Execs Name Best, Worst Moves Of The Offseason

Recently MLBTR spoke to several MLB executives to gather their nominations for the best and worst moves of the offseason.

Free agent signings that received mention for the best moves: Felipe Lopez, Adrian BeltreAdam LaRoche, Chone Figgins, Hideki Matsui, and Aroldis Chapman.  Said one exec on Chapman: "He might truly live up to the hype."  It's hard not to praise the Cards for getting Lopez on a one-year, $1MM deal.

Three trades came up as choices for the best moves of the offseason: the Mariners' acquisition of Cliff Lee, the Royals' trade of Mark Teahen, and the Rangers' trade of Kevin Millwood.  One exec noted that the Mariners "didn't trade anyone that can hurt them in the next couple of years" for Lee, while another believed that "trading Lee and Kyle Drabek in the Roy Halladay deal will hurt [the Phillies] in the long run."  The Royals received props for "getting some value for Teahen," while the Rangers' increased payroll flexibility from the Millwood deal was noted.

Nominated for the worst moves: free agent deals for Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, Brandon Lyon, Jason Kendall, Aubrey Huff, Jason Marquis, Randy Wolf, and Garrett Atkins.  All the execs polled mentioned Holliday's seven year, $120MM deal when choosing their worst deals of the winter.  Said one: "The fear that he would sign a one-year deal elsewhere and take his chances a year from now — that just doesn't make sense to me."

Aside from Kendall and Huff, there was a vibe of "like the player, hate the contract" with the panned free agent signings.  One exec felt the Royals downgraded behind the plate with Kendall.  Huff was nominated as a small-scale misstep, in that the exec felt that "Hank Blalock is better and he couldn't get half that salary on a non-roster deal."

79 Responses to Execs Name Best, Worst Moves Of The Offseason Leave a Reply

  1. riverahammerofgod 5 years ago

    where the love for the javier trade

    • bbxxj 5 years ago

      In my opinion, Vizcaino along with Cabrera and Dunn could very well have been too much to give up for one year of a pitcher coming off of an extreme career year moving from an NL pitchers park to an AL East hitters park.

      • Melky is an overpaid fourth outfielder, Vizcaino has barely touched A ball and Dunn was expendible. You’re overvaluing someone if you think that package was too much for one of the top ten pitchers in the NL last year and a consistent 200 inning pitcher.

        • bomberj11 5 years ago

          Yeah, last year, that’s not a guaranteed successful season. Also, he may have been top 10 in the NL last year, but he’s not there consistently every year.

        • MC_Antil 4 years ago

          How’s that trade work out for the Yanks?  Still think Vizcaino was just some slab of meat?  And Dunn helped get the Braves Uggla.  But, hell, Vazquez for Vizciano alone would have made it a slam-dunk win for the Braves.

          • Never called Vizcaino a “slab of meat.” I called him a young prospect which is what he was. He’s still only thrown 17 MLB innings for an ERA+ of 83 so I’m not sure what you’re crowing about.

            Not sure why you’re revisiting a trade from two years ago. Isn’t current news more interesting?

          • MC_Antil 4 years ago

            Scott:  Just happened to be doing some research on a story I was working on when I came across your comment.  That’s why I replied to what you had written a couple of years ago. 

            I didn’t mean to re-visit old news, but I couldn’t help but be struck by how it appeared back then that you were trying to run down what the Braves got, and build up what the Yanks got.

            Frankly, history showed the Braves sold high on Vazquez, and pretty much stole Vizcaino from the Yanks.  Cabrera, frankly, was nothing but a smokescreen.  And Dunn helped them land Uggla.

            It’s just a dangerous thing to be so strident about a trade involving kids until you see how they mature and progress.  That was my only point.

          • Dunn and Melky were spare parts for the Yankees at that point. Doesn’t mean they didn’t have any value. Vizcaino is a great prospect but the old saying “There’s No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect” exists for a reason. You need those prospects in your system and a lot of them because so few of them wee reach their ceiling.

            I wasn’t knocking the players as if the Braves chose poorly. Just putting into perspective what they meant to the Yankees. I still think it was a good decision by Cashman knowing what they did at the time. It didn’t work out for the Yankees but the trade made sense.

