The Worst Transactions of the 2015 Off-Season

Yesterday, I covered the moves of the winter that I liked the most. Today, we look at the moves that I like less, though I’ll note that this year simply doesn’t have the collection of clear mistakes that last year’s list had. While there were some transactions this winter that probably won’t work out that well, the risk associated with a lot of these moves is significantly lower than the ones we saw a year ago. No team really screwed themselves this off-season the same way the Rangers did last year with their Prince Fielder/Shin-Soo Choo acquisitions, and the free agent overpays seem to be getting smaller each year.

So, in reality, most of these moves are more suboptimal than outright disasters. Perhaps there were better alternatives each case, but the downside potential is often limited here, and a good amount of these will probably end up not having a major negative impact on their clubs.

In that spirit, no (dis)honorable mentions this time around; let’s just get straight to the moves that I didn’t particularly care for this off-season.

The Bottom 10

10. Royals sign Alex Rios
Cost: One year, $11 million

On the one hand, it’s basically impossible to screw up a franchise with a modest one year deal. And Alex Rios isn’t entirely worthless, so the negative marginal cost of this move is probably only a few million here or there. But this move is just so pointless. Rios is worse than Nori Aoki, who he is replacing, and worse than Jarrod Dyson, who he is displacing. Aoki signed for $5 million guaranteed, and his total potential earnings over two years are barely more than what Kansas City gave Rios for one year. The Royals don’t have the kind of budget that allows them to light money on fire, but that’s essentially what this deal did. They overpaid for a fourth outfielder and will now have a financial motivation to play him too often. It’s not the end of the world or anything, but there was no real reason to give Alex Rios $11 million this winter.

9. A’s sign Billy Butler
Cost: Three years, $30 million

In the wake of the A’s surprising expenditure on a DH, Eno made a case that this move wasn’t totally crazy. I remain unconvinced, however. Yes, it’s possible that current WAR estimates punish DHs too much, but even if we reduce the DH penalty, he’s still a below average player coming off a terrible year. $30 million doesn’t buy what it used to buy, but it feels like the A’s should have been able to get more for their money here. Signing bat-only players with unspectacular offensive performances to three year contracts is almost certainly not the new market inefficiency.

8. Twins sign Ervin Santana
Cost: Four years, $55 million

For what Santana is, the price is mostly okay. This is what durable league average starters are going for these days, and that’s clearly the mold that Santana belongs to. However, this is just the wrong team to be handing out a four year deal to an aging pitcher, especially with draft pick compensation attached. The Twins are going to be lousy again in 2015, and probably won’t be contenders for several more years, by which time Santana probably will be a drag on the payroll. Yes, bad teams need veteran placeholders, but better for them to bet on upside than pay for stability. Signing Phil Hughes last winter was a great example of what the Twins should be doing. This is just a run-in-place maneuver with minimal potential, however, and enough downside that the Twins will probably end up regretting this move.

7. Royals sign Edinson Volquez
Cost: Two years, $20 million

Back in November, I included Volquez on a list of “free agent landmines” to be avoided. To Dayton Moore’s credit, he did sign Volquez for a little less than the 3/$27M I expected, but even at 2/$20M, this probably wasn’t a good use of funds. Volquez’s breakout was entirely a mirage, fueled by a .262 BABIP from a guy with a career mark of nearly .300. His underlying skills remain mediocre at best, and while Volquez might use the Royals defense to imitate a serviceable fifth starter, low-revenue clubs shouldn’t be spending $20 million on guys like this. Volquez is exactly the kind of guy you want to go year to year with. Maybe a team with a larger payroll could justify the overpay as a rounding error, but between Volquez, Rios, and Kendrys Morales, the Royals committed nearly 30% of their payroll to a trio of +1 WAR free agents. Ick.

6. Marlins acquire Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, and Miguel Rojas
Cost: Andrew Heaney, Enrique Hernandez, Austin Barnes, and Chris Hatcher

I get that they’re down on Andrew Heaney, and don’t see him as a big loss. That’s fine. Pitching prospects are variable enough that they very well may be right, and maybe all they traded was a collection of spare parts. But there still plenty of people who believe in Heaney — as seen by the Dodgers ability to immediately turn him into an actual good player — and Hernandez and Barnes had real value to teams who put stock in minor league performances, and in exchange for some pieces that had legitimate trade value, the Marlins got a bad-to-maybe-okay second baseman and an aging pitcher who doesn’t really want to pitch for them. Sure, they also got the Dodgers to pay the salary add-ons too, but that just makes this deal look like they sold talent for cash because they were too cheap to spend any of their own. Maybe they’re right about Heaney, but they’d have been better off just shipping him to Anaheim themselves and keeping their prospects instead of betting on Dee Gordon repeating what will very likely turn out to be a career year.

5. Mets sign Michael Cuddyer
Cost: Two years, $21 million

When the Mets struck early, surrendering the 15th pick in the draft to sign an aging outfielder who might not really be able to play the outfield anymore, there seemed to be one obvious explanation; they were definitely going to sign another compensation-attached free agent, so the pick surrendered to add Cuddyer would be their less valuable second rounder instead. Under that scenario, 2/$21M for Cuddyer isn’t all that bad, especially if the other addition pushed the Mets into Wild Card territory. Instead, the only other free agent the Mets signed this winter was John Mayberry, and now it really looks like they punted a valuable draft choice for the right to pay $10 million a year to a guy whose best position is occupied by Lucas Duda. There are scenarios where Cuddyer at this price would have been reasonable; the Mets making him their only off-season acquisition is not one of those scenarios.

4. Mariners sign Nelson Cruz
Cost: Four years, $58 million

Yes, Nelson Cruz had a great year in 2014, and if he does anything close to what he did in Baltimore, the Mariners will be fine with this deal. But his pre-Baltimore track record is filled with mediocrity, and there is no worse place in baseball for an aging right-handed slugger than Safeco Field. Perhaps he’ll give the Mariners enough production to justify the salary for 2015, and maybe even for 2016 if they’re lucky, but the last two years of this deal are likely going to be a disaster, and there just isn’t enough value at the front to make up for it. Seattle decided they wanted a very specific skillset, except that skillset isn’t worth what it costs on the open market. Now, they’re left to hope that Cruz can keep having career years in his mid-30s rather than reverting back to the average (or below average) player that his track record suggests.

3. Nationals sign Max Scherzer
Cost: Seven years, $210 million

Because of the deferred money, MLB actually values this the same way they would a 7/$190M contract, or about $2 million more per year than I guessed he’d get at the start of the winter. This isn’t some kind of crazy overpay, and Scherzer is an excellent pitcher, but it’s a really weird fit given Washington’s already strong pitching depth and the amount of unsigned young talent they have heading towards free agency. Having Scherzer in 2015 makes them slightly better, but was this really the best use of $200 million for a team that is likely to let a significant amount of their young core leave in free agency? Unless the signing portends that the Lerner’s are going to open the vault in order to keep all their homegrown talent, this deal might not look so great when Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond, and Denard Span are playing elsewhere next year.

2. Braves sign Nick Markakis
Cost: Four years, $44 million

This deal just doesn’t make sense for so many reasons. The Braves spent the winter blowing up their roster, admitting that they’re likely non-contenders for the next several seasons, and are going to attempt to rebuild a winner by the time their new stadium opens in 2017. So why, in the middle of going young, would you outbid win-now teams for the services of a mediocre low-ceiling outfielder who, by the way, happens to need neck surgery? Markakis fits as the 6th or 7th best position player on a winning team, the kind of solid role player that helps fill a hole, but there’s no reason for a rebuilding club to win an auction for his services. The Braves would have been better off betting on an upside play, going with a short-term commitment that might land them a guy they could flip at the deadline for more young talent. Markakis’ deal is going to make him difficult to ever trade for value, so instead, they’re just going to be stuck with a declining veteran taking up a significant amount of the payroll.

1. Padres acquire Matt Kemp and Tim Federowicz
Cost: Yasmani Grandal, Joe Wieland, Matt Kemp’s contract

Buy-one-get-one sales are great, so long as you actually want two of the thing you’re buying. An example of a thing you shouldn’t be excited to get two of: arthritic hips. Especially when you’re paying $75 million for the right to hope that the guy your division rival is getting rid of isn’t about to have a total physical breakdown in his 30s. Kemp’s athleticism is essentially gone at this point, leaving him as a bat-only player with an inconsistent offensive track record. In many ways, he’s not that different from Nelson Cruz, only the Padres took on an even larger salary commitment and surrendered real talent for the right to do so. Even if you don’t love Grandal as a catcher, it still cost San Diego an interesting arm in Jesse Hahn in order to fill the hole that trading him opened up. Even if Kemp can sustain his career average offensive performances, he’s still not good enough to justify the cost, both in salary and in talent, and the physical problems make it unlikely that he’ll age well. In this move, the Padres spent a lot of money to not get any better, making this my least favorite move of the off-season.



Print This Post



Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
David
Guest
David
1 year 3 months ago

Signing Scherzer wasn’t just about 2015. The Nationals obviously made a decision to Scherzer instead of Jordan Zimmermann. They had a problem with losing two starting pitchers in the next offseason and so they added one. It makes losing Zimmermann and Fister not as big of a deal.

