10 Best Minor League Deals Of The Year

Minor league deals are low-risk propositions for teams; the player must earn every inning or plate appearance.  Here are MLBTR's ten best minor league deals of 2011.

  1. Bartolo Colon, Yankees.  He didn't pitch at all in the Majors in 2010, but this year Colon has a 3.33 SIERA in 152 innings.  He's been a major cog in the Yankees' rotation.  Some of his success may be owed to offseason stem cell treatments, which Yankees GM Brian Cashman was not aware of at the time of the signing.
  2. Casey Kotchman, Rays.  Kotchman has positioned himself nicely for a Major League deal by hitting .313/.381/.432 in 506 plate appearances and assuming the Rays' regular first base job.  His OBP ranks eighth in the American League.
  3. Ryan Vogelsong, Giants.  The least likely All-Star of 2011, Vogelsong ranks fifth in the NL with a 2.66 ERA in 162 1/3 innings.
  4. Freddy Garcia, Yankees.  Colon and Garcia have provided the Yankees 280 innings of 3.63 ball.  Baseball's biggest spenders got a ton of bang for their buck on minor league deals this year.
  5. Jesus Guzman, Padres.  Playing mostly first base for San Diego, Guzman has mashed to a .320/.377/.493 line, knocking in 42 runs in 247 plate appearances.
  6. Endy Chavez, Rangers.  Chavez hadn't appeared in the Majors since tearing his ACL in June of '09, but he's given the Rangers almost 500 innings in center field and a .291/.317/.430 line.
  7. Guillermo Mota, Giants.  Mota has provided the Giants 73 1/3 innings with a 3.12 SIERA.  He ranks seventh in baseball in relief innings.
  8. Jose Veras, Pirates.  With 67 2/3 innings and a 3.10 SIERA, Veras has been a great find for the Pirates' bullpen.  Plus, he's arbitration eligible.
  9. Reed Johnson, Cubs.  Johnson has played all three outfield positions for the Cubs and hasn't shown much of a platoon split in crafting a .325/.361/.496 line in 246 plate appearances. 
  10. Jack Hannahan, Indians.  Hannahan's ability to play a capable third base and post a .330 OBP for the Tribe created a lot of value.

Honorable mentions: Dontrelle Willis (extra credit for offense), Jason Giambi, Laynce Nix, Greg Dobbs, Jose Constanza, Shelley Duncan, Aaron Miles, Eric Chavez, Kevin Millwood, Jerome Williams, Cory Wade, Tim Byrdak, Luis Ayala, Mike MacDougal, Jamey Wright, Jason Isringhausen.

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49 Responses to 10 Best Minor League Deals Of The Year Leave a Reply

  1. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    of the decade, maybe, in the cases of colon and garcia. has any WS favorite ever before featured minor league signings as their numbers 2 and 3 in the starting rotation?

    • rockfordone 4 years ago

      Not WS favorites – Tigers should beat easily

      • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

        i don’t think even the tigers are that optimistic, but yea WS favorites is a bit strong. they’re no underdogs, though, and it’s still gotta be unprecedented for a division winner

      • ultimate913 4 years ago

        Even after their hot streak, the Yanks still are ahead 4.5 games on the Tigers.

        Not to mention who their opponents have been recently.

        Even after all of that, the Yanks still beat the Tigers by 146 in run differential. That’s 7(!!!) more than the Rangers overall run differential.

        So yeah… with the Red Sox pitching problems, it’s still Yankees.

        • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

          phillies IMO

          • ultimate913 4 years ago

            Well, yeah. I agree.

            I meant AL only. But MLB as a whole? Phillies.

            Good pitching > good hitting

          • Matt Moore 4 years ago

            I hope you know that the Tigers plan to pitch Verlander in every game in the playoffs. Verlabderx3> Halladay-Lee-Hamels lol

      • arock1234 4 years ago

        I truly think that the tigers are just a team that has benefited from a weak division. They have a .500 record against teams not in their division, so I don’t know exactly what to expect from them in the playoffs. But hell, the way the playoffs work, its almost like a tournament. The World Series gets awarded to the team who plays very well over a short period of time. The phillies are by far the best team and should win the WS.

  2. Five Yankees are on here, if you include the honorable mentions.  Crazy.

    • ZAK 4 years ago

      The 2 Giants had to take the remaining spots to be filled…

  3. rockfordone 4 years ago

    Phil Humber – White Sox ????

  4. How can Kevin Millwood receive an  honorable mention?  Released by two teams and only pitched for a losing team in September…

  5. Michael Zayas 4 years ago

    i only saw chavez? surely not counting millwood?

  6. chreeschan 4 years ago

    No mention of Al Alburquerque?

  7. timmytwoshoezzz 4 years ago

    At some point I would think Laynce Nix will stop getting minor league deals and a GM will want him for what he is; a nice LH bench bat with some pop and a good, cheap player to platoon in a corner outfield spot to maximixe return.

