With MLB free agency in full swing, there are early winners and losers so far. below are the top five worst off-season signings.
5. Scott Kazmir, Oakland Athletics (2 years, $22 million)
Scott Kazmir had a career resurgence last year. Kazmir was out of the league, pitching in independent league ball before being signed by the Indians. Kazmir went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA. Kazmir was a dependable part of Cleveland’s rotation. Kazmir signed a 2 year, $22 million deal with Oakland this off-season.
Oakland really liked Kazmir, which was made obvious by their big overpayment of him.
Kazmir has had a less than stellar track record, and has not had a consistent career. Kazmir wwnt from the pitching in Independent League Ball to making $11 million per year based off of his one consistent season with Cleveland. Kazmir could end up having solid years like he did this past season, but he could also regress to an extremely overpaid version of the pitcher that was temporarily out of the majors.
4. Jason Vargas, Kansas City Royals (4 years, $32 million)
Jason Vargas had a solid season for the Angels last year, as he posted a 9-8 record with a 4.02 ERA. Vargas is really a #3 starter, But got paid more like a #2. Vargas signed a 4 year, $32 million deal with the Royals this offseason. Vargas is an average middle of the rotation starter at age 31, which makes the length of this deal very questionable.
Kansas City obviously made the deal longer on years to drive down the annual salary, but 4 years is too much for a player of his caliber. Vargas is signed through his age 35 season, and by then, he will be on the decline, and will be even less than a #3 starter.
Kansas City’s signing of Vargas was a overpayment, and the length of the deal will come back to bite them later on.
3. Marlon Byrd, Philadelphia Phillies (2 years, $16 million)
Marlon Byrd came into this off-season coming from his best major league season. Byrd has spent most of his career as a journeyman bouncing around team to team, and before being signed by the Mets last season, he was out of the league playing in Mexico. Byrd, 35, had a resurgence, as he hit .291, belted 24 home runs and batted in 88 runs for the Mets and Pirates, signed a 2 year, $16 million deal with the Phillies.
For a player with Byrd’s history, this deal is an overpay. Byrd was nothing more than a backup outfielder prior to last year, and is up there in age. Byrd’s performance this past season seem like a fluke to many, which makes his signing even worse. Byrd was signed for less than $1 million last year, and now will be making $8 million by the time he is 37.
The signing of Byrd has huge risks, as Byrd has had only one really productive major league season, and is an older, aging player.
2. Jacoby Ellsbury, New York Yankees (7 years, $153 million)
Jacoby Ellsbury was one of the more intriguing free agents this off-season. His career has featured a near MVP season in which he hit over 30 home runs, many injuries, and multiple seasons with less than 100 games played. Despite all this, Ellsbury signed a seven-year, $153 million deal with the hated Yankees. The Yankees did not have a need for a speedy center fielder like Ellsbury, as they already have Brett Gardner at a much lower cost.
Also, with Ellsbury being injury prone, this deal has a ton of risk. Ellsbury has had a major injury every other year (2009,2011), which should raise concern. Also, other than his near mvp season in which he hit over 30 home runs, Ellsbury has hit only single digit homers each season since. Ellsbury is a player who relies on his speed, and players of that type decline at a quick rate. Ellsbury is already at 30 years old, and is signed through 2020-21, when he turns 37.
By that time, with his injury issues and speed dependent play style, Ellsbury could possibly an overpaid shell of the player he once was.
1. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners (10 years, $240 million)
This ranking will come as a surprise to many. Cano was the best free agent on the market, and is arguably the top second baseman in the league. However, there are several factors that make his signing with Seattle the worst free agent signing this offseason so far. First off, Cano signed a 10-year, $240 million deal, which is the third largest contract in MLB history.
Cano is an excellent player, but with how quickly second basemen tend to decline, and Cano being signed past the age of 40, this deal is going to be a problem later on.
Cano is already in his early 30’s, and 10-year contracts for players of that age generally don’t work out well. The Yankees’ terrible experience with signing Alex Rodriguez to a 10-year contract shows just how bad these deals can be.
Also, The Seattle Mariners are not a contending team. They are a team composed of young, unproven talent, with very little offense.
The team features very little protection for Cano in their lineup, as their only other worthwhile acquisitions this off-season are 1B/OF Corey Hart, and 1B/OF Logan Morrison. This Seattle team is not a playoff team, and will not be one unless they add more talent to their club.
Overall, Cano’s signing is the worst so far this off-season because of the length of his deal, as well as Seattle’s very small chances of being a contending team while Cano is in his prime.