You can debate the merits of Scherzer or Zimmermann at their respective costs, but you’re looking at it a sort of weird way.

emdash
Guest
emdash
1 year 3 months ago

And any deal they could make to sign Desmond, who already rejected a $107m extension offer and has a profile that’s very worrisome in the longer term with his increased difficulty making contact, would almost certainly rate pretty highly on the worst list.

hscer
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

The Nats have done a lot to tacitly suggest they are fully prepared to have to part ways with Desmond, especially trading for Escobar and making Espinosa go RH-only.

Matt
Guest
Matt
1 year 3 months ago

and with Turner, who will probably be ready to take over at SS at some point in ’16/’17.

hscer
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

yes, I knew I was missing one, thanks

Natman
Guest
Natman
1 year 3 months ago

And they expect Giolito next year. So a rotation of Scherzer, Stras, Gio, Roark, and Giolito is tentatively penned in for 2016. So really is, as David said, its expected value of Scherzer versus Zimmermann. Which makes the “worst” signing appearance a bit puzzling. What may be more apt would be NOT trading a SP for future value as a “worst” signing.

BMarkham
Guest
BMarkham
1 year 3 months ago

There’s tons of pitching on next year’s market. If the Nationals were only concerned about next year then they should have waited til next year, when Grienke, Price, Shark, Porcello, and Cueto are all set to be free agents (in addition to Zimmermann and Fister).

That deal only made sense if they did some house-cleaning following it. Say, trading Zimmermann and Desmond for prospects, and Strasberg for Betts. That would leave them just with Span and Fister leaving after this year, both players that should get QO’s barring a very weak 2015, and with no position player holes to fill this year, and just needing to add a 5th starter until their high minors pitching is ready to fill in.

In my opinion the Nationals missed a great opportunity to really reload for the ’16-’19 seasons, and instead will be stuck just with comp picks for significant values in Zimmermann and Desmond.

Natman
Guest
Natman
1 year 3 months ago

I’d eat my hat if every one of those pitchers were on the “open” market as opposed to at least one quickly re-signing with their team. Exhibit A would be Grienke.

Boot
Guest
Boot
1 year 3 months ago

They could still flip any one of those guys mid-season. I even heard rumblings of moving strasburg at one point so don’t be so convinced they missed a great opportunity…. More times than not, the cost for a front rotation arm mid-season is higher than it is during the off-season so they’re likely to get more back by waiting til mid-season, anyway.

EnricoPalatzzo
Member
EnricoPalatzzo
1 year 3 months ago

A decision I don’t agree with. Scherzer is one of the more overrated pitchers out there, while Zimmerman is one of the most underrated, and I expected the Nats of all people to see that. Zimmerman was the right choice.

Boot
Guest
Boot
1 year 3 months ago

They still might extend Zimm and trade Strasburg in his place. Do I think it’s likely? No, but they’re in a good position to trade a guy mid-season and pull a ransom compared to what they would have gotten in the off-season. By signing sherzer, they are essentially buying themselves whatever bounty they get back if/and when they do flip someone.

vslyke
Member
1 year 3 months ago

Surprised the Heyward trade didn’t make the list (given your pessimism on Miller). Also, thanks Padres for keeping us out of the #1 spot!

Grant
Guest
Grant
1 year 3 months ago

The Braves are going to be good and Heyward provides no value (other than the comp pick) to the Braves past this year. Some future value is better than present value if the chances of competing in the present are small.

Grant
Guest
Grant
1 year 3 months ago

Are *not going to be good

BaseballGuy
Guest
BaseballGuy
1 year 3 months ago

Yeah true, but they could have done better than Shelby Miller, I’m guessing. But what do I know, maybe not.

Smurf
Guest
Smurf
1 year 3 months ago

Four years of an overrated two-pitch pitcher with meh peripherals isn’t much value.

Bottom line, if you aren’t willing to pay for a 5-6 WAR Ofer who’s put up a 20 HR pace every season except one, has 20 sb potential, and hasn’t even entered his prime, yet, then what are you doing?

ATL has excelled at doing just barely enough to put a competitive club on the field. I don’t see them changing that and going the extra mile anytime soon. But, hey, they’ll always get some butts in the seats if they can just make the first round, right?

Isaac
Guest
Isaac
1 year 3 months ago

This list reminds us how futile Cameron’s predictions and rankings always are. He provides great data but his perceptions and predictions are consistently ill based. Examples: He doesn’t like the Rios signing because he thinks Aoki is better. Doesn’t like the Santana signing because he doesn’t think the Twins should try to compete. Worst then that, he has the nerve to write Kemp is an over-pay with him coming out to roughly 15 million a year, like a fool he cites a prospect he likes that they traded to fit their catching need as part of the reason he doesn’t like the deal when it reality, their catching need was created by trading Rene Rivera and then Hannigan later. Also, he hates that the M’s signed a RH power hitter because RH power doesn’t play up in their park. Never-mind they got him for less then he was seeking, he’s the reigning home-run leader and the power bat they’ve desperately needed the last 2 seasons.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick
1 year 3 months ago

Why are you mad that Cameron included context in his evaluation of the signings? None of these moves occur in a vacuum. Context absolutely matters. Had the Phillies signed Scherzer or Hanley Ramirez, you have to evaluate that differently than another team signing those players. There are a bunch of factors that play into the value of a roster move.

BH
Guest
BH
1 year 3 months ago

Hey Dave, I think a fog monster ate your entry for Victor Martinez on this topic.

Unless guys getting 1 year deals are worse than the deal Victor got after a season he won’t repeat in 2015, or any other year in his deal

PK
Guest
PK
1 year 3 months ago

Add in the fact that V-Mart is having surgery before he even plays the first game of said new contract.

KCDaveInLA
Guest
KCDaveInLA
1 year 3 months ago

It would be unfair to grade a transaction on unforeseen circumstance. But to be honest, I think even before the injury this was a lousy deal for the Tigers to make, even conceding two bad years at the back-end for elite production on the front-end. But then, I remember that I’m a Royals fan and can’t surpress the schadenfreude.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 3 months ago

Well, Dave does ding the Braves (extra) for Markakis needing surgery. If a guy hasn’t played baseball between the time you sign him and when the surgery happens, it seems that they deserve at least some blame. It’s not exactly just the luck of the draw.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
1 year 3 months ago

Didn’t the Braves know he needed surgery before they signed Markakis though? I thought it was a known issue.

Jesse
Member
Jesse
1 year 3 months ago

Yes, the Braves knew Markakis needed surgery.

Eminor3rd
Guest
Eminor3rd
1 year 3 months ago

Yeah, I expected that to be in the top three.

hscer
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

In a typical offseason, the Markakis signing would be #1 on most lists like this. Baffling. Of course, the Braves were in bad shape anyway as Markakis is now, somehow, their second best hitter. Freddie Freeman might lead Atlanta in literally every offensive category…except sac bunts.

I hope the Braves fans don’t get mad about a Nats fan saying this. (And yes, 2013, thank you.) But it’s true. At least the joke’s on us when it’s just old Ryan Zimmerman and Max Scherzer left on the team in 2020, right?

Luke
Guest
Luke
1 year 3 months ago

“In a typical offseason, the Markakis signing would be #1 on most lists like this.”

Nonsense. $44M over 4 years just isn’t enough money to be the worst transaction of ANY offseason.

CrazyPants
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

This.

Plus it’s a move to address a situation the FO obviously thought was troubling – the team’s horrid contact rate. Markakis is a high contact guy and as others have pointed out is still just 31 and getting a deal at 4/44M is hardly cringeworthy.

And not to mention that it’s a strong indication that they don’t see their rebuild taking very long. They aren’t purging any of their young core – Simmons, Freeman, Teheran or Kimbrel – so they obviously have aspirations of getting back to relevance pretty quickly and think Markakis can be part of that.

MLB Rainmaker
Member
Member
MLB Rainmaker
1 year 3 months ago

Excellent point….If you look at pitching and defense, the Braves are in the top quarter of the league, but their hitting was terrible….despite Gattis, despite Upton, despite Heyward. Bott quarter in K%, OBP, ISO, it goes on.

I don’t look at them as in a re-building year, rather swapping pieces in a very sabre sort of way to surround their stellar young pitching staff with an offense that looks like the Royals or Giant….being as that model has seemed to work lately…

Slipper Jones
Guest
Slipper Jones
1 year 3 months ago

Lifelong Atl fan and certainly wouldnt be mad at any Nats fans comments. You guys going for it in Oct. and we in a rebuild. Go get ’em! From what I understand we basically wanted to pay this guy 11 mil per to be a “good influence” in the clubhouse. What do you think the season series will be this year? I’ll take the Nats to win 13 and Atl 6. And side note…. if we are sac bunting…. that means we have runners on!

David
Guest
David
1 year 3 months ago

Dave, curious whether, if we knew 100% that the DH was coming to the NL in 2017, you’d think more of the lower term commitment to Kemp?
Because it seems 80+ percent that’s going to happen.

