Last offseason's best free agent, in terms of 2017 performance, was Justin Turner. The Dodgers signed him to a large four-year contract, and, according to FanGraphs he was worth 5.5 wins above replacement (fWAR). In second? Kenley Jansen, who was signed to a five-year contract. In third, there's Josh Reddick, who was signed to a four-year contract. These players were given large guarantees because the Dodgers and Astros thought they'd be worth it. So far, so good.
But it wasn't only the expensive players who went on to have big seasons. Consider, for example, Logan Morrison, who was worth 3.3 fWAR after signing for a modest one-year guarantee. Welington Castillo signed for one year, and he was worth 2.7 fWAR. Yusmeiro Petit, Anthony Swarzak, Jose Pirela, Brandon Morrow, Tommy Hunter -- these players were all valuable, and they were all signed to minor league contracts. Even in free agency, it's possible to find a bargain.
This year's free-agent market is just heating up. Carlos Santana and Zack Cozart signed with new teams last week. You know all about the names at the top -- Eric Hosmer, Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez, Jake Arrieta and so on. Those are the players considered to be the cream of the crop. Odds are, they'll be good in 2018. But who could be really good in 2018 without costing a fortune? Who are the possible bargains still out there to sign?
Here are my picks for the so-called "stealth" free agents among the players still unsigned. I would've loved to include, say, Miles Mikolas, but the Japanese leagues veteran already found himself a guaranteed deal with the Cardinals to come back to MLB. Including him would be against the rules. So we move forward, not backward.