Wednesday, March 4, 2009

2009 Offseason: The Eight Worst Free Agent Contracts

Every offseason, there are a handful of contracts that look foolish by the time free agency has ended. Even with the economic downturn, this offseason is no different. While the numbers have deflated, the questionable deals still remain prevalent. I'm not saying that the following players suck, but instead the contracts they were given do not fit the market conditions or were simply excessive. Simply put, teams could have done better.

Without further ado, here are my top 8 worst free agent contracts from this offseason (in no particular order):

Edgar Renteria (2 year/$18.5 mil):

Giants signed Renteria, who was coming off a down season, very quickly into free agency. Because they signed Renteria so fast, they did not let the market develop and grotesquely overpaid for the declining Renteria. To put this one into context, Orlando Cabrera, who is a much better player, got stuck with a 1 year/$4 million dollar contract because the market was so bad and his type A status.

Casey Blake (3 years/$17 mil):
Blake is a good player, who drew strong competition from the Twins and Dodgers because of the weak (at the time) third base market. As a result, Blake was able to parlay a few good seasons into a three year contract during an economic downturn. Seems a bit excessive, right? Well, the contract looks even worse to me when you consider that Ty Wigginton only received a 2 year/$6 million dollar contract. Blake is a better defender that Wigginton, but you can make the case that Wiggy is a better offensive player, especially against lefties. Blake was the beneficiary of good timing and I bet the Dodgers will regret giving the 35 year old Blake three years.

Juan Rivera (3 years/$12 million):
The Angels must be real high on Rivera because this is a contract that I just don't get. Rivera is a decent player, who can definitely be serviceable for the Angels. But three years? Really? Rivera missed most of the 2007 season because of a broken leg and played in only 89 games in 2008 because he was still recovering from the broken leg. The power potential is there for Rivera (12 hr in 89 games in '08), but giving a guy three years coming off a major injury is risky in my eyes. Will Rivera ever put up his 2006 numbers again?

Damaso Marte (3 years/$12 million):
In most offseasons, this contract would have been in line with other top relief pitchers. However, the market for left handed relief pitchers has been so bad this offseason that the Yankees look foolish because they gave Marte 3 years and a contract worth $4 million per season. No other free agent left handed relief pitcher got three years this offseason and only one (Affeldt) got a deal worth $4 million annually. Damaso Marte is a good pitcher, but there is nothing about Marte that STRONGLY separates him from Beimel, Ohman, or Dennys Reyes (all of whom remain unsigned). This was all about timing (sign early) and the Yankees ($).

Raul Ibanez (3 years/$30 million):
I still like this move...alot. I think Ibanez will be a great fit with the Phillies in 2009 and beyond. However, there is no denying that after seeing what Pat Burrell (2 yr/$16 mil), Adam Dunn (2 yr/$20 mil), and Bobby Abreu (1 yr./$5 mil) got on the free agent market, that Ibanez was vastly overpaid. Even though Ibanez is older than those three, he was the only one to get a three year contract and received the more money than any other free agent outfielder this offseason. Is Ibanez a better player than Abreu, Dunn, or Burrell? Probably not. Ibanez struck it big because of his opportunistic timing and the Phillies strong desire to add the aging outfielder.

Kyle Farnsworth (2 years/$9.25 mil):
How in the world did Kyle Farnsworth get more money than any other FA right handed middle relief pitcher? Farnsworth was no where close to being the best middle relief pitcher on the market, yet the Royals felt the need to give Farnsworthless a two year deal! What crazy world are we living in? Well, we're living in the crazy world of elias rankings, where Farnsworth becomes more valuable than guys like Juan Cruz and Brandon Lyon because teams do not have to forfeit a draft pick for his services. I guarantee the Royals will experience their fair share of headaches with Farnsworth over the next two years...just ask any Yankee fan.

AJ Burnett (5 years/$80 million):
I don't have a problem with AJ Burnett. I think he's a fine pitcher with tons of potential and a 95+ MPH fastball. But Burnett is 32 years old with a major injury history. How in the world could the Yankees feel comfortable giving Burnett a five year contract? The odds of Burnett getting hurt are rather high, don't cha think? And the Yankees are paying Burnett $16 million per season on a hope and a whim that he finally achieves his potential at age 32 and somehow stays healthy. But that's the Yankees for ya-swimming in cash.

Burnett is the lone exception to the "team could have done better" idea. Whoever signed Burnett was going to have to pony up, despite my begging and pleading not too.

Willie Bloomquist (2 years/$3.85 mil):
Somehow in a market where Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu had to settle for one year, Bloomquist was able to get a two year contract from the Royals. Huh? The 31 year old Bloomquist is nothing more than a utility man with limited upside. So why did GM Dayton Moore feel the need to give Bloomquist two years? Does he love his hustle? Was he bidding against some strong competition? Was this a joke? Either way, I don't get it.

So did I leave anyone off the list? Feel free to make your case in the comments section.


Jason @ IIATMS said...

I was about to get all freaked out but then I saw Farnsworthless. Now I feel better.

tHeMARksMiTh said...