Pirates Hurdles
Guest
Pirates Hurdles
1 year 3 months ago

Where in the world are you getting an 80% chance of the DH in the NL in 2017?

Chris Nolan
Guest
Chris Nolan
1 year 3 months ago

Well, a google search brings up this page as a reference…

magicfingahs
Guest
magicfingahs
1 year 3 months ago

LOL nope

Roger
Guest
Roger
1 year 3 months ago

“Dave, if we knew 100% that the lizard people were planning to outlaw professional sports in 2017, then you’d like the Scherzer deal better, right?”

nilbog44
Member
nilbog44
1 year 3 months ago

I didn’t understand the Scherzer deal either. I’d much rather use that money to sign jordan zimmerman and Desmond

David
Guest
David
1 year 3 months ago

Signing both of those two would have cost a lot more than $210M. More like $300M between the two of them.

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 3 months ago

Okay, but they still need to fill their infield holes going forward and now they have less money than before. I guess they could stick Escobar at SS when Desmond leaves, but they had that option regardless of whether or not they signed Scherzer. It’s hard for me to see this any other way than picking Scherzer over Zimmerman and spending a good deal more (plus the cost of a lost draft pick) for the right to do it.

Aaron (UK)
Member
Aaron (UK)
1 year 3 months ago

(a) they’ll get the draft pick back when Zimmermann leaves
(b) is it so surprising that it costs more to have a better free-agent pitcher?

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 3 months ago

(a) They will receive a worse draft pick (a true first rounder vs. a comp pick)
(b) Scherzer being better isn’t the point. The question is whether he is SO much better as to warrant such a high price when they could have signed Zimmerman for considerably less. Is Scherzer better than Zimmerman + whoever else they might have signed with that leftover money? I don’t think so.

Natstown
Guest
Natstown
1 year 3 months ago

What makes you think they could have signed Zimmermann for considerably less than 7/$190? Matt Cain, a common Zimmermann comp before his disastrous 2014, costs the Giants more than $20 million a year, and that was a couple years ago and not a free agent deal. Zimmermann has given no indication that he’s open to an extension so he would cost the Nats his value on the open market, likely close to the cost of the Scherzer deal after accounting for NPV.

As others have said this is simply choosing Scherzer over Zimmermann for the long term. Having both on the roster for a season while most of their 2012-14 corps is intact and they wait for Giolito is just a bonus.

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 3 months ago

Okay, then are you saying you think Zimmerman WILL GET 190 million? You’re entitled to your opinion, but if that’s what you’re trying to suggest then I think you’re pretty far off base. He’ll easily top 100 million, but I don’t don’t think I’m saying anything unreasonable to suggest he’s gonna take quite a bit less than Scherzer. You mentioned Matt Cain, so let me toss out a different, and perhaps more accurate, comp: Zack Greinke. Greinke was better than Cain when he signed his deal and he got 6/147. Now that was a few years ago and salaries have gone up since, but this will also be a real deep pitchers market. So while I think Zimmerman can beat Greinke’s deal, I doubt he tops it by a whole lot.

Publius Jenkem
Guest
Publius Jenkem
1 year 3 months ago

Let’s see how long it takes that surly sac of shyt Escobar to wear out his welcome in DC. My guess is the All Star break. He continues to be the great athlete with the $0.10 head.

j6takish
Guest
j6takish
1 year 3 months ago

This theory only works if Zimmermann and Desmond WANT the nationals money. I’m sure they have offered both of these guys extensions and got turned down

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 3 months ago

I don’t think we can know for sure how talks have progressed. But, even if Zimmerman is set on testing the market does anyone believe he’ll get close to Scherzer money? He’ll land over 100 million easy, but I still think we’re talking considerably less. So it seems the options were Zimmerman + 10’s of millions of dollars in savings + keeping their draft pick versus a more expensive Scherzer + a future comp. pick. They’ll still need to fill other holes if Desmond leaves, but now they have less money to do it than before.

David
Guest
David
1 year 3 months ago

Actually, with the deferral in Scherzer’s contract, what you are saying is not the case. Maybe Zimmermann didn’t want to defer money. We just don’t know.

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 3 months ago

What’s not the case? As Dave said in the article the real value of Scherzer’s contract is about 190 million, so are you saying that you think Zimmerman will get that kind of money? Because I highly doubt that.

David
Guest
David
1 year 3 months ago

Zimmermann will want to top Greinke, which means we’re talking at least $160M. So a $30M difference. Where you’re wrong is in saying the Nationals have less money by signing Scherzer to fill their holes. Scherzer’s deferral gives the Nationals great payroll flexibility for the next 7 years because they’re only paying him $15M per year (for luxury tax purposes it’s higher, but the Nats won’t be touching the cap). Zimmermann is making $16.5M this year alone and it would be over 20M going forward.

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 3 months ago

Okay, I understand your point now.

First of all, I don’t see how you go from “Zimmerman will want to top Greinke” to “at least 160 million”. I agree that Greinke is probably a decent comparison, but his deal was for 147 million so it seems like a bit of a leap to go from there to “at least 160”.

Second, even if the 160 number is fair (and I think it’s a bit high) that’s still 30 million less than Scherzer’s deal is valued at. What could the Nationals do with that extra money? And this is really my whole point. Is Scherzer that much more valuable than he would be preferable to Zimmerman AND whatever else you could get with the leftover money?

Lastly, I think the payroll flexibility thing is being overstated a little bit. Yes, the Nationals will have more free cash to work with, but if they want to stay below the luxury tax then they have to be conscious of the fact that all of Scherzer’s money will be counted in the years he actually plays for them (like you said). So while they have more money to work with, it’s still less wiggle room when it comes to accounting for the luxury tax. It seems to me they’re just trading on problem for another, and I don’t know how much of an advantage it really is.

Pennsy
Guest
Pennsy
1 year 3 months ago

If the Nats begin to approach the luxury tax ceiling it implies they’ve either paid out to extend somebody, or had some extremely good young talent get late into arbitration. Not bad problems to have. Even if the Nats were to squak over the luxury tax for a season or two, is the penalty that great? They might have to write a check but the luxury tax is mostly designed for teams that operate above it as a matter of course (Yankees, Dodgers, etc.).

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 3 months ago

The point is that if the Nationals decide they cannot go over the luxury tax, then they have effectively created a hard cap that they must stay under. So even with more “real” money, what truly matters (or at least is just as important) is the way salaries are counted towards the luxury tax. Scherzer is going to hit 30 million a year for the next seven years. That’s, what, at least 1/6th of the Nats luxury tax space, and maybe more depending on where they draw the line. Having one guy take up all that space, when another guy could be cheaper and with more money left over, is a big risk.

Now all that said, this really doesn’t matter if Washington decides it can just blow by the tax like the Yankees of Dodgers. But, if they want to stick to it like they’ve said then they’re really investing a lot in one guy.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 3 months ago

Greinke has an opt-out, so considering that the opt-out has value to the player, the equivalently valued contract might be 150+ million.

Chris
Guest
Chris
1 year 3 months ago

It’s been clear for a few seasons, if you follow them closely, that there was little chance of the Nationals re-signing Jordan Zimmermann.

They made a run at signing Desmond to a big deal. He refused. Now they’re prepared to move on.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
1 year 3 months ago

There seems to be an assumption that those two guys are itching to re-sign. Zimmermann’s flat out said that he’s not taking any sort of “hometown discount” and Desmond’s on record as wanting to protect current and future shortstops’ earnings in his negotiations.

From the Nationals’ perspective, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned that deals with those guys won’t get done, Scherzer or not.

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 3 months ago

I don’t think this criticism is based on any notion that the Nationals could have gotten Zimmerman for some cheap, discounted deal. I think the criticism is that the Nationals could have gotten Zimmerman (even at top dollar) for considerably less than Scherzer. So for this year they’re sinking huge money into an area that really wasn’t a concern, and going forward they have less cash to address their needs than they otherwise would have.

David
Guest
David
1 year 3 months ago

But again, signing Scherzer instead of Zimmermann gives them more payroll flexibility for the next 7 years. Copying what I said above:

“Zimmermann will want to top Greinke, which means we’re talking at least $160M. So a $30M difference. Where you’re wrong is in saying the Nationals have less money by signing Scherzer to fill their holes. Scherzer’s deferral gives the Nationals great payroll flexibility for the next 7 years because they’re only paying him $15M per year (for luxury tax purposes it’s higher, but the Nats won’t be touching the cap). Zimmermann is making $16.5M this year alone and it would be over 20M going forward.”

jpg
Guest
jpg
1 year 3 months ago

Yes, David is right. Total value is irellevant in this case. Scherzer’s 14 yr/$15M per is going to be more favorable than Zimmermann on 7/$160M ($23M per year) deal. That’s an $8M per year difference, which is a pretty substantial difference. And on top of that, Scherzer is the better pitcher by an objective measure.

CrazyPants
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

Zimmerman and Desmond may be an unstoppable freight train though at this point. A lot of times the players want to reach free agency once they get this close to it, so maybe there was no way to extend either guy and so the Nats got the guy they could get. And now they can either deal Zimmerman or just play out the string and take the draft picks for these guys.

bosoxfor life
Guest
bosoxfor life
1 year 3 months ago

Jesse Hahn can’t be any good. He wasn’t even the best pitcher on his high school team. Seriously, this is a pretty good list.

