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These smaller MLB free agency contracts could be big deals

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This MLB winter will be best remembered for the monster contracts for Aaron Judge, Trea Turner and Xander Bogaerts — and for the three Carlos Correa deals. Judge, Turner and Bogaerts combined to fetch $940 million, and that’s with Judge and Turner turning down bigger deals from other teams that could have put that trio over $1 billion. And Correa actually agreed to $865 million worth of deals himself, which has to be a record. 

Though there weren’t many obvious bargains, there were a few deals that could turn out to be just that. Here’s our list of great under-the-radar signings. 

1. Tyler Anderson, LHP, Angels ($40M, three years)

With the qualifying offer, it’s understandable Anderson grabbed this deal before taking the $19M Q.O. bid from the cross-freeway Dodgers. Once Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker and Jameson Taillon got their deals north of $60M, this one looked pretty good. No doubt it looked good to Anderson, too, as he’d been mostly a journeyman before 2022. 

2. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates ($5M, one year)

This is more than $5M worth of goodwill for the Pirates, a team in need of goodwill. 

3. JD Martinez, DH, Dodgers ($10M, one year)

He had more money on the table elsewhere, which seems to be a characteristic of the better deals. 

4. Ross Stripling, RHP, Giants ($25M, two years)

The Giants will take a lot of abuse for failing to secure either Judge or Correa. But they do good deals, Stripling was outstanding last year. 

Ross Stripling wasn’t the star the Giants were after, but he’ll likely give them excellent value.
Toronto Star via Getty Images

5. Jose Quintana, LHP, Mets ($24M, two years)

The Mets came out of nowhere here, grabbing the veteran who resurrected his career last year. 

6. Brandon Drury, IF/OF, Angels ($17M, two years)

Here’s another guy who made himself a lot of money in his walk year. But I’d bet on him, too. He had his eyes corrected before 2022, which may have been the reason for the major improvement. He also took less to sign with the Angels. 

 Andrew McCutchen #24 of the Milwaukee Brewers runs to home plate in the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 23, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Andrew McCutchen is back in Pittsburgh on a deal that could be a bargain for the Pirates.
Getty Images

7. Nelson Cruz, DH, Padres ($1M, one year)

The Padres authored some eye-popping deals, but here they got one of the best sluggers over the past decade-and-a-half at a reasonable rate. Yet another guy who turned down more money elsewhere. 

8. Zach Davies, RHP, Diamondbacks ($5M plus $3M incentives, one year)

The Diamondbacks did a lot of good things. Davies isn’t favored on the open market because he’s a soft tosser, but except for one year, he’s been very effective.

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