2013 MLB Free Agency: 6 Big Offseason Moves Sure to Backfire
As we close in on the 100-day countdown to Opening Day, there couldn't be a better time to reflect on the many offseason additions organizations have (un)wisely made.
Filling roster spots and upgrading necessary positions is always on the winter to-do list for GMs, but just how far are some willing to venture to bring in that much-needed bat or trustworthy arm?
They will overpay. They will take risks. And most of all, they will be criticized.
Could we do what MLB general managers are hired to accomplish: put together a winning 40-man roster?
We may think we can. However, it's better to sit back, watch the professionals work and then tell them their multi-million dollar deals will backfire.
Let's take a look!
6. The Braves Signing B.J. Upton
B.J. Upton brings a lot to the table for the Atlanta Braves, most notably power and speed. What Upton lacks, however, is consistency.
Dishing out over $75 million to a player who has not seen any sort of regularity or dependability since 2007 creates a huge risk factor for the Braves.
Typically residing at the top of the order, Upton has watched his strikeout rate increase while his on-base percentage decreased over the past four seasons. In 2012, Upton's OBP dropped below .300 for the first time in his career (.298).
His speed is still very much a factor, but his stolen base total has also decreased over the past four years.
The Upton signing will be a risk/reward scenario for the Braves. The reward is Upton's power surge, increasing his home run and RBI totals in consecutive years since 2008.
The Braves view Upton as a 30-30 player who will position nicely in a potent Atlanta lineup.
In a five-year deal for the 28-year-old, though, it would be a miracle to receive five productive years. Who knows if Upton is capable of a 30-home run season or if he will ever hit .300 again, something he has done only once in his career.
The former Ray is a good addition for the Braves, but it's likely that the team will regret investing so much money in an unreliable star.
5. The Giants Re-Signing Marco Scutaro
After playing for five teams over the past six seasons, Marco Scutaro has found a suitable home in San Francisco. He's happy, but will the fans be in three years?
Scutaro signed a three-year, $20 million contact with the Giants to remain in the Bay Area through the 2015 season. The Venezuelan will be pushing 40 years old when the contract is up, and it remains to be seen how his body will hold up.
The $20 million contract is the most lucrative of his career. The success of his contract negotiation likely has to do with valuable playoff production he displayed last season in helping the Giants to their second World Series championship in three years.
Traded from the Colorado Rockies at the trade deadline, Scutaro batted .362 in 61 games for the Giants and was a catalyst in their playoff run.
The Giants organization's desire to return their 2012 championship team came with a price tag. Scutaro is a career .276 hitter and slightly above-average fielder. As the veteran second baseman continues to put wear and tear on his aging body, the production from the 2012 version of Scutaro cannot be a promise.
He certainly milked the final contract of his career. It's difficult to see the Giants as winners in that regard.
4. The Red Sox Signing Stephen Drew
Is Boston the place where Drew's demise develops?
Has Stephen Drew's downfall already happened?
The shortstop merry-go-round continues in Beantown, as the Red Sox signed Stephen Drew to a one-year contract worth $9.5 million.
The younger brother of former Red Sox J.D. Drew, Stephen arrives in Boston after appearing in just 79 games last season for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland Athletics. He batted .223, which is well below his career average of .265, with seven home runs and 28 RBI.
The former first-round draft pick (15th overall) in 2004 missed 137 games between June 20, 2011 and his return in 2012 after fracturing his right ankle sliding into home.
The Red Sox have the well-advertised prospect Jose Iglesias waiting in the minors but concern over his offensive shortcomings has overshadowed his exemplary defensive abilities.
Drew is likely a one-year solution for the Red Sox and will be grossly overpaid, a theme of the BoSox offseason.
How the new Drew will fit in with the mismatched bunch in Boston will remain a mystery until Opening Day.
In the unlikely case where he asserts himself and finds a secure spot, Iglesias could become a trading chip in a possible Ellsbury deal at the trade deadline.
3. The Royals Re-Signing Jeremy Guthrie
Struggling through his first 15 starts with the Colorado Rockies in 2012, Jeremy Guthrie was thrilled to start fresh in Kansas City.
Like night and day, Guthrie went 3-9 with a 6.35 ERA in Colorado, then suddenly, in 14 starts with the Royals, compiled a 5-3 record with a 3.16 ERA. Kansas City won 10 of his final 11 starts, as Guthrie sported a 5-0 record and dropped his season ERA from 6.56 to 4.76 over that span.
The right-hander's strong finish earned him a three-year, $25 million deal.
Guthrie has quality stuff, but his ability to continue to win games in Kansas City will be tested over the next three years.
The former Baltimore Oriole has a career 4.28 ERA and lost a league-high 17 games for the Birds in 2009 and 2011. Furthermore, Guthrie earns the bulk of his new contract in his second ($11 million) and third ($9 million) years with the Royals, and who knows if he can remain effective in the American League for that long.
The 33-year-old has spent a fair share of time in the majors, yet a high career ERA (4.28) and average WHIP (1.31) will be a cause for serious concern.
2. The Reds Signing Jonathan Broxton
The Cincinnati Reds had one of the best bullpens in the majors last season, and when Jonathan Broxton came over from Kansas City to serve as a setup man, their pen became arguably the best.
Now, after signing a three-year, $21 million contract, Broxton allows the Reds to reconfigure their starting rotation.
Dominant closer Aroldis Chapman, who saved 38 games and finished with a 1.51 ERA in 71.2 innings, will get a chance as a starter, which hands the closer role to Broxton.
The former Los Angeles Dodger had a nice bounce-back year in 2012, recording 27 saves (four with the Reds) and compiling an ERA under 2.50.
However, two problems arise from the Broxton signing.
First, his shaky ending with the Dodgers poses real questions towards his reliability as a closer. And after missing most of the 2011 season due to a bone spur in his elbow, Broxton has lost his ability to overpower hitters. His K/9 rate is down from 13.5 in 2009, his best season with the Dodgers, and now hovers around 7.0.
Second, Chapman is unproven as a starter. If Chapman's success does not translate to the starting rotation, the Reds will need to reorganize their pitchers, likely moving Chapman back to the closer role, and watch as money is unnecessarily shoveled into Broxton's pocket as a setup man.
Broxton brings many "ifs" to the table and could spell trouble for the Reds in 2013.
1. The Blue Jays Signing Melky Cabrera
Melky Cabrera seemed to be breaking into a class of elite baseball players in 2012 until his 50-game suspension for PED use. Now, question marks swirl around his productivity once he's "off the juice."
The Toronto Blue Jays have made some enormous moves this offseason, but one puzzlement is why the organization gave Cabrera a two-year, $16 million contract.
If the outfielder falters in 2013 after returning from his suspension, the Blue Jays will be locked in for an additional year. For a team that is serious about returning to the playoffs, a one-year deal for Cabrera would have been more plausible.
After a down year in his only season with the Atlanta Braves in 2010, in which the Dominican Republic native hit .255 with four home runs and 42 RBI, Cabrera impressed with a .305 average, 18 home runs and 87 RBI in 2011 with the Royals.
He was batting .346 with the Giants before being suspended and disgracing himself by creating a fake website in an attempt to trick MLB officials.
Cabrera's output in 2013 is utterly unknown. He could prove us wrong and benefit from being in a strong offensive lineup, but chances are, it'll be a slow year for Melky.