      • NL_East_Rivalry 5 years ago

        Yankees gave up loose ends they didn’t need for a pitcher they did. Braves are trying to compete and gave away a good player for prospects they can’t use right now. Granted they had 6 pitchers and a payroll that couldn’t support that and they needed to get rid of one, they made the best deal possible.

        • bbxxj 5 years ago

          I woudn’t exactly call a team’s #3 overall prospect a ‘loose end’.

          link to baseballamerica.com

          • NL_East_Rivalry 5 years ago

            Never meant that. All I was doing was giving an adverse view. Braves got a good deal for the long haul, but they should have thrown in a few prospects to get a player that they really could use. With Teheran and Vizcaino, you have to think at least 1 will become what they are projected as. Not saying the trade was bad, just the Braves needed something more to help them this year.

          • Yankees420 5 years ago

            He was highly regarded like you say, #3 on the prospect list but not even in AA yet? A lot can happen between now and then and the Yankees had enough “prospect” pitchers in Hughes/Joba so they cashed in on Vizcaino while he was valued, time will tell who won the trade.

      • Zack23 5 years ago

        It depends how you look at it; Vizcaino definately has potential, he is also only 18 and onyl has 42 innings at low A ball. While Melky is Melky, and DUnn while K’s alot of guys, also struggles with walks.
        Plus if they resign him then it wasnt for just 1 year, or if they let him walk and get 2 draft picks well they’d probably get 2 guys with higher upside than Melky or Dunn.

        And actually Yankee Stadium had a 0.965 Park Factor, ranked 20th, so while it gave up HRs, it wasn’t a hitters park. But I never expected the MSM to ever mention that.

        • bbxxj 5 years ago

          Considering Vazquez is a fly ball pitcher who has had rough stints in HR prone parks, it does become a problem. I loved Javy and he will definately add value to the Yanks with his IP and Ks but don’t expect a CY caliber year again.

          And with Vizcaino, definately he needs to pan out or the Braves will likely ‘lose’ on this trade but if Vizcaino reaches his ceiling and becomes a cost controlled young ace, then the you can say the Yankees solidly ‘lost’. All things considered I think the trade was a even as you may find and works for both teams, but the Yanks stand to possibly lose the most in the end.

          For a mid-range payroll team like the Braves, adding a team’s #3 prospect (per BA) for one year of a player is something you should always seriously consider.

          • Zack23 5 years ago

            Well I agree with that. But you judge a trade at the time its made, but 5-10 down the road because people forget all the facts of the trade. If Aroyds turns into a 1/2 then yes Braves won likely ‘win’ the trade too, but if Javy helps win a WS or 2, then Yankees also ‘win’ the trade.

            And Yankee fans are expecting Cy Young performance from Javy, all they need is for him to slide into the #3 spot- which I think he’ll do fine. (People say what they want about his last time in NY, but his first half was very good, before his horrible 2nd half- mechanics, injury, whatever you want to call it).

            I think it was a good move for the Braves, they needed to move one pitcher, and they couldnt move Lowe so it was Javy. I think Yankee fans do have some issues with BA ratng though, while he was on the Yankees he was a 4 star prospect, once he got traded they labeled him as a 5 star prospect, but whatever.

          • Zack23 5 years ago

            Sorry; Yankee fans AREN’T expecting Cy Young performance.

          • jwsox 5 years ago

            actualy every fan should expect every one of their teams starters to have a cy young performance.The money these guys get paid, even the minimum, every single pitcher should go out there wanting to no hit, and for what it costs to go to games, we should all expect the same thing

          • Zack23 5 years ago

            That’s unrealistic expectations.

    • alxn 5 years ago

      The Vazquez trade is pretty similar to the Lee trade IMO. People need to understand that there is some value in an expiring contract. Who says that the Yankees would have wanted Vazquez on more than a 1-year deal? Even if he regresses he will be a great #4 for them. They didn’t lose any prospects that they can’t cover for with money.

      • NL_East_Rivalry 5 years ago

        So in your view it wasn’t bad for the Yankees. I can agree, now was it bad for the Braves?

