Poll: Best Mid-Level, One-Year Signings

Players signed on one-year deals are obviously on a different timeline in terms of value assessment than are those who ink multi-year pacts. For one-year guys, their club must get their money’s worth — through on-field performance, trade value, or both — in 2014. Now that we’ve had a chance to see a full spring and about 12% of the regular season, let’s take a quick look back at some of this year’s relatively modest, one-year contracts.

I will limit the list to players who signed for more than $4MM and up to $8MM (presented alphabetically; poll will randomize order). The early returns have been pretty solid on the whole. And remember — almost all of these guys will be free agents again next year. The poll question is simple: rank these players according to which you think will ultimately prove to have been the best one-year signings (given their respective team’s needs).

John Axford, RP, Indians, $4.5MM: leading league with eight saves; 2.79 ERA but seven walks already  in 9 2/3.

Bruce Chen, SP, Royals, $4.25MM: has made three starts, allowing 11 earned runs in 15 innings; his strikeouts are up, but so are the hits allowed (.417 BABIP).

Nelson Cruz, OF/DH, Orioles, $8MM (plus 54th overall draft pick): off to a big .301/.386/.603 start with six home runs, though early defensive numbers are awful (-4 DRS, -52.1 UZR/150).

Mark Ellis, 2B, Cardinals, $5.25MM: has not received much playing time behind Kolten Wong, and is off to a slow start (.375 OPS).

Jason Hammel, SP, Cubs, $6MM: through four starts, has racked up 27 2/3 innings of 2.60 ERA ball, including impressive 1.6 BB/9 and just 4.6 H/9; benefiting greatly from unsustainably high strand rate (91.7%) and low BABIP (.130).

Corey Hart, DH/OF/1B, Mariners, $6MM: has shaken off the rust early, with a .270/.333/.508 line and four home runs in 69 plate appearances.

Roberto Hernandez, SP, Phillies, $4.5MM: has a 5.75 ERA through four starts (20 1/3 innings pitched), but SIERA (3.63) and xFIP (3.39) like his work thus far.

Josh Johnson, SP, Padres, $8MM (plus $4MM vesting option): will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery, but could still be kept in the fold for 2015 if San Diego exercises its option, which vested because he did not make at least seven starts.

Mike Morse, OF, Giants, $6MM: has returned from injury-riddled 2013 to post .279/.338/.559 triple-slash and five home runs in first 74 plate appearances; San Francisco has limited the downside of his defensive limitations with late-inning substitutions.

Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants, $5MM: a tough start has him at a 7.71 ERA through just 16 1/3 frames in four outings, and there isn’t much to sugarcoat based on his peripherals.

Edinson Volquez, SP, Pirates, $5MM: off to a solid start with a 1.93 ERA in 28 innings; his strikeouts are down (5.1 K/9), though he has limited walks (1.6 BB/9), but his BABIP (.233) and long ball rates (.32 HR/9) suggest some regression is coming.

Chris Young, OF, Mets, $7.25MM: dealt with hamstring issues early and has seen only 25 plate appearances, through which he has just a .440 OPS.

Click here for the results.


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Full Story | 37 Comments | Categories: MLBTR Polls

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37 Comments on "Poll: Best Mid-Level, One-Year Signings"

1 year 4 months ago

meh, too much work

1 year 4 months ago

Was the 4 Million Dollar floor to keep everyone from voting for Aaron Harang?

1 year 4 months ago

Or K-Rod?

1 year 4 months ago

I really don’t think you can make a judgement call like this 1/10th of the way into the season.

Benjamin Tully
1 year 4 months ago

Uhhh, how about the Brewers signing K-Rod for 3.25M. Better everything than Axford making 4.5M.

1 year 4 months ago

Hammel is this years Scott Feldman. So far he has been a fantastic signing by Theo and Jed. Hopefully he sustains this level until the (last?!) July fire sale.

1 year 4 months ago

It will be the last. #cubswillwinin2015

1 year 4 months ago

I’d be cool with #cubsgo500in2015

Tim Valencia
1 year 4 months ago

easily its Josh Johnson

1 year 4 months ago

It’s gotta be Nelson Cruz no? Sure looks like it from over here in Toronto -_-

1 year 4 months ago

What I was thinking .. from over here in Texas.

1 year 4 months ago

At least he hasn’t crushed you guys into the ground yet 😛

1 year 4 months ago

Wouldn’t one year deals actually have little risk? They usually come with lower cost, and if the player is ineffective or gets hurt, well, it’s only one year. It’s not like the Mariners were risking a 3/18 deal where Hart may be absolutely awful and hurt and the Mariners are still on the hook to pay for a player who wont be doing anything in the last year or two of his contract. Even if you pay more for a one year deal, generally an overpay is easier to swallow for teams and pundits alike for the same reasons I listed above.

1 year 4 months ago

You can’t sort by column in the survey, so it’s hard to read the results.

1 year 4 months ago

Josh Johnson show’s that there are such things as bad one year deals.

1 year 4 months ago

Just like Andruw Jones proved there are such things as bad two year deals.

1 year 4 months ago

and McLouth that there are bad 2 year deals.

1 year 4 months ago

Too early for this poll…. Also, Gavin Floyd should be on this list

1 year 4 months ago

interesting how many of the 1-4mil signings have outperformed the majority of this list.

1 year 4 months ago

Trying to keep an unbiased opinion, I have to vote Nelson Cruz. He not only has had solid production, he’s mostly a DH, so his defensive stats have to be put in perspective. Plus, he might bring the O’s a 30-something round draft pick in FA next year.

Joe Valenti
1 year 4 months ago

I went for Hart mostly because I feel his numbers are more sustainable. Cruz is historically a streaky hitter so he could disappear for the next month while sprinkling a few home runs in and both Volquez and Hammels are likely to come back down to earth

1 year 4 months ago

Crunched numbers from results, came up with this:

1. Cruz
2. Volquez
3. Morse
4. Axford
5. Hammel
6. Hart
7. Chen
8. Ellis
9. Hernandez
10. Young
11. Vodelsong
12. Johnson

I seriously do not understand why Chris Young is ranked so low here. He bat like .400 in spring and rehab, and has been crushing the ball lately. He hit a massive, towering home run today, against the wind, that went into the upper deck of Citi Field. Only 3,4 other guys have ever hit a ball that far in that stadium. That is how Chris Young has been batting lately, and yet he is ranked at 10? I don’t get it, it is the biggest question mark I see in those results.

1 year 4 months ago

Better than any on that list is a guy that signed for $3.25 million, Francisco Rodriguez.

1 year 4 months ago

Hart has incentives which almost certainly will put him over the $8 million threshold of this analysis if he stays healthy and plays at his current pace.