party. To this day, its still the proudest moment in my professional life.

The one thing I truly wish I’d done differently was setup a grading system for the new hires that better represented what we were looking for. The employees were sent to us through an agency that typically worked with call centers, a line of work that I had briefly attempted for about four weeks when I was 22 and quit when I realized I didn’t have the stomach for it. It was a different work style that they valued with more emphasis on speed than accuracy which was the opposite of our own priorities. I tried to explain this to the leadership that was taking over before I went back to the States but they didn’t listen and a chunk of the high accuracy, slow velocity people I had trained were let go a few weeks later.

It was heartbreaking for multiple reasons, aside from being blatantly ignored and having our accuracy numbers get messed up, I’d bonded with my students as I had done with every class. I knew their strengths, their weaknesses, their hopes, and their dreams. Some of them I knew wouldn’t care and would bounce back quickly. Others I knew had high hopes for the job, a future they wanted that was suddenly pulled away from them despite my assurances that they should feel secure in their position. It was a tough pill to swallow. It made me question what I was even doing there, feeling genuinely disgusted with myself for letting them down. A year later, I left Amazon for good.

Was that the right move? I don’t know even now. I had been there for four years. The turnover rate for my department was between nine and fourteen months making me something of an octogenarian by their standards. It was partially an emotional decision, partially a practical one- there was no room for advancement, I was underpaid and overworked. I didn’t care about what I did beyond my relationships with my coworkers and trainees. I learned a lot from it though. Control is an illusion. The best laid plans get thrown off by factors out of our control and all we can do is prepare for chaos, react accordingly, and stay true to oneself.

Five Portland Sea Dog Players to Consider Heading Into the Second Half of the 2022 Season

Likely no one from Double-A is going to be helping the big league squad this year but they may still be relevant in 2023 or perhaps play a role in the upcoming trade deadline. Here are Double-A players to look out for.

Bryan Mata SP- Mata was on the fast track to making the big leagues when Tommy John Surgery cost him his 2021 season. The 23-year-old righty has gotten through his rehab and is now back at it with the Portland Sea Dogs posting a 0.55 ERA over 16.1 innings with 22 strikeouts to eight walks. Control is often the last thing to return after TJS, and its unknown whether the Red Sox see Mata as a starter or relief pitcher down the road. Either way, its unlikely to see him rushed to the majors, but if his performance continues, he’ll likely get a cup of coffee with Worcester. Mata is the #7 ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization according to MLB Pipleline and #6 on SoxProspects.

Mata’s fastball tops out at 100 MPH. Photo credit to Kelly O’Connor of SoxProspects.com

Christian Koss UT- The 24-year-old Koss had a moment in the sun during spring training when he hit a walk-off home run. He has enjoyed relative success at Double-A slashing .280/.323/.454 with 12 doubles, 11 home runs, 57 RBI, and nine stolen bases, mostly playing shortstop but also seeing time at second base, third base, and even a little at centerfield. Jeter Downs position in the majors could lead to significant movement where Koss gets brought up to Triple-A, Matthew Lugo to Double-A, and Marcelo Mayer to High-A. Koss is currently ranked #25 in the system on MLB Pipeline, and #30 on SoxProspects.

Koss was the 2021 Red Sox Minor League Base Runner of the Year. Photo credit to Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox

Alex Binelas 3B/1B- Binelas was the jewel the Red Sox received from the Brewers in the Hunter Renfroe trade, a move much maligned by Red Sox fans either focused on the 2022 season exclusively or who think that Jackie Bradley Jr was the only player the Red Sox got back. Binelas raked his way through High-A before a promotion to Portland that he’s initially struggled to adjust to. Through his first 19 games with the Sea Dogs, the 22-year-old slugger has slashed .147/.270/.373 with five home runs, and 14 RBI. Two of those homers game in the last game before the All-Star break. This is after hitting .245/.355/.495 with 14 homers and 43 RBI over 58 games at High-A. Double-A is often the biggest leap in skill as far as minor league talent goes and Binelas has struggled to adjust initially. That said, he was only drafted a year ago and at 22 is relatively young for the level. How he performs the last two months of the season will be interesting to follow. If he adjusts, he could be on the fast track to Triple-A due to the lack of corner infield depth. Binelas is ranked #21 in the organization by MLB Pipeline and #17 by SoxProspects.

