Make Or Break Year: How Are They Doing?

Before the season, we identified 11 players who were entering "make or break" years. These guys had experienced ups and downs in their respective careers and were positioned to re-establish themselves as difference makers at the Major League level and set themselves up for nice paydays in the future. Now that we're into August, let's take a second to check in each player (all links go to MLBTR posts)…

  • Scott Baker, Twins — Baker, 30, had elbow surgery in April and will miss the entire season. Minnesota will likely decline his $9.25MM option for 2013 (no buyout).
  • Phil Hughes, Yankees — The 26-year-old right-hander owns a 4.10 ERA in 131 2/3 innings this year, including a 3.40 ERA since mid-May. He's a safe bet to be tendered a contract for 2014, his final year as a arbitration-eligible player.
  • Jair Jurrjens, Braves — Jurrjens, 26, pitched so poorly earlier in the season that he had to be sent to the minors. He's since resurfaced and owns 6.89 ERA in 48 1/3 innings, cementing his status as a non-tender candidate.
  • Adam Lind, Blue Jays — Lind has battled back problems and also been demoted to Triple-A this season, and he's hit .227/.298/.394 while with the big league team. The 29-year-old continues to disappoint since signing his four-year, $18MM extension prior to 2010.
  • Francisco Liriano, White Sox — It's been another up and down season for the 28-year-old southpaw, who owns a 5.03 ERA in 111 innings. The Twins traded Liriano to the ChiSox at the deadline.
  • James Loney, Dodgers — Loney, now 28, hasn't helped himself at all this season, hitting just .251/.301/.330 in 327 plate appearances. He might have to settle for a minor league contract this coming offseason.
  • Kendrys Morales, Angels — The 29-year-old is hitting .282/.327/.455 with 14 homers on the year, well below the level he established prior to his leg injury in 2010. Morales figures to be both a trade and non-tender candidate after the season.
  • Mike Pelfrey, Mets — Pelfrey pitched to a 2.29 ERA in three starts before needing Tommy John surgery. The Mets are expected to non-tender the 28-year-old after the season.
  • Geovany Soto, Rangers — The 29-year-old backstop has continued to deal with injuries in 2012 and is hitting just .201/.289/.356. Soto is an obvious non-tender candidate.
  • Kevin Youkilis, White Sox — Youkilis lost his starting job with the Red Sox and was traded to the White Sox, who are likely to decline his $13MM option after the season. The 33-year-old has dealt with nagging injuries and is hitting .238/.339/.427 overall.
  • Delmon Young, Tigers — Young, 26, has had a below-average season at the plate (.266/.298/.402) and has dealt with some off-field problems. He hasn't helped his free agent stock any.


36 Responses to Make Or Break Year: How Are They Doing? Leave a Reply

  1. Runtime 3 years ago

    I would have added Dustin McGowan onto this list…

    Unfortunately for him… this was definitely a “break” year. As in he broke his shoulder for good.

  2. I love how everyone except Phil Hughes has completely failed to prove themselves this season on this list, and are likely to be moved. You can guarantee you’ll see some serious roster moves this offseason…

    • Kurisu Rg 3 years ago

      I’m really looking forward to see if the Angels of Redondo Beach will pick up Haren’s contract. Maybe they decline it to make a run at Greinke.

      • Dylan 3 years ago

        They could keep both easily. Just not pickup Santana’s option:

        Weaver
        Greinke
        Haren
        Wilson
        Richards

        They’d be in great shape if it weren’t for Wells.

        • Kurisu Rg 3 years ago

          It’s a $12 mill decision (option’s salary minus buyout), With CJ’s and King Albert’s backloaded deals (which, granted, the will only make $27 mill combined next year, but it jumps to $39 mill in 2014), holes in the bullpen, 3rd base (no, Trumbo is not a viable defensive option there), and having traded three of their top prospects to Milwaukee, it’ll be an interesting offseason for the Angels, to say the least. Oh well, at least they won’t have to worry about CF for a while.