Forrest Gumption
Member
Forrest Gumption
1 year 3 months ago

Dunno if this is a joke, but Hahn is awesome and SD overpaid for Norris.

steex
Guest
steex
1 year 3 months ago

It’s a joke. Hahn played high school baseball with Matt Harvey.

David
Guest
David
1 year 3 months ago

That makes him the second pitcher the Padres traded this offseason who wasn’t the best arm on his HS team.

matt
Guest
matt
1 year 3 months ago

It was a trade that made sense for both teams. Padres have plenty of starting pitching arms with injury questions, that’s Hahn. Hahn can be a middle of rotation guy if he can stay healthy, but there is very little reason to think he will. A’s had catching depth so the Norris deal made sense for them, if Norris can just get to league average against righties he can be a special catcher.

Forrest Gumption
Member
Forrest Gumption
1 year 3 months ago

Norris needs to learn how to frame pitches and throw out runners to be considered a “special catcher”. He’s a lot closer to Evan Gattis in defensive skills than people think. The Wild Card game exposed him to just how bad he is on a national level that people who watched him everyday saw for months.

There’s still a place for his bat though, I’d say his ceiling is Mike Napoli. If he can handle 1B he’d be a fine regular, it doesn’t help the Padres but he could be a career DH too. He’s a light return for Hahn+Alvarez though.

matt
Guest
matt
1 year 3 months ago

That is a very inaccurate statement, on the Norris/Gattis comparison. Norris is just slightly below average defensively, if he hits like Napoli he becomes a top 5 catcher.

Jesse
Guest
Jesse
1 year 3 months ago

Absolutely none of the Nationals players you listed are “young talent.” Denard Span turns 32 in 2 weeks, Desmond turns 30 this year, and Zimmerman turns 29. I do not believe the Nationals front office foresee a chance to resign either Desmond and Zimmerman, hence their willingness to field offers for both this offseason. I also do not believe they intend to bring Span back as he is already in decline on defense. Meanwhile, Michael Taylor is an outstanding defensive outfielder and, although he may struggle initially, he can provide plenty of offensive production by 2016 to offset any loss of Span.

Well-Beered Englishman
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

I think the Nationals are banking on Trea Turner replacing the past-prime Desmond, Michael Taylor replacing the past-prime Span, and Scherzer/Giolito/Ross/Cole replacing Fister and Zimmermann.

Whether that will work is, of course, a different story. But the plan is clear.

44
Guest
44
1 year 3 months ago

correct sir – WBE is channeling “In Rizzo We Trust”

David
Guest
David
1 year 3 months ago

Denard Span turns 31 not 32, but your point is still well taken.

CJ
Guest
CJ
1 year 3 months ago

Oh, good grief. There is no way the Braves signing of Nick Markakis is the 2nd worst transaction of the winter. This situation is VERY similar to the Twins signing Ervin Santana….ranked as the 8th worst transaction. Both Santana and NM are older players probably on the decline. Both have similar value. The big difference is that Santana cost more $$ AND came with the draft pick attachment.

I wasn’t happy with the Markakis contract but at least they didn’t give up a 1st round pick to sign him. They also had no young outfielders in the farm system that are close to MLB ready. If Markakis has a good season I think he very well could have decent trade value next offseason.

Brian
Guest
Brian
1 year 3 months ago

How is 4/44 for a role player needing neck surgery not bad? Especially considering your team is in complete rebuilding mode, it makes absolutely zero sense.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 3 months ago

It is dumb, but I think the point is how is it dumber than the Twins signing Santana, especially since NM only cost the Braves money, and less of it?

Surrealistic Pillow
Guest
Surrealistic Pillow
1 year 3 months ago

Because Santana is decent and Markakis sucks. Neither move is wise, but the Markakis signing is worse.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
1 year 3 months ago

They’ve both een worth roughly 4 WAR over the last 3 years…

MLB Rainmaker
Member
Member
MLB Rainmaker
1 year 3 months ago

I don’t see how the Braves are rebuilding…they have one of the best pitching staffs in the league….they only need a offense not in the bottom of the league (like it was last season) to do so. Markakis is a serviceable piece to get them there…

Forrest Gumption
Member
Forrest Gumption
1 year 3 months ago

Markakis is just a huge waste of money that could have been used in other areas. You at least go with a random untested Cuban if you are the Braves trying to do a quick rebuild.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
1 year 3 months ago

Point of order! Markakis is merely a moderate waste of money.

jpg
Guest
jpg
1 year 3 months ago

Dave made a mistake. The Twins are picking sixth, thus their pick was protected when they signed Santana.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 3 months ago

They still lose a pick. They just lose the second-rounder instead.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
1 year 3 months ago

Which has negligible value, even compared to the already negligible value of most 1st rounders.

Michael Sweeney
Guest
Michael Sweeney
1 year 3 months ago

I feel like the hate for the Markakis deal is as much about Markakis being a guy who savvy fans think is much worse than casual fans do.

An “underrated” guy on a “savvy” team (say, Pablo Sandoval on Boston) will always be looked at more favorably in some circles than an “overrated” guy on a “dumb” team (Markakis on the Braves) even though it’s possible these contracts will have roughly equivalent amounts of wasted money in them. I feel like the SABR community has an irrational bias (or maybe an overcorrection if you want to call it that) against guys like Markakis in particular who are erroneously considered great fielders. But by the numbers, he only needs to average half his 2014 production through the life of his contract to make the contract correctly valued.

MLB Rainmaker
Member
Member
MLB Rainmaker
1 year 3 months ago

Great point….and the Braves desparately need a guy with decent contact skills to fill space in the outfield.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
1 year 3 months ago

Yeah. You’d think the Sox weren’t paying $19m a year for a guy who hasn’t cracked 3 WAR since 2011 (and has declined offensively in each of the past three seasons), considering how much bitching people are doing about the Braves giving $11m a year to a guy who put up 2.5 WAR last season.

It’s not a good deal, but it really just doesn’t matter at all in the Braves’ big picture.

matt
Guest
matt
1 year 3 months ago

Markakis or Cruz deal is worst. I’ll lean toward Markakis cause Cruz actually is coming off a great year. Chances are Markakis is a well below average starter for 2 years, and in the last 2 years isn’t MLB worthy anymore.

Roberto
Guest
Roberto
1 year 3 months ago

I have to agree that the V-Mart and Markakis signings look way worse than several that got flagged here. I’ll agree, for example, that Aoki and Rios seem pretty interchangeable and Aoki seems likely to be better. But it’s a deal for one year. When did the idea that there are no bad one-year deals get trashed?

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
1 year 3 months ago

The Markakis signing is flagged here.

hscer
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

He must have stopped reading before then…

Dave
Guest
Dave
1 year 3 months ago

Matt Kemp has “an inconsistent offensive track record?” Over the last 4 years, he’s had the 10th best bat in MLB, despite struggling through an injury-ravaged year and a half. He’ll never play center field again, his right field defense is still suspect (though half a season is really not close to a decent sample size), and he’s not a threat to steal many bases any more, but the bat is elite. He deserves far more credit than you’re giving him.

IMO, that trade works extremely well for both teams. Both traded from a surplus (Dodgers bat-first corner outfielders, Padres catchers) to address an area of weakness.

HappyFunBall
Guest
HappyFunBall
1 year 3 months ago

His bat can’t be great when he’s too hurt to play, and that’s a very real risk for him.

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 3 months ago

Isn’t a 4 year cutoff a little arbitrary, though? In 2010 (one year earlier than you’re counting) he had a wRC+ of 106, despite being fully healthy. In 2013 he put up a wRC+ pf 103, albeit while working through some serious injuries. But the point is that he’s had some questionable offensive seasons mixed in (2 of the last 5), and for a 30 year old with serious health questions it’s not exactly a lock that he’ll produce with his bat.

Plus, you have to consider at least part of his offensive strength has been his speed, and there’s a good chance he’ll never recover it.

David
Guest
David
1 year 3 months ago

I’d imagine that the opinions of the actual medical professionals who spent a lot of extra time looking at his actual medical situation might matter a little more to the FO than the opinions of those of us commenting generally on health risks here on the infoweb.

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 3 months ago

Right, like the team doctors for the Dodgers who surely influenced the team that it was time to sell, even if it meant eating money? Or the Padres doctors who noticed his hip condition and whose medical opinions were almost enough to convince Preller to pull the plug on the deal? Or all the other teams that were scared off from the start? Yea, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say my opinion of Kemp not being a sure thing is pretty well-founded.

SittinInMyKitchenWishinIWasLivinLikeAHitman
Guest
SittinInMyKitchenWishinIWasLivinLikeAHitman
1 year 3 months ago

Bill – you are now purely speculating. Would you care to provide a source from where Preller was quoted or even rumored to be willing to pull the plug on the whole deal because Kemp’s hips? Everyone has widely agreed it was merely a tactic to put the screws to the Dodgers to sweeten the deal.

