The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Cano
This off-season has been quite intriguing with many expected, surprising, and head-scratching moves at different points. We saw lots of big name free agents like Cano, Beltran, McCann, and Ellsbury sign back in December before the Winter Meetings even began. Which is surprising in that the last couple of years, the big names like Pujols, Wilson, Greinke, and Hamilton seemed to go during the Meetings. So naturally, everyone anticipated this years being significant once again but it failed to really provide any excitement as they came and went with very little moves being made during the Orlando gathering. We also saw lots of note-worthy trades in December, Some with big blockbuster appeal (Fielder/Kinsler, Trumbo/Eaton/Bauer/Quintana) and others with a bit less sexiness (Gentry/Choice, Aoki/Will Smith). Lets’ take a look at some of the potential good deals, bad deals, and “RAJ like” deals that have happened thus far.
The Yankees must not have liked being left out of the playoffs last year and once again went back to the old ways of spending more than everyone else. They have dropped nearly a half billion in total dollars…so far. We still have a few weeks left until Spring Training, for them to do some more damage. Among their big splashes, the one deal that I did like for what they paid was inking Brian McCann to a 5 year/ 85 million dollar deal. That’s a 17 AAV for a good 30-year-old catcher in today’s market. Here’s a look at some important numbers since 2007 that justify the value

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If you dismiss the outlier that is 2012, he has been one of the best all around offensive and defensive players in the game. Based on what steamer projects for him in 2014, he should return to about the level of production that 2011 saw him put up. Add in the fact that he’s left handed and Yankee Stadium’s famous short porch for left handed hitters, he should be able to provide them great value for much of this deal.

Just last week we saw one of the more puzzling signings of the off-season and I must say that it appears to have “We’d like a redo on that” all over it. The Dbacks inked 37-year-old SP Bronson Arroyo to a 2 year 23 million dollar deal. While an 11.5 AAV may not seem like a whole lot, it is when you compare it to someone like Paul Maholm who just got (1 year 1.5 mill) and is arguably better and 6 years younger. One of two real positive things I can say of Arroyo is that he has never had a problem with injuries. He’s started 32 games every year since 2005. He stays healthy and pitches when it’s his turn just not with good results. The Dbacks wanted to bolster their rotation and pursued Tanaka pretty hard. When the top end option didn’t work for them, it appears they have settled for back end depth and that’s what Arroyo is at best. He gives up loads of homers, he doesn’t miss bats, and he doesn’t induce ground balls. That’s not exactly the recipe of success for a pitcher especially heading to Chase Field.  

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As you can see from the table above, he has not posted a sub 4.00 FIP since he won a World Series with the Red Sox back in 2004 and his K percentage has steadily declined. However, he has cut his walks down nicely. Steamer has his 2014 FIP projected to about 4.18, which seems very generous of them when you consider he has had one season around that mark in the last 7 seasons. Giving multi year deals is always a risk and Kevin Towers appears to be taking on a big risk for the next two seasons to only get replacement level production at best in return.

Anytime you hand out a monster contract (100+ mill) to a player that’s age 30 or older, you generally are going to hamstring your franchise for many years to come. This off-season saw several of said contracts but the biggest monster of all was inked in Seattle (Surprise!). Jack Zduriencik was once credited as to re-building the Brewers (Remember the big CC trade) and getting them to the post-season in 2008. However, since he has come to Seattle in October of 2008, he hasn’t exactly lived up his billing. Ranger fans may remember the 2010 trade he made that sent Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe to Texas for Justin Smoak, Blake Beaven, and Josh Leuke. While Smoak and Beaven were once coveted prospects, they haven’t exactly lived up to their 1st round selections. Jack Z may be sensing this could be his last gasp as the losing seasons pile up so he’s making a desperate try to buy a winning club. Enter the Robinson Cano era of Seattle. Cano signed a record 10 year 240 million dollar contract in December. Meaning in 2023, the M’s will be paying 40-year-old Cano 24 million dollars. Just ask the Angels their opinion on 10-year contracts. The hope for Seattle is that with a rotation led by Felix, Iwakuma, promising prospect Taijuan Walker, the underrated (look away Ranger fans) Kyle Seager, and Cano that they can compete for a division this year. The problem is they just have too many other holes and spending 250 million on one piece can be crippling. If you look at other mega contracts handed out to 30+ year old free agents and how they work out like Jason Giambi, Mike Hampton, Jayson Werth (though he had a rebound year in 13), Albert Pujols, and of course Alex Rodriguez. The Mariners will be around .500 this year but many will see them as a failure to meet expectations with an off-season that’s seen this much spot light.  

Austin Dietz
I'm just a local Dallas kid that enjoys baseball, craft beer, and using my best hitter second. I'm a co-host of the 20 Grade Podcast.

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