If you thought the free-agent market was already packed with talent, it became a little more crowded Friday.
The deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players was at 8:00 ET on Friday night, presenting many clubs with difficult decisions.
A year ago, players such as Matt Adams, Mike Fiers and Jared Hughes were non-tendered, each of them going on to solid seasons that helped their new clubs.
Who might be the best of the bunch of this year’s non-tender crop? Here’s a look at some of the intriguing players who suddenly find themselves without a team.
Billy Hamilton, OF (non-tendered by Reds)
The Reds’ decision to cut Hamilton loose was one of the more surprising moves made Friday. Hamilton had topped the 50-steals mark for four straight seasons from 2014-17, but he swiped only 34 bags in ’18 after posting a .299 on-base percentage for a second straight season, earning $4.6 million in the process. In his five full seasons, he’s never posted an OPS higher than .664. He will make a valuable addition to somebody’s roster, though likely as a platoon player or in a bench role.
Jonathan Schoop, 2B (non-tendered by Brewers)
An All-Star in 2017, Schoop regressed with the Orioles in ’18 before being traded to the Brewers on July 31. He struggled with Milwaukee, posting a .577 OPS with only four home runs in 46 games. Schoop earned $8.5 million last season and was due a raise in his final year of arbitration. Given his production in 2016-17, Schoop should be a starting infield option for several teams.
Avisail Garcia, OF (non-tendered by White Sox)
The White Sox have been trying to move the 2017 All-Star for a couple weeks, but with no apparent takers. His OPS plummeted from .885 to .719 last season, and with one year remaining until free agency, the White Sox opted not to pay him whatever he was due in his final year of arbitration after earning $6.7 million in 2018.
Matt Davidson, 1B/DH (non-tendered by White Sox)
Davidson has shown power at the plate (46 home runs over the past two seasons), but he’s posted a .726 OPS combined during those campaigns. His on-base percentage did rise from .260 to .319 in 2018, the White Sox apparently decided his overall game wasn’t worth whatever raise he would get in his first year of arbitration. Davidson should be an interesting DH/platoon option (.882 OPS vs. LHP last season) for some AL teams.
Wilmer Flores, INF (non-tendered by Mets)
Flores has been a useful player for the Mets throughout his career, but with Robinson Cano seemingly headed for Queens to take over at second base and Amed Rosario and Todd Frazier firmly planted on the left side of the infield, the 27-year-old became expendable. Flores — who might be best known for shedding tears when he thought he had been traded in 2015 — earned $3.4 million last season and was becoming an expensive bench player for the Mets. He should have no trouble catching on elsewhere, possibly in a platoon role (he had an .804 OPS vs. LHP last season).
Shelby Miller, RHP (non-tendered by D-backs)
Miller, who came to Arizona in a trade with the Braves that included Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte, pitched only 38 innings over the past two seasons because of injuries. An All-Star in 2015, the 28-year-old still has upside, but given his $4.9 million salary last season and only one year of control remaining, the D-backs decided to move on. Miller, who had a 3.02 ERA in 205 1/3 innings in 2015, can’t be counted on as a reliable arm in 2019, but the talent has always been there.
Yangervis Solarte, INF (non-tendered by Blue Jays)
Following a second straight season in which his slash line numbers fell (he hit .226/.277/.378 in 122 games), Solarte had his $5.5 million option bought out by Toronto for $750,000. His infield versatility and power at the plate should make him an appealing utility candidate for other teams.
Brad Boxberger, RHP (non-tendered by D-backs)
Arizona acquired Boxberger from the Rays last offseason, and he began the season as the club’s closer. He was stellar over his first 18 appearances in a D-backs uniform, picking up 13 saves while posting a 1.77 ERA over 20 1/3 innings and limiting opponents to a .187 batting average against him. But the 30-year-old right-hander struggled the rest of the way, as his ERA from June 5 on was 6.00.
James McCann, C (non-tendered by Tigers)
A solid defensive presence behind the plate, McCann saw his offensive numbers decline in 2018, slashing .200/.267/.314 in 457 plate appearances. Having earned $2.35 million last year and with two years of control remaining, McCann might have to settle for a backup role with his next team.
Robbie Grossman, OF (non-tendered by Twins)
With the recent additions of C.J. Cron and Michael Reed as welll as Ehire Adrianza agreeing to a one-year deal Thursday to avoid arbitration, it seemed like a near certainty the Twins would non-tender Grossman, whose .741 and .751 OPS the past two seasons didn’t match his .828 OPS from 2016. With two years of control remaining, Grossman could be a nice pickup for another team’s outfield/DH spot.
Mike Fiers, RHP (non-tendered by Athletics)
Fiers produced solid numbers for the Tigers and Athletics last season, though his 4.75 FIP indicates he didn’t pitch as well as his 3.56 ERA would suggest. Oakland non-tendered him rather than pay him whatever arbitration raise he was due after earning $6 million in 2018, though Fiers should become a viable back-end rotation option for teams looking for starting pitching.