For how much crow that will have to be eaten after the Padres 2015 season they will promptly be placed on the Endangered Species List.

Just because you casually catch your wife’s Grey’s Anataomy re-runs while studying box scores on you iPad – does not a medical professional make.

Jason
Guest
Jason
1 year 3 months ago

Do not taunt HappyFunBall.

Steven
Guest
Steven
1 year 3 months ago

People just love to hate on Kemp because how mainstream media loved how good of a hitter he was for being a CF when most people could see he should not have been in CF.

The dude is going to be a very solid hitter for some years to come, but just not worth what the Pads are going to pay him and the talent they gave up.

Goat Fondler
Guest
Goat Fondler
1 year 3 months ago

if the Padres traded Grandal from a surplus of catching, why did they need to go out and trade for Norris? Also, as a Dodger fan who watches almost every game, believe me when I say that Kemp’s offense is inconsistent. He goes through long slumps and is often injured. Overall you’re right that Kemp’s bat is a positive. But that’s his only positive. He’s an absolutely atrocious defensive outfielder ( like a 2 or 3 loss outfielder over a full season), he can’t run much anymore, he is owed way more money than he’s worth, and he can be involved in drama sometimes. I loved Kemp while he was with LA but I’m very happy with the trade.

Jim
Guest
Jim
1 year 3 months ago

I think the Mariners will regret the back end of this Cruz deal, however, he is a legit right handed power bat. Also, if you look at how historically bad the Mariners DHs have been the past few years there is no doubt that Cruz is a huge upgrade for them even if he doesn’t repeat his 2014 #s. In my opinion when you take into account performance, contract value and team fit the A’s giving Butler 3/30 is WAY more egregious than the M’s giving Cruz 4/58.

Joey Belle
Guest
Joey Belle
1 year 3 months ago

Nelson Cruz has said he loves hitting at Safeco..fingers crossed

jwb3
Guest
jwb3
1 year 3 months ago

Cruz’s 234/309/440 career batting line at Safeco suggests that it doesn’t love him back.

Uncle Mumbly
Guest
Uncle Mumbly
1 year 3 months ago

Dont like the Rios signing at all and I totally agree it made little sense given Aoki still being out there. But it seems ridiculous that a one year deal for 11 million can be considered one of the worst moves of the offseason. Regardless of who made it.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 3 months ago

That’s not really true though, if the pool of truly “bad moves” is shallow enough. As an extreme example, if there were only 15 transactions made all winter, then the 6th best would also rate as the 10th worst. Or as Dave put it in the intro, “No team really screwed themselves this off-season the same way the Rangers did last year with their Prince Fielder/Shin-Soo Choo acquisitions, and the free agent overpays seem to be getting smaller each year.”

KCDaveInLA
Guest
KCDaveInLA
1 year 3 months ago

I can’t help but think what a difference a few million dollars makes. What if Rios had signed for, say, $6 million instead? The market didn’t go that way obviously, but at that cost there would have been no pressure to play Rios everyday, and the left/right platoon with Dyson would have been just perfect, and if Rios has more left in the tank than the pundits believed, even better.

I totally agree on the Volquez signing. With KC’s defense, this would have been the perfect time to give some of KC’s younger pitchers a greater opportunity. Instead, this move surpresses Danny Duffy’s role on the team, and is a massive overpay for a guy that was mostly lucky last year. There were better fits to be had even if the idea was to give the likes of Kyle Zimmer and Sean Manaea more time to develop. He’ll probably win a lot of games, but just like Jeremy Guthrie won a lot of games. Yeesh.

Forrest Gumption
Member
Forrest Gumption
1 year 3 months ago

I agree with this, Rios at 1/6 makes a lot of sense and he has a lot more potential than Aoki both offensively and defensively and on the basepaths.

jdbolick
Member
Member
1 year 3 months ago

Rios was terrible last season and has been terrible in other seasons, but I agree with you about him not deserving to be on this list. It’s rather dubious for Dave to assert that Rios is only a “one win player” given that he was worth 4.2 in 2012 and 3.1 in 2013. Even though it’s not likely to happen, it is realistically possible for Rios to rebound back to a ~3 win level, which would make this a great deal for the Royals. The fact that he only has to crack 1.5 for this deal to break even makes his inclusion on this list rather bizarre. While claims of bias are tossed around too frequently, Dave’s history of bashing K.C. decision-making hasn’t gone too well for him.

SittinInMyKitchenWishinIWasLivinLikeAHitman
Guest
SittinInMyKitchenWishinIWasLivinLikeAHitman
1 year 3 months ago

I can’t fathom how anyone offered him near what they did given his disappearing act in the second half of last season.

Howie Porker
Guest
Howie Porker
1 year 3 months ago

I don’t know if it’s one of the worst, but one of the funniest is the Lester signing in Chicago. Never has there been a more obvious money-talks signing. Clearly there was no negotiation, just Lester’s camp saying something like “If you pay us 20-40 million more than everybody else is offering, sure Jon’ll play there. He’ll even act like he’s excited!” Not raining on the cubs, but calling that a clever or good signing is just ridiculous. Pure money talks.

agam22
Guest
agam22
1 year 3 months ago

I remember a lot of my fellow Phillies fans using the same logic to laugh at Jayson Werth for taking the Nats money to leave the team where he had multiple world series trips to play for a perennial doormat. There’s something to be said for a free agent having the foresight to look at where a team will be over the length of the deal rather than just focusing on where they are right now.

And besides, why shouldn’t money talk? Who doesn’t want to get paid?

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 3 months ago

It’s easy (and kinda stupid, and quite petty) to criticize other people for their money decisions. I’m sure we’ve all turned down huge raises right? Oh, wait…

The Foils
Member
The Foils
1 year 3 months ago

Self-pity does not become a modern Red Sox fan.

Forrest Gumption
Member
Forrest Gumption
1 year 3 months ago

Rios is definitely not worse than Aoki. Higher floor and ceiling. Sure he probably only deserved $5M but that one doesn’t belong on this list.

I’d say the Mariners wasting a roster spot on Rickie Weeks, when Ackley is a better 2B than him, as well as the massive amount of internal options, is crazy stupid.

The Padres believing in Derek Norris as a full-time C and not a 1B right off the bat is an error too. Hahn and Alvarez were far too large a package to get a negative defensive catcher.

Robinson Cano
Guest
Robinson Cano
1 year 3 months ago

Weeks wasn’t signed to play second base

Forrest Gumption
Member
Forrest Gumption
1 year 3 months ago

It was mentioned that he was being bought on to “spell Cano”, which Ackley could do.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
1 year 3 months ago

Rios put up -1.1 WAR 4 years ago. I don’t think Aoki has a lower floor than that.

Goat Fondler
Guest
Goat Fondler
1 year 3 months ago

Aoki actually has a relatively high floor, as he is a proven (three seasons in a row now) .285 avg /.350 on base guy who is hard to strikeout and also has speed and the potential for plus defense.

everdiso
Member
everdiso
1 year 3 months ago

I was truly scared the jays were gonna be the ones making that Markakis signing. thank god they didn’t.

and just to tweak red sox fans….I wonder if Sandoval was considered for this list?

everdiso
Guest
everdiso
1 year 3 months ago

Also a follow up…I thought Hanley would be on this list for sure. Old, poor work ethic, learning a new position, and no longer a premier hitter in any way…seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

everdiso
Member
everdiso
1 year 3 months ago

not really, minion o’mine, because hanley at least can legit hit.

though giving that much money to a guy to have him play a position he’s never played before does seem a bit off now that you mention it.

YO YO MAH
Guest
YO YO MAH
1 year 3 months ago

Twins probably think they can compete soon. Mauer, Dozier, Arcia, Vargas, Santana, Pinto, Buxton, Sano, Hughes, Santana, and various other young prospects. They’re building up a team gradually and not doing it in one big hump like the Padres. I don’t see anything wrong with the Santana deal. He’ll be there to contribute just as the team gets going.

MLB Rainmaker
Member
Member
MLB Rainmaker
1 year 3 months ago

Yeah, agree. With the Tigers looking old again and KC losing Shields, the AL Central may be up for grabs again. There is value to selling season tickets to putting a serviceable, durable arm in your rotations…Dave always seems to forget this game is about fans ultimately; a deal that improves your team, still has value even if it doesn’t necessarily bump you to World Series level….you’d think he’d learn his lesson after bashing KC’s deal for Shields??

