Offseason Overpay Candidates

With the offseason quickly approaching, today I’d like to take a glance at a few guys that I feel are prime candidates to be overpaid in free agency this winter.

To clarify, I don’t necessarily mean they can’t/won’t perform to the $5 million per win above replacement level. They may well do that. However, I’d like to present these players with all things considered, such as relative price of an available alternative, platoon splits, compensation, or anything else to that effect.

With this said, here are a few of my offseason overpay candidates.

Wilson Betemit – Detroit Tigers 3B

The pickings are slim at third base, where Mr. Betemit has played exclusively since coming over from the Royals earlier this summer. To contextualize a little bit, there are only six third-sackers league-wide with a WAR over 3.0 — in other words, even fewer than the similarly-shorthanded second base and shortstop spots. As a result, even marginal talents like Betemit appear likely to reel in a more lucrative contract than usual in this third base housing market.

To be sure, the idea isn’t to bag on Betemit. A .288/.347/.416 triple-slash this season is certainly nothing to scoff at, and he does provide some versatility, having stood near six different positions over his career which has spanned parts of nine seasons. So what’s the rub on Betemit? Well, the big detractor for him going forward is that he’s completely outperformed a reasonable BABIP the last two seasons, with a .361 mark last year and a .396 to date in 2011. Absent any spike in line-drive rates, and still below his career ground-ball rate, Betemit appears ready to plummet back to earth any day now, and that’s even before considering that he’s whiffing well above his career rate of once every four plate appearances. He and his agent aren’t going to commandeer a Jose Reyes-esque contract, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t get some long-term security from someone. For a guy who’s donned six uniforms in a short career, that’ll certainly be welcomed. For a GM who expects him to deviate from his Felipe Lopezian career path? Well, that sailing might go less smoothly.

Michael Cuddyer – Minnesota Twins OF/IF

There’s a lot to like about Cuddyer. With Jim Thome out of the picture, he’s unparalleled as the nicest guy in the Twins clubhouse. He’s active in the community, plays through injuries, and is willing to operate whatever fielding glove skipper Ron Gardenhire politely asks him to. As a website that focuses primarily on statistical analysis, FanGraphs doesn’t tend to give too much credit these things typically. In all honesty, it’s unlikely they affect the on-field product much, if at all, but nonetheless, clubs find it noteworthy.

Coupling his reputation and his versatility, Cuddyer would appear to be well sought after on the market. Troy Renck, a Colorado Rockies beat writer for the Denver Post, has reported that Michael is at the top of the club’s offseason shopping list. Additionally, there were countless — though perhaps not as trustworthy — sources that suggested that the Twins fielded a number of calls on “Cuddy” to see if they could pry the versatile everyman from his longtime home prior to the non-waiver trade deadline last month, but to no avail.

So why am I insisting Cuddyer will be overpaid? Well, there are a couple reasons. First, while Cuddyer does play a number of positions, he doesn’t play any of them particularly well. So, while he’d likely hit way better than the aveage bear at second base, his defense would massively curtail his value. The one position that Cuddyer does grade out well at, first base, is a place in which his bat is grossly inadequate. Speaking of his bat, there’s a little disparity there, too. A .289/.356/.476 triple-slash is good for Cuddyer’s third best OPS of his 11-year career, but it comes with a 723/1077 RHP/LHP platoon split. Thus, 67.9 percent of Cuddyer’s plate appearances have come against right-handers, against whom he’s hit .270/.319/.404 against in 2011. Extrapolate to his whole career, and the split is a more palpable 760/877, but midpoint there from a corner guy just isn’t going to be worth the ~$10 million I would imagine he’ll be offered on the market.

Edwin Jackson – St. Louis Cardinals SP

Jackson’s been around forever, hasn’t he? The former number-four prospect in baseball, Jackson, like Betemit, has spent parts of nine seasons with six clubs, with each hoping it can refine his great potential into comparable results. So far, those results have been mixed, as Jackson’s career line to-date shows a 4.51 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, and a K/9 of 6.7, which ranks him right on par with noted contact guru Kevin Slowey. This paucity of strikeouts is certainly troubling for a young man who has struggled with the “thrower” distinction earlier in his career. In my view, someone who averages 94.2 mile with his heater (in addition to good offspeed deliveries) should probably miss a few more bats, and would cause me to look elsewhere with my free agency bankroll.

