MLB Roundtable: Which underrated free agent should be on everyone's shopping list?

So long Thanksgiving. Hello Black Friday.

The biggest shopping day of the year has arrived and it comes at a time when Major League Baseball teams are organizing their own shopping lists.

We’ve already seen a handful of free agents ink new deals in November. But like last season’s glacial-paced offseason, there’s still a plethora of options available at every level of free agency. That includes big names like Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon. It also includes proven commodities like Dallas Keuchel and Mike Moustakas. Then there’s an endless list of risk and reward players that MLB teams hope will be bargains.

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If you’re like us, you’re particularly interested in the bargains. Everyone likes a good deal. And in baseball, a good bargain deal usually leads to a good story.

The New York Yankees were on top of this game last year, signing like DJ LeMahieu (two-years, $24 million) and Gio Urshela (minor-league deal) to contracts that were nothing compared to the production they provided. We asked the Yahoo Sports crew to identify a few free agents who could fit the bargain mold this winter and contribute big numbers in 2020.

One of them will become the guy who has done plenty and seen more, who has a knack for doing the right thing at the right time, who brings the wisdom of championships and the perspective of much, much worse. One of them will raise an eyebrow at a half-effort. It will be enough. One of them will have an idea what’s coming without benefit of a camera. One of them will have the standing in the game to decide what is OK and what is not. Who comes with a few All-Star Game appearances. A bunch of Gold Gloves. Can still play parts of the game, at 35, going on 36. Can still hit righties, for one. Has made his money. Can finish off a roster. I’ll take Alex Gordon.

A bounce back season could make former Cy Young award winner Rick Porcello a bargain this offseason. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
A bounce back season could make former Cy Young award winner Rick Porcello a bargain this offseason. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello isn't exciting. You aren't going to jump for joy if he signs with your favorite team. But he's dependable. In 11 seasons in the majors, Porcello has made at least 31 starts 9 times. Some of those seasons have been pretty good, too. Between 2012-2014, Porcello averaged 3.0 fWAR per season. In 2016, he won the Cy Young award. 

The 30-year-old Porcello won't do that again, but he can be a solid mid-rotation starter on nearly every MLB team. Porcello is coming off a 5.52 ERA, so interest isn't going to be super high. But there's a case that he was impacted more than most pitchers by the juiced ball. Porcello's home run rate skyrocketed in both 2017 and 2019, when the ball was flying out of the ballpark at a record pace. Assuming MLB gets that under control, Porcello could be in for a nice bounce back with his new club. (Chris Cwik)

Alex Wood

Of the guys already signed, I think Travis d'Arnaud will be an excellent bargain for the Atlanta Braves and perhaps the best overall of the offseason. Of those not signed, veteran left-hander Alex Wood has upside that teams won't have to pay for right now because, like d'Arnaud, he has a rough injury history. When healthy in 2017, Wood won 16 games and posted a 2.72 ERA for the Dodgers. Someone could get that production again on a reasonably cheap one-year deal. (Mark Townsend)

Wade Miley

I’m not sure how I got to a place where I’m putting Wade Miley on a free-agent shopping list, but here we are. Miley has bounced around lately, pitching for five teams the past five years. But he’s been pretty good the last two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Houston Astros. Sneaky good, actually.

Last season, he was great in the first half before sliding off a bit toward the end of the year. He finished with a 3.98 ERA in 167 innings. And while that’s not going to get him $100 million, it could certainly help a team that needs pitching. Miley is 33, still with some of that Astros pitching magic on him. That’s not to say he’s Charlie Morton, but if you’re a team like the Angels that needs a lot of pitching help, someone like Miley might be a good second or third option. (Mike Oz)

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