Which Free Agent Is Worth The Risk?

After I looked over my work for the off-season Big Board, I realized I was quite negative for most of the players. Obviously free agency isn’t the ideal way to build your club and if you think about it- it’s kind of dumb. Baseball’s economy is upside down- the ‘new cars’ (pre-arbitration players) are dirt-cheap and the ‘used cars’ (free agents) are exorbitantly expensive and they are more prone to break down and rarely do they create a return on an investment.
Are there ever any bargains in free agency? Sure, on the low-end you can catch players on the rebound, but when you wade into deeper waters of free agency is it worth the gamble? I believe the list below accurately paints the risk involved- if you choose wisely you may be able to avoid disaster.

The players on this list are the contracts for the last five off-seasons that exceeded $50 million in total contract value.


As you can see the Rangers have invested prudently in free agency in Adrian Beltre and Yu Darvish. I would like to think this trend will continue, if the Rangers dive after a player in free agency it’ll have to be a guy who has potential to generate the WAR to validate the monstrous expense.

Now I will go over the current free agent class to see if they’re any similarities, and if there’s any potential moves to be made.

Robinson Cano– will probably be wildly over-paid, and will likely have a career arch and salary similar to Albert Pujols. His contract is not horrible yet- but there’s eight years for that deal to completely sour.

Jacoby Ellsbury– physically akin to Carl Crawford, so it’s reasonable to assume there’s similar risk involved here. You’ll find Crawford near the bottom of the list.

Shin-Soo Choo– Jayson Werth seems like a nice comparison here, both are good but flawed players with the potential for a few good seasons, but destined to not bring back full value.

Brian McCann– Victor Martinez is another easy comp here. V-Mart would have been even more valuable if he didn’t miss an entire season, but injury history can’t be swept under the rug- especially when dealing with catchers.

Masahiro Tanaka– these comparisons are becoming very easy, a Yu Darvish-like contract could be in the works, although I’d be quite surprised if Tanaka performed at the same level or was paid at the price Darvish was acquired at.

Ervin Santana– he’s poised to net a deal larger than AJ Burnett received five winters ago, but a comparable risk is attached to Santana for this winter. 100 million dollars is a real possibility here.

Matt Garza– he’s wild card for sure. Not having a draft pick attached to him will only help his price tag rise. I think there’s John Lackey potential here- that’s not a good thing either.

Curtis Granderson– there’s a chance he clears $50 million with his next deal. I think Grandy is the one guy here who could make a GM look like a genius. If he was fully healthy all last year he would probably be looking at a Werth-esque overpay. But since he was an injury magnet last year- a Nick Swisher type contract seems more plausible.

Happy free agency shopping everyone, just remember to keep your receipts!

Dan Allsup is a  Senior Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can reach him on Twitter @DanAllsup, or email him at Dan.Allsup@shutdowninning.com
Dan Allsup

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