A new crop of free agents hit the market Friday night after the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players passed. To quickly explain, eligible players who were tendered a contract by the deadline will remain under the control of their current team. Those who weren’t tendered are now free to sign anywhere.
The deadline varies in interest from season-to-season, depending on the scale of the names involved. For example, the Chicago Cubs decision on whether to tender suspended shortstop Addison Russell brought some additional attention to the deadline this season.
The Cubs, by the way, decided to keep Russell.
Like most years, there were still a few notable names sprinkled into the group of players not tendered. Among them, a slugging second baseman, a highlight reel outfielder, and a once promising starting pitcher whose release cements his place among the worst trades in recent memory.
Here, we’ll take a quick look at those players and a few others who are suddenly looking for a job.
Jonathan Schoop (non-tendered by Milwaukee Brewers)
It’s not often a general manager admits to a mistake. That’s exactly what David Stearns of the Milwaukee Brewers did though on Friday after non-tendering Jonathan Schoop.
The 27-year-old second baseman was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. It was considered an awkward fit because of Milwaukee’s infield depth, and not necessity a need considering their lack of starting pitching depth. In the end, it backfired completely. In 46 games with Milwaukee, Schoop hit .202/.246/.331. He was an afterthought too in the postseason, which prompted this admission from Stearns.
David Stearns looking at the Schoop trade in hindsight: "Look, it was a bad deal, and that's on me. We made a trade for a player we thought was going to be here for a year and a half, and I was wrong."
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) November 30, 2018
Schoop was projected to earn $10 million in arbitration this winter. That’s a hit the Brewers couldn’t afford to take for a likely part-timer in their lineup. Schoop should still have a solid market outside Milwaukee. Over the last three seasons he’s delivered 78 home runs and 95 doubles. That’s excellent production from the second base position.
Billy Hamilton (non-tendered by Cincinnati Reds)
It’s weird that it came to this for Hamilton and the Reds. The Reds have reportedly passed on trading Hamilton in the past, but now that trading him made more sense to them they were unable to find a taker. Hamilton should have less trouble finding a deal now that he’s hit the open market.
The 28-year-old speedster is a human-highlight reel in center field and a game-changer on the basepaths. Unfortunately, he hasn’t reached his perceived potential because of his struggles at the plate. He’ll enter his seventh season as a career .245/.298/.333 hitter, which isn’t good. Still, he should make for an ideal fourth outfielder for a contender.
Shelby Miller (non-tendered by Arizona Diamondbacks)
Speaking of bad trades, the Diamondbacks have given up on Shelby Miller after he was the centerpiece in a deal that could haunt the franchise for a decade.
On Dec. 9, 2015, Miller was acquired along with Gabe Speier from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Aaron Blair, Ender Inciarte and the previous year’s No. 1 overall draft pick, Dansby Swanson.
In the three seasons since, Inciarte has proven to be a consistent producer. Swanson’s had his share of struggles, particularly with injuries, but he remains part of a strong Braves core. As for Miller, he made just 28 starts for Arizona, 18 of which resulted in losses, while posting a seriously high 6.35 ERA.
Arizona could still bring Miller back at a reduced rate — he was projected to earn $5 million in 2019 — and perhaps in a new bullpen role. They have an opening there after also non-tendering closer Brad Boxberger.
Matt Davidson, Avisail Garcia (non-tendered by Chicago White Sox)
The White Sox shed some serious power Friday. Matt Davidson himself accounted for 46 home runs over the last two seasons, while Garcia is one year removed from an All-Star campaign that saw him hit .330 with 18 homers.
Both players are still only 27, so the best could conceivably still be to come for both. But the rebuilding White Sox seem ready to spend some of their funds on bigger name free agents this winter and next, making saving money here a necessity.
You can find the full list of non-tendered players at MLB.com.
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