Most Major League teams are now focused on the offseason and looking for ways to get to the World Series next year. One key, however, will be to avoid overpriced players that will not help the club.
General managers are often prone to overreaction. These type of moves can cost a team for years.
In 2009, the New York Mets were last in the majors in home runs. In turn, the team signed Jason Bay to a four-year deal after he hit 36 home runs with the Boston Red Sox. In three years, Bay has hit only 26 home runs, has a .234 average and could not be traded for a box of balls.
These players will not necessarily have the same experience, but they are unlikely to live up to whatever contract they sign.
Carlos Pena, First Base
In 2007, Pena slugged 46 home runs and had a respectable .282 batting average. However, that was the last time his batting average topped .250. This year, he finished under the Mendoza line (.200) for the second time in his career.
This would not be as bad if his power numbers did not drop significantly, totaling only 19 home runs. Considering his home-run potential is the only thing keeping him in the majors, this is very bad.
There are not many alternatives at first base, so one team might get desperate and hope he returns to form. Unfortunately, his best years are clearly behind him.
Shane Victorino, Outfield
Most athletes choose the final year of their contract to have the best season of their career. Victorino chose to have his worst.
The former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder can still play the outfield and steal bases, but he cannot get on base like he did in the past. His on-base percentage with Philadelphia was only .324 and it dropped to .316 after he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He hits like a leadoff-hitter, but he has been ineffective in that spot over his career. Teams would be better off spending money on Michael Bourn or saving it for a player that will help the team more down the line.
Nick Swisher, Outfield
Swisher would be a solid mid-level outfielder, but he is apparently asking for something in the neighborhood of Jayson Werth's $126 million contract, according to John Heyman.
Although his high walk rate helps him in a very deep lineup like the New York Yankees, he is unlikely to be successful if he is asked to be a middle-of-the-order hitter like his price tag would imply.
He also has been less than effective in the playoffs, where he has a .165 career batting average in 42 career games. There is no way a team should pay top dollar to build a lineup around him.
Kyle Lohse, Starting Pitcher
While it is important to avoid players on the decline, it is also key to watch out for players coming off the best year of their career. This is especially true for pitchers that have been in the majors for 12 years.
Lohse has spent his career being bounced around the back ends of rotations and was usually around his career ERA of 4.55. However, this year he turned himself into a legitimate ace with a career-best 16 wins, 143 strikeouts and 2.86 ERA.
The better results were part improvements and part luck, but teams should not gamble a lot of money on the fact that Lohse has completely reinvented himself at age 34.
He has only topped 200 innings three times in his career and is more likely to spend the end of a multi-year contract on the disabled list than in Cy Young contention.
Francisco Rodriguez, Relief Pitcher
After a year-and-a-half being a set-up man for John Axford, it is likely Francisco Rodriguez is looking for a place he can once again become a closer.
Considering how much teams like established players and the fact that K-Rod has 294 career saves, this seems likely to happen.
However, Rodriguez finished the year with seven blown saves, seven losses and a career-high ERA of 4.38. This added up to a WAR of negative-0.2, which means he cost the team more wins than he created.
Regardless of the price tag, it would be a bad move for any front office to sign him.