  8. EarlyMorningBoxscore 4 years ago

    What about Alfredo Aceves ? 9-2 2.88 ERA in 47 games and 4 spot starts. 

    • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

      he’s definitely been valuable, but he signed a major league deal

      • EarlyMorningBoxscore 4 years ago

        I thought it was a minor league deal…he was set to start the AAA opener for the PawSox and then it was scratched and called up. He must’ve had options left my mistake.

        • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

          nope. minor league deal, but he had a minor league option remaining. “The split contract is worth $650,000 or $200,000 if he pitches in the
          minors. There are also incentive clauses based on how much he pitches.”

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            er, major league deal. minor league option

          • EarlyMorningBoxscore 4 years ago

            Thanks for the breakdown of it. Either way like you said he has been valuable. 

    • 0bsessions 4 years ago

      He wasn’t a minor league deal, to my recollection.

    • 0bsessions 4 years ago

      Yep, signed a major league deal worth $650K plus incentives.

    • chico65 4 years ago

      I’ve seen half his starts in person this year and let me tell you it was not pretty.  He walked eleventy billion consecutive batters in one of them and gave up 8 runs or so in the first one.  Extremely valuable out of the bullpen for sure, but I’d rather see Weiland in the rotation than him.

  9. ZAK 4 years ago

    OK so with the East Coast blinders removed Voglesong is #1: his 3.3 WAR tops both Colon and Kotchman, not to mention he’s 4 years younger than Colon, will be in the rotation next year… but at least he made the list coming all the way from the other side of the world…

    • Colon’s faced the stiffer offensive competition in his division to be fair.

      • ZAK 4 years ago

        Vogelsong’s 10-7 with a team scoring 3.4 runs/game historically bad. Colon’s got a far superior offense and a losing record 8-9. Vogelsong’s pitched more innings and been more valuable to his team as an individual ranking. Another way of looking at it: who would the Yanks rather have?  

        • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

          – vogelsong has started 6 games against winning teams to colon’s 13.

          8 of those 13 starts were against top 5 offensive teams in baseball. vogelsong has started 0 games against such teams

          – despite this major difference in competition, colon’s SIERA is 3.33 to vogelsong’s 3.87

          – if you adjust vogelsong’s FIP (the source of his WAR) for league and for park and scale it to league average (100), he’s at 94. that’s good, but not as good as colon’s 90

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            it looks like it got cloudy in the middle of my comment

    • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

      What does age have to do with what either did THIS year? 

  10. Jason_F 4 years ago

    The Guillermo Mota jokes were being thrown around with vigor about a year ago and I never saw the reason for them.  The guy is perfect (at least at this point in his career) for the long man role.  Every team needs a guy like this.  In fact, at age 38, with a few more k’s, he could finish with the best k rate of his career.  I’m not saying he’s a stud reliever by any means, but teams could do a whole lot worse in that role.

  11. chico65 4 years ago

    What about Andrew Miller?  Oh, wait…

  12. No Phil Humber? Really?

  13. D.j. Wilson 4 years ago

    Where is Guillermo Moscoso?

  14. Chris Stewart (For his defense)

  15. Nelly34e 4 years ago

    Erik Bedard?  Being a Seattle fan I am pretty sure he signed a minor league deal.  He should be in the top 5 for sure.

  16. Nelly34e 4 years ago

    and Adam Kennedy as well.  In the first half of the season Adam Kennedy was the mariners most consistent player.  He was a very nice signing

  17. Nelly34e 4 years ago

    adam kennedy pre all star break hit .259 with 6 home runs and 30 rbis and 6 stolen bases in 243 at bats, since then, he has been terrible, but his playing time has been cut in half and the mariners have fallen off the cliff…adam kennedy was a great signing

  18. kräftig. entschieden 4 years ago

    I’m shocked Oliver Perez didn’t make this list.

  19. How is Colon a better sign than Vogelsong? How is Vogelsong not #1. 

    • Jason_F 4 years ago

      I’ve enjoyed watching Vogelsong all season.  That said, they basically have the same FIP and Colon did it in the AL East.  The disparity in offensive firepower in those two divisions is so vast that I think it can be easily defended ranking Colon higher than Vogelsong on this list.

  20. Nelly34e 4 years ago

    well erik bedard should be on the top 10 list, he has been really good

    • horatio_alger 4 years ago

      He should be on there simply because he pitched past August.

  21. LMTShawn 4 years ago

    I’ll be the one guy to commend the Tribe on the Jack Hannahan signing. Us fans here thought it was a stupid move and Lonnie Chisenhall should have started from day 1. But, Jack has really had a solid season overall. Of course, being a .224 career hitter, he did go into a massive slump mid-season, resulting in Chisenhall being called up. But he has uncharacteristically handled left-handed pitching and had it not been for the mid-season slump and his recent injury, has actually played Gold Glove-caliber third base, crazy as that may sound.

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