9 under-the-radar MLB free agents who could make a big impact
Ahead of next week's MLB Winter Meetings, here's a look at nine under-the-radar free agents that could end up being key additions for the 2023 season:
Brandon Drury, Infielder
2022 Stats: .263/.320/.492 with 28 home runs, 87 RBIs, 38 walks, .813 OPS and 3.0 WAR
Age in 2023: 30
While he didn't prove to be an impact addition for the San Diego Padres, Drury performed so well during the first half of the 2022 season with the Cincinnati Reds that he still won a Silver Slugger Award. Perhaps a realistic offensive output will fall somewhere in between what he turned in for the Reds and Padres this past year. There would still be plenty of value in that given that Drury can play every infield position except shortstop, and also left field in a pinch.
Michael Brantley, Left Field
2022 Stats: .288/.370/.416 with five home runs, 26 RBIs, 31 walks, .785 OPS and 1.2 WAR
Age in 2023: 36
Brantley had season-ending surgery on his right shoulder in August, ultimately missing the Houston Astros' World Series run. The five-time All-Star has a rather lengthy injury history and will turn 36 in May, but he's just a year removed from slashing .311/.362/.437. Some team will offer him a one-year deal, and they may very well find that he can still be a productive hitter even at this advanced stage of his career.
Justin Turner, Third Baseman
2022 Stats: .278/.350/.438 with 13 home runs, 81 RBIs, 50 walks, .788 OPS and 2.4 WAR
Age in 2023: 38
The Dodgers declined a $16 million club option on Turner for 2023, perhaps ending what's been an incredible run in Los Angeles. Still, Turner remains a productive player, who isn't limited to only playing against left-handed pitchers. If you need a third baseman/DH type that has extended postseason experience, Turner could be a worthwhile addition.
David Robertson, Reliever
2022 Stats: 20 saves in 28 attempts, 2.40 ERA, 3.58 FIP and 0.7 WAR in 58 games
Age in 2023: 38
The 58 appearances that Robertson made for the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies in 2022 are the most he's had in a single season since 2018. Robertson has 27 career postseason appearances, and is capable of pitching out of just about any role in the bullpen.
Matt Carpenter, DH/1B
2022 Stats: .305/.412/.727 with 15 home runs, 37 RBIs, 19 walks and 2.3 WAR
Age in 2023: 37
Carpenter only played in 47 games for the New York Yankees in 2022, but it's impossible to ignore the staggering power output that he put up in the Bronx. While no longer the star he once was with the St. Louis Cardinals, Carpenter proved in 2022 that he can still provide plenty of value to a team if deployed correctly.
Craig Kimbrel, Reliever
2022 Stats: 22 saves in 27 attempts, 3.75 ERA, 3.23 FIP and 0.9 WAR in 63 games
Age in 2023: 35
As far as Kimbrel's career goes, his 2022 season with the Dodgers was a disaster. With that said, he's still one of the greatest closers of all-time, and was lights out pitching for the Chicago Cubs in the first half of the 2021 season. If you're a rebuilding team looking to sign a veteran that you could potentially move for a moderate return at the trade deadline, giving Kimbrel a shot to be your closer in 2023 wouldn't be the worst idea.
Jean Segura, 2B
2022 Stats: .277/.336/.387 with 10 home runs, 33 RBIs, 25 walks, .723 OPS and a 1.7 WAR
Age in 2023: 33
While other rankings had him lower, Segura claimed the final spot on our top 25 free agents list. He has perhaps the strongest arm of any second baseman in the league, which means he could probably also play third base if asked to. With excellent bat-to-ball skills, Segura should be of interest to a slew of teams. We've projected that he'll land a two-year/$24 million deal.
Joey Gallo, Outfielder
2022 Stats: .160/.280/.357 with 19 home runs, 47 RBIs, 56 walks, .638 OPS and 0.6 WAR
Age in 2023: 29
As fans in New York -- and Los Angeles, to a lesser extent -- found out, Gallo is a flawed player. Still, he can play all three outfield positions and with shifts being banned, should hit for a slightly higher batting average in 2023. He's always going to be a three-true-outcomes player, meaning most of his at-bats will end with a home run, strikeout or walk. But he's a much better player than he's shown in the last year and a half. Gallo would probably benefit from playing in a smaller market.
Johnny Cueto, RHP
2022 Stats: 8-10 with a 3.35 ERA, 3.79 FIP and 2.4 WAR across 158 1/3 innings
Age in 2023: 37
Quietly, the former National League Cy Young Award runner-up gave the White Sox pretty excellent production in 2022, pitching to a 3.35 ERA across nearly 160 innings. For a team looking to add a No. 4 starter, Cueto would be a pretty smart pickup. He should get a major league deal after having to settle for a minor-league deal with incentives last April.