2013 MLB Free Agency: The Best Move Every Team Has Made so Far
Free agency has been very exciting this offseason and it’s still not over yet—although many of the top names on the board have already signed.
Teams look at a ton of variables when deciding on whether or not to sign a free agent and are sometimes flat-out wrong. Teams can overvalue players, which causes them to pay much higher than what that player deserves. They can overlook medical records, etc.
Not every free-agent signing is a good one.
But for the most part, teams make the right decisions as to which free agent to sign and which ones to leave alone.
Let’s take a look at which free-agent signing has been the best for each team thus far this offseason.
American League East
Baltimore Orioles re-sign Nate McLouth
Nate McLouth was a big asset for the Baltimore Orioles in the second half of the 2012 season after being released by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In 55 games with the O’s, McLouth hit frequently in the heart of the lineup, finishing the season hitting .268/.342/.435 with seven home runs and 18 RBI.
After signing a one-year deal with the O’s (via the team’s official website), McLouth will likely re-join Adam Jones and Nick Markakis in Baltimore’s starting outfield.
Boston Red Sox sign Ryan Dempster
Going into the offseason, general manager Ben Cherington knew that he had to find another starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Boston decided to go with veteran right-hander Ryan Dempster (via the team’s official website).
Between the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers last season, Dempster went 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA in 173 innings of work. He joins Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront and John Lackey in Boston’s starting rotation.
New York Yankees sign Kevin Youkilis
When the New York Yankees realized that Alex Rodriguez was going to miss a good portion of the season due to injury, they had to find someone who could play third base on a daily basis.
General manager Brian Cashman then signed former Boston Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis to a two-year deal (via ESPN New York). Youkilis will likely become the everyday starter in New York and can either stay at third once Rodriguez returns, or become the designated hitter.
Tampa Bay Rays sign James Loney
After Carlos Pena hit the open market at the end of the 2012 season, the Tampa Bay Rays needed another player who could handle first base. The Rays were able to land James Loney, who had been with the Boston Red Sox for the last couple of months of the year (via the team’s official website).
Between Boston and the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, Loney hit .249/.336/.630 with six home runs and 41 RBI. Although he isn’t that impressive offensively, he’s a great defensive first baseman.
Toronto Blue Jays sign Melky Cabrera
The Toronto Blue Jays are doing whatever it takes to make the playoffs in 2013 and compete for a World Series title, even if that means signing a player who was suspended for testing positive for testosterone last season.
The Blue Jays signed all-star outfielder Melky Cabrera to a two-year deal (via Yahoo! Sports). Cabrera was one of the league’s top hitters before his suspension and will look to replicate his numbers before having to sit for the World Champion San Francisco Giants.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox sign Jeff Keppinger
With Kevin Youkilis free to sign with whoever he wanted, the Chicago White Sox needed to find someone who could play third base and potentially a few other positions as well.
In comes Jeff Keppinger (via MLB.com).
Keppinger has been all over the place in his eight-year career, but spent 2012 with the Tampa Bay Rays and played nearly every infield position. Keppinger provides the White Sox with a starting third baseman who provides depth at the other positions as well, while also holding his own on offense.
Cleveland Indians sign Nick Swisher
The Cleveland Indians have made a couple of big moves this offseason, including a trade for pitching prospect Trevor Bauer in a deal that sent Shin-Soo Choo to the Cincinnati Reds. But their biggest offseason signing has definitely been the signing of Nick Swisher (via Yahoo! Sports).
Swisher has been a force for the New York Yankees over the last four seasons. The Indians hope that he can bring the same intensity and success to Cleveland.
Detroit Tigers sign Torii Hunter
After falling in the World Series, the Detroit Tigers looked to do some minor rebuilding that included signing free-agent outfielder Torii Hunter (via USA Today).
Hunter played the last five seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, hitting .286/.352/.462 with 105 home runs and 432 RBI over the span. Hunter will also provide yet another veteran presence in Detroit’s clubhouse.
Kansas City Royals re-sign Jeremy Guthrie
Jeremy Guthrie finished the 2012 season with the Kansas City Royals. Apparently, he made quite the impression as the Royals rewarded him with a three-year deal (via ESPN).
In just 14 starts for Kansas City last season, Guthrie went 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 91 innings. He is 55-77 with a 4.28 ERA over the course of his nine-year career, most of it spent with the Baltimore Orioles.
