Aaron Judge is having one of the greatest walking year campaigns of all time, possibly setting himself up for a free agent deal worth over $300 million this offseason. Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson and Edwin Díaz have also done their best to maximize their free agency earning potential in 2022.
But not all future free agents were so lucky.
The last month of the regular season could prove crucial for the free agent value of the players below. Here are 10 walkers of the year who need strong stretch runs to improve their market position. (All stats are through Friday.)
Josh Bell, 1B, Padres
Bell’s 136 OPS+ on the season looks great, but he’s struggled (71 OPS+) since joining the Padres with Juan Soto in a Trade Deadline blockbuster, and his energy output has dwindled in 2022. times over 130 games this season, with just five homers in his last 63 games, and his hard hitting rate has dropped 10.4 points since 2021. Bell, 30, doesn’t offer much value in defense or with his legs, and while he has made progress in contact service, his pop is the attribute that will drive his market.
Adam Frazier, 2B, Sailors
Traded to Seattle after making his first-team All-Star and finishing 2021 with 4.1 wins over substitution (according to Baseball-Reference) as well as a .305/.368/.411 slash, Frazier recorded 0, 8 WAR and a .244/ .308/.318 slash in 2022. The 30-year-old started to warm up in July, but that gave way to an average of .211 in his last 23 games in August .
Joey Gallo, OF, Dodgers
A good season at the plate could have earned Gallo a contract similar to the one signed by fellow left-handed slugger Kyle Schwarber in March (four years, $79 million with the Phillies), especially since Gallo is the top outfielder defensive of both. That’s off the table now, with Gallo posting a .164 ERA, 15 home runs and a 39% K-rate over 102 games in 2022. He’s been doing better since being traded from the Yankees to the Dodgers at the trade deadline, however, and a solid September could make teams more willing to throw away its struggles with New York.
Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Dodgers
Kimbrel’s performance has been all over the map since signing his last free agent deal – a three-year deal with the Cubs that guaranteed him $43 million and included a $16 million club option. for 2022. The right-handed veteran turned the clock around with a vintage first half in 2021 (0.49 ERA, 1.10 FIP), but he was unable to sustain it after being dealt to the White Sox last summer and was poor following an offseason trade to the Dodgers. While Kimbrel has ably filled the closest role for Los Angeles, his strikeout and odor rates are both career lows and he boasts a 4.14 ERA. Looking ahead, the 34-year-old is set to enter a strong reliever market with Díaz, Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, Brad Hand and Michael Fulmer.
Sean Manaea, LHP, Padres
Jon Gray’s four-year, $56 million contract with the Rangers likely would have been compensation for Manaea this offseason had he had another season like 2021 (3.91 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 4.7 K / BB), but he entered Saturday’s game against the Dodgers with a 6.37 ERA and .900 OPS for his opponents in his previous 13 starts. That said, there’s still time to improve on his value if he progresses for a Friars club battling for a playoff spot.
JD Martinez, DH, Red Sox
Martinez recorded a sparkling .345/.413/.571 slash with eight home runs in his first 52 games this season, but he’s only hit three home runs in his last 63 games while knocking out a clip of 25.2% and posting a .590 OPS during that time. The veteran also lost ground in the second half last year, but not to that extent. As a full-time DH who recently turned 35, Martinez might have a limited market, but he could attract a few more teams with a big finish.
Charlie Morton, RHP, Braves
Morton was expected to enter free agency last offseason after agreeing a one-year, $15 million deal with the Braves, but Atlanta renewed the veteran right-hander in September for another year at $20 million with a club option. $20 million for 2023. It’s possible he’s already shown enough for the Braves to pick his option — or for another team to offer him a similar salary, if Atlanta declines — while he’s rebounded after a poor start to register an ERA of 2.84 and one of 32.2. % K-rate in his last 14 games. However, that could change if Morton, who turns 39 in November, is hit hard this month.
Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Phillies
In a way, this season was a success for Syndergaard due to the fact that he made 20 starts after missing nearly two years while recovering from Tommy John surgery. But after signing a one-year, $21 million deal with the Angels, he no longer looked like the flamethrower he once was. From 2015 to 2019, Syndergaard had a 26.4% strikeout rate, 50.1% rushed ball rate and 29.7% hard hit rate while averaging 97.9 mph on fastballs. His fastball speed dropped to 93.9 mph in 2022, and he had a 17.6% K-rate, 42.5% ground ball rate, and 34% hard-hit rate.
Jameson Taillon, RHP, Yankees
Taillon’s situation is almost identical to that of Manaea. Both underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019, entered 2022 with ERAs slightly above the league average (108 for Taillon and 107 for Manaea) and are now finishing their seasons at 30. Taillon has been significantly better than Manaea this year but faded after posting a 2.70 ERA and 6.7 K/BB ratio in his first 13 starts. Taillon has homered for 16 in 67 1/3 innings (2.1 HR/9) in his last 13 starts, contributing to a 5.35 ERA.
Justin Turner, 3B, Dodgers
The Dodgers have a $16 million club option on Turner for 2023, but they could turn it down and spend some of that money re-signing or replacing some of their notable free agents (Trea Turner, Clayton Kershaw , Tyler Anderson, Andrew Heaney, Kimbrel). After a frosty start to the season, the 37-year-old Turner has quietly posted a .380/.447/.569 slash in 38 games since late June. If he stays the course in September, he could convince LA to go with his option or maybe sign another multi-year contract in free agency.