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The ones who got away: NL edition

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Turns out non-tendering good players is regrettable.

Minnesota Twins v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

On Wednesday, we looked at one player from each American League team that has made their former employer regret kicking them to the curb. Today, we’re doing the same for the National League. To qualify, a player needed to end 2020 with the team and no longer be with them.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers could be forgiven for letting Kiké Hernández go. The infield was full up with Gavin Lux ready to take over the starting second baseman job. The Dodgers had enough outfield depth with Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, AJ Pollock, and Chris Taylor. Surely, one of Edwin Ríos, Matt Beaty, or Zach McKinstry would perform well enough to fill that fifth spot.

Well, Beaty has been fine, but Cody Bellinger has been abysmal. To make matters worse, Ríos’s season ended in April, and McKinstry has struggled. Midseason pickup Billy McKinney hasn’t been any better. Meanwhile, Hernández has a 108 wRC+, and he’s tied a career-high in fWAR at 3.2.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants built a top-five starting rotation out of some stuff they had lying around, but there was one starter they didn’t think they needed: Tyler Anderson. Anderson’s 2020 wasn’t particularly exciting, but he was effective, and 2021 has been more of the same. A 4.14 ERA isn’t thrilling, but 152 league-average innings are hard to come by. It’s more production than they got out of Aaron Sanchez, and Anderson has been more durable than Alex Wood.

San Diego Padres

The San Diego Padres won the offseason, and they were a surefire lock for the postseason. Now, with two weeks left in the regular season, not only are they in danger of missing the playoffs, but they’re also in danger of falling below .500 if things keep going like they have for the past month.

The Padres begin a pivotal three-game series against the Cardinals this weekend, and let’s see how the Padres have set their rotation.

That’s a pitcher who hasn’t thrown a scoreless inning since July 17, a pitcher who has given up 46 runs in his last 54 innings, and a pitcher with an ERA of 7.05. The Padres have dealt with a ton of injuries this year, but it’s frankly astounding they apparently don’t have a better internal option.

Garrett Richards hasn’t exactly been good this year, but at this point, I’d rather have him starting games than anyone else the Padres are throwing out. I don’t know where they would have put Garrett Richards at the start of the season, but they sure could use him now.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Every major leaguer that left the organization either has a 5.00+ ERA or is out of the league entirely. The Diamondbacks did, however, lose Emilio Vargas off waivers, and he’s had a good year in Double-A for the White Sox. In 83 23 innings, Vargas is striking out 28.5 percent of batters while only walking 8.1 percent.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies are really missing Kevin Pillar. The lineup just isn’t the same without his occasional power.

Just kidding, it’s Nolan Arenado.

Milwaukee Brewers

Corey Knebel’s return in 2020 didn’t inspire much confidence, but in limited innings with the Dodgers, he’s looked about as good as he did pre-injury. The Brewers haven’t suffered in his absence with Josh Hader and Devin Williams at the back of the bullpen, but any competent innings a team can get out of the bullpen are highly valuable.

Chicago Cubs

We’ve already discussed how Yu Darvish is having a terrible second half, so that leaves us with Kyle Schwarber. The Cubs non-tendered their beefy lefty because he stood to earn money, and the Ricketts couldn’t have that! Schwarber has a 138 wRC+ in 427 plate appearances which is higher than Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, or Willson Contreras.

Cincinnati Reds

It was hard to pick the one that got away for the Diamondbacks because they didn’t have a lot of good players leave, but the opposite is true for the Reds. Last winter, the Reds said goodbye to Brian Goodwin (102 wRC+), Archie Bradley (3.61 ERA), and Anthony DeSclafani (3.24 ERA). Not to mention Curt Casali, Freddy Galvis, and Travis Jankowski, who have all been decent role players.

None stings quite so much as watching Raisel Iglesias dominate for the Angels while the Reds bullpen has a combined ERA of 5.10. In exchange, the Reds got Noé Ramirez, who is now with the Diamondbacks, Leo Rivas, and sweet, sweet cash considerations.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Watching Joe Musgrove breakout for the Padres must have been hard, but at least the Pirates had the experiences of watching Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow breaking out for other teams to prepare them for these feelings.

St. Louis Cardinals

The decision to non-tender Kolten Wong looked bad at the time, and it looks even worse now that Wong is having a career year for a division rival. Wong has cooled off a bit, but he’s set personal bests in homers, slugging, and wRC+.

The gift of Nolan Arenado meant the Cardinals could shift Tommy Edman to second, but his bat hasn’t been nearly as strong.

Atlanta

This would have been Adam Duvall if Atlanta hadn’t realized the error of their ways and brought him back in a midseason trade. Instead, it’s Mark Melancon, who is having a better season than the other former Giants closer Will Smith. Melancon has a 3.56 FIP in 58 23 innings and he would have made a deep Atlanta bullpen that much deeper.

New York Mets

Jed Lowrie’s Mets career was forgettable, but that’s the Mets' fault. Now that Lowrie is with a team that will allow him to get knee surgery, he’s once again a productive major league player. Weird!

Miami Marlins

I mentioned that the Brewers bullpen has been strong and one of the reasons for that is that they have Brad Boxberger and the Marlins don’t. Boxberger has struck out 76 batters in 59 23 innings while maintaining a 2.87 ERA. Boxberger left in free agency, but Ryne Stanek, who the Marlins non-tendered, is having an effective year with the Astros, too.

Philadelphia Phillies

If the Phillies are known for one thing, it’s having a terrible bullpen. 2021 is no different as Philadelphia’s ‘pen ranks 28th in fWAR at 0.7. José Álvarez, who the Phillies lost in free agency, has been worth 0.9 fWAR on his own. In 58 23 innings, Álvarez has a 3.15 FIP despite a 16.4 percent strikeout rate.

Washington Nationals

Michael Taylor has 1.7 fWAR with the Royals this year thanks to his defense. That would tie him for second-most valuable among Washington outfielders with Kyle Schwarber, who is now in Boston.