On a less-illuminating side note, the “similar list” pitchers that appear at BaseballReference.com for Jackson are also troubling. Names such as Frankie Rodriguez, Kyle Lohse, Jeff Weaver, Javier Vazquez, and Sidney Ponson all evoke different, although perhaps not that different emotions.

The one situation that may be best for Jackson is the exact one he’s in, under the tutelage of Dave Duncan. It’s easy to see that as the walks and strikeouts converge, Jackson becomes a much less effective pitcher. Of course, he’s just like any pitcher in that respect. It just seems a bit more magnified with a pitcher who struggled mightily with control early in his career, and still has less sporadic bouts with wildness. Nonetheless, whichever club takes a gamble on Jackson’s talent will certainly be banking on getting the Jackson from the second half of 2010 rather than the first (which I feel are the poles for him going forward). That’s not a gamble I think I’d take as an executive.



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In addition to Rotographs, Warne is a Minnesota Twins beat reporter for Cold Omaha as well as a sportswriter for Sportradar U.S. in downtown Minneapolis. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Warne, or feel free to email him to do podcasts or for any old reason at brandon.r.warne@gmail-dot-com


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Pelly
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Pelly
4 years 10 months ago

Papelbon!

Eminor3rd
Member
Eminor3rd
4 years 10 months ago

“I ain’t gonna setup for nobody.”

Choo
Member
4 years 10 months ago

It’s easy . . . but that doesn’t mean you aren’t crazy.

BX
Guest
BX
4 years 10 months ago

I see him being offered arb by the Red Sox and accepting. Which would be an overpay, but not a massive multi year deal.

Cole Train Hamels
Guest
Cole Train Hamels
4 years 10 months ago

Don’t forget Cole Hamels. He is a great pitcher, probably a great #2 instead of a true ace. He isn’t a top 5 pitcher in the league like his numbers this year have shown, though. He should commandeer about 10 years, 250 million this offseason.

Snoth
Guest
Snoth
4 years 10 months ago

You’re joking right? I can respect your opinion that you don’t think Hamels is an ace but you think he’ll command a 10 year 250 million contract? That would put him behind only A-rod…

drewcorb
Member
drewcorb
4 years 10 months ago

Pitchers like Hamels get 250 million all the time.

jim
Guest
jim
4 years 10 months ago

LOL

try 5/100

Kyle
Guest
Kyle
4 years 10 months ago

And try it next year – he’s got another year of arb left.

Levi
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Levi
4 years 10 months ago

I doubt he asks for that much when he’s got another arb year left. I mean, arbiters are often crazy, but not that crazy.

Kirkwood
Member
Kirkwood
4 years 10 months ago

Don’t worry, I got that the 10/250 was a joke.

BX
Guest
BX
4 years 10 months ago

He’s also not a free agent this offseason.

SF 55 for life
Member
SF 55 for life
4 years 10 months ago

michael cuddyer seems like a person Brian Sabean would overpay for. He was interested in him at the trading deadline, he can play multiple positions, he’s a “gritty veteran”.

JimNYC
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JimNYC
4 years 10 months ago

All time greatest candidate for an offseason overpay: Russ Ford, who (had free agency existed at the time) utterly dominated through what would have been his last arbitration year… but then in the offseason MLB outlawed his signature pitch (which involved, uh, cutting the leather open with a razor), and he was out of the league.

SC2GG
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

Jose Reyes will likely get paid as though he plays 162 games a year.

Daniel
Member
Daniel
4 years 10 months ago

Funny, CC Sabathia did, too.

William
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William
4 years 10 months ago

CC regularly leads the league in innings pitched.

Anthony
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Anthony
4 years 10 months ago

CC has only lead in IP once in his career.

Dexter Bobo
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Dexter Bobo
4 years 10 months ago

Unless he is leading the league with 1400+ IP he is still coming up short of playing 162 games a year.

Chris
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Chris
4 years 10 months ago

He gets more PA’s against than any hitter gets PA’s. Interesting tidbit to think about courtesy of the Verlander MVP article

shthar
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shthar
4 years 10 months ago

And Johan Santanna.