Minnesota Twins sign Kevin Correia
The Minnesota Twins are trying to stay competitive within the tough AL Central and hope that veteran starter Kevin Correia can help them do that. The Twins signed Correia to a two-year deal to pitch at the back end of their rotation (via MLB.com).
Correia has won at least 10 games in of the last four seasons split between the San Diego Padres and the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was an All-Star in 2011 while pitching to a 12-11 record and a 4.79 ERA over 154 innings.
American League West
Houston Astros sign Carlos Pena
After moving to the AL West from the NL Central, the Houston Astros clearly had to make a few adjustments.
Those adjustments included signing free-agent first baseman/designated hitter Carlos Pena to a one-year deal (via ESPN).
Pena hit just .197/.330/.354 with 19 home runs and 61 RBI in 160 games for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012. He does have his issues making contact, but can drive the ball far when he does. He also provides an above-average glove at first base.
Los Angeles Angels sign Josh Hamilton
The Los Angeles Angels made the biggest splash of the offseason, signing free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million deal (via Yahoo! Sports).
Hamilton was looking at a few other teams before deciding to take his talents to Los Angeles. The addition of Hamilton gives the Angels one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball, as he’s likely to hit in front of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.
Oakland Athletics sign Hiroyuki Nakajima
The Oakland Athletics didn’t feel that re-signing shortstop Stephen Drew was the right decision, so general manager Billy Beane decided to go with Hiroyuki Nakajima of Japan instead (via USA Today).
Nakajima has put up impressive offensive numbers over the last couple of seasons in Japan and will look to provide a spark to Oakland’s lineup. He has a great personality and should be a perfect fit with the young, yet talented A’s.
Seattle Mariners sign Raul Ibanez
Raul Ibanez is returning to his home of 10 years after signing with the Seattle Mariners for the 2013 season (via ESPN).
Ibanez has hit at least 16 home runs in each of the last 11 season between Seattle, the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees. Ibanez hit .240/.308/.453 with 19 home runs and 62 RBI for the Bronx Bombers last year as an outfielder and designated hitter. He should play the same role with the Mariners.
Texas Rangers sign Joakim Soria
Despite missing the entire 2012 season, Joakim Soria got himself a nice contract with the Texas Rangers (via ESPN).
Soria has pitched for the Kansas City Royals his entire career, but will now make the switch to Texas. In five seasons of work, Soria has a 2.40 ERA and 160 saves in 298 games. He will provide depth to the back end of the Rangers bullpen.
National League East
Atlanta Braves sign B.J. Upton
With the impending loss of center fielder Michael Bourn, the Atlanta Braves decided to go with another outfielder, B.J. Upton.
The Braves signed Upton to a five-year deal worth $75 million (via USA Today).
Upton has been one of Tampa Bay's best players over the last couple of seasons and hit .246/.298/.454 with 28 home runs and 78 RBI in 2012.
Miami Marlins sign Placido Polanco
Despite getting rid of more than half of their team via trades this offseason, the Miami Marlins did make one good signing, landing infielder Placido Polanco (via MLB.com).
The addition of Polanco gives the Marlins a stable third baseman who can hit anywhere in their lineup. Polanco hit .257/.302/.327 with two home runs and 19 RBI in 90 games for the Philadelphia Phillies and will bring his leadership qualities to the young Marlins clubhouse.
New York Mets (have yet to sign a major league free agent)
Philadelphia Phillies sign Mike Adams
The Philadelphia Phillies boosted their bullpen with their signing of one of the best relievers in the game, Mike Adams. The Phillies gave the right-hander a two-year deal to pitch before closer Jonathan Papelbon (via MLB.com).
Adams went 5-3 with a 3.27 ERA in 52.1 innings for the Texas Rangers last season. Before that, he posted sub-2.00 ERAs in each of the previous two seasons between Texas and the San Diego Padres.
Washington Nationals sign Dan Haren
Looking to add another starting pitcher to their rotation, the Washington Nationals signed veteran right-hander Dan Haren to a one-year deal (via Yahoo! Sports).
Haren has spent the last two-plus seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, going 33-27 with a 3.52 ERA in over 500 innings of work. He pitched briefly in the National League with the St. Louis Cardinals at the very beginning of his career, but only in 28 total games over two seasons.
National League Central
Chicago Cubs sign Scott Baker
The Chicago Cubs have made a couple of good moves this offseason to help make their club stronger.