Binelas was selected in the third round out of Louisville by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2021 MLB draft. Photo credit to Kelly O’Connor of SoxProspects.com

Ceddanne Rafaela SS/CF- Rafaela has already gotten some hype, jumping into the top 100 in all of MLB on the Baseball America rankings (#84), and is #8 for SoxProspects. Hard to blame anyone for getting excited- the 21-year-old from Curacao slashed .330/.368/.594 with 17 doubles, four triples, nine home runs, and 14 stolen bases at High-A before a promotion to Double-A where he’s since hit .282/.331/.564 with six doubles, three triples, six home runs, and five stolen bases while being selected for the Future’s Game, and at one point hitting for the cycle. His defense is considered amongst the best in the minor leagues so there’s a lot to be excited about. Despite Ceddanne’s small stature (listed at 5’8′), the major leagues are likely in his future due to the defense, power potential, and speed. Whether or not he exceeds that floor depends on an improvement in his approach. Rafaela is extremely aggressive, often swinging at pitches he shouldn’t be swinging at. Because his hand-eye coordination is so good, he can make contact but as he moves up through the majors the pitching improves and he won’t be able to get away with making bad contact on pitches he shouldn’t be attacking.

Rafaela was the 2021 Red Sox Minor League Defensive Player of the Year. Photo credit to Kelly O’Connor of SoxProspects.com

Thaddeus Ward SP- Like Bryan Mata, Ward’s 2021 season was lost due to Tommy John Surgery. He only made two starts before being shut down. Come 2022, he’s been on a tear in rehab outings for the FCL squad and Salem pitching 11 shutout innings with 19 strikeouts to just three hits and one walks good for a 0.36 WHIP. Seems like he’s ready again to be tested at Double-A and at 25-years-old if all goes well he could move to Triple-A as early as May 2023. Ward is ranked at #15 on MLB Pipeline and #20 on SoxProspects.

Ward was the 2019 Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Photo credit to Kelly O’Connor of SoxProspects.com

Thanks to Kelly O’Connor for the use of her photography. You can follow her on twitter (@sittingstillsox) and see more of her work at https://sittingstill.smugmug.com/

Five Worcester Red Sox Players to Consider Heading Into the Second Half of the 2022 Season

Into the the second half of the MLB 2022 season we go, where new players will make their ways in their respective team’s plans and others will leave anticlimactically. Here are five players to keep an eye on at Triple-A as we enter the dogdays of August.

Triston Casas 1B- Remember him? The top prospect going into the season? He was slashing .248/.359/.457 in his first prolonged exposure to Triple-A pitching before going down with an ankle sprain on May 17. He’s still in the top first baseman on MLB Pipeline (#14 overall) and looks to be progressing well in his rehab in the Florida Complex League. If he has a strong August, there’s a chance we see him get an MLB cup of coffee in September.

Casas picked up the moniker “The American Nightmare” during his tenure with the 2021 USA Olympic team

Chris Murphy LHP- MLB Pipeline and SoxProspects both have him as the #10 prospect in the Red Sox organization but the 24-year-old starter has had a great first half that saw him earning a promotion to Double-A. Since that promotion, he’s 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA over 23 innings with 17 strikeouts to seven walks and a 0.91 WHIP. A small sample size to be certain but with injuries piling up and the trade deadline approaching, he’s someone who could get an opportunity at the MLB level soon be it with Boston or elsewhere.

Murphy with the Portland Sea Dogs. Photo credit to Kelly O’Connor of SoxProspects.com.

Zack Kelly RHP- Signed for $500 with the Oakland A’s after not being drafted in 2016, Zack Kelly is used to being unheralded. SoxProspects has him at #31 in the system, but he’s nowhere to be found on MLB Pipeline’s ranking list. After entering the Red Sox organization in 2021, the 27-year-old righty has steadily risen through the ranks, and is now on the precipice of making the Major League club. He’s taken over as closer since Kaleb Ort’s big league promotion, and with a major league quality changeup and a fastball that can hit 98 MPH, its possible that he’ll be joining his teammate in Boston sooner rather than later.

Kelly with the Portland Sea Dog. Photo credit to Kelly O’Connor of SoxProspects.com.

Frank German RHP- In terms of pure stuff, German has the best out of any relief pitcher in the Red Sox organization. SoxProspects has him at #27, and MLB Pipeline has the 24-year-old righty ranked at #28 in the organization. Since his promotion to Triple-A, German (pronounce ‘Her-Mon’) has a 3.38 ERA with 24 strikeouts to nine walks over 18.2 innings. With fastball that can touch 99 MPH, and a splitter that has above-average potential, he’s another reliever that could play a big role with the MLB roster if not this year, certainly in 2023.

