The shortened MLB free agency was a busy affair that saw a lot of familiar faces end up in new places. The Rangers landed a new middle infield in Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, the reigning AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray ended up in Seattle, and the Blue Jays filled his spot in the rotation with Kevin Gausman.
A quarter of the way through the New England Patriots T Shirts season, we're starting to see the fruits of these signings. While some players -- such as Trevor Story on the Red Sox -- are just heating up, others have made an immediate impact.
While we can't yet discern winners and losers from the 2021-22 free agency mad scramble, there's enough to build a progre s report from some of the notable signings last offseason.
Tier 1: The immediate impactKevin Gausman, P, Toronto Blue Jays
Kevin Gausman and his devastating splitter have been a boon for the Toronto pitching staff. His FIP is a league-best 1.30, he has an ERA of 2.25, and he is third in the American League with 65 strikeouts with a league-best 13 strikeouts per walk.
The righty is in MLB's 100th percentile for chase rate, 87th percentile for expected ERA, and 74th percentile for barrel percentage. Which is to say, even when players make contact they aren't hitting the ball hard.
Gausman's splitter is one of the most difficult pitches in baseball to hit, and his stuff has only gotten better in Toronto. He was able to pick up the slack of a slow start from Yusei Kikuchi, and although the Jays have underperformed to a degree this year -- they're third in the AL East and just three games above .500 -- Gausman is yet to give up more than three earned runs in a start. He's had quality starts in six of his last seven outings, made all the more impre sive in today's MLB climate.
Freddie Freeman, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers
One of the most sought-after free agents this offseason, Freddie Freeman returned to Southern California, where he was born, to play with the Dodgers. The first baseman hit his first home run against his former team, the Braves, and while the power isn't all there, he's hitting .297 this year with an OPS of .849.
As Dodgers broadcaster Dontrelle Willis put it:Hes obnoxiously good."
Freeman is among baseball's best in expected on-base percentage, expected slugging percentage, and strikeout percentage. His ceiling is even higher than he's displayed so far, and that's a scary thought when he's playing for a Devin Asiasi Jerseys team that's already 29-13 on the year.
Freeman also doesn't have the profile of a dead-pull hitter you often get with lefties. His pull percentage is just 29 percent this year, and his wOBA is slightly over 20 points higher when teams shift against him than when they don't. In short, he's extremely difficult to gameplan against when he's at the plate.
Carlos Rodon, P, San Francisco Giants
After Gausman signed with the Blue Jays in December, the Giants knew they had a hole in their rotation to fill. They responded by signing Carlos Rodon, who has been excellent despite cooling off slightly from a scorching hot start.
The former White Sox southpaw has nearly matched his ridiculous strikeout rate from last season, and he has a FIP of 2.14 this year.
Rodon will be looking to return to his March form as the season goes on, but he's clearly the ace of the staff. His batting average against of .216 is 18th in MLB.
Tier 2: Figuring it outTrevor Story, 2B, Boston Red Sox
It's entirely too early to say Trevor Story has truly figured things out, but he's coming off by far his best week as a member of the Red Sox. From May 18 to May 25, Story hit .286 and hit six of the eight home runs he has this season. It's an impre sive turnaround for the former Rockies infielder, and now he has to ride that momentum.
It's been a disappointing season overall for the Red Sox, who find themselves three games under .500 toward the end of May. Story, to his credit, has been hitting the ball hard this year. It just hasn't translated to results. The second baseman, who generally sees fastballs well, is hitting .176 against them this year. If that number evens out, he should be able to keep riding this wave.
Carlos Correa, SS, Minnesota Twins
One of the later signings this offseason, Carlos Correa joined the Twins on a "show-me" three-year deal with two player options in 2023 and 2024. He has uncharacteristically struggled in the field with a negative outs above average for the first time since 2017, but on the offensive side he's been making terrific contact with the ball. Curtis Martin Jerseys
Correa has hit .326 in the month of May, but his slugging percentage this year is down nearly 100 points from last season. While the numbers say he's been a net positive at shortstop -- Correa's 0.8 WAR this year is already equal to Andrelton Simmons' last season -- it stands to realize his ceiling is higher than what he's shown.
Tier 3: Doing their jobsKyle Schwarber, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Kyle Schwarber only knows how to hit balls hard. Despite batting just .197 so far this year, he's given the Phillies more or le s what they expected: an abysmally high strikeout percentage and double-digit home runs before June. Schwarber is one of 12 MLB players with 10 or more home runs on the year, his barrel percentage is in the 97th percentile, and his hard-hit percentile is 85th percent.
Despite being a liability defensively and striking out in nearly third of his at-bats, Schwarber is the same guy he's always been. The Phillies clearly knew who they were signing, and they seem content to let him continue to be that player.
Kenley Jansen, P, Atlanta Braves
The only reason Kenley Jansen, who has been outstanding for Atlanta this year, gets this spot is because he's been exactly what the Braves wanted Will Smith to be. The Braves were 15th in baseball last year with 26 blown saves, and Jansen already has 10 saves on the year. He has blown two save opportunities, but the Braves rallied and won one of those games.
As impre sive as Jansen has been, the Braves have struggled this year. For his part, however, Jansen has been exactly what a closer should be.
Tier 4: Nothing but strugglesMarcus Semien, 2B, Texas Rangers
The second part of the two-pronged signing the Rangers made in the middle infield alongside Corey Seager, Marcus Semien has been nothing short of horrendous this year. He's batting .185 on the year and simply can't seem to find any rhythm at the plate.
Semien did string together a five-game hitting streak that was snapped Tuesday, but there's no question he has to be better so the Rangers don't regret their seven-year, $175 million investment.
Kris Bryant, OF, Colorado Rockies
Kris Bryant is struggling in the most unconventional way of any of these free agents. He isn't making good contact, to be sure, but more importantly he can't stay healthy. At 30 years old, Bryant was placed on the injured list Wednesday after just two games back as he battles ongoing back sorene s.
Bryant has played in just 17 games so far in the first season of a seven-year, $182 million that raised eyebrows when the Rockies signed the outfielder. Bryant should easily have that longevity in him, but with just four RBI on the season and no home runs, he's not producing at a rate the Rockies paid him at.
The jury is still out on plenty of other players. Corey Seager is putting up lukewarm numbers but has been steady, Robbie Ray is nowhere near his Cy Young form but there's room for growth there, and Nick Castellanos could go either way in Philadelphia.
However, early returns from this free agency cla s are not quite what was expected. There's still a lot of time for these numbers to normalize for the players who are struggling, but the longer the season wears on, the more questions we may start to see about some of the ma sive contracts Isaiah Wynn Jerseys handed out last offseason.