Worf359
Guest
Worf359
1 year 3 months ago

The White Sox are now the best team in that division. They also should be contenders for a few years as well …

klof
Guest
klof
1 year 3 months ago

Dave, you dock the Twins and Mets for their Santana and Cuddyer signings, respectively, but does the fact that these and other teams are willing to give up a compensation draft pick signal that those picks aren’t as valuable as we think? I mean maybe they’re actually onto something by making that calculation? Or is it just easier to dismiss recently-poorly-run teams as poorly-run?

agam22
Guest
agam22
1 year 3 months ago

It’s pretty hard to come up with any defense of giving up any asset for the right to pay Cuddyer $20 million over 2 years, especially for a team with as many holes as the Mets

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
1 year 3 months ago

This is a pretty weird comment, because the money ($20MM/2 years) isn’t out of line for him. He’s a clear injury risk, but he did put up 4 WAR over the last two years in only 180 games, despite taking a huge hit for defense. The defensive hit can be somewhat mitigated by playing in a smaller OF than there was in Coors Field, and platooning at 1B. And what are their many holes? They weren’t going to get a clear upgrade at C, 1B, 2B, 3B, CF, or pitching. Granderson wasn’t going to the bench. So other than SS – where they’re projected as about a league average team – where are the many holes?

agam22
Guest
agam22
1 year 3 months ago

Looking at the depth chart, I guess you’re right. I would say they’re still weak at both corner OF spots and both middle infield spots and could have used bullpen help. I guess in gneral I just don’t see why a team as low as they project to be on the win curve are willing to give up a draft pick and 2 years for bad defensive outfielder with an injury history. I don’t think taking a -8 UZR/150 outfielder and putting him in a smaller outfield will make him better, especially at his age.

I was wrong, they don’t have a ton of holes, they just aren’t very good anywhere and I don’t really see how Cuddyer changes that

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
1 year 3 months ago

I agree that it was a curious move. I wouldn’t have given up a first rounder for him, and I generally prefer well rounded players to a solid bat, no glove player. But I don’t think the contract itself is out of line with his skillset. I do think his defense can be slightly less of a negative in a smaller outfield though, because a lack of range really sticks out in Colorado.

On the other hand, they’re at a spot on the win curve where a couple wins can be the difference between the playoffs and watching from home. I’d argue that they’re very good at 3B (assuming Wright is healthy – on a per game basis, he was an elite player in 2012-2013), and Lagares’ defense has been off the charts for two consecutive years so they’re very good there. The top of their rotation can be a big plus as well, as long as your name isn’t Steamer.

The main problem is that it’s tough to see where they can improve. Unless they get a star, there’s not much opportunity to improve by more than 1 win in any position. It’s nice to have a bunch of non-zero’s, but it’s not easy to find clear improvements over a bunch of average players.

CrazyPants
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

is it that tough to see where they can improve? they were last by a big margin in bullpen last season. David Robertson (if they were willing to give up the pick) or Andrew Miller or Sergio Romo for openers or all 3…

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
1 year 3 months ago

I would think they’re happy with Mejia, Familia, Black, and getting Parnell back though. They’re not going into the season with Valverde and (I’m drawing a blank – there was another older pitcher that saved a few games for them before he was cut). Steamer thinks they’re all pretty bad, but I don’t think the front office is looking at their bullpen as a negative.

The arms you listed would definitely help any team, but they could have 4 hard throwers in their bullpen, and a lot of pitching depth in the high minors. If they’re limiting their budget then I don’t think the $10MM+ bullpen arms are the answer for their team. When it comes to improving, I’m thinking more in lines with having a starting 2B who’s projected to be replacement-level, where acquiring a decent 2B is an improvement. As is, a ‘decent’ player at any position doesn’t help them.

Having said that, I thought they would go after someone like Robertson (although not at $46MM/4 years). Add him to the 4 guys mentioned above, and that’s a very strong bullpen.

jpg
Guest
jpg
1 year 3 months ago

Yeah the bullpen is dramatically different. No more Valverde, Farnsworth and Lannan. Those three were the main culprits. Once they moved Mejia from the rotation to the closer role and started using Familia as their high leverage guy, the rest of the pen fell into place.

matt
Guest
matt
1 year 3 months ago

It was crazy to give up a pick for him, what is even more crazy? Stopping there, if you are going to give up a pick for a guy like cuddyer you need to get another significant upgrade

Roger
Guest
Roger
1 year 3 months ago

Cuddyer actually fills a lot of holes reasonably well for the 2015 Mets, being a good RHH platoon partner for their preexisting passel of LHH players at corner outfield and 1B spots. No debating that it was a big overpay, and indeed it was probably driven by ownership (and their perception that he’s a good clubhouse guy) rather than by rational evaluation in the first place — but if you ignore what they had to give up to get him, he’s actually a reasonably smart addition to the roster.

Wobatus
Guest
Wobatus
1 year 3 months ago

I think this signing was also partially influenced by David Wright, who is friends with Cuddyer. Both born in Norfolk and went to high school in Chesapeake, Virginia.

John C.
Guest
John C.
1 year 3 months ago

I agree that Cuddyer theoretically fills at least some holes for the Mets … when he’s healthy. But the guy turns 36 before Opening Day, and has averaged 93 games per year the past three seasons. He’s a bat only player whose bat has been considerably assisted by playing in Coors Field the past three years. Overall it’s a helluva thing for a National League to punt a first round pick for the age 36 and 37 seasons of an injury prone bat-only player coming from a pinball park to one of the tougher hitters’ parks in baseball.

But maybe there is some logic to it that I’m just missing here.

Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Byrd
Guest
Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Byrd
1 year 3 months ago

I think David Wright had a lot to do with it, as Wobatus said.

BMarkham
Guest
BMarkham
1 year 3 months ago

You are the one taking the easy way out, by just assuming that since the teams in question made the move that they know what they’re doing. That is a rather obvious appeal to authority Not to mention that using that logic there were many more teams have avoided signing QO’d players, as Santana, Drew, and Morales had such a hard time finding deals last year because of it.

To the contrary, many words have been typed on the value of the first round picks, by going back and looking what those picks have produced on average.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
1 year 3 months ago

First rounders aren’t very valuable outside of the top 15 or so. Supplemental and 2nd rounders aren’t valuable at all.

Anyone with a computer and the internet can verify that for themselves if they check out B-Ref’s draft pick history.

Greg Tellis
Guest
Greg Tellis
1 year 3 months ago

The Edinson Volquez I saw last year sailed through his starts with a very live arm…his second half was dominant…
one of the keys was his improvement with strike one…ahead on the count, he could relax and be himself…a pitcher
with a high strikeout, high groundball, low HR profile…from what I read, his committment to getting ahead on the
count was due to refined sequencing rather than an accident…Volquez has a natural pitching motion that promises
above average durability…this was an excellent signing…the Giants, for one, needed a pitcher with some snap in his
arm, as both Hudson and Peavy will be hard pressed to get out of the sixth…look for Volquez to be more effective
than Peavy over the course of their two year contracts.

John
Guest
John
1 year 3 months ago

Is this a joke?

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 3 months ago

Kendrys Morales has to be like #11 on this list, right? I honestly think Butler is a better signing than him. When you combine bringing in Rios and Morales with letting Butler go, it gets extra baffling.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 3 months ago

At least Morales is a 1-year mistake, rather than a 3-year mistake. Given that I would prefer his shorter mistake to the longer one.

Bill Bavasi
Guest
Bill Bavasi
1 year 3 months ago

Somehow, no. He only got two years. I would’ve given him at least three, but then again, I suppose I’m no longer in charge of a big-league organization. For all those dingers he hits, 2 years at $17M is a huge bargain.

An objective observer
Guest
An objective observer
1 year 3 months ago

This list is rubbish; the real worst transaction of the offseason was covered here: http://www.fangraphs.com/not/notgraphs-a-valedictory-statement/

CS Yankee
Guest
CS Yankee
1 year 3 months ago

I was agreeing with everything on this list until #3 and couldn’t believe #1.

Max has to be a top 5 SP when considering his age, workload and performance over the last three years (which is the longest one should look for as a P)…Kemp rebounded well, I couldn’t believe the Dodgers lost 1/2 (Hanley as well) of their power in one off-season. Ethier or Crawford would have made better sense to move.

VMart (age, oft-injured and position reasons), Panda (size and power reasons), and Hanley (never played LF, oft-injured, lack of speed) not making this list is a big surprise as well.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 3 months ago

So the Yankees fan doesn’t like the Red Sox signings? I am SHOCKED.

CS Yankee
Guest
CS Yankee
1 year 3 months ago

That is what you take for my post?

Bad signings by the NYY this off-season are Cap and Drew…expecting a dead cat bounce for a combined 10M$ seems like a big, big waste to me. Cap was cut and overlooked by everyone and Drew hit like 160 for the BoSox and less than that for NY. They didn’t sign anyone else other than Chase and Miller, but those seem like a good moves.

I think the BoSox fleeced Detroit for a good pitcher, have a good problem at 2B (Betts and Pedroida) that they need to figure out at some time, and a stacked farm. They are in great shape (Dodgers took most of their baggage) and won 3 titles in 10-11 years. Missing out on Lester might prove wise long-term. However, it seems like they signed two of the off-seasons most questionable deals.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 3 months ago

That’s fair. I don’t know that the Drew signing is so bad, he was all kinds of awful last year but it’s a short-term, low-cost signing so they can’t get burned too badly there even if he doesn’t work out.

I’m quite interested to see how the Sox rotation works out this year. So, so many question marks (not that the NYY and TOR rotations don’t have question marks of their own).

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
1 year 3 months ago

Yeah, the Yanks rotation questions are “Will any of their good pitchers be physically capable of throwing a baseball.”

The Sox question is more along the lines of “Will any of these pitchers be even league-average at preventing runs from scoring?”

