Who Will Benefit Most From a Change of Scenery Next Season?

These guys might not be stars, but they could revive their big league careers with a change of scenery in 2024.

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 11: Lance Lynn #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers walks off the field after the second inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks during Game Three of the Division Series at Chase Field on October 11, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

We’ve all heard the saying before, and we all know what it means. Don’t mess with the lineup when everyone is hitting; don’t pull the starter when he’s cruising along; etc. etc. etc. Even if it seems like the smarter move to change things up, sometimes it’s better to leave well enough alone.

But what about the opposite? What about when it is broke, so to speak?

The four players featured in this article have all struggled in recent years. Some have struggled longer and more profoundly than others, but it is safe to say that none had the 2023 campaign he was hoping for.

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One is a former All-Star coming off the worst season of his career. Another is a reliable veteran who suddenly fell off a cliff. The third is a top prospect who hasn’t been able to figure out major league pitching, and finally, the last is a promising arm who hasn’t been able to catch a break.

All four of these players are desperately in need of a fix, whatever that may be. And when such a fix isn’t so easy to identify, a change of scenery is often in order. It’s not always clear why a change of scenery works, but sometimes, when something (or someone) is broken, you just need to do something, anything, to fix it.

If it’s broke, you’ve got to try to fix it – any way you can.

These four players could benefit immensely from a change of scenery in 2024. To be clear, they aren’t necessarily breakout or bounce-back candidates; I’m not predicting they’ll be stars next year. However, all four have been stuck in a rut, and perhaps a new team is just what they need to turn things around and revive their careers.

Lance Lynn (White Sox/Dodgers to Cardinals)

2023 Stats: 32 starts, 183.2 IP, 5.73 ERA, 4.86 xERA, 0.5 fWAR

Last season might have looked like the beginning of the end for Lance Lynn’s career, but if there’s anywhere he can right the ship, it’s St. Louis.

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Lynn spent his first six seasons with the Cardinals, pitching to a 3.38 ERA and 14.2 fWAR in 977.2 IP. He had particular success in the pitcher-friendly confines of Busch Stadium, posting a 2.85 ERA and 3.29 FIP in 87 games at home.

The veteran’s biggest problem last year was giving up home runs, especially to left-handed hitters. He gave up 44 home runs in total, more than in the previous two seasons combined, and his 2.49 HR/9 against lefties was the worst mark in baseball.

Busch Stadium is one of the hardest parks for lefties to hit one into the seats, so hopefully Lynn can keep more balls in the yard in his new/old home. The Cardinals are certainly hoping so – he can earn as much as $24 million over two years on his new contract.

Tim Anderson (White Sox to ?)

2023 Stats: 524 PA, 1 HR, 25 RBI, .245/.286/.296, 60 wRC+, -0.5 fWAR

It’s anyone’s guess where Tim Anderson will end up in 2024, yet nonetheless, it’s almost a guarantee he’ll benefit from a change of scenery.

First and foremost, his 2023 campaign was a year to forget, and he’d surely like to run as far away from that nightmare as possible. Just one year removed from an All-Star campaign, the shortstop ranked dead last among qualified hitters in OPS and wRC+. No qualified batter has had fewer RBI in a season (outside of 2020) since Jemile Weeks in 2012.

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On top of that, the White Sox don’t exactly boast the best clubhouse atmosphere – especially not last season. Anderson had been in that clubhouse longer than anybody – he played under four different managers in eight years – so he could certainly use a change of pace.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – SEPTEMBER 26: Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox hits a single against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Guaranteed Rate Field on September 26, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

Vidal Bruján (Rays to Marlins)

2023 Stats: 84 PA, 0 HR, .171/.241/.197, 29 wRC+, -0.6 fWAR

2023 Triple-A: 276 PA, 10 HR, .272/.362/.477, 110 wRC+

Vidal Bruján was a consensus top-100 prospect in the game for several years. Baseball America ranked him as high as No. 51 in 2020, while FanGraphs had him up at No. 24 the following year. Both sources agreed he was a top-five prospect in the Rays’ system for several seasons.

Unfortunately, his early big league returns leave much to be desired. In 99 games from 2021-23, he has stepped up to the plate 272 times, producing a pitiful .157/.218/.221 slashline. His .439 OPS and 28 wRC+ rank last out of 558 hitters (min. 250 PA) in that time.

While he still has time to meet his top prospect potential, Bruján will turn 26 in February; in other words, he can’t keep dragging his feet for much longer. Hopefully, he’ll have more opportunities to succeed as a super-utility player for the defensively-challenged Marlins.

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Michael Soroka (Braves to White Sox)

2023 Stats: 7 games (6 starts), 32.1 IP, 6.40 ERA, 5.62 xERA, -0.4 fWAR

Michael Soroka was truly something else in 2019, blasting out of the gate to post a 2.68 ERA in 29 starts, finishing second for NL Rookie of the Year and sixth for Cy Young. Sadly, injuries have decimated his career ever since. He made just three appearances in 2020 and seven in 2023, with none in the years in between.

Still, Soroka is only a few months older than Vidal Bruján. At 26 years old, he has time to rediscover the stuff that made him so great in his age-21 season. For what it’s worth, he threw his four-seam fastball harder in 2023 than ever before.

With a fresh start and a healthy arm, Soroka could be one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2024 campaign.