The 2020 MLB offseason was an eventful one, as many different players found new homes and huge pay raises. With a new contract comes great expectations from both management and the player's new fan base. But sometimes free agent signings end up failing to produce in their new surroundings.
With that in mind, here are three free-agent signings who could prove to be busts for the 2020 season.
3. Travis d'Arnaud, C, Atlanta Braves
Released by the New York Mets at the beginning of the 2019 season, Travis d'Arnaud was one baseball's feel-good stories after latching on with the Tampa Bay Rays, setting career-highs in hits (88), home runs (16) and RBI (69) across 391 plate appearances. The 31-year-old landed a two-year, $16 million pact with the Atlanta Braves in free agency as a result, but there's a possibility that he ends up disappointing his new team. d'Arnaud has missed a significant amount of time due to injury in four of the last five seasons and some of his offensive breakout can be attributed to luck. His .281 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was a career-high (minimum 300 plate appearances), even though his 19.1 percent soft-hit rate checked in above his career average. His plate discipline actually regressed despite his success last year, recording a career-high 35.4 out-of-zone swing percentage.
2. Edwin Encarnacion, DH, Chicago White Sox
Edwin Encarnacion has been one of the league's most feared sluggers since the 2012 season, averaging 43 home run per year, but it's hard not to see his production declining in 2020. Signed to a one-year, $12 million contract, the three-time All-Star has seen his bat speed decrease over the past three seasons. He's set new career-highs in swinging-strike percentage in two of the last three seasons, which clearly doesn't bode well for an aging player who will be 37 years old come Opening Day. Additionally, the three-time All-Star benefited last season from a likely unsustainable 21.1 percent home run-to-fly ball rate in time split between the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees, which was well above his 16.6 percent career average. There's always a chance that he finds the Fountain of Youth in Chicago, but if Father Time catches up to him this season, Encarnacion may end up being a bust signing for the White Sox.
1. Madison Bumgarner, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Madison Bumgarner has been one of baseball's most dominant pitchers over the last decade, which is why it makes plenty of sense that the Arizona Diamondbacks inked him to a five-year, $85 million contract. However, there's a legitimate chance that he may end up as one of this season's biggest free agent busts. The 30-year-old southpaw owns a respectable 3.57 ERA over the last three seasons, but that number is largely due to San Francisco's defense. Over that same span, MadBum has recorded a FIP (fielding independent pitching) of at least 3.90 in all three seasons. Moving from AT&T Park won't do him any favors, either. In 140 career starts in the Bay Area, Bumgarner owns a 2.73 ERA, but Chase Field — his new home ballpark — has been less kind to him, as he owns a career-worst (minimum of 20 appearances) 3.13 ERA in Arizona. There's always a chance that a change of scenery could reinvigorate the southpaw's career, but the above trends hold true, he could be in for a rough first season in the desert.
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Mike Esposito is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Esposito also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username espo6891. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.