Every year Christmas comes a little bit early for teams with roster spots to fill as the free agent market gets flooded with a crop of players who are non-tendered by their teams. These are hardly the kind of Christmas gifts that people line up at midnight on Black Friday to get their hands on seeing how players who get non-tendered only achieve their new free agent status by not being worth the projected arbitration salary they were going to earn. Still, it is the thought that counts, right?
Non-tenders are more like the gifts of necessity you get. You may have really wanted that Playstation 4, but you really needed an eight-pack of gym socks. Ladies and gentlemen, these are those gym socks.
Let's take a look at who some of the best non-tenders who can be the disappointing gift under your favorite team's Christmas tree this holiday season.
Arencibia wasn't good enough for the Jays, but he might now be the second-best catcher on the free agent market. That doesn't mean he should be coveted though. What earns Arencibia a spot on this list is that he has hit between 18 and 23 homers each of the last three seasons. If you want dingers from your catcher, Arencibia is your man. The problem is that you have to not want OBP or defense. Arencibia is coming off an atrocious .227 OBP in 2013 and carries a career .258 OBP. Defensively, Arencibia throws well enough, but he is a very poor receiver. He certainly doesn't do enough with the glove to atone for all the outs he makes with his bat. As a back-up, Arencibia would be fine, but anyone looking to make him a starter is in a lot of trouble.
Axford could be the real gem amongst this reliever heavy crop. It was only two years ago that Axford was an All-Star closer, but he has since fallen on hard times. However, after getting traded to the Cardinals last August, Axford seemed to recapture some of his old form. He believes it was because he had been tipping his pitches, an issue the Cards clued him into. If that is really the case, he could be a real bargain for a team looking for late inning help.
Say it with me now, when healthy, Andrew Bailey can be an excellent reliever. Of course, Bailey is almost never healthy. At this point, his arm seems to be held together with duct tape and rubber cement, but some team is certain to offer him an incentive-laden contract to hope that they luck into a rare stretch of good health from Bailey. Keep in mind though that Bailey likely won't be ready until mid-season though.
Coghlan won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2009, but he has been up and down between the majors and minors ever since. He has never been able to replicate the offensive success he found his rookie season, but he could make for a cheap platoon option in left field. Coghlan has limited experience at third base and second base as well, so perhaps he could find a team looking to convert him to a full blown utilityman.
In 2011, Hanson looked like one of the best up and coming young starters in baseball, since then, his shoulder has betrayed him. The pitching desperate Angels didn't think he was worth the $4 million he was projected to earn, so that should tell you how much faith there is in him turning things around. However, there is faint hope with Hanson. He had a few starts last season where he went back to his pre-injury mechanics and recovered some of his lost velocity. He really lit up the radar gun late in the season working in relief, so there might be an interesting opportunity to convert him into a high impact bullpen piece.
Despite having the best first name in the world, Jones is coming off of a rough season in which he posted a .289 OBP and hit a career-low 15 homers. Considering that Jones faced almost exclusively right-handed pitching, that is a line for teams to swallow, explaining why Pittsburgh decided to cut him loose. Jones seems like a solid bet for a bounce back year though as he does still boast a career 109 wRC+. He is strictly a platoon player who is a defensive liability, but for an AL team looking for a platoon bat at DH or off the bench, Jones has the kind of home run power to garner a fair amount of interest.
In a world where Skip Schumaker and Willie Bloomquist are getting nearly $6 million, Justin Turner could be a nice alternative for teams looking for a utility infielder. Turner has a respectable 93 wRC+ for his career and has experience playing every position in the infield, though he has not graded out as a particularly good fielder. Still, as a cheap option off the bench, you could do a lot worse.
A ground ball specialist, Webb is coming off a BABIP-aided 2.91 ERA in 2013, but the penny-pinching Marlins still felt that he was going to be too expensive. Webb may not miss many bats, but he induces a ton of grounders, keeps the ball in the park and has fairly even platoon splits. He is an ideal middle relief workhorse.
Williams might be the least sexy name on this list, but he is likely to land a rotation spot somewhere. He has posted a 4.57 and 4.58 ERAs the last two seasons, which isn't going to blow any skirts up, but it is good enough for him to fill a fifth starter spot in the back of several rotations where he can soak up 175 innings for relatively cheap.
Wright hasn't been terribly effective in his career, but he throws with his left arm and has a detectable pulse. That alone should garner him some interest and likely a big league contract.