The Pittsburgh Pirates may not have been good enough for the likes of Roy Oswalt and Edwin Jackson, but Erik Bedard didn't find the team so unattractive. Pittsburgh locked up Bedard on a one-year deal worth $4.5 million in December.
Those are sometimes the only deals that small-market teams can convince players to sign. For reasons both financial (Rays and A's) and personal (Pirates and Royals), certain teams have little or no chance of signing major stars to the hefty contracts that so bedazzle baseball fans these days. Executives like Neal Huntington and Billy Beane have to get very creative in order to find suitable talent who will sign with their respective clubs.
Every year, one or two of these under-the-radar signings pan out in a really good way. They can be small changes for some teams, but fill critical areas of need for others. Here is the best low-investment deal each team has made this winter. To qualify, the player in question had to sign for less than $5 million in annual average salary.