Justin Bour, 1B (non-tendered by Phillies)
Bour was expected to be non-tendered given the fact that the Phillies are set at first base between Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins. He could be an attractive option for clubs in the market for a slugging first baseman, however. At age 30, Bour has a career 123 OPS+ with 84 home runs in 507 games. He’s in his second arbitration year, having made 3.4 million last season.
Hunter Strickland, RHP (non-tendered by Giants)
In a surprising move, the Giants sent the 30-year-old Strickland to the free-agent market following five seasons over which he pitched to a 2.91 ERA for San Francisco. His 2018 campaign was by far the poorest of his career, though, and he missed significant time due to a fractured right hand from punching a door following a blown save last June. He finished the season with a career-high 3.97 ERA and 14 saves over 49 appearances. He made $1.6 million last season, and is first-year arbitration-eligible.
Matt Bush, RHP (non-tendered by Rangers)
The Padres selected Bush as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 Draft. He was a shortstop with a very strong arm, but a mediocre hitter. San Diego converted him to a pitcher in ’07, but a series of off-the-field problems derailed his baseball career until ’15, when he signed a Minor League deal with the Rangers at age 29. He showed promise after making his Major League debut with Texas in ’16, posting a 2.48 ERA over 58 appearances. But over the past two seasons, his performance has gradually declined. From ’17 through ’18, he posted a 4.06 ERA in 75 1/3 innings. He doesn’t become arbitration-eligible for another year.
Tim Beckham, INF (non-tendered by Orioles)
Beckham was the first overall selection in the 2008 Draft by the Rays. After hitting .247/.299/.421 with Tampa Bay, he was traded to Baltimore in July of ’17. He finished that season strong with his new club, hitting .306/.348/.523 with 10 homers. But despite the rejuvenation, he struggled at the plate last season, with his OPS falling from .871 in 50 games with the Orioles in ’17, to a career-low .661 over 96 games. His ’18 salary was $3.4 million, and he is in his second year of arbitration eligibility.
Blake Parker, RHP (non-tendered by Angels)
Parker was a revelation for the Angels in 2017, appearing in 71 games while posting a 2.54 ERA and a 34 percent strikeout rate. His salary last season was $1.8 million, and while he was effective, his ERA rose to 3.26, with a FIP of 4.40 over 66 1/3 innings. It’s somewhat surprising that he becomes a free agent, but given his track record, the 33-year-old should attract suitors.
Matt Shoemaker, RHP (non-tendered by Angels)
Shoemaker had a strong rookie season in 2014, with a 3.04 ERA over 27 appearances (20 starts) for the Angels. But he hasn’t been able to replicate those results since, posting a 4.28 ERA from ’15-’18. He was limited to only 21 starts over the past two seasons due to a forearm injury, and after returning from his latest disabled list stint turned in a 4.94 ERA in 31 innings, making it tough to gauge whether the forearm surgery will make a significant difference in his performance.
Kendall Graveman, RHP (non-tendered by Athletics)
Graveman turns 28 next month, but has been injured much of the past two seasons, appearing in only 26 games and undergoing Tommy John surgery last July. The right-hander has a career 4.38 ERA in 83 appearances (78 starts), and is in his first year of arbitration eligibility.
Luis Avilan, LHP, (non-tendered by Phillies)
Avilan arrived in Philadelphia last August in a trade with the White Sox and pitched well down the stretch, with a 3.18 ERA in 12 appearances. Prior to that, he had posted a 3.86 ERA in 58 appearances with Chicago. The 29-year-old left-hander has a solid track record and should catch on elsewhere given his career 3.09 ERA in seven seasons. He pitched for the Braves and Dodgers prior to his White Sox tenure, and is in his third year of arbitration eligibility after making $2.5 million in ’18.
Ronald Torreyes, INF (non-tendered by Cubs)
Chicago acquired Torreyes in a trade with the Yankees last Wednesday before non-tendering him Friday. The diminutive infielder, who became popular in New York from his celebrations with the 6-foot, 7-inch Aaron Judge, is in his first year of arbitration eligibility as a Super Two player. In four seasons, he’s slashed .281/.310/.375.
Other players who were non-tendered:
Dan Jennings, LHP, Brewers
Xavier Cedeno, LHP, Brewers
Chris Herrmann, C, Astros
Bubba Starling, OF, Royals
Jason Adam, RHP, Royals
Andres Machado, RHP, Royals
Samir Duenez, 1B, Royals
Chris Owings, INF/OF, D-backs
Alex Wilson, RHP, Tigers
Cory Gearrin, RHP, A’s
Caleb Joseph, C, Orioles
Gorkys Hernandez, OF, Giants
Justin Hancock, RHP, Cubs
Allen Webster, RHP, Cubs
Ricardo Rodriguez, RHP, Rangers
Zac Curtis, LHP, Rangers
Adrian Sampson, RHP, Rangers
Aristides Aquino, OF, Reds
Juan Graterol, C, Reds
Jordan Patterson, OF/1B, Reds