It’ll be interesting.

The Dude Abides
Guest
The Dude Abides
1 year 3 months ago

Dave – I’m pretty sure that the Padres also gave up another pitching prospect in the Kemp for Grandal + Wieland deal. Zach E…and the Dodgers shipped that prospect to Philly as part of the Rollins trade.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 3 months ago

How close was the Josh Donaldson trade to making this list? Your most hated deal was the inverse of your 3rd most liked deal (the Kemp trade). But the inverse of your 6th most liked deal didn’t make this list at all. Maybe a little blind faith in Beane?

AK7007
Member
AK7007
1 year 3 months ago

You can like a deal for both teams you know. Or like one side and be ambivalent about the other. The A’s had internal concerns that Donaldson would decline. (That’s reading into Beane’s comment to the press that he made changes this offseason because he saw a team declining, and wanted to reverse the trend) So, that makes sense for the A’s. It can also be very good for the Jays to say “we just want to win today” since their roster is set up for it. They get to capitalize on the A’s high roster churn, while the A’s turned one good chip into a slightly lesser player plus lotto tickets. They like lotto tickets.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 3 months ago

That is true, but seriously, how many teams could trade a 29-year old who’s coming off back-to-back MVPish type seasons for a guy who’s been below average aside from a huge debut 4 years ago and not get skewered for it?

Imagine if the Pirates traded McCutchen for Michael Brantley and some lottery tickets. How would that go over?

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
1 year 3 months ago

McCutchen is both younger than Donaldson and signed through 2018 for a reasonable rate, along with being a (much, much, much) better hitter.

A better comparison would be Kyle Seager. Hell, Todd Frazier works better than McCutchen.

BMarkham
Guest
BMarkham
1 year 3 months ago

You do realize the Butler deal is on the list right?

Mike
Guest
Mike
1 year 3 months ago

You can’t be a low cost index fund guy all the time. Sometimes you have to put some growth funds in your portfolio.

There is some risk here for Preller but the upside is undeniable.

Particularly for 2015 and 2016 I think it is low-med risk and a lot of potential for high reward.

This is a former MVP candidate that raked like his former self in the second half last year. No chance this works out for the Padres? Worst deal of the offseason?

There’s a good chance this assessment as worst deal turns out to be absolutely dead wrong.

francis
Guest
francis
1 year 3 months ago

I’m glad to see that you provide links to your predictions of previous years.

Kenz
Guest
Kenz
1 year 3 months ago

To me the Cuddyer signing has an alternate purpose, not just getting a veteran above-average bat who could spell Duda at first. The Mets might have paid $21 million and the 15th overall draft pick to get Cuddyer and Tulowitzki’s personal phone number. If Cuddyer was as influential a clubhouse guy as everyone says he is, he might be the guy whom the Mets can rely on to persuade Tulowitzki to want to play for them. I would see this deal as a success if it turns out the Mets can acquire Tulo for a below-average return either mid-season at the trade deadline, or next offseason.

CrazyPants
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

um and you think the Mets would pay a $21M vig just for the possibility of persuading Tulo to accept a trade here? that’s one of the more bizarre things I’ve read here.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 3 months ago

Yeah, when a guy names “CrazyPants” calls you crazy, you’ve gone and said something…

I think Kenz should rename himself as CrazyPantsShirtSocksShoesHat&Bowtie

Paul G.
Guest
Paul G.
1 year 3 months ago

Well, this is the Mets. It would not surprise me at all if that was part of the motivation. The crazy works for them sometimes.

CrazyPants
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

yeah, when?

francis
Guest
francis
1 year 3 months ago

For example, when they made Wilpon the head of financial stability, or whatever nonsense title they just gave him.

CrazyPants
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

Anyone else think it’s pretty creative to blame the Kemp deal for the reason that the Pads had to trade Jesse Hahn?

Talk about a stretch of logic. I mean, it’s not like the Pads had no other alternatives to add a C.

Alan
Guest
Alan
1 year 3 months ago

He does a great job of somehow making it sound like the Padres gave up w catchers and Jesse Hahn without every getting a catcher back.

I’m not a fan of the Kemp deal, but this is overkill.

Steven
Guest
Steven
1 year 3 months ago

I think Scherzer was destined for this list as soon as he hit free agency. Long term massive contracts to pitchers in their 30’s pretty much never pan out for teams.

Hating Hater
Guest
Hating Hater
1 year 3 months ago

The Alex Rios signing is a great deal BECAUSE it displaced Dyson. Dyson is the absolute worst.

BaseballGuy
Guest
BaseballGuy
1 year 3 months ago

There’s this thing called defense. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.

Too bad you aren’t running the Royals because I’m pretty sure there are 29 GM’s out there who wouldn’t mind taking Dyson off the Royals’ hands.

djw
Guest
djw
1 year 3 months ago

What a strange view. Dyson had an 85 wRC+; Rios a 92 wRC+ last year. The defensive gap value is much, much bigger than that. Rios is four years older. Projection systems all see much more value for Dyson. Why are they wrong?

anon
Guest
anon
1 year 3 months ago

Why do DH’s get a defensive penalty in the first place? Shouldn’t they just get a 0 for the def term? Someone is forced to fill the position so can someone explain the thought process to include the penalty in the first place?

Doug Lampert
Guest
Doug Lampert
1 year 3 months ago

Everything except the final replacement level addition to WAR is indexed to league average, value above or below average is a lot more straightforward to calculate than value over replacement since there are many ways to be replacement value, but only one way to be league average at any particular aspect of the game.

A league average fielder at any other position has more value than an equal hitting DH, because the fielder hits AND does something else. Thus there needs to be a positional adjustment, either DH needs a negative, or every other position needs to be positive, and again, making things average 0 makes for cleaner, simpler math.

Positional adjustments are based on the idea that you’ll put up with poor hitting to get a league average defensive SS, but you won’t put up with poor hitting to get a DH. Since prior to the positional adjustment the league average defensive SS is worth the same amount as an equal hitting DH the positional adjustment is required. Making positional adjustments average roughly 0 over the field is just consistency with the rest of the system.

I think the positional adjustments are currently too large, they’re defined in runs, not wins, and runs get more valuable in a low scoring environment, and the run environment is MUCH lower now than when the adjustments were calculated.

Satoshi
Guest
Satoshi
1 year 3 months ago

I’m surprised the Saunders trade wasn’t on here. An offense starved team trading a young, cheap OF with pop (.172 projected ISO) for an older, more expensive borderline 5th starter seems good in no ways and bad in like 6.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 3 months ago

I somewhat question the premise you are using to criticize the Santana and Markakis deals. Both of those players strike me as overrated, so I can understand why they could be on the list regardless, but what I take issue with is the idea that they particularly are a bad fit for the team that signed them. The underlying premise is basically that rebuilding teams have no reason to try to improve, and therefore, any signing they make should be done with only the future in mind. A one-year deal on a high-upside guy has this potential because if he works out, they can either extend him or trade him for future value, and there is no long-term detriment. That’s fine, but there are only so many of those guys available, and even if they take a few, they may still have room in their payroll. At that point, they can either not use it, or they can sign a mid-tier player who won’t significantly burden them, but will fill a hole and prevent them from tossing out some scrub in the starting lineup or rotation. Given the choice between not using the payroll and signing a mid-level free agent to be a little less atrocious, I think the latter is easily the better option. For me, the worst part of these signings is losing a draft pick.

KJ
Guest
KJ
1 year 3 months ago

Markakis wasn’t offered arbitration so he didn’t cost the Braves a draft pick.

Earl
Guest
Earl
1 year 3 months ago

You know, this list doesn’t really seem that bad to me. Markakis looks bad, and Cuddyer was kind of dumb, but neither is really a killer and the money isn’t that awful. The Kemp deal isn’t as crazy in the context of SD trying to make a big splash this year. I wonder if execs might actually be getting a little smarter these days.

Johnny Ringo
Guest
1 year 3 months ago

Dave pre-stated that this year’s list wasn’t as bad as last years. And, you got to pick 10 based on the format and he did pretty well most likely in his picks.

isasson
Member
1 year 3 months ago

Hey guys, me and two of my close friends have created a baseball podcast where we talk about baseball and are working on interviewing players, please help us out and like comment share subscribe to the videos. Thank you!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOA3ROPeyDM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe4GrWKvi_U
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqGv0Cltk3s

MC Hitch
Guest
MC Hitch
1 year 3 months ago

Russell Martin?

BaseballGuy
Guest
BaseballGuy
1 year 3 months ago

Obviously no one considers that a bad move right now. But I will say, it could turn out to be. Catchers decline quickly and crash hard. And he’s played a ton of baseball.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
1 year 3 months ago

Eh, the McCann deal has been pretty much a worst-case scenario, and it’s still fair when you consider pitch framing (presuming there’s no further decline).

pft
Guest
pft
1 year 3 months ago

Sometimes the worst move is the one never made. Yankees failure to sign Shields, and Cruz, and release Arod have to be considered in the top 10 misses of 2015.

They may also regret losing Greene, Phelps and Prado and signing Drew to play 2B instead of SS. Didi is young but can’t hit, and Eovaldi has a nice FB but can’t miss bats or prevent runs.

