As baseball's spring training continues in Florida and Arizona, Athlon Sports offers its thoughts on all the offseason movement. Here are the worst offseason free agent signings in Major League Baseball for 2013:
Lance Berkman, Texas Rangers
1 year, $10,000,000
Injuries and a steady decline in bat speed, especially from the right side, have cost the Big Puma production in recent years. He can help Texas as a spot DH, but he can’t play the outfield and is limited at first base.
Jonathan Broxton, Cincinnati Reds
3 years, $21,000,000
If Aroldis Chapman remains in the starting rotation, Broxton could be a bargain as the closer. But only if he can still handle the workload. If the hefty reliever returns to his set-up role, he will be overpaid, especially the third year.
Melky Cabrera, Toronto Blue Jays
2 years, $16,000,000
The suspension for PEDs last season probably cost Cabrera about $50 million. Of course, without the PEDs, how good a hitter would he have been? What player coming back from a PED suspension has ever been productive for an extended period of time? None.
Ryan Dempster, Boston Red Sox
2 years, $26,500,000
Prior to his strong first half with the Cubs last season, Dempster had three straight years of rising ERAs and WHIPs. His 5.09 ERA with Texas in 12 starts last season is not a good sign of where his career is heading. With a healthy and productive John Lackey and Clay Buchholz, Dempster will be expected to provide little more than quality innings. He’s an expensive innings-eater with negative trend.
Stephen Drew, Boston Red Sox
1 year, $9,500,000
Wow. Really? The A’s declined a $10,000,000 option (shocker) and paid a $1,350,000 buyout. The shortstop ended up with $10,850,000 plus $500,000 in incentives. What an agent that Scott Boras guy is.
Jeremy Guthrie, Kansas City Royals
3 years, $25,000,000
Guthrie has never had a winning record in a season of 27 or more starts. Probably not going to break that string in K.C.
Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels
5 years, $125,000,000
Having former MVPs Hamilton and Albert Pujols in the same lineup is a dream for an All-Star Game manager. Mike Scioscia will have the luxury of writing their names on the lineup card every night. Realistically, the Angels’ window of winning with this pair is about three years. After that, the club will pay Hamilton $32 million per year at ages 35 and 36. By that time, this will look like a bad deal.
Brandon League, Los Angeles Dodgers
3 years, $22,500,000
The Dodgers will turn the closing duties over to League this season. He was 6-for-6 in closing situations for Los Angeles last season but had only 15 saves for the season. If he succeeds, he’ll be a nice bargain for a closer. If he doesn’t get the job done as closer, he’ll be an expensive set-up man.
Russell Martin, Pittsburgh Pirates
2 years, $17,000,000
The Pirates are looking for a backstop who can lead a developing pitching staff. Perhaps Martin can. But he’s merely average throwing out runners and has hit just .236 over the past four seasons with the Dodgers and Yankees.
Brandon McCarthy, Arizona Diamondbacks
2 years, $15,500,000
Made $4,275,000 last year for Oakland. This is the first multi-year deal for McCarthy, who was mediocre until finding a home in Oakland over the last two years. Last season, his ERA was much better at home (2.88 to 3.66), so he may struggle in Arizona, and opponents batted .303 in the second half. We’d feel much better about $4-5 million in 2014 instead of the $9 million Arizona will pay him.
Carlos Peña, Houston Astros
1 year, $2,900,000
This is not a huge commitment for the team, but the Astros can lose 110 games with Nate Freiman as their DH for the league minimum.
Cody Ross, Arizona Diamondbacks
3 years, $26,000,000
In five seasons as a full-time player, Ross has never hit better than .270 or driven in more than 90 runs. So, we find the $8.5 million per year for 2014 and 2015 puzzling. The five mil for 2013 seems about right.
Anibal Sanchez, Detroit Tigers
5 years, $80,000,000
With a lifetime record of 48–51, Sanchez has double-figure wins just twice, and only once since 2006. If you believe he’s getting better and healthier at age 29, then perhaps he’ll average better than 7–9, 3.85 and 145 innings over the next five years, which would match his recent five-year history.
B.J. Upton, Atlanta Braves
5 years, $75,250,000
Ever since Upton debuted for Tampa Bay in 2004, experts have agreed that his five tools warrant a big contract. But now his production should be evaluated. The Braves will wish they had Michael Bourn back by the end of this deal.
Shane Victorino, Boston Red Sox
3 years, $39,000,000
Victorino parlayed a mediocre season in which he made just $9,500,000 from an existing three-year deal into $13 mil/year. The Flyin’ Hawaiian doesn’t run as he once did, and his defense has diminished greatly in recent years.
Kevin Youkilis, New York Yankees
1 year, $12,000,000
A signing held in contempt by both Red Sox and Yankees fans, Youk will fill in at third base until A-Rod is healthy, which may not happen until 2014. The Yankees overpaid.
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