Last Year’s Big Free Agent Deals

20 players signed free agent deals worth at least $10MM last offseason.  How'd those work out?

  • Matt Holliday, Cardinals: seven years, $120MM.  Holliday lived up to expectations in year one.
  • John Lackey, Red Sox: five years, $82.5MM.  The Red Sox would probably undo this contract given the chance.  Lackey shook off the health problems of 2008-09 by tossing 215 innings, but his performance dropped off in most aspects.
  • Jason Bay, Mets: four years, $66MM.  Bay's numbers fell off a cliff, and then a concussion ended his season on July 25th.  The Mets would undo this contract if they could.
  • Chone Figgins, Mariners: four years, $36MM.  Figgins' walk rate and batting average fell as the Ms moved him from leading off and playing third base to batting second and playing second base.  There was also a July dugout altercation with manager Don Wakamatsu.  The Mariners would undo this deal.
  • Aroldis Chapman, Reds: six years, $30.25MM.  No regrets here, as Chapman dominated in 13.3 relief innings for the Reds and electrified fans with the fastest pitch ever recorded.  Other teams are wishing they'd outbid the Reds.
  • Randy Wolf, Brewers: three years, $29.75MM.  Like Lackey, Wolf provided innings but at reduced effectiveness.  I'm guessing the Brewers are disappointed.
  • Placido Polanco, Phillies: three years, $18MM.  I imagine the Phillies are satisifed with this deal, as Polanco hit .298/.339/.386 while playing solid defense at third base.
  • Joel Pineiro, Angels: two years, $16MM.  He missed two months with an oblique strain, but the Halos are probably still happy given his 3.84 ERA in 152.3 innings.
  • Mike Cameron, Red Sox: two years, $15.5MM.  He played in only 48 games due to an abdominal strain that resulted in August surgery.  The team probably regrets the contract.
  • Marlon Byrd, Cubs: three years, $15MM.  Byrd hit .293/.346/.429 in his Cubs debut and played capable defense; the Cubs are likely fine with his contract.
  • Brandon Lyon, Astros: three years, $15MM.  He tossed 78 innings of 3.12 ball, picking up 20 saves when Matt Lindstrom got hurt.  The contract was panned at the time, but the Astros got what they hoped for.
  • Jason Marquis, Nationals: two years, $15MM.  I thought Marquis would be mediocre, not hurt.  A surprising elbow injury limited him to 13 starts and has the Nats regretting the deal.
  • Jose Valverde, Tigers: two years, $14MM.  He had some elbow woes in September but generally met the team's expectations.
  • Marco Scutaro, Red Sox: two years, $12.5MM.  He stayed healthy and did a decent job on offense and defense, so the Sox are probably OK with the contract.
  • Mark DeRosa, Giants: two years, $12MM.  Wrist surgery limited him to 26 games, so the Giants would prefer a mulligan.
  • Mike Gonzalez, Orioles: two years, $12MM.  The lefty finished strong, but shoulder pain limited Gonzalez to 24.6 innings.  The Orioles would like to have this one back.
  • Andy Pettitte, Yankees: one year, $11.75MM.  A groin injury limited Pettitte to 129 innings, but a 3.28 ERA made it worthwhile.
  • Fernando Rodney, Angels: two years, $11MM.  It was an unimpressive campaign, though not an unpredictable one given his '09 stats.  The Angels would probably undo this deal.
  • Adrian Beltre, Red Sox: one year, $10MM.  Beltre had an MVP-type season and was a huge bargain for Boston.
  • Ben Sheets, Athletics: one year, $10MM.  Elbow problems limited Sheets to 119.3 innings of 4.53 ball.  The deal was regrettable.
  • There you have it: over half a billion bucks and 57 contract years given to the 20 most expensive free agents last winter.  By my estimate, teams regret half of these deals.

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