The 10 Best Minor League Deals Of The Offseason

Some quality free agents may yet sign minor league deals, but let's take a look at the ten best of the offseason so far.

  1. Jeff Francis, Reds.  I ranked Francis 32nd on my top 50 free agents list, ahead of Chris Capuano, Freddy Garcia, Aaron Harang, Jason Marquis, Bruce Chen, and Chien-Ming Wang.  Three of those pitchers received two-year deals, yet Francis didn't get a roster spot.  He was a bigger health risk a year ago, when he received $2MM guaranteed from the Royals.  Francis and his wife reside in Denver, so it doesn't appear to be a hometown decision.  The Reds' rotation isn't full of openings, either, making Francis' minor league deal a mystery.
  2. Juan Pierre, Phillies.  It's fair to suggest Pierre isn't a big league regular anymore, but he's a valuable bench player.  Nate McLouth and Mark Kotsay received Major League deals, but don't seem to offer much more.
  3. Joel Pineiro, Phillies.  Pineiro ranked 46th on my list, a few spots ahead of Chen.  Wang didn't even make the list.  Pineiro's second year with the Angels was disappointing, but the groundballer was useful as recently as 2010.  Like Francis, he's attempting to join a pretty full rotation.
  4. Dan Wheeler, Indians.  Wheeler seems to have the same skill set the Red Sox valued at $3MM a year ago: good command and a lot of flyballs.  Does Jon Rauch do something better?
  5. Manny Ramirez, Athletics.  Manny marks the point on this list where I am no longer surprised the player did not receive a big league deal.  Ramirez will only provide two-thirds of a season at most, but he's a year removed from an .870 OPS.
  6. Jon Garland, Indians.  He missed most of 2011 with shoulder surgery, but his ability to soak up innings had been worth at least $5MM a year.
  7. Kevin Millwood, Mariners.  The Red Sox and Yankees were content to let Millwood work in Triple-A last year, but he provided nine decent starts for the Rockies.  He might be able to provide the value of a Marquis or Chen.
  8. Vicente Padilla, Red Sox.  Despite off-the-field concerns and an inability to stay healthy, Padilla can still get hitters out as a starter or reliever.
  9. Juan Cruz, Pirates.  Cruz allows too many walks and flyballs, but the same can be said for Jose Veras, who gave the Pirates a nice 2011 season after signing a minor league deal.
  10. Jamey Wright, Dodgers.  The Dodgers gave Mike MacDougal a roster spot to provide the same skill set with a harder fastball.  At any rate, Wright's a good guy to call when a groundball is needed.

Honorable mentions: Scott Linebrink, Juan Gutierrez, Angel Guzman, Koyie Hill, Ronny Paulino

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26 Responses to The 10 Best Minor League Deals Of The Offseason Leave a Reply

  1. jbryant93 3 years ago

    In regard to Francis, I think the drop in velocity in ’11 has teams concerned:

    link to

  2. Aaron Steele 3 years ago

    No love for Linebrink? I thought it was pretty good signing.

  3. Jesse 3 years ago

    Went to college with Linebrink go bobcats

  4. Vance Macdonald 3 years ago

    Everyone, and I mean everyone, is touting Manny as “no risk”.  Everyone is wrong.  

  5. Thizzie 3 years ago

    Brad Hawpe will probably hit over 20 bombs for the AL Champion Rangers this year on a minor league deal.  Thinking that will top the list at the end of the season…

    • Jason_F 3 years ago

      Hawpe will have a hard enough time making the team, much less getting the number of at bats needed to hit 20 home runs.  There are a lot of players ahead of him in the pecking order.

    • Rangersfan32 3 years ago

      As much as I’d love that, he has 3 guys ahead of him at 1B and our OF is stacked. Unless he can play CF, I don’t see it working.

  6. I did think about Hawpe, maybe I could have been more liberal with the honorable mentions. Although if Hawpe gets 400 PAs for the Rangers it probably means something went wrong with other players.

  7. Its Manny time in Oakland (after 50 games)!!!  Finally the A’s will have someone who can drive in Weeks and Crisp and Barton (walk master 5000)

    • Rangersfan32 3 years ago

      Lol, the A’s are scraping the bottom of the barrel with that one. Doubt Manny makes much of a useful impact at all.

  8. nm344 3 years ago

    How about Dontrelle Willis?

    • JPH_GSG 3 years ago

      Willis is on a non-guaranteed major league deal.

  9. It really makes me wonder how Manny and now Cristian Guzman got minor league deals before Dmitri Young. At least Dmitri looks serious about a comeback.

  10. Willjhull 3 years ago

    Ankiel should be on this list, he had major league deal offers but wanted to stay on easy coast and pref in DC

  11. Alison Lurie 3 years ago

    Padilla?? Really- I guess he can be the one to go on the Beer and Chicken runs… 

  12. Philley11 3 years ago

    Koyie Hill as a honorable mention? Really? Gotta be scraping the bottom of the barrel there. Dude couldn’t hit his way out of a paper bag.

  13. James S 3 years ago

    The Pirates were smart to sign Former Met farmhand Nick Evans, (who plays first base and outfield), and invite him to spring training. He could win a bench spot on the major league roster, or if nothing else, be a very good call up later on for any injury.
    Evans has the potential to be another Garrett Jones type of buy-low hitter.
    He seems to at least be better than some of the other honorable mentions.

    • jimboslice9 3 years ago

      I’m not sure if he would make this list, but he could definitely be a great pickup for the Pirates at 1B/3B/OF.  He can do a decent job coming off the bench with some defensive versatility.  I wanted the Mets to keep him, but he was out of options, and with Murphy and Duda, Evans was basically redundant.

  14. diesel2410 3 years ago

    It doesn’t really say that at all……signing players on minor league contracts never hurts the team…it’s usually a low risk-high reward or no harm done. All teams do it…

  15. FillyPhan 3 years ago

    I think Pineiro has a decent shot if Blanton can prove in ST that he is healthy and up to form. Pineiro would be the ideal #5 starter were a move to happen.

  16. skoods 3 years ago

    Disregard the fact that players want to sign cheaper deals with Philadelphia to win, you cannot. 

  17. stl_cards16 3 years ago


  18. Manny doesn’t have to win the Triple Crown, just drive in runs.  We’ll see how the season unfolds.  Everyone thought Frank Thomas was done when the A’s signed him.  Manny will out perform Matsui this year, wait and see… 

  19. Phillibuster 3 years ago

    Lee, Pineiro, Pierre.  There are a few more, but not with names as big.

  20. Phillibuster 3 years ago

    Lee, Pineiro, Pierre.  There are a few more, but not with names as big.

  21. stl_cards16 3 years ago

    I thought we all knew by now that Lee did not take a discount.  He loved Philly, but he got his money. 

    But where have you seen that Pineiro or Pierre could have got more elsewhere?  They took the best deal they could get.

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