        • alxn 5 years ago

          I think they got proper value back but it doesn’t make sense if they wanted to compete. Having Kawakami to replace him lessens the blow but it is still a downgrade. Like I said, it is similar to the Lee trade.

    • mysoxlookgoodred 5 years ago

      i may be a sox fan, but javier is a wild card solely on the fact that NL and AL are completely different games for pitchers(not implying he wont succeed). Also, there is the fact that javier is most likely going to be in pinstripes for one year. Cliff Lee is a free agent after this season and i see the Yankees as the front runners to land him.

  2. cbcbcb 5 years ago

    Polanco is absent from that list, maybe the haters can keep quiet now.

    • Its really a matter of opinion. I honestly can’t understand why the Phillies signed Polanco when there were multiple better options on the market.

      • nyphilsfan 5 years ago

        Figgins was already signed to a longer term contract worth more money per year. Beltre turned down the Phillies contract offer (and I personally don’t like Beltre anyway. He lives off of that one spike year in his power numbers, very suspicious). Who else was available that was better than Polanco? DeRosa? Offensively, maybe. But, his defense is nowhere near as good as Polanco’s.

        • Zack23 5 years ago

          He doesnt live off of those 48 HRs, no one expects him to ever do that again. They realize he’s the best defensive 3B in the game, has some power, and they look at his Home/Away splits from up in Seattle and realize his overall numbers were dragged down by his numbers at Safeco.

          • hoagiebuchanan 5 years ago

            polly for sure..we could have given him a one year contract with an option so we can check up on players like lopez and beltre next year, but no, 3/18…rubes just likes to do weird things with his money..signing bench players for 2 years..

          • nyphilsfan 5 years ago

            .266 AVG/.317 OBP/.442 SLG over 5 years with SEA. You want to give him a few more HRs to push up his averages, fine. But, let’s not forget this guy is coming off an awful, injury-riddled season. Also, Polanco is a gold glove fielder. He is coming off a gold glove year where he only had 2 errors. You or I don’t know whether that will translate to 3B yet. But, the assumption that Beltre would be far superior to Polanco at 3B is a little presumptious, in my opinion.
            All of this is moot anyway. Beltre was offered a fair deal from the Phillies, and he turned it down. So, they moved on to option B. Who, still costs several million less this year instead of Beltre. And, if Beltre has the great year you think he will, he will be even more expensive next year in free agency. So, let’s all drop this Polanco’s 3 year/$18M deal is the worst signing of the year, when there are so many more deals with much more risk out there.

          • Zack23 5 years ago

            I didnt say his overall numbers, look at his Home/Road splits during his time in Seattle.

  3. ReverendBlack 5 years ago

    Apparent neutrality on the Lackey deal as well.

    • wolf9309 5 years ago

      it was a pretty neutral deal- pretty much exactly what everyone expected him to get- just to a surprising team.

  4. riverahammerofgod 5 years ago

    3 years for polanaco was stupid

  5. johnsilver 5 years ago

    I would agree with that unnamed exec that thinks Blalock is much better than Aubrey Huff, only no chance that he could have, or even would have signed way back when Huff did as well though either for 3M, not when super agent Boras is thinking he can milk some team out of another 6M like Blalock made in 2009 again. Rather let them sit all season without a job and pick up the crumbs than succumb to rationale and take the best deal possible for one of his clients.

  6. invader3k 5 years ago

    As a Brewers fan, I’m not sure what was so bad about the Wolf signing. While he has a fairly large contract, it’s not one that will cripple the team if he suddenly goes bad in the next couple years. They desperately needed SP help, and signed arguably the second best one available.

    • coachofall 5 years ago

      I would rather make a short term commitment to the much longer team commitment given to John Lackey. Over the last two years Wolf has pitched more effective innings than Lackey and they are wtihin 1 1/2 years of age of one another. Much safer/smarter commitment in resrouces in my opinion

  7. Of course any signing the Mets make is a bad move, but if the Red Sox or Yankees signed Bay to a similiar deal it would be heralded.

    • At least the Red Sox and Yanks have the benefit of the option of moving him to DH if/when his knees are shot.

