Predicting the 10 Biggest MLB Free Agent and Trade Busts for 2013

Mark MillerCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2013

Predicting the 10 Biggest MLB Free Agent and Trade Busts for 2013

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    With just over a month separating teams all across the league from spring training, we're finally starting to get a picture of what the rosters may look like come this spring—with some teams still making their final offseason moves, of course.

    A number of high-profile signings and trades highlighted the offseason, though there were many other moves that haven't gotten nearly as much attention but could still yield just as much upside.

    For every strong result that comes from the massive contracts and trades completed this offseason, there will be others that aren't quite so lucky, as players and management alike could set themselves up for failure with the decisions they make or don't make.

    Here are the 10 moves this offseason—whether it was via free agency or a trade—that have the highest potential of being a bust in 2013.

B.J. Upton

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    With the prospect of Michael Bourn leaving Atlanta for a new organization, you can't blame the Braves for making a big splash in the free-agent market in signing B.J. Upton.

    Signing Upton to a five-year, $75 million contract ensures that the Braves will have center field covered for the next few years, but it's hard to ignore the fact that he's batted under .250 in each of the past four seasons and is coming off a career low .298 on-base percentage.

    He is still a power-hitting threat, however, and with great speed on the basepaths, he should be able to do some good things in a Braves uniform.

    It's just hard to believe that he'll live up to the billing.

Francisco Liriano

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    In an effort to bolster their starting rotation depth this offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates added lefty Francisco Liriano, a pitcher who has shown great promise during his time in the league but has failed to put it all together.

    He was an All-Star and won 12 games in his rookie season of 2006 with his devastating slider, but since missing the entire 2007 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Liriano hasn't amounted to much.

    Liriano did have a strong showing in 2010, with a 14-10 record and a 3.62 ERA. But in every other year since 2008, he has only won 24 games combined and has seen his walk numbers hit career highs.

Joakim Soria

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    Joakim Soria has had a number of successful campaigns with the Royals in recent years, and when healthy, he represents one of the best bullpen options in the league.

    Coming off Tommy John surgery, however, the expectations of the old Soria need to be tempered, as he posted an ERA over 4.00 in 2011, following four consecutive sub-2.50 ERA seasons.

Kyle Lohse

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    With top pitchers like Zack Greinke and Anibal Sanchez off the market this offseason, we'll see free agent pitchers like Kyle Lohse come into play very soon, as teams look to address their final offseason needs.

    Lohse went 16-3 this season with the St. Louis Cardinals with a strong 2.86 ERA and the best winning percentage in the league.

    No matter where he ends up, it'll be tough to duplicate numbers that were easily the best that he has ever posted in his career.

Ben Revere

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    Free agent names like B.J. Upton and Michael Bourn were likely candidates to fit in as the center fielder of the future for the Philadelphia Phillies, but in the end, the team opted to pull off a trade to get their guy.

    Coming over from Minnesota in exchange for Trevor May and Vance Worley, Ben Revere will be under team control through 2017, and while he possesses a great deal of speed on the basepaths, there isn't any pop in his bat (0 home runs in 989 at-bats) and his arm strength and accuracy are sub-par.

Raul Ibanez

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    After spending three seasons in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform, Raul Ibanez donned the pinstripes in 2012 as a member of the New York Yankees.

    He saw his batting average continue to decline from his .278 career average, but he managed to go deep nearly 20 times in only 130 games with the Yankees.

    This offseason, he'll mostly be remembered for the clutch hitting that he displayed in the postseason, batting .444 in the ALDS while hitting two key home runs.

    Ibanez will turn 41 next season, and while he's averaged 21 home runs per season over the past 12 years, it shouldn't be expected for him to continue to post these same numbers as he continues to age.

Wade Davis

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    The Kansas City Royals made a bold move to re-shape their starting rotation this offseason when they pried James Shields and Wade Davis away from the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Shields will take over as the team's ace, while Davis will be returning to the starting rotation after spending 2012 as a member of the Rays' bullpen.

    Davis had a sparkling campaign this past season, making 54 relief appearances while posting a career low 2.43 ERA and striking out nearly 12 batters per nine innings.

    His numbers as a starting pitcher aren't nearly as strong, though, with an ERA nearly two runs higher and less than half as many strikeouts. He'll need to make adjustments as he looks to make his way back into the rotation.

Anibal Sanchez

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    Starting off the season with a team that had as much promise as any other in the league, Anibal Sanchez's season with the Miami Marlins didn't last long.

    The Marlins' season-long struggles would ultimately lead to him being traded to the Detroit Tigers along with Omar Infante.

    After signing a five-year, $80 million contract to re-sign with the Tigers this offseason, there are plenty of expectations for Sanchez leading into 2013, and filling the shoes that go with a contract of that magnitude can be a tall order.

Jonathan Broxton

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    As the Cincinnati Reds looked to move on from their disappointing performance in the postseason this year, they re-signed a player that was key to their success in 2012 by inking Jonathan Broxton to a three-year deal.

    In 25 appearances with the Reds last season, Broxton went 3-3 with a 2.82 ERA—a mark they'd surely take from him again.

    But with his 5.68 mark in 2011 and 4.04 mark in 2010, it could very well go either way over the next few seasons.

Mike Napoli

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    Having dumped a massive amount of payroll last summer, the Boston Red Sox have plenty of holes to fill this offseason.

    They got off to a seemingly great start in agreeing to terms with Mike Napoli on a three-year, $39 million contract.

    The deal has had it's share of hiccups, though, as a hip condition noted in Napoli's physical has prevented the deal from being completed. (h/t Dallas Morning News)

    Even if the deal does ultimately get done, Napoli has struck out at least 125 times in two of the past three seasons, and he has never posted more than 75 RBI in a season—something that will certainly add pressure onto him as he looks to prove that he's healthy and worthy of his new contract.