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New York Yankees: 10 Free Agents the Bombers Were Wise to Pass on

Doug RushSenior Analyst IMay 7, 2012

New York Yankees: 10 Free Agents the Bombers Were Wise to Pass on

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    We always critique how teams do with bringing in new players.

    Do they work out for the team, or are they a bust?

    Every year, the New York Yankees always find themselves in the mix of rumors for more than a dozen players.

    Some come true, while a lot of them end up just being a rumor and nothing more.

    With a lot of these players, it's a good thing they were only rumors, because they end up being major busts.

    Here's a list of 10 players that the Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman wisely passed up on.

Bartolo Colon

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    I'm not talking about signing Bartolo Colon in 2011; that was a genius move by Brian Cashman.

    Nope, I'm talking about right before the 2004 season.

    Colon was one of the top pitchers on the market and a lot of people thought the Yankees might take a stab at adding Colon, especially with the departures of Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte to Houston.

    The Yankees decided to trade for Kevin Brown and Javier Vazquez and passed on signing Colon, who took a four-year, $51 million deal from the Angels.

    The first two years of Colon's deal were good, but in the rest of his deal, Colon couldn't stay healthy.

    In the last two years, he only made 29 total starts due to a torn rotator cuff that he suffered in Game 5 of the ALDS against the Yankees.

    Following his stint with the Angels, it took Colon almost four years to finally get back into baseball shape and back to form with the Yankees.

    But back in 2004, the Yankees made the right choice in not signing Colon to a long-term deal.

Daisuke Matsuzaka

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    Remember the Dice-K craze during the World Baseball Classic?

    It was enough to drive up pending free agent Daisuke Matsuzaka's price tag, as teams had to submit a bid to his Japanese team just to earn the rights to talk to him.

    The Yankees did put in a bid, but not a very high one, similar to how they did with Yu Darvish this past winter.

    The Yankees knew that the Red Sox, Rangers and Mets would all be interested and if Brian Cashman wanted to, could have made a bid that would blow everyone away.

    He didn't though, as he submitted the fourth largest bid at around $32 million. The Red Sox ended up winning with a bid of $51 million.

    Boston then signed the Japanese starter to a six-year, $52 million deal; so in total, they had to give up $103 million to land him.

    Has he been worth $103 million? Not even close.

    He had one good season, which was in 2008 going 18-3 and finished fourth for the Cy Young.

    The rest of the time, Matsuzaka has been on the disabled list with multiple injuries; his latest is that he had Tommy John Surgery in 2011 and is still recovering from it right now.

    The Yankees were wise to low-ball the bid, because $103 million for Matsuzaka would have been a disaster.

Pedro Martinez

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    Once upon a time, Pedro Martinez was the best starting pitcher in the game.

    As a member of the Boston Red Sox, Pedro dominated hitters on the mound. He was brash and arrogant, but he was great.

    After helping the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series, Pedro was going to be a free agent and he was one of the big names on the market.

    However, he was 33 years old and had a lot of mileage on his arm. Boston wasn't rushing to offer him a major deal, and there was rumblings of if the Yankees would try to pry away one of their biggest enemies.

    The Yankees didn't even have to try because the team that plays six miles away ended up snagging Pedro, as the Mets got him on a four-year, $53 million deal.

    He had one good season with the Mets, his first one in 2005, because after that, Pedro was never the same pitcher.

    He spent a lot of time on the disabled list and his velocity disappeared, which allowed hitters to tee off on him.

    He was hated to begin with for being a long-time Red Sox. Imagine if he had signed with the Yankees, then spent most of it on the DL?

    Getting Randy Johnson in a trade ended up being a better move in the short-term.

Alfonso Soriano

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    Most Yankee fans will remember Alfonso Soriano because he was once their power-hitting second basemen who was also their leadoff hitter.

    Soriano was traded for Alex Rodriguez and played for the Rangers and then the Nationals.

    Right before the 2007 season Soriano was a free agent who rejected a contract extension from Washington and Soriano was open to the idea of returning to New York, where he was now an outfielder, and not a second basemen.

    During the 2006 season after Gary Sheffield suffered a wrist injury, a lot of people thought the Yankees would try to trade back for Soriano, but it never happened.

    The Chicago Cubs ended up giving Soriano an eight-year, $136 million deal.

    Every year that Soriano has been on the Cubs, he has gotten progressively worse and his deal ranks as one of the worst current contracts in baseball.

    A lot of people have said that the Soriano contract is one of the many that got former Cubs GM Jim Hendry fired last season. Hard to argue with that.

    At 36, Soriano is nothing more than a 20 home run hitter and doesn't steal bases like he used to.

    The Yankees were wise to pass on Soriano before 2007, because that kind of deal for Soriano would have been a disaster in New York.

Ben Sheets

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    At one time, Ben Sheets was a rising star in baseball who was going to get a mega-deal if he ever hit free agency.

    The only problem for Sheets was that he could never stay healthy.

    Sheets was a free agent after the 2008 season and nearly signed with the Texas Rangers, but tests revealed that he had a torn flexor tendon in his elbow, which KO'ed his 2009 season.

    Sheets wanted to pitch in 2010 and spent the 2009 year rehabbing and getting ready for another shot at free agency.

