Free agent deals this offseason have totaled about $400MM so far, according to ESPN's free agent tracker. The offseason is young – by our count, almost 200 notable free agents remain unsigned. Before the signings pick up again, let's discuss the best and worst so far.
- Placido Polanco, Phillies – three years, $18MM. Where was the demand for a 34-year-old second baseman coming off a .727 OPS? What other club would've offered even one or two years at $5MM per?
- Brandon Lyon, Astros – three years, $15MM. Lyon's not a bad pitcher, but this commitment is excessive. He's not a high strikeout guy, and his '09 control was a career-worst.
- Fernando Rodney, Angels – two years, $11MM. What would Rodney have gotten without the 37 saves? I have a reliever, 33 in March, who posted a 4.40 ERA, 7.3 K/9, and 4.9 BB/9. Can I find a one-year, $2MM offer?
- John Grabow, Cubs – two years, $7.5MM. The Cubs are tight on payroll, but were quick to commit an above-market contract to a lefty reliever with a 5.0 BB/9 in '09.
- Jason Kendall, Royals, Ivan Rodriguez, Nationals – two years, $6MM. Kendall is 35, Pudge is 38, and neither topped a .700 OPS in '09. Gregg Zaun had already signed a reasonable one-year, $2.15MM deal.
- Alex Cora, Mets – one year, $2MM. Why did his salary hold steady despite a lousy '09? This contract isn't a franchise-killer, but comparable players could've been had at less than a million bucks.
- Mike Cameron, Red Sox – two years, $15.5MM. Cameron is getting up there (37 in January), but he seems perenially undervalued as a solid defender with pop.
- Marco Scutaro, Red Sox – two years, $12.5MM. I saw Scutaro getting three years and $18MM, so this strikes me as a reasonable deal for the best available free agent shortstop.
- Nick Johnson, Yankees – one year, $5.75MM. Johnson's injury history is acknowledged by the one-year deal. The Yanks were able to add the best on-base threat on the free agent market for less than $6MM.
- Gregg Zaun, Brewers - one year, $2.15MM. Worse catchers received two years and $3MM salaries.
- Troy Glaus, Braves – one year, $2MM. I don't agree with trading Javier Vazquez to free up cash for Glaus and others, but in a vacuum I like the signing. The risk isn't much; maybe he can supply 25 homers and a solid OBP from first base.
- Matt Capps, Nationals – one year, $3.5MM, J.J. Putz, White Sox – one year, $3MM, Ryota Igarashi, Mets – two years, $3MM, Kelvim Escobar, Mets – one year, $1.125MM. These are the types of relief deals I respect – one-year commitments, or tiny salaries in Igarashi's case. Relievers are so volatile, any of these guys could easily outpitch Rodney, Grabow, and Lyon.