    • loeres 5 years ago

      there are a couple of reasons why this was a bad deal fot the mets:
      1. they needed starting pitching and not a slugger
      2. i believe the redsox medical staff is better than the mets (just look at escobar) so i believe that bays knees will give up
      3. like Jake Humphrey said nl = no dh
      4. and the red sox offerd 4/60 (i thought even that was high) and the mets essentially gave him 5/71,5

      • mysoxlookgoodred 5 years ago

        completely agree. Once the red sox dropped out the mets were left bidding against themselves

      • All Day Réy 5 years ago

        2 and 4 kind of contradict each other, but I guess for the most part its a solid opinion.

    • Zack23 5 years ago

      I remember when they got Santana and every praised them, and when Yankees signed CC is was a big deal because he didnt have success in a SSS in the playoffs. Ok, so dont act like the world is against you.

    • wolf9309 5 years ago

      it would have been a better deal because it would have meant there was more than one team interested- they gave him what is essentially a 5 year/$83 million deal (because of an easily obtainable guaranteed option), with a no trade clause, when they almost certainly should have been able to get him for about the 4 year/$60 million he had originally agreed with the Sox. There was just no real competition out there for him.

  8. cubnation 5 years ago

    As a cub fan I would like to propose a new man law that would qualify the Alfonso Soriano contract as eligible for any and all of the “Worst contract moves” articles/lists, regardless of the criteria being used to compose said list (including but not limited to league, division, year contract being signed, length of contract……). All in favor???

    • nyphilsfan 5 years ago

      I think the Giants fans will balk at that idea. Calling a bad deal, “Zito-esque”, should be added to Webster’s next year.

    • crunchy1 5 years ago

      We all know the Soriano deal is awful, but at the time of the signing I remember Cub fans whooping and hollering with excitement and very few being sobered up by the mammoth-sized contract. Even skeptical fans said, “Well, if it gets us a championship it’ll be worth it…” And less than 2 years ago years ago, it looked like it just might happen, the Cubs were the NL favorites going into the playoffs and nobody was complaining too loudly then. Then you fast forward a few months and everything has completely changed. There isn’t a sane person out there who will tell you this is a good contract. Sometimes I wonder how much 11 more wins would have changed how we felt about the deal. At the time, most Cub fans I know were willing to sell their soul to the Tribune Corporation for just one stinkin’ championship.

  9. tmox 5 years ago

    Sure, in a vacuum, Blalock is a better player, but the odds of him staying on the field for more than half the season are slimmer than Khalil Greene hosting an ice cream social for 100 people. I’m not jumping for joy over Sabean’s move, but if it came down to the two of them, I’d have chosen Huff as well.

  10. cubnation 5 years ago

    I agree, I was happy when they signed him. Of course I thought we were going to get 30+ bombs, 100+ rbi’s and 30+ sb’s for the next 3-4 years at least. These types of contracts have proven over and over again that more times than not these players become lazy and complacent onces they have secured their payday. I just love how guys have contract years and then fall of the face of the planet for the next 2 or 3. Not sayin soriano did but his numbers have never been anywhere close to what they were with the Nats. Oh what a difference a year makes 😀

    • crunchy1 5 years ago

      You have to wonder if it’ll be the Cardinals moaning a few years from now. For several reasons, the deal isn’t as insane as the one the Cubs gave Soriano but Holliday’s overall skills are already showing signs of slowing down. His bat will outlive the rest of his game; his athleticism is already beginning to decline. He appears to have slowed down on the basepaths. His defense is still good right now (despite the infamous error) but as he continues to slow down, that will start to decline as well. It’s hard to imagine him being worth the money for the last few years of that contract. Sadly, you could almost say the Cubs had an excuse for being desperate enough to take a huge gamble on a long, fat contract…I’m not sure why the Cards felt they had to go overboard.

      • Lanidrac 5 years ago

        The Cardinals probably will be overpaying for Holliday at the end of the contract but probably not nearly as badly as the Cubs will with Soriano, because Holliday will be 36 at the end of his contract and Soriano 38, while Holliday’s high-average with power style of hitting shouldn’t decline as fast as Soriano’s more all-or-nothing power style. Also, declining steals doesn’t hurt Holliday’s nearly as much as it hurts Soriano’s value.
        Anyway, I don’t know if I agree with it, but the Cardinals say they didn’t force Holliday into a below-market deal so that he’ll be happy in St. Louis.

