2013 MLB Free Agents: Overlooked Players with Tons of Value

Josh CohenCorrespondent IIDecember 28, 2012

Kyle Lohse is going to be very productive for whoever signs him.
Kyle Lohse is going to be very productive for whoever signs him.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The biggest MLB free agents are already spoken for, but there are still some valuable players who aren't getting enough attention.

Two months into free agency, the blockbuster deals have already been tendered.

Josh Hamilton is now a Los Angeles Angel. The Dodgers made Zack Greinke the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in baseball history. There are no more $100 million deals to be had, and every remaining free agent is a consolation prize.

That said, comparing the available talent to an MVP or a Cy Young candidate is not necessarily fair. Temper your expectations and you'll see there's still some impactful contributors to be had.


Kyle Lohse

The best remaining free agent is getting no respect.

Kyle Lohse has been spotty as a starter in his career, but at age 34, he has finally rounded into a big-time starter.

Back in 2008, Lohse put together a tantalizing 15-6 record with a 3.78 ERA, both career bests at the time. However, one look at his 1.30 WHIP or his 9.5 hits per nine innings, and it was clear that Lohse's 2008 was just an attractive outlier.

Lohse regressed the next season and dropped off significantly the year after, only to finally boost his productivity in 2011 and 2012. He set personal bests in ERA, WHIP, hits per nine innings and walks per nine innings in each of the last two seasons.

Though Lohse is on the older side, he's exhibiting better control and he's keeping batters off the basepaths. He just went 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA, and yet he can't get himself a four-year offer.

When guys like Edwin Jackson and Anibal Sanchez are getting signed to long-term contracts, an older, more effective guy like Lohse deserves his deal.


Scott Hairston

Whoever snags Scott Hairston is going to get some underrated slugging ability.

Despite playing his home games in the cavernous Citi Field last season, Hairston smacked a career-high 20 home runs for the New York Mets. Though he was practically allergic to walks, posting a .299 on-base percentage against a .263 batting average, his .504 slugging percentage gave him a respectable .804 OPS.

The New York Post has mentioned Hairston's name as a platoon option for the New York Yankees, though he'd prefer to go to a team like the Mets that could give him more playing time.

Considering the way Hairston swung the bat last season, he has earned a chance to play regularly.


Ben Sheets

At this point, Ben Sheets has become a low-risk, high-reward flier.

Once one of the most dangerous young pitchers in baseball, injuries have derailed Sheets' career, causing him to miss the entirety of the 2009 and 2011 seasons as well as much of 2012.

When he has gotten on the mound, though, Sheets has been useful if unspectacular, with a 4.21 ERA in his past two seasons.

He has allowed more than 9.0 hits per nine innings in his past two seasons and struck out about 6.4 batters per nine innings. Both of those figures are drop offs from his prime production, but he still has solid stuff and is capable of keeping runs off the board.

When healthy, Sheets can still be a productive pitcher. As a cheap fifth starter option, teams could get a very interesting guy with a speculative offer.