Best And Worst Signings So Far

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.

Worst Signings

  • 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.

Best Signings

  • 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.

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