    • disgustedcubfan 5 years ago

      Chances are pretty good that Soriano was on the juice in Texas and Washington. After the big contract was signed and MLB started tougher testing procedures, Alfonso got rid of the juice.
      Then it was hello injuries, good bye home runs, RBI’s, and stolen bases.

  11. pmc765 5 years ago

    I strongly agree with Long John’s observation that Blalock is only the latest Boras client to learn the hard way he has the wrong agent.

  12. KenJr1918 5 years ago

    How did Alex Cora fail to make the cut on the worst list???

  13. BrianWillsave 5 years ago

    Brian Sabean just loves to be in the WMO list…

  14. timmytwoshoezzz 5 years ago

    I love seeing Aroldis Chapman on the good signing list. He will likely, and probably should, start out in the minors this year, but it will be exciting watching his develop for the next six years. He’s got the stuff to be great. Question is, will he? I can’t wait to find out!

  15. buddaley 5 years ago

    If the criteria for good deals is acquiring someone who perfectly fits a team’s needs, and if in a trade at a reasonable cost in talent, then I think the Rays dealing for Soriano makes it one of the best off-season moves. In my view he was the best closer available and the cost was Jesse Chavez, an uncertain talent. Further, while he is expensive in absolute terms, in essence he really cost the difference between Iwamura’s contract and $7.25 million or $3 million.

  16. iamJacksForkball 5 years ago

    I am assuming the “some value” for Teahen is closer to the Chris Getz side of the ledger than the Josh Fields side.

  17. icedrake523 5 years ago

    John Lackey should be on the worst list. The Red Sox gave 5 years to a guy who hasn’t left Spring Training healthy in 2 years. I’ll be surprised if it takes him 2 years to hit the DL.

  18. Guest 5 years ago

    John Garland going to the extreme pitchers friendly confines to Petco park IMO was one of the best bargains in BB for a team that needed desperately an innings eater. For his skill and contract, he would be in my top 3 bargain signings easy!

  19. swishasnkush 5 years ago

    damn right we did good, Figgy & Lee. even if Lee is only for one year…Plus we might even have Bedard out there by June.

  20. bannister19 5 years ago

    On the Kendall issue, overall he might have been a downgrade considering he can’t hit, but the organization took a “On Base and Defense” approach. Kendall fits that motto, though not in a Joe Mauer type of way, but compared to Miguel Olivo, he’s just incomparable in both skills.

    That added to the fact that some veteran presence, mainly for Wil Myers, was needed.

    Nevertheless, the money was too much, I think everyone will agree on that, and that’s why it’s considered a bad signing, but not a downgrade over Miguel Olivo’s ridiculous ball-blocking skills (when you have Hochevar and Farnsworth throwing, you need a wall back there), and his constant sub 300 obp.

  21. ieblue 5 years ago

    How is Brad Penny not on anyone’s list? Even if he does bounce back, the Cards still overpaid for him.

  22. akshun 5 years ago

    “while another believed that “trading Lee and Kyle Drabek in the Roy Halladay deal will hurt [the Phillies] in the long run.”

    So they trade Drabek to get a dominant pitcher they can have on the team for the next couple years unlike Cliff Lee who would walk after this season is over had we kept him.. yet it will hurt us in the long run? How??? Lee would’ve demanded waaaay more money than we gave Doc so the team has more money in a couple years and not a 5-6 year contract with a pitcher who’s been a little inconsistant throughout his career like Lee has been?? i dont get it.. thats about as crazy as the story of Howard for Pujols

  23. RedbirdRuffian 5 years ago

    Gotta hand it to the Reds for landing Chapman, that was bold and came out of left field. That staff is going to be loaded with young fireballers by the end of this year. Also bold was the Rolen trade and contract re-working. If his shoulder is really healthy and he stays off the dl, he provides defense, power and leadership for the young Reds. He’s still only 34, and the Reds got him for parts that were never going to make the big club anyway…

  24. This may not qualify, but the bullpen that PIRATES GM Neil Huntington has put together this winter from assorted free agents and minor league signings has got to be one of the best turn-arounds ever.
    Last year they had Matt Capps blowing wins right and left, and nobody any better to bring in.