One of those moves is the signing of Scott Baker, a solid arm to add to the starting rotation (via MLB.com).
Baker has pitched for the Minnesota Twins his entire career, going 63-48 with a 4.15 ERA in 958 innings over seven seasons. He should be all set to pitch in spring training after recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Cincinnati Reds re-sign Jonathan Broxton
The Cincinnati Reds must have been happy with Jonathan Broxton's performance during the second half of the 2012 season, as they've re-signed him to a three-year contract (via ESPN).
The signing of Broxton allows the Reds to move closer Aroldis Chapman to the starting rotation without losing much at the back end of the Cincinnati rotation. Broxton has 111 saves in his career between the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kansas City Royals and Reds.
Milwaukee Brewers sign Tom Gorzelanny
Whether the Milwaukee Brewers were looking for a starting pitcher or a reliever, they got both in Tom Gorzelanny and signed him to a two-year deal (via Yahoo! Sports).
The eight-year veteran pitched for the Washington Nationals the last two seasons as a starter and reliever. He has made 111 career starts between the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and Nationals as well as 82 relief appearances.
Pittsburgh Pirates sign Russell Martin
The Pittsburgh Pirates made one of the more surprising moves of the offseason by signing catcher Russell Martin to a two-year contract (via USA Today). The move wasn’t surprising because they decided to sign him, but because they got him and the New York Yankees didn’t.
Martin hasn’t hit well over the last few seasons, but has benefited from the short porches at Yankee Stadium, hitting 39 home runs over in the past two years despite hitting .224 in 258 games. Martin should do well working with Pittsburgh’s pitchers and can hopefully revamp his swing to hit with consistency.
St. Louis Cardinals sign Ty Wiggington
Ty Wiggington had played for a lot of teams over the course of his 11-year career, but never with the St. Louis Cardinals.
That is, until now, as the Cardinals signed the utility player to a two-year contract (via MLB.com).
Although Wigginton likely won’t start for the Cardinals, he now becomes one of their best options off the bench. He can play virtually every position and has a decent bat as well. He’s a career .263/.324/.438 hitter with 169 home runs and 591 RBI in 1,315 games.
National League West
Arizona Diamondbacks sign Cody Ross
The Arizona Diamondbacks are making sure that their outfield will be solid for the near future after signing Cody Ross to a three-year deal (via Yahoo! Sports).
Ross was great for the Boston Red Sox in 2012, hitting .267/.326/.481 with 22 home runs and 81 RBI in 130 games. He should be familiar with the National League West since he spent part of 2010 and all of 2011 with the San Francisco Giants. He provides a good boost to the D'backs lineup and defense.
Colorado Rockies re-sign Jeff Francis
Jeff Francis has pitched for the Colorado Rockies in seven of the last eight seasons with limited success. Despite his 61-57 record and 4.86 ERA with them, they re-signed him to a one-year contract (via The Denver Post).
It should be interesting to see if Francis improves in Colorado’s starting rotation since he’s struggled so much in the past. The Rockies aren’t giving him a ton of money, so if he can win around nine or 10 games the deal will be deemed a success.
Los Angeles Dodgers sign Zack Greinke
The Los Angeles Dodgers have signaled that they are willing to do whatever it takes to make the playoffs (and win the World Series?) by the signing of Zack Greinke to a six-year deal (via ESPN).
Greinke had pitched in Los Angeles for half of last season, but for the Angels in the American League. He went 15-5 with a 3.48 ERA last season between the Angels and Milwaukee Brewers. He should be the No. 2 starter for the Dodgers behind Clayton Kershaw.
San Diego Padres re-sign Jason Marquis
Jason Marquis has been nearly everywhere over the last couple of seasons, but will start 2013 with the team that he ended 2012 with, the San Diego Padres (via Yahoo! Sports).
For just $3 million, Marquis is a bargain for the Padres if he can return to the form he showed earlier in his career with the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs. Last season, Marquis went 8-11 with a 5.22 ERA in 22 starts between Minnesota and San Diego.
San Francisco Giants re-sign Angel Pagan
Angel Pagan was a big part of why the San Francisco Giants won the World Series, which is why they decided to bring him back for the next four seasons (via Fox Sports).
Pagan hit .288/.338/.440 with eight home runs and 56 RBI during the regular season for the Giants, but struggled in the postseason. He’s an above-average outfielder who can hit in the No. 2 spot, and his speed gives the Giants a big advantage on the basepaths.