    In December of 2009, there were rumors of the Yankees taking a flier on Sheets and adding him to the rotation, but Brian Cashman didn't want to give Sheets a lot of guaranteed money.

    The Oakland A's instead gave Sheets a one-year, $10 million deal for the 2010 season.

    Sheets started out 4-9 before it was revealed in July of 2010 that he again tore the flexor tendon in his right elbow and would be out for the rest of the season.

    Since then, Sheets has not returned to baseball and it's pretty safe to say his career is over.

    It's a sad tale, but the Yankees were wise to pass on Sheets.

Jason Bay

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    Jason Bay used to be a good baseball player.

    When he was on the Pirates and then the Red Sox, Bay used to be a feared power-hitter who came up with a lot of big hits.

    Bay left the Red Sox as a free agent after the 2009 season and he was one of the top three free agents on the market.

    The Yankees had interest, and Brian Cashman did in fact talk to Bay's agent, Joe Urbon, that winter.

    The Mets ended up getting the services of Bay on a four-year, $66 million deal and they have regretted it ever since.

    Bay has had a lot of injuries since coming to New York and his power is non-existent playing at Citi Field.

    Many Mets fans would love to send Bay out of town because he went from being a 36 home run hitter to hitting just 19 in his first three years with the team.

    Going with Brett Gardner in left field was absolutely the wiser decision over giving Bay a massive contract.

John Lackey

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    I am so glad the Yankees never got this guy. In fact, I hate this guy.

    Not because he plays for Boston, but for the fact that he divorced his wife while she's in the middle of a battle with cancer.

    Anyway, before all of this, Lackey was once a World Series hero for the Angels on the verge of free agency.

    The Yankees had Lackey on their radar and saw him in the range of an A.J. Burnett-type deal (five years, $82.5 million.)

    I don't know if the rumors picked up or they just really wanted him, but the Red Sox moved very quickly to sign Lackey to a five-year, $82.5 million deal.

    Boston has regretted it ever since, because Lackey has not lived up to the deal.

    In 2011, Lackey had an ERA of 6.41 with a 12-12 record. He was also in the middle of the controversy that he, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester were all drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the locker room while partying during the middle of Boston's September collapse.

    Some thought Lackey might get traded before the 2012 season, but Lackey needed Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2012 season.

    Another great pass by Brian Cashman. One of the worst deals ever made by Theo Epstein.

Carl Crawford

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    I'll be the first one to admit it, I used to really want Carl Crawford on the Yankees playing in left field.

    Many others did too, and you couldn't blame them, as Crawford was one of the top base stealers in the game.

    When Crawford entered free agency in the winter of 2010, everyone knew the Tampa Bay Rays couldn't hold onto him, so the top teams were lining up for his services.

    The Yankees had interest, or so everyone thought, during the winter meetings of 2010. Brian Cashman sat down to have dinner with Crawford and a lot of people thought that the Yankees would offer him big bucks for his services.

    That spooked the Red Sox into moving quickly and giving Crawford a seven-year, $142 million deal.

    Cashman then admitted he never had serious interest and only negotiated to drive Boston's price up, which he did.

    Since going to Boston, Crawford has not lived up to that big-time deal he got last year and it's gotten worse.

    It was announced at the end of April that Crawford would miss the first three months of the 2012 season due to a ligament injury in his left elbow.

    Brett Gardner, again, looks like a bargain in left field, while Boston has another big-named contract that isn't living up to the hype on their books.

Jayson Werth

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    Jayson Werth was one of those guys that had a few decent seasons and got paid too much as a result.

    When I heard the Yankees were potentially interested in trying for Werth, I was never a fan of it.

    I preferred Nick Swisher in right field and Brett Gardner in left over Werth, and I think Brian Cashman did, too.

    After leaving the Phillies as a free agent, Werth signed one of the most surprising free agent deals in the winter of 2010, as the Washington Nationals gave him a seven-year, $126 million deal.

    Most people's first reaction to the deal was "overpaid."

    In his first season with the Nationals, Werth hit just .232 with 20 home runs and 58 RBI. For $126 million, Weth should be hitting at least .280 with 40 home runs and 120 RBI, but he wasn't.

    This past week, it got even worse for the Nationals, as Werth broke his wrist while trying to dive for a ball against the Phillies.

    Werth underwent surgery on the wrist and will miss the next 12 weeks to recover.

    Talk about a disaster for the Nationals with Werth.

    Imagine if the Yankees had done this?

Albert Pujols

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    Going into the 2012 season, there was no player better than Albert Pujols.

    He had won two World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals and numerous teams were lining up for his services when he hit the free agent market this past winter.

    Everyone wondered if the Yankees would show interest in landing Pujols, but they never showed interest.

    In fact, Pujols' agent Dan Lozano even called the Yankees and Brian Cashman to see if the Yankees had interest, and he told them no.

    Pujols ended up signing a 10-year, $254 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels and thus far, it's been a disappointing deal.

    Entering May 7, Pujols is hitting just .195 with one home run and seven RBI. Pujols just hit his first home run for the Angels on May 6, something that has angered and frustrated Angels fans all over.

    The 2012 season is just a month in, and Pujols could bounce back from this slow start, but can you imagine if the Yankees had Pujols and he was only hitting .195 in May?

    Cashman would be criticized and run right out of town. Good thing he said no to Pujols and $254 million over 10 years.

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