          • Anthony Hughes 3 years ago

            I agree. DiPoto HAS to fix that bullpen. That’s priority #1. You can’t be a great team in today’s baseball over a 162-game season without a good bullpen. Next, I’d sign Greinke while definitely saying bye-bye to Santana, and if Haren would come back at a lesser salary, that’s great, but if not, bye-bye to him too (he’s lost about 5-6 MPH on his fastball from just a season and a half ago and I don’t trust that). I would be OK with them bringing back Hunter on a much more team-friendly deal (maybe $6-8MM or so?), and moving Bourjos plus a prospect or 2 for bullpen or 3B help. Trumbo is the long-term LF, Trout the long-term CF, and it’s not like Bourjos is a can’t-miss player (major hitting weaknesses).

  3. Adam Lind is the poster boy for why Major League Baseball should have buyouts after each season. Kendrys Morales–he could really go either way in terms of tender or non-tender; I think that the Angels will tender him. But everyone else on the list except Phil Hughes (of those who didn’t get injured), talk about falling hard.

    Predictions: Baker (minor-league deal), Hughes (1-year tender but no long-term deal), Jurrjens (minor-league deal), Lind (unmovable/untradeable), Liriano (major-league contract for relief), Loney (major-league contract elsewhere), Morales (tendered), Pelfrey (re-signs with Mets at a lower price), Soto (minor-league deal), Youkilis (retirement), Young (major-league contract elsewhere)

    @facebook-508616096:disqus – McGowan is signed through 2014. But he is just drawing paychecks at this point, as by the time this surgery is done, he will have missed 4 of the last 5 seasons – the second half of 2008, all of 2009 and 2010, all but September of 2011, and now August 2012 and likely all of 2013).

    • Runtime 3 years ago

      I was just making a classless joke.

    • Jaysfan724 3 years ago

      Why is Adam Lind the poster boy? I didn’t know $5 million was such a monstrosity compared to other under-performing players making a lot more money than that. And if there were buyouts after every season, no player and especially their agent would want a contract of such standards.

      • Among the examples cited here, Lind would be. As for contracts and buyouts, in the CBA, it could be structured in the next one that it would count as payroll towards the $189M threshold. A model for buyouts would be the NHL.

  4. Arnold Bernard 3 years ago

    add Jason Bay to the list

  5. thegrayrace 3 years ago

    The Dodgers should trade for Morales. Considering the offense being generated by Loney/Rivera, he would be a huge upgrade at 1B.

    • LayerCake 3 years ago

      By way of prospects or MLB players do the Dodgers have that the Angels want in this trade scenario? Honest question not being sarcastic

      • thegrayrace 3 years ago

        How about Juan Uribe?

        Kidding. In seriousness, it would have to be mostly prospects, plus relieving the Angels of Morales’ salary. I don’t think Morales is a non-tender candidate, but with his salary, I don’t think he’ll bring back top prospects in return, either. Perhaps guys like Gould, Withrow, Castellanos, DeJesus Jr., Sellers, etc. Doesn’t appear the Angels need 1B/OF/DH depth, so guys like Sands and Van Slyke probably don’t have much appeal. Maybe Federowicz.

  6. johnsilver 3 years ago

    Kind of curious who Youk signs with as a FA next season. Plenty of teams need a 3b. A good idea on his part to go to a place where his power would play up (flyball hitter, hits to LF/LCF) and wouldn’t be surprised to see Epstein get with him on a 1 year deal to man combo of 3b and spell Rhizzo at 1b when he gets a day off. he won’t get any playoff oppurtunities, but might get a chance for a 2 year deal afterwards with a good season.

    • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

      I wouldn’t mind the Yankees signing him on a 1 year deal. He can DH and fill in for Arod and Tex at 1st and 3rd at least once a week at each position. He is the exact kind of high OBP professional hitter that Yanks could use. His glove is below average at 3b but so is Arod’s. Still he probably wouldn’t be an embarrassment. Would be a nice spark to the rivalry too.

