The MLB's best bargain basement free agents

Profile Picture: Andrew Champagne

November 10th, 2021

It’s officially Hot Stove Season in Major League Baseball, with dozens of free agents hitting the market and available to the highest bidder.

Much attention will be paid to players like Carlos Correa, who could make $300 million over the course of his next contract. However, not every team can fork over that amount of cash. Cash-conscious clubs will be looking for top talent at reduced prices, and we're here to help. We've identified the MLB's top five best bargain basement free agents, and our list begins with a newly crowned World Series champ...

5. Joc Pederson

2021 salary: $4,500,000

One of the more notable role players on Atlanta’s championship team, Pederson seems like he’s been around forever. However, he’s entering his age-30 season in 2022, and he decided to opt out of his contract with the Braves and become a free agent. Pederson hit 36 home runs just two years ago, and he may well have plenty of value in the right situation.

4. Yan Gomes

2021 salary: $6,000,000

The catcher market isn’t great this offseason, and that could work to Gomes’s benefit. A 10-year veteran, Gomes stumbled a bit after being traded to Oakland in midseason. However, he still hit 14 home runs in 103 games, and it wasn’t long ago he made an All-Star team while with the Cleveland Indians.

3. Andrew McCutchen

2021 salary: $20,000,000

McCutchen isn’t the player he was in the early-2010’s, when he made five straight All-Star Teams and won an NL MVP trophy. However, he belted 27 home runs and tallied 80 RBIs with the Phillies this year, so he still has plenty of pop in his bat. He’s entering his age-35 season, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see McCutchen wind up with a team-friendly deal on a squad that needs a veteran presence in its lineup.

2. Joe Kelly

2021 salary: $8,883,334

A trusted reliever for three different teams during his 10-year career, Kelly hits the market after appearing in 48 games for the Dodgers a season ago. The club was faced with many tough decisions this offseason and declined to pick up his option. Kelly is getting over an injury, and may not be ready to start the 2022 season. However, he’s shown himself to be an effective innings-eater out of the bullpen and shouldn’t have any trouble finding suitors.

1. James Paxton

2021 salary: $8,500,000

What a difference a few years makes. Paxton went 38-17 from 2017 through 2019, and during that stretch, the lefty averaged more than 11 strikeouts per nine innings. However, he’s pitched less than 22 innings the past two seasons, and he underwent surgery in April of this year. When he’s at his best, he’s quite good. The question is, can he get back there?