Some moves pan out; others don’t. And then there are those whose importance turns out to be of an entirely different magnitude than had been anticipated. We’ll look at that latter category here.
Among the many great first-half performers, there are many heralded veterans and rising youngsters who were widely expected to do just what they’ve done. But there are also some surprisingly valuable assets who were added for a relative pittance over the winter. Steve Adams already recently covered beneficial minor-league signings, but here are a few who were acquired in other ways:
- David Freese, INF, Pirates — He’s a well-known player, but that doesn’t mean that anybody was expecting this kind of production (.291/.373/.472 over 287 plate appearances). At just $3MM on a one-year term, that late-spring signing is already a certifiable bargain.
- Leonys Martin, OF, Mariners — Seattle has benefited from Martin’s good glovework, wheels, and solid bat — which has produced a surprising double-digit homer tally. Better still, the club now has both Martin and the key piece that it originally gave up to get him (reliever Tom Wilhelmsen).
- Jonathan Villar, SS, Brewers — David Stearns went from Houston to Milwaukee, and it didn’t take long for him to bring a few former ’Stros with him. Villar, picked up in a minor trade, has been perhaps the best get of all with above-average hitting and big-time speed on the bases driving his value.
- Drew Pomeranz, SP, Padres — When we’re comfortably discussing a player as one of the best starting pitching assets at the deadline, it’s safe to say his organization did well to acquire him just months prior for a package of Yonder Alonso and Marc Rzepczynski.
- Dan Straily, SP, Reds — Passed around multiple times at the end of camp, Straily has settled in as a useful arm in Cincinnati. He’s still not going to provide exciting results, but one hundred frames of 4.35 ERA pitching has value.
- Brad Hand, RP, Padres — At the cost of a waiver claim and a 40-man spot, Hand has delivered a 3.10 ERA over 49 1/3 frames. Even better, he’s jumped to a career-best 10.9 K/9, suggesting he may have found another gear upon moving to the pen full-time.
- Dan Otero, RP, Indians — Acquired for cash by Cleveland, Otero is another player who bounced around over the winter. All he has done is post a 1.27 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 over 35 1/3 strong frames.
From this list, which has been the best bargain? (Link for mobile app users.)