When your a 80-85 W team with baseballs largest assets and revenues and you don’t improve yourself somethings wrong

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
1 year 3 months ago

…lol?

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
1 year 3 months ago

Funny, I thought the one Royals move you didn’t include would be on here, and not the other two.

Rios – You didn’t include a single other person on a one year contract, you actually gave a few reasons (though not at all) to why the signing was decent and not terrible. Terrible signings belong on this list, not questionable one year deals, especially for a 2-time All-Star who was hitting 300 in the first half/before getting injured in what ended up being the worst season of his career. Nori’s never had above a 2.3 WAR while Rios has topped that in most of his healthy seasons. Even in the tail end of his career, its not a reach to say he’ll match Nori. The extra $ is risk/reward for something better than Nori, which he’s proven in about 5 different seasons he can do.

Volquez – His FIP and xFIP have been pretty damn consistent across his career. His walk rate has gone down ever year for the last four (though his K’s have too). He gets groundballs and he pitches innings. He’ll be pitching by far in the best pitchers park and behind the best pitchers defense he’s ever had. I do agree his BABIP inflated his statistics and caused a guy would be signing for 2/13 or something to get more, but once again its questionable at worse. Volquez is a servicable 5th without the Royals defense and if there’s somewhere he can thrive and be a solid 3-4, it’s Kansas City.
I think you have now nearly a decade of ranking Dayton Moore’s moves on the bottom of your list, year in and year out, and it limits your ability to judge his moves in an unbiased manner.

You mention at the top of the post you won’t make some of your previous mistakes but is this not a little reminiscent of when you put the Royals signing Ervin as #10 on your worst list? You suggested they should sign Joe Blanton or Joe Saunders instead of him. YOU LITERALLY SAID THAT DAVE! Hell, you even added Jermey Guthrie and James Shields in there for good measure. Don’t lie to yourself and act like you’re being unbaised here. I mean, how else could these two moves really be worse than something like trading for Marlon Byrd, giving a Panda worth maybe 60 nearly 100, or the D-Backs giving Tomas 70M. But of course not, as long as Dayton’s making moves, there will be Dave Cameron (and to be fair, many other unfair writers) to blindly critizize it.

Billy Butler
Guest
Billy Butler
1 year 3 months ago

So a 97 wRC+ is a “terrible” season now? I have a 117 career wRC+ — no chance I might, you know, rebound?

Also, A’s DHs combined for an 88 wRC+ in 2014, so my “unspectacular offense” is a nice little upgrade, thank you very much…

djw
Guest
djw
1 year 3 months ago

For a DH, 97 is definitely terrible.

Billy Butler
Guest
Billy Butler
1 year 3 months ago

Shin-Soo Choo’s defense is pretty much as bad as Butler’s, and his contract is much worse, and he had a 100 wRC+.

Obviously, Butler will need to rebound for the contract to make sense, but there were plenty of bigger names and bigger contracts who were right around where Butler was offensively (Reyes 102, Kinsler 102, Wright 100, Howard 93, Kipnis 86, etc.). And $10M/year for 3 years isn’t a ton of money, even for the A’s.

Odds are he rebounds at least a little; his next-worst wRC+ over the past six seasons is 117, which the A’s would gladly take. He’s also been very durable.

BaseballGuy
Guest
BaseballGuy
1 year 3 months ago

Huh? You thinking of someone else? First of all, NO ONE’s defense is as bad as Billy Butler, and Choo plays a more valuable position, and isn’t terrible (long as he’s not in CF). I think you’re confusing him with someone.

EnricoPalatzzo
Member
EnricoPalatzzo
1 year 3 months ago

Jon Lester. Progressing to the precipice of their prospects premiering their prodigious playing prowess, the powers that be pledge a pact of poor payment and plummet their possibilities of prospective prosperity. Poo.

Nettles9
Guest
Nettles9
1 year 3 months ago

How did the A’s trading Donaldson for Lawrie not make this list?

Mantis Toboggan
Guest
Mantis Toboggan
1 year 3 months ago

Because they got more than just Lawrie?

It’s tough to judge the trade right now. Several aspects to the trade that we’ll have to see for a few years before we can call definitively call the trade a bust. Also, Donaldson’s D is still great but his bat took a step back in ’14.

BaseballGuy
Guest
BaseballGuy
1 year 3 months ago

That wasn’t a bad deal at all for the A’s. It was pretty even in my opinion.

Forrest Gumption
Member
Forrest Gumption
1 year 3 months ago

Barreto is very good prospect that the Jays refused to trade to any other team, he very well could be a top 10 prospect this time next year if he can continue on the path he’s started.

The trade makes a lot of short-sighted sense for both sides if Stroman or Sanchez are in the deal, but Beane and the FO really wanted Nolin and Graveman is a total wild card who’s cutter might actually be something that could put him in ROY circles. Lawrie is a fantastic talent who has an outward love of the game that only a rare few can approach.

Donaldson is Donaldson, putting him on turf might not be the best of ideas due to his rambunctious style, but he’s a WAR king/top 10 MVP vote kind of guy if he plays 140+.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
1 year 3 months ago

Yeah, Barreto’s got a lot of Mookie in him, IMO.

matt
Guest
matt
1 year 3 months ago

Agreed, both have fun names.

Check In
Guest
Check In
1 year 3 months ago

Which of these will be hilarious to see on the list in a year?

I bet on 3, 10, and 1 in the order of probability and 1, 3, 10 in order of how potentially hilarious.

Tanned Tom
Guest
Tanned Tom
1 year 3 months ago

While trading for Kemp was a risk, it was an understandable one, this is a team trying to rapidly improve, so you take these sorts of gambles. The Butler signing was simply illogical, and the Cuddyer signing laughable. The Cruz signing was wrong-headed in a way that should surprise no one, but the worst signing was Markakis. Why even bother signing a marginal player for 4 years when you’re in the middle of rebuilding? Totally pointless.

Spencer21
Guest
Spencer21
1 year 3 months ago

The A’s trading Josh Donaldson should have made this list. Considering what they gave up, they got hardly anything back.

Padres dealing for Kemp (if that was all they did) wouldnt have looked very smart. But when you considering everything else they also accomplished – it makes complete sense. Padres are stacking their team with bats to finally score some runs, and contend now. I cant fault for that. If Kemp gives them even great short term value, its a huge win for that franchise. Who cares what he looks like 3-5 years from now. This is the way the game is played now. If you want to contend, you gotta take the good with the bad. And that means eating bad end of contract years in order to contend in the present. The big market clubs do it. The smaller market clubs have to do it too.

This list seems to focus more on contract $$$ than simply looking at talent value.

Forrest Gumption
Member
Forrest Gumption
1 year 3 months ago

If Lawrie hits 20 HR, he’s a 5+ WAR player. Donaldson is also a 5+ WAR player. Lawrie is younger but has less years of control (the one thing I dont like about this deal – if this is 3 years of Donaldson then this package is perfect).

Graveman put up absurd numbers at every stop in the ladder last year that he credits to a cutter. He could very well be in the ROY running.

Nolin has a higher ceiling and Beane has coveted him for over a year now.

Barreto has a sky-high ceiling and the Blue Jays told other teams he was untouchable. It would not be surprising to see him in top 15 prospects in MLB lists a year from now.

So, no, the A’s actually cleaned up pretty well. Both teams did well on paper.

Fletcher
Guest
Fletcher
1 year 3 months ago

The A’s did not maximize Donaldson’s value at all. In fact, it would have been better for them to not have traded him at all.

They traded a cost controlled MVP candidate still in his 20s for a few prospects and a veteran who’ll never be as good as Donaldson (AND is under even less team control).

In what world is that a good deal?

Forrest Gumption
Member
Forrest Gumption
1 year 3 months ago

I think a year of Howie Kendrick is worth much less than Andrew Heaney. Why did everyone stop believing in Heaney after such a short time? I like Howie as a Dodger but they could have gotten him for less.

Jesse
Guest
Jesse
1 year 3 months ago

Kemp over Venable no brainer

BGko
Guest
BGko
1 year 3 months ago

It’s too much of a leap for Cameron to say the Kemp trade forced the Padres’ hand to trade Hahn in order to fill the C spot. At that point we still had Rivera and Federowicz, and then spent Rivera on Myers. Rivera was our main catcher in 2014. Even after the Myers trade we got HAnnigan, and didn’t have an empty spot until we flipped him for Middlebrooks. Thus, it wasn’t until two trades later that we ended up with an empty C spot.

wrong em
Guest
wrong em
1 year 3 months ago

So assume that, as suggested in the post, the Twins needed another veteran placeholder in the rotation (I’m not convinced of that, but they’ve been burned by weak SP depth before, and perhaps the management plans on Nolasco being gone once he recovers a sliver of trade value). If the better move was to “bet on upside rather than pay for stability,” what move would have accomplished that? Who was a cheaper addition to their rotation who would have been worth building around if he approached his upside, like Hughes? I’m not saying there wasn’t such a pitcher, I’m just curious who you think it was this year.

wpDiscuz