Season 24 is under way, and we'll start the blog coverage with a recap of free agency! This offseason's free agency period was a great if you were looking for a good starting pitcher, not so much if you needed an impact bat. What made the free agency period interesting was that many of the top players available were older, making teams weigh how much to give these stars who may soon be entering their decline phase. There were some interesting signings for sure, so let's recap those selected as the top 10 of this year's free agent class!
1. Pascual Hernandez, 30, LF
Previous Team: Buffalo
Signed with Houston - 5 years, $107.1 million
Houston made another big splash this offseason in signing another huge bat to their lineup and our top rated free agent. Hernandez has a monster bat with elite power as well as contact. In a free agency class with few strong bats, this was the guy to land, and he'll be a huge asset to an already solid Houston lineup.
2. Tony Lopez, 34, SP
Previous Team: Los Angeles
Re-signed with Los Angeles - 5 years, $110 million
Our #2 free agent of this offseason didn't end up going anywhere, as he re-upped with Los Angeles with a max contract. He's had a great deal of success in Los Angeles, with a microscopic 2.69 ERA that ranks 2nd in Cobbfather world history. Retaining Lopez was key for LA, in maintaining one of the best pitching staffs in the world.
3. Dioner Ontiveros, 32, SP
Previous Team: Charlotte
Signed with Las Vegas - 5 years, $97 million
Onitveros has elite ratings pretty much across the board with great control, velocity, effectiveness vs. RH, and a very good arsenal of pitches. The main knock on Ontiveros is his durability, which may limit his innings to the 160-180 range. Still, those will be high quality innings, and Las Vegas definitely improved their staff with this signing.
4. Groucho Leiter, 28, SP
Previous Team: Austin
Signed with Florida - 5 years, $49 million
Leiter is the youngest player on the list, and that is a major asset, as there won't be concerns about age related decline with him towards the end of the contract. His ratings aren't as elite as some of the other hurlers on the list, but he still has plus control, velocity and a nice arsenal of pitches. His splits are just ok, but given his age and the fact he went for a lot less than the other top SP's makes this a good signing.
5. Mendy Kondou, 35, 3B/RF
Previous Team: Dover
Signed with Boston - 4 years, $32 million
At age 35, Mendy can still hit, with an elite batting eye and plus contact, he should be a valuable asset to the Boston lineup this season. The age, of course, is the biggest drawback to the 9-time All-Star and Silver Slugger winner, as it remains to be seen how progressive his decline will be after this season. Still, for Boston who is in win-now mode, it was probably worth the risk in a free agent class with a limited number of impact bats.
6. Clinton McNeil, 30, SP
Previous Team: Ottawa
Signed with Durham - 5 years, $33.8 million
McNeil is one of the younger hurlers on the list with plus durability, control, splits and has pretty nice pitches. His stamina is going to limit the number of innings he can go, probably to around 160-175. He is still a very good pitcher however, and was obtained at a nice price, so you can't fault Durham for going after him, as he will be an upgrade to their staff.
7. Victor Almanzar, 36, SP
Previous Team: Boston
Signed with San Francisco - 4 years, $77.5 million
Almanzar is still a top of the line starter with plus ratings across the board, and he went to a team in desperate need of pitching. He should greatly help the San Francisco rotation this season, and should have at least a couple of more good seasons left, despite his age. He will surely be missed in Boston!
8. Emmanuel Cora, 35, SP
Previous Team: Pawtucket
Signed with San Juan - 2 years, $12 million
Cora is still a solid, dependable arm at age 35, with nice ratings across the board. He will definitely be an asset to San Juan at a good price. It appears in this very deep class of starting pitchers, he may have been overlooked for some of the bigger names. Definitely a nice signing for San Juan!
9. Carlos Pena, 37, RP
Previous Team: Houston
Signed with Durham - 2 years, $16.5 million
Pena comes in as the top reliever on our board in this free agent class, as he still has outstanding pitches, great control and velocity and nice splits, even at age 37. A 2-year deal seems right for him, as he should be able to perform highly for that length of time without significant decline. It's a nice add for Durham's bullpen, indeed.
10. Alberto Beltre, 39, SP
Previous Team: Durham
Signed with Pawtucket - 4 years $27.5 million
Cobbfather's new all-time strikeout king is still going strong, as evidenced by his ability to land a 4-year deal at age 39. He still has good control and pitches and an elite RH split. He hasn't regressed all that much, which shows some pitchers can maintain high quality longer than you might think. It will be interesting to see how long the strikeout king keeps churning.
That concludes our recap of a very interesting offseason free agency period, congrats to all that landed key free agents!