Playing Matchmaker with MLB Free Agents and These Needy Teams | Bleacher Report

0 out of 5

    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    With the MLB season in full swing, there’s just enough information to get an idea of ​​what specific teams need to reach their full potential.

    It could be an extra club in the lineup, an extra arm in the rotation, bullpen help, or depth of position.

    Without overreacting to the small sample size of about a dozen games in 162, you can still get a sense of what a team is lacking.

    On the other hand, think of all the unsigned players out there.

    For context, B/R’s Joel Reuter reported on the free agency’s big board after the lockout ended in March. Our colleague Zachary D. Rymer followed up with this list of underrated free agents who were still available.

    Now let’s play matchmaker with some remaining free agents and needy teams. Feel free to submit your suggestions as well.

1 out of 5

    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    For all the money the Texas Rangers have spent this offseason, they’re still lacking in pitching.

    Texas has the highest ERA in baseball and the second highest WHIP in 10 games. Rangers activated their top pitcher, Jon Gray, on Tuesday after spending last week plus on the injured list with a blister.

    But they need more than Gray’s return for this to be a passable staff. The Bullpen is struggling with a league-high 5.68 ERA and league-worst -0.8 FanGraphs WAR.

    This is where Trevor Rosenthal comes in. He’s been up and down since his surgery on Tommy John in 2017, and rib cage surgery and a hip injury kept him from doing so last year as well.

    Given his poor health over the past few years, Rosenthal should come at a reasonable price (not the $11 million year-old he got from Oakland last year).

    The last time he was healthy in 2020, the right assistant recorded an elite strikeout percentage of 41.8.

2 out of 5

    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    It might seem like the Philadelphia Phillies are overdoing it by signing outfielder Brian Goodwin after signing both Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos during the offseason.

    But after starting the season at 4-8, the NL East’s worst record, Philadelphia could use a spark. The Phillies offense is top-10 in OPS and WAR and ranks 11th in wRC+.

    Still, they held three runs or fewer in six games and held one run or fewer in four of those games.

    Goodwin played his best baseball in 2019 when he was with the Angels second most valuable Outfielder according to Mike Trout, per Baseball Reference. Since then, he’s been mostly quiet in his stints with the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox.

    At the very least, Goodwin would improve the Phillies’ batting versus right-handed pitching, where he was 25 percent better than average as measured by wRC+ in 2021.

    Meanwhile, the Phillies held a .914 OPS against lefties after 12 games, which ranked third in baseball, versus .660 OPS against righties after 12 games, which ranked 18th.

3 out of 5

    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    At the age of 39, JA Happ doesn’t have much left in the tank.

    Rymer previously pointed out the left-handed launcher’s alarming breath rate and exit velocity. But Happ was an important part of the St. Louis Cardinals’ late-season run to the playoffs in 2021.

    He did so after changing his field mix to play better in defense for the Cardinals, who led the league with above-average outs.

    Logically, Happ could do the same for another excellent defensive team looking to compete this year. For now, it looks like the San Diego Padres are under tremendous pressure to deliver on the unfulfilled expectations of 2021.

    The Padres lead baseball in defensive runs and rank second in above-average outs. If Happ cuts back on his four sailors and throws more sinkers, he could add some value in San Diego.

4 out of 5

    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Justin Upton’s role is clearly a reserve at this point in his career. The 34-year-old fielder has been a substitute since 2019 and his OPS has steadily declined since 2017.

    His .705 OPS last year was the lowest since he was a rookie in 2007.

    The appeal of signing Upton lies in the potential depth he could offer in a part-time role.

    He could still help a team like the Minnesota Twins, who finished 25th in OPS on Tuesday (.627). While hitting seemed to be her forte early in the season, the lineup was one of the worst in baseball.

    Minnesota checked in on Upton earlier this month per 5 Darren Wolfson of Eyewitness News. Adding an experienced batsman wouldn’t hurt.

5 out of 5

    Winslow Townson/Getty Images

    The Boston Red Sox are one of at least two teams to reach to Michael Conforto, according to Univision’s Mike Rodriguez, and the fit makes sense. He would play mostly in right field and is a better option offensively than Jackie Bradley Jr. or Christian Arroyo.

    Conforto suffered a shoulder injury in training in January, which is one of the reasons it took him so long to sign. The acquiring team would also have to waive the draft indemnity if he signs before the July 17 draft. Still, he’s the best free agent available, and most teams looking to improve their offense should check in.

    While Conforto had a bad year in 2021, he had improved strikeout and walk rates, is only 28 years old and has a lot of talent in his racquet.

    Boston is 19th in OPS after 11 games, although it hasn’t stopped the Red Sox from hanging at the top of the AL East.

    Statistics on Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant unless otherwise stated.

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