Robbie G.
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Robbie G.
4 years 10 months ago

I agree. Reyes is about a year away from having maybe the worst contract in MLB.

piratesbreak500
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piratesbreak500
4 years 10 months ago

Nope. That distinction will still be between Barry Zito and Vernon Wells

Voxx
Guest
Voxx
4 years 10 months ago

Ryan Howard says hi.

drewcorb
Member
drewcorb
4 years 10 months ago

Alfonso Soriano is in the discussion, but I think it will be tough to top the Barry Zito contract. That winter of ’06/’07 was a great offseason.

The Nicker
Member
Member
The Nicker
4 years 10 months ago

Howard’s is bad. A Rod’s would be worse for most teams.

bluejaysstatsgeek
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bluejaysstatsgeek
4 years 10 months ago

And some schmuck of a GM will open the vault for Prince Feilder, who will earn his contract for about 3 seasons and having fans crying “Why? Why? Why?” for the next 5-7 seasons.

Dave
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Dave
4 years 10 months ago

Jinx

Dave
Guest
Dave
4 years 10 months ago

Prince Fielder

drewcorb
Member
drewcorb
4 years 10 months ago

I agree Cuddy will be overpaid, and as a Twins fan, I hope the Twins aren’t the team that will do it. However, I think traditional fielding metrics short-change his skill in right field. He doesn’t have much range, but he has a strong arm and throws very accurately, even from the pitcher’s mound. He also plays balls off the wall really well. I don’t think that skill is reflected in any stats (correct me if I’m wrong), so I think he saves more runs than he is given credit for.

Bill
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Bill
4 years 10 months ago

His arm has been good for a whopping 6.9 runs over the course of his career. Perhaps more if you count the times when runners don’t challenge it. Still, his lack of range is only getting worse and probably far outweighs any “strong arm” benefit.

Brandon Warne
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

The reverse Ben Revere?

drewcorb
Member
drewcorb
4 years 10 months ago

A point I was trying to make is that although he has poor range, he still plays the position well. He is not clumsy and doesn’t often make avoidable “errors” by misplaying balls hit to right field. So although his fielding metrics are low, he is not nearly as poor of a fielder as they indicate.

I realize my argument doesn’ t fit well on a statistical analysis website, but I typed it out already so deal with it.

Bill
Guest
Bill
4 years 10 months ago

As a fellow Twins fan, I’d really like to re-sign Cuddyer since he has at worst a heavy platoon value, and at best is a reliable bench guy for when the other china dolls on the team hurt themselves. But I know the Twins already place a premium value on his “leadership” and “grittiness” and “goes bowling with Gardyness” that they don’t need to also overvalue his truly average outfield arm.

drewcorb
Member
drewcorb
4 years 10 months ago

Don’t forget about the magic tricks he does at Twins charity dinners. That’s easily worth another 1-2 million per year.

Matt
Guest
Matt
4 years 10 months ago

Andre Ethier. Somebody’s gonna pay him, and he’s gonna be just as ‘meh’ as ever.

jim
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jim
4 years 10 months ago

reeks of being another werth

Havoc
Guest
Havoc
4 years 10 months ago

Werth is eons better than Ethier!

Robert J. Baumann
Member
Member
James Gentile
Member
4 years 10 months ago

How about,

David K
Guest
David K
4 years 10 months ago

Ethier, Werth, Edwin Jackson, hmmm what do those three guys have in common?

David K
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David K
4 years 10 months ago

I meant to add Betemit to the list above

Gibbles
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Gibbles
4 years 10 months ago

Albert Pujols

Sure he’s worth a ton now, and probably will be for a few years. But 4,5,6 years into his contract when he’s 35+ (ahem, 38+) and his elbow finally disintegrates? Somebody is going to have some buyer’s remorse.

Richie
Member
Richie
4 years 10 months ago

Now that he’s brought it up, ahem absolutely.

John R.
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John R.
4 years 10 months ago

Can Francoer get grandfathered onto this list or something?

Havoc
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Havoc
4 years 10 months ago

I will LoL if Betemit gets a lucrative deal.

MikeS
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MikeS
4 years 10 months ago

I realize Dave Duncan is a Certified Wizard (TM) hut so was his last pitching coach – Don Cooper. So if Coop couldn’t turn him around, maybe Dunc can’t either.

