(GAME DATE — Jan. 1, 2020) — There is a litany of top talent still available in free agency this off-season, as we roll into 2020, including hard-throwing pitchers, contact-hitting infielders, and big-hitting outfielders.
Surprisingly, no free agents turned down qualifying offers, and so none of the FA’s this year carry the dreaded daft pick loss if signed. That leaves some highly attractive, and reasonably priced deals potentially to be had for teams ready to spend.
A.C. DEUCEY (P)
The former New York Dragons hurler, who also spent four seasons in Ohio, a year in Arizona, and his first seven seasons in San Diego, Deucey is a seasoned 36-year-old veteran righty with a 76-87 career record, together with excellent career ERA (4.33) and WHIP (1.25) numbers.
Hey was a key component in Ohio’s 2016 Bull Cup playoff run, where he was named Elimination Round MVP. He followed that season with a career-best 14-2, 2.25 performance the next year. The monstrous 6’8″, 245-lb hard thrower boasts a wicked slider, together with an above average fastball and cutter combo, and has maintained his pinpoint control and even gained some velo over the years, going from a 92 mph thrower in 2002, to 94 last year.
Deucey is rumored to be looking for a 5-year contract in excess of $12 million a year. This would rank him just above Lou Bricknell (Pittsburgh) and former teammate Frasor Clause (Ohio) in salary, and he is likely worth every cent. Minneapolis, Arizona and New York, all playoff contenders last season, are said to be bidding.
MIGUEL ORTEGA (2B)
“Ape” Ortega turned 37 last September, but shows little sign of slowing down. His speed on the base paths is as good as it has ever been, with 25 stolen bases and 29 doubles last season with Norfolk. He makes consistent contact, and is great at avoiding bad pitches and striking out, making him still an ideal leadoff hitter, despite his age.
Injuries have hampered his stats, as six times last year he was listed as “day-to-day”, but he still managed 148 games in the new, “extended” 162-game schedule in 2019. He hit for a .291 average, and drew 47 walks (compared to 40 strikeouts), for an enviable .345 OBP. While he lacks power, he still dazzles in the infield as well, crafting a +6.0 Zone Rating at 2B in 2019.
Ortega is apparently looking for $11.2 million or north of there, for another 5 years, and is fielding offers from Boston, California, and Washington.
CARLOS MENDOZA (RF)
Solid defensive outfielder and lefty power bat Mendoza has completed 17 seasons in the Bull League, and still looks hungry for more. The iron man had an unbroken streak from 2005 to 2015 where he never missed a game. In the last two seasons, he has managed 20 and 24 home runs, and is still hitting close to his career .296 average.
The Mexican Menace still musters enough speed to swipe a few bags here and there, and has 14 steals in the last four seasons, all without being caught.
Besides power and contact, the veteran also has a keen eye and good patience at the plate, drawing 85 walks last year for a .377 OBP, while playing for the Philadelphia Liberty Warriors.
With 7 all-star appearances, including again in 2019 at age 36, and 6 Platinum Gloves at RF, again picking up another last season, he is well within his lane to demand $10 million or more to play 2 more seasons, and New York seems to be interested.
Among the remaining top names in free agency are:
LAZARO LOZANO (P) – Lefty starter went 10-7, 4.45 ERA with Arizona last year, still throws great curve and splitter.
JOE STREET (SS) – 38-year-old hit .281 and tagged 18 homers, 55 RBIs with Milwaukee in 2019, seeking $6 m.
TAKEO OTOMO (1B/DH) – Future HOFer and 12-time All-Star could fill an emergency role in a lineup.
DANNY TIRADO (P) – “Refund” Tirado attracting attention for his 96 mph fastball, could fill a back end of a rotation.
JESSE NELSON (2B) – The granddaddy of the league right now, 42-year-old Nelson swatted 28 homers and hit near his career average of .277 last year.