There is an ample supply of big-name MLB free agents on the market ahead of the 2013 season, but there are a few higher-profile players that teams shouldn't overspend for.
Many of the names out there may incur steep costs despite questionable track records. However, this particular set of players pose various red flags despite their flashes of brilliance, and shouldn't get long-term deals with $10 million-plus in pay per year.
OF Nick Swisher
It always seemed like the extremely outgoing, candid personality of Swisher was out of place in the Big Apple. That might sound strange, but in the environment of no facial hair and surrounded by the PR-friendly, calculated demeanor of stars such as Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, it was always a bit off.
Another thing that was probably a bit off: Swisher's one-year option worth $13.3 million (h/t New York Times). As solid as Swisher has been, he's not worth that kind of coin.
The 31-year-old is a great guy for locker-room chemistry, but has definitely benefited from having such a loaded lineup around him in the Bronx. He also didn't help during the Yanks' postseason struggles at the plate, batting just .167. His career average in the playoffs is a measly .169, and he has just 13 extra base hits in 154 at-bats.
Swisher is a decent fielder and an aggressive batter, but his value is slightly inflated by the talent that has surrounded him in the past four seasons. Most importantly, Swisher hasn't quite gotten it done when it matters most.
If a front office is looking to build a championship-caliber team, Swisher could be a piece of the puzzle, but not one of the catalysts. That's why he shouldn't garner a hefty payday this winter.
SS Stephen Drew
Traded to the Oakland Athletics at the deadline, Drew had trouble adjusting in a tumultuous 2012 campaign that included an extended stay on the disabled list due to a broken ankle.
Drew never got comfortable at the plate, but after being moved to the A's, his bat got a little hotter. Of course, the eight-year veteran's strength has always been fielding, and he fit right in during Oakland's shocking run to the AL West title and postseason berth.
But the extremely conservative, cash-strapped A's weren't going to pick up a $10 million option on Drew (h/t R.J. White), and that has him on the market.
Teams may be able to acquire Drew at a relative bargain, but he's likely to demand a substantial amount of money due to his value in the middle of the infield, and no other younger players at his position that are worth settling on for the distant future.
Drew is a solid player, but is he worth breaking the bank to the tune of eight figures per year in salary? It doesn't seem so.
OF B.J. Upton
In order to acquire the career-long Tampa Bay Ray, it will probably take a lot of bones. But as talented as Upton is, he doesn't deserve a ridiculously lucrative contract—at least not in the nine-figure range, as his new deal will probably be.
The combination of athleticism, speed and power that Upton brings to the table isn't in doubt at all. At age 28, he's just entering his prime and perhaps will finally learn how to harness his seemingly limitless potential.
However, he poses a definite risk to teams that are willing to take a flier on a rather risky investment.
Upton has had a perpetual problem with patience at the plate, and his stolen base numbers have declined steadily over the past three seasons. His effort and work ethic have been constantly called into question, too.
What's working in Upton's favor is that there aren't many other viable options out there other than Josh Hamilton, who himself has had a history of inconsistency and may be just as risky. But for a player who broke into the big leagues at age 19, Upton has yet to appear in an All-Star game and continues to strike out far too much for a player who can be such a threat on the base paths.
A short-term commitment would be the way to go in an ideal situation for teams looking to scoop up Upton, but he'll likely be able to snag a massive long-term deal.
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