German was the prospect the Red Sox acquired from the Yankees in the trade that brought Adam Ottavino to Boston.

Pedro Castellanos 1B- I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the play of Bobby Dalbec at first base. As much as he seems like a good kid, and as impressive as he was in short stretched during the 2020 and 2021 season, he hasn’t looked like a major league hitter at all in 2022. The Casas injury likely saved his spot with the big league club, but if the Red Sox don’t make a move at the deadline and Bobby gets hurt or takes another drop in his performance Castellanos, who is currently the regular first baseman for Worcester, might be forced into a role. The 24-year-old Venezuelan slugger has slashed .310/.351/.451 with two doubles, two home runs, and 11 RBI over 77 plate appearances since he was called up to Triple-A, a small sample size to be certain but intriguing if he can keep it up.

Castellanos was the 2016 Red Sox Minor League Latin Program Player of the Year. Photo credit to Kelly O’Connor of SoxProspects.com.

Sport Communication Blog Assignment #6- Projection, anger, and Social Issues on Sports Twitter

Incidents of sexual harassment and assault have become more and more prevalent in recent years in the workplace, and professional sports have been no exception. While new Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has taken the most recent headlines, the case that I became most interested in involved starting pitcher Trevor Bauer of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Bauer seen here pitching for the Cincinnati Reds with whom he won the NL Cy Young award with in 2020.

Bauer was accused of sexual assault by multiple women, the details of which were horrifying. The abrasive righty had just signed a lucrative, and needlessly complicated three-year contract worth up to $102 million dollars, and halfway through the 2021 season was placed on paid administrative leave as the case played out. Although legally Bauer was not found guilty, the court of public opinion was still skeptical. More importantly, Major League Baseball was concerned that if they didn’t come down on him hard, it would affect their reputation negatively. What resulted was a two-year suspension, the longest handed out in any sport for this type of behavior. Bauer has denied all allegations and is in the process of appealing the suspension.

There’s a lot of money on the line for Bauer, not only in regard to his current contract (he won’t be paid while suspended) but his own professional brand has been devastated by the accusations, and his tendency to act as a firebrand online and with the media hasn’t helped him win over hearts and minds to see his side of the story.

This case has been intertwined with many others from the #MeToo movement, and as such the discourse makes for a minefield to navigate on social media. Many have a hard time removing their personal feelings from the objective truth of the situation. Often, feelings with be projected onto the story that may or may not have a basis within reality. My viewpoint on the case is that the legality of the issue is irrelevant and it comes down to how Major League Baseball feels Bauer’s behavior reflects on them. The optics are important from a business perspective and Bauer has a history of inflammatory behavior that hasn’t reflected well on the league so he’s not going to get a lot of rope on his metaphorical leash.

These incidents include starting a harassment campaign on Twitter after a stranger told him he was their least favorite person, the time he threw a tantrum when his manager pulled him from a game and threw a ball into the bleachers from the pitchers mound, and injuring his pitching hand playing with a drone right before that year’s World Series.

This is a thought process that has been informed by my frustration with the way professional athletes and other celebrities have effectively been able to take advantage of their wealth and notoriety to behave in ways that most people can’t, but then when faced with legal ramifications they want to be treated like normal people without these additional advantages that assist in getting away with said behavior.

While I have a belief that informs my overall opinion, its important not to lose sight of other people’s beliefs. When discussing a potentially volatile topic with someone on the opposite end of the spectrum, its important to not try to inflame the discussion. Rather than saying “I think he broke the law and did unspeakable, horrible things to another person,” and making it into a bigger issue, I choose to focus on this specific case and say “the league feels he represented them in a way that made them look bad, and there was enough evidence that came out publicly that they now have to show a strong stance against this thing or it will negatively affect their finances”.

This changes the narrative of the conversation from something personal to something more general. Less about opinion, and closer to objective fact even if there will always be a degree of subjectivity to it.  Its easier to explain fact than emotion, and its easier to take in other points of view when the topic is something less personal.

Sport Communication Blog Assignment #5- Improvising with Integrated Marketing Campaigns

Integrated marketing campaigns are something that I only experienced close hand somewhat recently. I’m not someone that pays a lot of attention to advertisements but last year the podcast that I’m on started getting sponsorship from a few places, one of which wanted us to read advertisements a few times per month. The advertisements weren’t scripted, so we were left to improvise for the most part. The company in question was “Manscaped” which makes grooming equipment for men.

