Every year several players seem to slip through the cracks that bring ample value for the buck. Crafty GM's/Scouts that do their homework will reap the benefits.
These players won't be "sexy" acquisitions, and won't bring much excitement to the casual fan that is only thirsty for an A-list free agent splash.
Adding a couple 1-2 WAR players could be enough to propel your team into the playoffs. Scouring the bargain bin is a must for smaller market clubs expecting to win.
Scott Hairston - He played all three outfield positions for the Mets in 2012. He's an adequate defender in left field, but should be only an occasional fill in in right field.(emergency center fielder) He posted a .263-299-504 line in 398 plate appearances last season. While he's unlikely to repeat his career high 20 home runs again in a lesser role We'll see if he sticks to his more aggressive approach? His OBP suffered due to a more aggressive approach, but I expect his walk rate to trend back closer to his career norm.
He could regress into a replacement level player in a hurry if he loses any pop, so he needs to come cheap. Hopefully his improved line drive stroke is a sign of things to come once again in 2013. (8 % spike in line drives from 2011)
Possible Suitor: Atlanta - Strengthens their bench and adds depth to the 25 man roster. He provides them an option in left field if Martin Prado is entrenched as the every day third baseman. He could also fill in to rest Jason Heyward from time to time against a tough lefty.
Carlos Pena - He's coming off the worst season in his career. (.197-330-354 line) His dwindling power is alarming, but he can still draw plenty of walks. I couldn't imagine him repeating such a horrific season.
He'll hover around the Mendoza line again, but if he gets his OBP to .340 + and slugs at a .400 + clip he could help his respective team. At a bargain-basement price point, there should be some GM's interested.
Possible Suitors: Cleveland or Boston. The Indians could attempt a platoon of Pena/LaPorta.. He could be a plan B or C for Boston if they don't upgrade the position in a big way.
Grady Sizemore - Someone will take a flier on him in an incentive-laden deal? He may be at the end of the rope for opportunities, so this is the year he needs to at least stay on the field for some portion of the 162 game slate. 2008 is becoming a distant memory.
Possible Suitors: Cleveland - They're heavily invested in him over the duration of his career, so why not give him one last crack?
Kelly Shoppach - You could do much worse than having him as your backup catcher. He's coming off consecutive 1.2 WAR seasons while roughly playing every other day. His slugging % elevated to .425, which may be due to making more solid contact last year. (line drives way up) He isn't an elite defender, but he did happen to throw out 33 % of runners last year.
Possible Suitors: Several clubs looking for a veteran backup should be interested in his services for the right price. White Sox would be a great fit to pair up with Tyler Flowers if A.J Pierzynski signs off elsewhere.
Placido Polanco - He's no spring chicken and his back issues will probably continue to linger, but he'll get a shot somewhere this spring if he wants to play. While his days as an every day player may be over, he could become a steal as a third base fill in and pinch hitter. If he is at all durable in 2013, he'll be a nice grab out of the bargain bin.
Possible Suitors: Any NL team looking to add some depth to their bench.
Jeff Francis - His ERA averages out at 5.13 over the past 3 seasons. His XFIP over a full run lower at 4.05. You can take the advanced metrics with a grain of salt if you choose, but I think there is some value here. He could probably be had for a salary of around $3 million, which is a steal for a pitcher that could eclipse 150 innings for your club while posting a WAR over 2. He makes for a solid option as a #5 starter.
Potential Suitor: Colorado - They seem interested in bringing him back. Any team with a strong infield defense would bring the best out of his pitch arsenal/approach.
Scott Feldman - The long man out of the pen may be a dying breed, but pitchers like Feldman can provide flexibility to a pitching staff. He's coming off a 21 start season for the Rangers. (2.3 WAR) Advanced metrics believe he was unlucky with his ERA .
Potential Suitor: Minnesota - He'd likely reach 20 + starts again for a team with a lack of viable options to fill out a rotation as it currently stands.