MLB Free Agency: Most Overpriced Players on the Market
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There are several ways a club can break in new players: either through their farm system, trades or free agency. Something as simple as overpaying a player can set back a team's plan for years.
Every market has a buyer's baseline price for every single player. The trick is to avoid the ones that may provide high-risk and little reward.
For example, this season the San Francisco Giants signed Gregor Blanco and he has blossomed into an everyday left fielder for them in the playoffs. Two years ago, they signed Aubrey Huff and he led them to the World Series. The contract he signed after, ironically, is the exact thing that teams are trying to avoid, as Huff is still playing it out this year despite not providing anything on the field.
This year's crop of free agents aren't as strong as years past but there are plenty of players that hold inflated price tags.
Long known for his scary blend of power and speed, his play dropped considerably in 2012.
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After playing his way to an OBP of .358 from 2008-11, he struggled in his contract year, slumping his way to a .321 OBP and slugging under .400 for the first time in his career.
It also doesn't help that he is 31 and the speed portion of his game will continue to drop. Without the ability to get on base like he used to and decreasing base-stealing prowess, he will prove to be just a fourth outfielder for teams who will pay him starting outfielder money.
However, teams like the Dodgers will continue to pay him because they need the outfield depth with Kemp, Ethier and Crawford battling injuries throughout the year.
Other teams like the Braves may also take a look because they will lose their own star outfielder, Michael Bourn.
In the last year of his contract, Kyle Lohse has appeared to turn a corner and become a reliable starter.
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While spending 2008-11 in St. Louis, Lohse accumulated an ERA of 4.27 and a WHIP of 1.35. This year he turned it around by pitching his way to a 2.86 ERA and a minuscule 1.09 WHIP.
The question is, which is more likely to be the leading cause for improvement? Has he finally turned his career around under Dave Duncan or was this just a fluke contract year?
Teams should answer with the latter because not only has Lohse failed to do this before in any capacity, but he is also 34. Pitchers don't just suddenly pitch differently when they are hitting their mid 30s.
His strikeout to walk and walks per nine inning ratios have stayed relatively the same, but it is his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) that shows cause for alarm.
From 2008-11 it was sitting at .301 but in 2012, his career year, it is all the way down to .267. This would not be a big deal if he were a high strikeout pitcher, but he is a ground ball pitcher.
This isn't to discredit what he has done, but it is hard to believe that that number will sustain itself when he is pitching into his late 30s.
If the Yankees don't exercise their club option on Swisher he will have a chance to look for a big, long-term contract.
This is really all you need to see.
Nick Swisher hit 24 homers, slugged .473 and owned a .364 OBP in 2012. Extremely solid numbers for a hitter in his early thirties.
However, the fact that he is looking for a Jayson Werth-type deal that goes for more than 5 years and over 100 million is absurd. Swisher is a player that provides depth to a lineup, not a player that a lineup is built around.
It also doesn't bode well for teams that he plays a mediocre right field at best.
Teams who need outfield help would be remiss if they didn't wait until the last minute to sign a player like Swisher who will be looking for a nine digit contract all offseason.
After a down year in San Francisco, Ross rebounded in a big way in Boston.
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A year after Cody Ross hit .240 and only 14 homers, he went to Fenway Park and proceeded to knock the leather out of the ball.
One of the few lone bright spots on a woeful Boston Red Sox team, Ross hit 22 homers and slugged .481.
However, he had some really Jekyll and Hyde looking home/road splits. Ross had an OBP of .356 and slugged .565, but accumulated an atrocious OBP of .294 and slugged .390 on the road.
Teams will look at that when they try to boost their lineups in the offseason. However, teams like the Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves who sorely lack outfielder pop may present a market for Cody Ross.
They'll have to keep in mind he hit well at Fenway's small park and extremely bad at AT&T Park and on the road in 2012.
They will also have to account for his below-average arm in their cavernous stadiums.
The gem of this year's free agent market, Hamilton may not be worth the nine figure contract he will be asking for.
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The great story of Josh Hamilton is about to hit another chapter and this one may be in a different destination.
By letting him test the market, Hamilton will probably receive better offers from teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers (in the market for any and every player), New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, amongst many others.
However, teams will have to be wary because as much of a feel good story Hamilton has become, his issues with drug abuse will not go away.
He already has relapsed several times and even elicited words from Rangers President Nolan Ryan saying that Hamilton should have quit tobacco later on. Ryan believed that was the reason for Hamilton's late-season slump.
When healthy, Hamilton is one of the league's best hitter, if not the best. However, he has struggled to stay healthy—only playing more than 150 games in his career once and it was in 2008—and isn't the same defensive player he once was.
It is also concerning that Hamilton slumped so badly through the second half of the year. Granted it is a small sample size but he only hit .259 with 16 homers after hitting .308 and 27 homers in the first half. He also struck out 86 times in 263 second half at-bats, a number that was never that high before.
Any team that signs him will certainly get the power they want. However, they should be wary of his history and likely decrease in production. Anything more than five years and $100 million may be too much.