The underappreciated free agents that could deliver huge value

The underappreciated free agents that could deliver huge value

It’s easy to project that Shohei Ohtani is going to make a huge impact for whichever team signs him this offseason. The same goes for other top free agents, such as Cody Bellinger, Blake Snell and Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

It’s harder to pinpoint which under-the-radar options will do the same. We know that some players available on the open market will deliver significant value in 2024 — but which ones?

Well, we’ve challenged seven writers to come up with some candidates. While your definition of “under the radar” may vary, we limited the pool to those not among the top 25 free agents ranked by executive reporter Mark Feinsand.

Why he’s under the radar: It’s hard to say Garver is truly “under the radar” when he just won a World Series as a regular with the Rangers, but he might be undervalued due to his injury history and lack of a position. Garver last played at least 100 games in a season back in 2018, and he made only 42 defensive appearances behind the plate during his two seasons with Texas.

Why he’s intriguing: Garver’s recent production at the plate rivals some of the top bats in this year’s free-agent class. In fact, among current free agents, only Shohei Ohtani has posted a higher OPS+ over the past five seasons than Garver (130). The 32-year-old finished 2023 with a 134 OPS+, and there was nothing fluky about his performance — he ranked in the 83rd percentile or better in barrel rate (83rd), expected slugging percentage (85th), expected wOBA (87th), walk rate (90th) and chase rate (98th).

And while Garver saw most of his playing time as Texas’ designated hitter in 2022 and ’23, that was mostly because he shared a roster with superior defensive backstops such as Jonah Heim and Austin Hedges during that time. Although he may never be a Gold Glove Award contender behind the plate, Garver has the potential to provide considerable value to a roster while splitting time between the catcher and DH spots, especially in a free-agent group that lacks attractive Catching option

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