      • johnsilver 3 years ago

        I see your point with the rivalry thing and chance at a WS ring, but as pathetic a lot of available 3b are and how bad some are on teams even now in the PO hunt, Youk can probably pick and choose a job he will want as a starter if that is the case.

        My guess is he looks for a team where he can regain his offensive ability that would play up to him. Both the Chicago teams stadiums fit that bill. Chisox would give him maybe a better possibility of making the playoffs of course, but the Cubs a much better chance of playing time at 2 different positions full time.

        IMO, he still has use as a starter, maybe in another 2+ years he will be a part time player, but ATM he will have plenty of oppurtunities awaiting him to start, though definately for nowhere near 13,

        • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

          Just to be clear, I was thinking 140-150 games between playing 3b and being the DH. Only question would be is, can he hit enough to be a mostly full-time DH and will that change how people view him going forward? If he’s looking to hang around for another 3 or 4 years being thought of as a DH type devalues him somewhat.

          Flip side of that is, if the Yanks are ready to move Arod to DH then Youk could be the starter there for another 2 years or so if he proves he can handle it and stay healthy.

          3b is a position the Yanks need to take seriously in the next year or so. I think Arod can be “ok” there (ok meaning be no less than a -5 UZR) as long as he can make the routine plays but any chance to improve there has to be pursued. We have a couple of prospects we should try out there but there not w/o flaws.

          Brandon Laird hasn’t shown he can hit for average or draw a walk but his glove is ok at 3b.

          Dante Bichette is another 3 or 4 years away and isn’t having a great year at low A anyway.

          Dave Adams and Corban Joseph are both interesting players. Both are 2b by trade but they both can hit for average, draw a high walk %, both are doubles machines and are mlb ready. However, neither hits for any real HR power that you would expect from a 3b and as mentioned, both are more suited for 2b. Adams has been playing 3b more this year so we’ll see if he can stick and be a cheap stop gap option for them. Would love to see them both called up in September.

          Adams was set back about 1 1/2 due to a horrific ankle injury but he reminds me a lot of a Dustin Pedroia type with maybe not as much pull power but ability to have 40 dbls and 10 hrs a year. Also, love his high career OBP – .296/.378/.444. I think he was on his way to being a top 100 candidate before his 2010 season was cut short.

          link to baseball-reference.com

        • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

          Just to be clear, I was thinking 140-150 games between playing 3b and being the DH. Only question would be is, can he hit enough to be a mostly full-time DH and will that change how people view him going forward? If he’s looking to hang around for another 3 or 4 years being thought of as a DH type devalues him somewhat.

          Flip side of that is, if the Yanks are ready to move Arod to DH then Youk could be the starter there for another 2 years or so if he proves he can handle it and stay healthy.

          3b is a position the Yanks need to take seriously in the next year or so. I think Arod can be “ok” there (ok meaning be no less than a -5 UZR) as long as he can make the routine plays but any chance to improve there has to be pursued. We have a couple of prospects we should try out there but there not w/o flaws.

          Brandon Laird hasn’t shown he can hit for average or draw a walk but his glove is ok at 3b.

          Dante Bichette is another 3 or 4 years away and isn’t having a great year at low A anyway.

          Dave Adams and Corban Joseph are both interesting players. Both are 2b by trade but they both can hit for average, draw a high walk %, both are doubles machines and are mlb ready. However, neither hits for any real HR power that you would expect from a 3b and as mentioned, both are more suited for 2b. Adams has been playing 3b more this year so we’ll see if he can stick and be a cheap stop gap option for them. Would love to see them both called up in September.

          Adams was set back about 1 1/2 due to a horrific ankle injury but he reminds me a lot of a Dustin Pedroia type with maybe not as much pull power but ability to have 40 dbls and 10 hrs a year. Also, love his high career OBP – .296/.378/.444. I think he was on his way to being a top 100 candidate before his 2010 season was cut short.

