Free agents in a normal offseason are available for a reason. This is not a normal offseason, but since we’re talking about MLB The Show 20 free agency, we can pretend here.
In that case, there could be a multitude of reasons these players are still waiting to sign with MLB teams. There could be a salary restriction, an age issue, or they just don’t have the strength across the board to be an everyday player. Now, this does not mean the players do not have reasonable strengths to benefit your team. They have a variety of specific strengths. The key to effectively signing the right one for your team means you will need to analyze one or two areas these players are still strong.
Do they have still have the ability to steal bases? Do they have great defensive arm strength? Are they simply a pure contact hitter? These and others can be utilized in your franchise to help add to your team’s depth. These players can be unsung heroes who help push your team into the playoffs or pull out some late-inning victories. I sorted through some of the free agents still available, and here are a couple of my picks to add to your roster while we wait for the real Opening Day.
I consider Yasiel Puig to be a bit of a hit or miss type of player, mostly due to some of the inconsistencies he has at the plate. There can be some power upside to picking up Puig, but he also comes packed with the possibility of strikeouts. As a free agent pickup, I don’t see Puig as an everyday starter, but I do see an upside to using him as a situational player off the bench.
Consider Puig if you want to beef up your bench and need to utilize his outfield arm strength and situational power. If you are looking for great arm strength from outfield positions, he is a great player to bring into late-inning one-run games for the do or die throw to home plate. Similarly, he provides some pinch-hit power when you need a home run or a sac fly with a runner on third base.
Ben Zobrist is a bit older in age (and taking the year off in real life), and by some accounts he doesn’t bring much to the field anymore on a day-to-day basis. Zobrist also has below-average speed so don’t even think to look at his speed rating. If you are looking at Ben Zobrist as an option for your squad, then you must simply look to pick him up as a pure contact hitter. His value is there to serve as a wrench in the plan of opposing pitchers.
If properly placed in the lineup, then Zobrist can be effective. You can utilize his switch-hitting ability in a lot of pinch-hit situations. You may only need that ground ball up the middle to tie or win the game so Zobrist could be the guy you turn to in 9th against a tough reliever. If you have to keep him in the game for fielding purposes, he can do the job at second base. His range may be a bit limited in terms of tracking down hits up the middle. But when you need to give your everyday players a couple of days to rest, Zobrist is a good option to fill in at second and even first base.
If your team is in the American League, there still is life in baseball for Mark Trumbo. However, if you sign Trumbo he is going to come with some risk. He is a pure DH at this point in his career. He is the kind of player you are utilizing specifically for his power. If you designate him as your DH, you definitely need him to connect on pitches.
Trumbo has the potential to be effective purely based on his ability to hit home runs. Now the risks I mentioned previously would include a high probability of swing and misses. But even worse, Trumbo is also a double-play dream for a defense. If you’re up to the plate with Trumbo, you can’t fall for the pitches below the knees. A good sinker or split-finger pitch will double up Trumbo all day long. Placing him in the proper spot in the order is essential.
In terms of pitching free agents, there is a variety to choose from, but the player I see value in is Andrew Cashner. I don’t see value in him as a starter, but instead to be converted into the long relief spot in the bullpen. Cashner has a variety of pitches he can use.
He throws the four-seam fastball, changeup, slider, sinker and cutter. This makes him an effective option in a variety of situations out of the pen. He can go multiple innings or can shutdown lefties with cutters inside on the hands. His velocity on his fastball should be stable in the low 90s, but his off-speed repertoire is also effective in the mid 80s.
When he was with Cincinnati, he was one of the most powerful second baseman to step to the plate. In 2019 with the Giants, not so much. That doesn’t mean he has had a complete drop-off and can’t provide useful at-bats. Scooter is not the best in the league anymore, but if you want to clear up some funds on your team, then you can find value here.
You could easily slip him into your lineup as an everyday player and get some productive defensive value at second base. At the plate, Scooter Gennett is good for solid contact and is still a tough out at the plate.
Value is different depending on which MLB franchise you play with in MLB The Show 20. Your team may be looking for additional support for the pitching staff, or you may need an everyday player who can add needed value. Your needs may also be simple, like a player on your bench to support you across a variety of late-game situations. Whatever you might need, the free-agent pool may be the best place to find a veteran player who benefits your needs.