Really, no Kyle Lohse?

Jorge Says No! said...

Jason: I'm stunned that the Royals think they can actually get something out of Farnsworthless...the guy is just a tease

tHeMARksMiTh: I felt as though I could not include Lohse on this list because he was never officially a free agent. But have no fear, there will be more Lohse stuff on the way..I got something in the works on him.

thanks for the great stuff as always guys

tHeMARksMiTh said...

Fair point.

Jorge Says No! said...

tHeMARksMiTh: Quick question, on the open market do you think Lohse would have done? I really don't think he would have gotten as much as Oliver Perez...right?

GM-Carson said...

Willie Bloomquist has essentially no value. So what if he's versatile? He can't hit the ball with any authority or get on base at a decent clip. Giving him 2 guaranteed years with millions is just plain dumb.

Here's a post I did on him last season:

Fool'sErrandBoy said...

I think Ruben Amaro's responsible for two of the worst free agent signings, since he overpaid to keep a 45-year-old Jamie Moyer for two years with a contract that will cost somewhere in the range of $16-18 million.

David Ross - The Braves paid 2 years, $3 million for a guy who was lucky to get a major league deal and who isn't going to have any hope of competing for a starting job. This isn't a market to be handing out 7-figure contracts to backup catchers.

Francisco Rodriguez - I can't see how a pitcher who has lost his velocity and is having a rapidly fading strikeout rate lives up to a 3 year, $37 million contract when a guy like Brian Fuentes gets a 2 year deal at under $9 million with a TEAM option for another $9 million at the end of it. The Mets are on the hook for $37 million, I'd guess Rodriguez will be good for another 62 saves over the life of his contract.

Anonymous said...

I think the CC Sabathia contract is absurb, and the Yanks will be bitten badly by the final few years of it.

tHeMARksMiTh said...

I doubt he would have, but the Cardinals probably didn't realize that the market would plummet so much. They also couldn't afford to lose starting pitching considering it's one thing they don't really have enough of.

Anonymous said...

Juan Rivera is over a year removed from his last injury. He was being paid as the starting LF for the Halos. He has shown the ability to hit 25+ HR's if given a full season of playing time. With the Abreu signing the deal doesn't look as good but it is still solid. A 280/25HR line is reasonable and a bargain at $4m/year.

Anonymous said...

Signing Guillermo Mota for $2.35 million when it could balloon after easy-to-nab performance bonuses was pretty bad. Handing an aging, declining catcher in Ausmus (OPS+ of 64 in 2008) to "mentor" an already established Russell Martin when we needed someone with enough offense to spell Martin one out of every five days was frustrating, too. Ok, 'nuff venting as a Dodgers fan.

I think Dempster's contract was really, really risky and might wind up bringing some tears to the North side. Oh well, Cubbies have money to burn.


What??!??? No Milton Bradley?!??!!

First off, in NO market should Bradley ever get a multi-year deal. The guy never plays. Second, how will he ever earn that $30M from the DL?

And in this market? Abreu, who plays everyday and puts up consistently good numbers, went for a fraction of the cost. Dunn too.

By far the worst of the off-season after Renteria.

Anonymous said...

Lohse dempster moyer and Bradley all should be on the list.

And the k-rod deal is simply market value. Your opinion means nothing despite a declining k rate he has the best numbers of any FA closer this year. 3/37 cannot be bad. Never been injured and 86+ save percentage. Come on

Jorge Says No! said...

Fools: David Ross absolutely needs to be on this list...what a terrible contract.

And I actually don't think the K-Rod deal is so bad...I understand why you do, but considering what the price tag was expected to be, I think the Mets did okay on that one.

Anon: It's a huge risk for the Yankees. There is no doubt. But they are in the business of winning now and they showed why with the Sabathia deal. They had to go above and beyond to bring him in to NY, and that's exactly what they did.

Anon: Rivera might wind up being a bargain at $4 mil a season, but did they need to give him 3 yrs? That makes the deal much riskier for the Angels, in my opinion.

Dave: As a Dodgers fan, do you think Manny's contract is one of the worst this offseason? I have seen people go both ways on this issue, which surprises me actually.

As for Dempster, I'm torn on this. I think it's a huge risk for the Cubs, but I think Dempster is a stud. He was fantastic in 2008...if he puts up those numbers , then yeah, he's worth it. But that's alot to live up too, which is exactly why I'm torn on this.

Dave: You can make a solid argument for Bradley as well. Did the Cubs need to give him 3 years? Is he worth it based on his injury history and past incidents? very debatable. But I left off this deal from the list because I think there is considerable upside to Bradley that could make this deal work. We'll see if that pans out.

Anon: As for Jaime Moyer, it's hard to put him on the list when you consider how good he has pitched in his 40s and just how much he means to the Phillies.

thanks for the great comments guys, keep 'em coming!

Anonymous said...

How about Nick Punto's two year deal from the Twins?

Anonymous said...

Worst move by a player....Varitek declining arbitration!