          • johnsilver 3 years ago

            Interesting thought there with a sort of platoon 3b/DH with ARod and Youk, then have Youk if anything would happen injury wise to tex and even spell him a game a week.. Not bad at all actually.

            If NY could maybe tell him he would get that 120+ games he might just jump on that proposition.

            I do see an issue with money. youk probably is going to take a severe pay cut, you know. Nowhere near 13m, but I can’t see him getting less than 5-6m and NY wasn’t looking to give Damon more than.. Was it 3m a couple years back to play DH and be the 4-5th OF? Can’t see Youk settling for 3m when 3b is so terrible around the league (as said earlier) and good teams otherwise have such huge holes at that position.

            Me? I’d kind of like to see him there, nothing wrong with that and never was in that crowd who despised ex Boston players signing there, tho many here have accused me of it. Maybe them losing a key player period (Damon) but not to just the NYY.

            Him going to NY might not be the best place for his power, but having so many other offensive threats around him would allow him to see better pitches and get him better pitches, so help in that regard.

            Yeah.. it could work out my friend.. Maybe this time one of your plans could bare fruit.. The one with Crisp didn’t (i wanted that one also u remember) but maybe this one will. :-)

      • notsureifsrs 3 years ago

        youk has been pretty vocal about not liking to be moved around different positions all year. the way he’s playing in chicago, he’ll land a starting job – probably in cincinnati

        • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

          I don’t think a 3b and DH only situation would prove to be an issue. At the end of the day, it boils down to where he wants to be. Certainly he would have a great chance to win in Cincinnati too but there’s nothing like having “Yankee” on your resume.

          • notsureifsrs 3 years ago

            never say never, but he’s been open for years about wanting to end up in cincy

          • johnsilver 3 years ago

            Wasn’t he upset that Cincy didn’t draft him in the 1st place?

        • Taylor Hope 3 years ago

          I don’t see Cincy, but I do see a starting job. Possibly Oakland or LA Dodgers. Only reason I don’t see Cincy is I don’t see it as a fit for a starting opportunity with Votto the obvious starter at first and Frazier at third. I could easily see him as replacement for Rolen on the roster (though I’m too lazy to look up his contract status) but that would require him also taking Rolen’s job as the backup at third.

    • Dylan 3 years ago

      If he is willing to take a one year deal, then the Phillies should def. male an offer.

  7. Javadreams 3 years ago

    James Loney very good defensive player may be a change to a different team would help. Because I believe he will not be back with the Dodgers next year.

    • lifepainter 3 years ago

      James Loney shouldn’t be on a major league roster ever again.

      • Taylor Hope 3 years ago

        I expect him to be on a few more major league rosters as a journeymen for a few more seasons before the door truly closes on him.

  8. Rick Yuhnke 3 years ago

    Kendrys gets another year. He missed a lot of time and only getting back to what he was. He is hitting the heck out of the ball right now. Youk will be interesting, I agree. I see him in LA for the Dodgers. They need a guy like him, a winner, good hitter, power.

  9. TheReturnOfMrBlanks 3 years ago

    How about Wil Venable? What do you guys think the Padres should do with him? Every time I give up on him he has a game like tonight lol

  10. TimotheusATL 3 years ago

    A 29-year old with a .782 OPS (and climbing) is a non-tender candidate? Is Scoscia mad that Kendrys can’t go first-to-third like all the other guys yet or something?

  11. I agree. Not sure how the #’s morales put up so far wouldn’t get him a contract. I geuss it’s his final arb year and he would make too much ?

  12. Devon Henry 3 years ago

    Ya K-Mo will be tendered, how can you expect someone who has missed nearly 2 years to be back in in the same MVP form he was in when the injury occured. 282 with 14 bombs and has been heating up there arent many teams who wouldn’t take that on their team.

  13. jwsox 3 years ago

    My guess is the whitesox retain Liriano, his number are really skewed from a few bad starts to begin the year,

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