MNzach
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MNzach
4 years 10 months ago

@drewcorb

You nailed it sir. Anyone who follows closely (or has season tickets in section 102, right field corner, like myself) can see that while his range is poor, his strong, accurate arm helps cover some of that ground. He is also a master at playing the tough bounces off the facade. He is abysmal at second and looks like his cleats were dipped in concrete prior to the game. He is improving at first but is merely average and as was stated before, the bat doesn’t play.

I’m really worried as the stupid braintrust in Minnesota loves clubhouse guys and MN lifers so I think we’d love to overpay for him, that being said, I don’t think we have the coin lying around.

Colin
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Colin
4 years 10 months ago

Betemit is the worst defensive 3b I have ever seen!!

jetsfan28
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jetsfan28
4 years 10 months ago

Sorry to be off-topic, but curiosity is killing me… are you the same Brandon Warne as the one on PSD? If so, hope you’re doing well, I’m sure the Twins forum misses you. If not, you have no idea what I’m talking about, so I seem really strange right now.

Anyway, good article. I could definitely see Betimit especially being considerably overpaid. Also, it seems like this list is made for Frenchy, who is almost a lock to get some decent money.

austin
Guest
austin
4 years 10 months ago

How can you say Cuddyer’s bat is “grossly inadequate” at first base? MLB first basemen have an OPS of .798 this year compared to Cuddyer’s .832.

jim
Guest
jim
4 years 10 months ago

first you type out “cuddyer’s bat is grossly inadequate at first base” then hit publish

Bill@TPA
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

Probably has something to do with the fact that he’s clearly been playing over his head for most of this year.

Bill@TPA
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

Which was meant to be a reply to austin rather than jim, but whatever.

Brandon Warne
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

If your prerogative would be to spend $10 million on a guy like that, well…..cheers to ya.

But, my notion is that his platoon splits will become more disparate as he ages. That, and I think lefty mashers without any real position are easier to come by than $10 million and/or multi-year deals.

austin
Guest
austin
4 years 10 months ago

What gave you the idea that I think he’s worth ten million? You might as well have asked me why I don’t marry Cuddyer if I love him so much. I’m trying to help you out – when you use needless hyperbole like “grossly inadequate” it makes me wonder if maybe you might not know what kind of offensive value to expect from an average MLB first baseman. Moreover, there’s no need for it as your overall argument is sound without it.

RC
Guest
RC
4 years 10 months ago

“in other words, even fewer than the similarly-shorthanded second base and shortstop spots”

It seems like we hear this every year, which to me, says the positional adjustments aren’t nearly large enough. Too many 1Bs with extremely high WAR.

Mike K.
Guest
Mike K.
4 years 10 months ago

Too be picky…there are actually nine 3B with 3+ WAR this year. Lower the cutoff for PA. That adds Beltre, Sandoval, and ARod. Since WAR is more of a counting stat rather than a rate stat, I don’t think we should limit it to qualifiers for rate-stat awards.

Brandon Warne
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

Terrific note Mike. I missed that button. I’d still suspect that those WAR figures are way down from years past, but I couldn’t attest to that off the top of my head.

WilliaminMaine
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

Great conversation starter, Brandon. Betemit doesn’t add anything to a team and it’s amazing he’s had this long of a career. But you’re right about the lack of third basemen.

Another overpay might be Freddie Garcia after this season.

Brandon Warne
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

I like to think of him as the rich man’s Esteban German, William. :)

Ben
Guest
Ben
4 years 10 months ago

Lance Berkman.

Ted Lilly
Guest
Ted Lilly
4 years 10 months ago

Does anyone know why Shaun Marcum has a higher strikeout rate in 2011 as Edwin Jackson.

Marcum 2011: 7.18 K/9, BB/9 2.55, HR/9 0.90. GB% 36.3%, FB/HR% 7.8%, FBv 87.6 mph

Jackson 2011: 6.68 K/9, BB/9 2.75 HR/9 0.81. GB% 45.6%, FB/HR% 9.4 %, FBv 94.7.

For comparison with ground balls and home runs, Ted Lilly has a similar GB% (34.7%), but his FB/HR% (12.4%) is higher than Marcum. I think luck explains why Marcum isn’t a right-handed version of myself. My hypothesis for Marcum’s relatively high strikeout rate for his velocity is that he reduces his GB% in exchange for more Ks. However, Edwin Jackson doesn’t have to trade a high strikeout rate for a high GB%, because he has the inherent talent (velocity) to miss bats.

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