    Now they have Octavio Dotel, Brendan Donnelly, D. J. Carrasco, Javier Lopez, and a couple decent lefties battling for a spot, Vinnie Chulk and Jack Taschner. They can’t help but be ten times better.

    (Those poor Nationals, who pursued Capps and obviously werent paying attention when Capps was getting bombed on a nightly basis are really in for a treat-not!)

  25. wheresthehawk 5 years ago

    Too bad there wasn’t a vote for the Worst Executive, because Hendry would get my vote!

  26. roebirds 5 years ago

    Ben Sheets is looking pretty bad so far for $10 million guaranteed.

  27. ba9oriole 5 years ago

    How is Garrett Atkins one of the worst offseason moves? Atkins, who was an elite hitter before injuries, is being used as a stopgap first baseman until Brandon Snyder is ready. Orioles signed him to just one-year $4 million plus $1 million in performance-based incentives with a club option for 2011. If he returns to anywhere near the type of player he was this will be the bargain of the year.

  28. baycommuter 5 years ago

    I predict that awful value Aubrey Huff will lead the Giants to the World Series championship this year! (Too bad the timestamps can’t be backdated).

  29. Love going back and looking at how things have changed. Holliday just keeps on trucking and is producing surplus value ~halfway into his contract

  30. crunchy1 5 years ago

    I’d also give Wells the edge over Soriano as the worst deal in baseball. They are the two most untradeable players in baseball right now.

  31. Zack23 5 years ago

    I think it depends on the team; if your payroll is only 80m then using 25% of your payroll on one guy probably isnt smart because it prevents you from making other moves.

  32. theshow3131 5 years ago

    Travis Hafner most untradable

  33. jwsox 5 years ago

    at least wells is younger and could bounce back its only 2 yrs removed from a year that would validate such a deal so he could bounce back. And He is still pretty good defensively. where as soriano is old and injury prone

  34. crunchy1 5 years ago

    Vernon Wells is an awful defender in CF. And I don’t see any signs statistically or physically that he is ever going to bounce back…but really who cares? Both contracts are terrible, both players are subsequently untradeable…debating who has the less horrific contract is like trying to convince someone that Atilla the Hun was a nicer guy than Vlad the Impaler –the historical figure, not Vlad the baseball player :). In the end, does it really matter who wins that argument?

  35. akshun 5 years ago

    exactly.. they can make the argument that we couldve gotten more from Lee had we shopped him around longer and maybe thats the story that wasnt a great deal, but the Drabek for Halladay is a no brainer.. plus its not like Doc is 35, he still has a good amount years left on him

  36. crunchy1 5 years ago

    Why do Toronto fans always talk about “watching” players before forming an opinion? I got the same angry reaction about Jason Frasor. I can form an opinion about the Vietnam War or the existence of extraterrestial aliens and yet I’ve never seen either one. But if it means anything to all of you guys, I actually have gone to Jays games. I have lots of family near Toronto (Kitchener) and my uncle and I see a game whenever I visit, which is pretty often. I’ve already got plans to see a game this summer, in fact. I also like to go see the Jays when they’re in town against the Sox. Two teams I like for the price of one ticket…can’t beat that.

    Anyway, as far as defense goes it’s not just UZR — other defensive metrics back it up. FRAA, for example, has him at a -15. Those stats aren’t necessarily 100% accurate, but two straight years of subpar ratings (and by more than one rating system) after many years of being above average makes you wonder if his defense might be slipping. Even scouts will tell you he’s lost a step or two out there. There is also concern about his lack of consistent focus. Now, if you’ve lost a couple of steps and aren’t focused and not getting good jumps and reads on the ball (which he normally does), your defense is going to suffer. There are times where Wells looks like his old self out there, but as he gets older he’s going to have to rely more and more on his jumps and reads– and for that he’s going to have to play focused on a day-to-day basis.

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