I’d only been on this podcast for about two months, but I could already see some of the dynamics changing with the injection of finances into our product. Our producer reminded everyone to retweet advertisements for the product on a regular basis. I was unfortunately taken off episodes that had the advertisements relatively early.

We were doing one of our improvised ads, and one of my cohosts referred to their products as the “Mike Trout of men’s grooming products.” Looking to make a joke more than sell something, I said “so wait, does that mean its going to break?” Mike Trout had spent most of the 2021 season injured. Personally, I had thought it was funny, but our producer made us re-record the whole segment and they never scheduled for me to be on when we were reading ads again.

I don’t care how good the product is, if its only going to work 90% of the time AT LEAST, its not worth the investment. We’re still talking about razors, right?

Our sponsorship ended after a few months, and we stopped having these advertisement-based improv sessions. Our advertising changed to appear at the beginning of each episode rather than mingled into the middle and played to appear like an organic segment. A few weeks ago, I saw an advertisement on TV with comedian Pete Davidson for Manscaped. This came as something of a shock. The podcast I’m on has consistent listeners but we average close to 1000 hits per episode, not the kind of audience you would expect to see with someone as high profile as Davidson.

The modern face of male grooming, I guess

This makes me think that the advertising campaign either worked well enough financially to convince the powers-that-be to throw more money into it, or that it was designed to slowly expand from more obscure settings like podcasts to more mainstream audiences on ESPN. Regardless, advertisements that can connect to their viewers in more intimate settings such as not-so-mainstream podcasts as well as more traditional channels such as television appear to be something that’s already taking place.

Sport Communication Blog Assignment #4- Building the Right Team Through Leadership

Strong leadership is one of those things that gets referred to by scouts as “intangibles”. It can’t be measured through statistics but like all implicit knowledge, you know it when you see it. Through my own personal experiences I’ve seen what makes good leaders, and how their communication style can help achieve success.

No example of strong leadership is greater to me than my first boss, a man named Dick who was my manager as an auto parts store in 2012. I was fresh out of college with a journalism degree and zero experience with either retail or automobiles. My interview for the job had very little to do with either. Dick tried to gauge my personality and work ethic through the interview. Both of us big Red Sox fans, we talked about whether or not I thought Daniel Bard moving to the Red Sox starting rotation was a good idea (an emphatic no that I was correct about) and the next day, I was hired.

The job was almost exclusively delivering car parts to mechanics with one syllable names like Jack or Brad or Mike but there was some work in the store itself to be handled

I can honestly say that Dick gave me my work ethic. He accomplished this not by telling me what to do and grading me on my performance, but by showing me what he did and leading by example. A great example of this was when he taught me how to do inventory for the store. I was a driver first and foremost, but there were other responsibilities that we were supposed to do. None of the other drivers wanted to do inventory so Dick would do it himself. I saw this in my first few weeks. As I had the least responsibilities of the drivers and didn’t want to appear lazy, I volunteered to do it.

Dick got me to do this not by ordering me to but by determining the kind of person I was in the hiring process, and putting me in a position where I would want to do it. You can’t force people into being something they aren’t, so its important to have the right kind of people that can work together in the system. The alternative is akin to plugging square pegs into round holes, a fruitless endeavor.

That style of leadership is, in my opinion, an effective way to both build a team, and get players or employees to buy into the system. People perform better when they are motivated and respected in an environment that they are comfortable in. That’s not to say Dick wasn’t also forceful when he needed to be. One of the older salespeople used to make comments about my ethnicity that made me uncomfortable. The intent wasn’t malicious but I was a sensitive 22-year-old and Dick quickly realized how uncomfortable the comments were making me. When he asked me about it, I denied it, wanting to appear to be a team player, but when I pressed I admitted I didn’t like it. Dick talked to the salesman and the comments stopped. The work environment became less stressful for me, and my performance improved.

The aforementioned salesperson nicknamed me “Mossad” after the Israeli spy agency. I probably wouldn’t have been bothered by it ten years later, but at the time I resented feeling called out for my Jewishness.

I’m grateful for my experience with Dick. I wish we had stayed in touch after I left. I used to go by the store and bullshit with the old men still working there for a few years after I left the store, but in 2015 it went out of business and I haven’t seen him since. Outside of the store, he was something of a hermit, and happy that way. Nonetheless, the lessons he taught me through his actions stuck with me. You can’t shape someone into something they’re not, but you can push them along in the right direction and shape them into an individual that will maximize the results of the group.