Poll: Most Surprising Free Agent Signing

Most of the game's top free agents are off the board, and Spring Training is rapidly approaching. The 2010-11 offseason has provided some genuine shocks in terms of free agent signings. Let's take a look at some of the biggest ones:

  • Cliff Lee, Phillies, five years and $120MM: For weeks leading up to the signing, we heard that it was a two-horse race between the Yankees and Rangers. Talks of a mystery team surfacing were taken with a grain of salt until the Phillies emerged to add Lee to one of the best rotations most of us will ever see.
  • Jayson Werth, Nationals, seven years and $126MM: If you'd been told a few months ago that Werth would sign the then-third biggest deal for a free agent outfielder in history — with the Nationals of all teams — would you have believed it?
  • Carl Crawford, Red Sox, seven years and $142MM: Not to be outdone, Crawford one-upped Werth's deal by securing an additional $16MM. The Angels were thought to be the clear favorite, but Theo Epstein and crew had other ideas.
  • Adrian Beltre, Rangers, five years and $80MM: With their infield seemingly set, aside from possibly first base, the Rangers didn't seem a fit for the Boras client. But Beltre turned down offers from two of his newest (and former) rivals in the AL West — Oakland and Los Angeles — to play in Texas.
  • Rafael Soriano, Yankees, three years and $35MM: Shortly after Brian Cashman publicly declared he wouldn't surrender the Yankees' first round pick, the Yankees signed Soriano, a Type A free agent, to a three-year deal that, incredibly, includes two opt-out clauses.
  • Lance Berkman, Cardinals, one year and $8MM: Certainly not as high profile as the other candidates, but with Albert Pujols entrenched at first base, this seemed an impossibility. Berkman though, will serve as St. Louis' primary right fielder after being primarily a 1B/DH since 2005.

All of these moves came as a surprise to some extent, but let's open the issue up to everyone for discussion:

Full Story | 59 Comments | Categories: MLBTR Polls

59 Responses to Poll: Most Surprising Free Agent Signing Leave a Reply

  1. Vernon Wells

    • maze88 5 years ago

      Not a FA but I agree too…that was a surprising trade

    • HerbertAnchovy 5 years ago

      Wasn’t a FA signing, so that makes no sense. If it was sarcasm, a bad example.

    • East Coast Bias 5 years ago

      Vernon Wells was not a free agent signing. He was traded.

    • That was a trade.

    • In case you didn’t catch it yet from the bazillion posts before mine, it was a trade. Just in case.

    • bbbman 5 years ago

      Definitely a bigger surprise than all of these signings combined.

    • FrankTheFunkasaurusRex 5 years ago

      i second this

      • MaineSox 5 years ago

        Me too. I don’t personally care that it was actually a trade, it’s still the most surprising free agent signing…

  2. wishy2 5 years ago

    I have to say Lee. Couldnt believe he would return there after they dumped him to Seattle.

  3. fitz 5 years ago

    Has to be Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies and forming an unmatchable rotation but I was absolutely shocked when the Sox signed Crawford after landing Adrian Gonzalez.

  4. Steven St Croix 5 years ago

    Berkman’s knees won’t hold up a full season in the outfield.

    • syphercx 5 years ago

      Always good to have a doctors opinion on the forums. Thanks for the input.

    • Smrtbusnisman04 5 years ago

      As a disgruntled Pirates fan, you have made my day!

  5. HerbertAnchovy 5 years ago

    Werth to The Nationals for me. Wasn’t expecting that one. Lee to The Phillies seemed more plausible.

  6. CaseyBlakeDeWitt 5 years ago

    I find it interesting that Berkman is on this list since all the other signings were so much bigger

    • Was Berkman not a major surprise?

      • CaseyBlakeDeWitt 5 years ago

        He was. I’m just saying that he doesn’t quite fit onto a list with guys like Lee and Crawford, since he signed for so much less money.

        • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

          Eh, I’d say it’s a bigger surprise than Crawford, Beltre, and Soriano. Red Sox were rumored to be a serious contender for Crawford, they could make an opening in left, and they certainly could afford him. Beltre to the Rangers was no real stretch of the imagination, compensated for Vlad’s loss and Young’s lack of glove. And Soriano… c’mon, we all at least thought he was NY bound the second NY failed to sign Lee. Berkman on the other hand, well he was pretty much considered a 1B/DH, not a right fielder. So him going to the Cards was a big surprise, at least to me.

          • MaineSox 5 years ago

            Definitely agree. I still have to give it to the Werth signing though, not just that he got that much money but also that he went to the Nat’s.

  7. John LeClair 5 years ago

    For me, honestly it was Carl Crawford to the Red Sox, while I didn’t expect Cliff Lee to go to Philly, I knew about a mystery team, I thought it was Washington, I was wrong, I also figured something was going on for Cliff to take so long to sign, and hours before he signed their was rumors that the Phillie’s offered him a deal, so I was like .. “That is where he’s gonna go.” The Carl Crawford thing I remember going to bed around 10:30 – 11:00 PM and all signs pointed to LA. ESPN sources and Peter Gammons had him all but signed sealed and delivered to LA, but I woke up that morning, and I had left my TV on on NESN and I heard the words, “If you are just waking up, than lets start by saying the Baseball World, has been shocked Last night, Carl Crawford has signed a 7 year 142 Million Dollar Contract with your Boston Red Sox.” I Immediately jumped up and was like huh???? Nice Joke I thought, I must still be dreaming! I pinched myself, ran to the computer went to ESPN.com, and here and immediately seen Carls Face with the Red Sox symbol behind it, I couldn’t believe it, THAT IS SHOCK RIGHT THEIR FOCKS!

    I mean honestly after the Adrian Gonzalez trade I figured no way he’s coming here, but luckily I was 100% wrong! I had faith though!

    • MaineSox 5 years ago

      I do have to say that I didn’t think it was all that likely after they traded for Gonzalez because they were both left handed, but I still wasn’t all that surprised because they were going to be looking for an outfielder anyway after ’11 and there wont be much worth looking at as far as free agents go next offseason. They also obviously had the money and the ability to make an opening for him.

    • cubzilla 5 years ago

      i guess the red sox are the new evil empire. have to buy their team, not build.

    • cubzilla 5 years ago

      Guess the red sox are the new evil empire.

      • bosox21 5 years ago

        Cool good post. Thanks for contributing to the debate. I think the winner here is Lee. I don’t really remeber hearing ANYTHING about the Phillies in the hunt for him. All the talk was about a ‘mystery’ team trying to pry him away from NYY and Tex. Werth was certainly up there though as well.

      • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

        Watch your tongue rebel scum. Don’t make me use my Sith powers.

  8. start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

    Lee simply because until the last minute it was still thought to be between Texas and NY. Werth does come in a close second.

  9. The Cliff Lee thing was a surprise, but Werth going where he went and getting what he got was what really blew my hair back.

  10. Soriano shocked me pretty good. Although Werth was the the real surprise.

  11. Cliff Lee. After the Phillies traded him last year because they didn’t think they could resign him only to steal him on the open market.

    • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

      I thought the rumor was they could only afford one high end pitcher and they had a shot at getting Roy “Totally Awesome” Halladay.

  12. FrankTheFunkasaurusRex 5 years ago

    is there going to be a “most surprising trade” poll too?

    • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

      Why bother… Vernon Wells wins by a mile. Heck, you can say AA won the offseason. I thought his Marcum for Lawrie trade was short sighted, but the Vernon Wells trade is by far the best move of the offseason.

      • John LeClair 5 years ago

        I may have to agree. He just helped Toronto must likely be even more competitive a lot sooner, he unloaded approximately 81 Million Dollars, (he’s sending 5 million with Vernon.)

        • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

          I mentioned it in another thread, but it’s worth mentioning again. The biggest thing holding Toronto back from being a potential power in the AL East was the albatross named Vernon Wells. AA has made some shrewd moves already, I’m interested to see what he can do with financial muscle.

          • vonhayesdays 5 years ago

            dont forget things like the red sox and yankees holding them from glory, but yes should be interesting to see what they do with all that money that the angels will now regret paying

          • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

            Didn’t stop the Rays from winning the division twice.

          • vonhayesdays 5 years ago

            oh yeah their in the way too

          • John LeClair 5 years ago

            If they can get a little younger, and more consistent performances from players, and some speed I think they could be the 08 – 10 version of the Rays, but hopefully with the money to be able to stay competitive and the fan base. I say give them 3 years or so and they may be a true AL East contender and maybe a championship contender again.

    • vonhayesdays 5 years ago

      If their was it would have to be vernon wells

  13. Guest 5 years ago

    Berkman really cashed in by signing early…
    I don’t think he deserves 4x as much as Andruw Jones…

    • bosox21 5 years ago

      Berkman is most likely going to start for STL while Jones will probably be the 4th OF for the Yanks. That said I agree with you, Berkman is probably a bit overpaid especially considering how awful he was in the stretch run for NY.

  14. coolstorybro222 5 years ago

    I knew Lee was going to the phillies. his wife hated the yankees, Lee thought he would win the world series with the Rangers, but he loved Philly and expressed intrest in a long contract BEFORE he was traded to Seattle. I mean come on, the werth to the nats was the most out of left field thing in baseball possibly ever.

  15. How about Manny?? $2M for a guy who who hit .298 in 300+ plate appearences and is one of the most feared hitters of the last 10 years. He gets $2M but Berkman gets $8M and hit .230? As a Yankees fan I cringed everytime I watched him at the plate. I think he only had one HR with us.

  16. $1545094 5 years ago

    I’m surprised Berkman doesn’t get more votes. he is the biggest surprise to me!

    Cliff Lee returning to the Phillies isn’t really surprising to me at all. he loved it there when he was there before. Philadelphia wasn’t in it from the start likely in large part because of money.

    Berkman is the most surprising because he is a 1B, and the Cardinals have one of the best 1B in history still in his prime in Pujols. since there is no DH that means Berkman has to play the OF. that is surprising!

  17. Kyle 5 years ago

    Sure, all these are “big” signings, but other than the amount paid to Crawford and Werth, I wouldn’t call them big “surprises”. The one that I feel was the most “surprising” was the Dodgers giving crazy money/years to Juan Uribe. Yes, I’m still bitter.

  18. Derek Jeter

  19. Mario Saavedra 5 years ago

    Rafael Soriano is the most surprising IMO, especially considering the ridiculous opt-outs and surrendering a first rounder.

  20. Sky14 5 years ago

    Werth suprised me with the dollars and years, but Lee suprised me way more because I never would have guessed the Phillies and that he signed for less than expected and offered

  21. Jesse 5 years ago

    Jorge Julio

  22. Perhaps the manny damon combo for the Rays should at least be on this list. Beltre and Lee were mild surprises but nothing stunning.

  23. I thought it was Werth, Lee to philly was plausible, but Werth going from the Phills (perennial contender) to the Nats, a team that’s just terrible, and on that contract was more surprising to me.
    PS i’m a yankee fan

    • nymets4581 5 years ago

      ah thanks for telling us you’re a yankee fan, that way we can know to just ignore your opinion entirely. Haha jk I’m sorry I couldn’t resist.

  24. Gale 5 years ago

    What about the Adam Dunn signing that’s a good pick up for any team

    • bosox21 5 years ago

      Anyone know where he’s going to play for the Sox? I would assume DH but I thought I read something a year ago saying he was against the DH because he wanted to play in the field.

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