Grading Every Major Signing of the 2013 MLB Offseason

Mark MillerCorrespondent IFebruary 2, 2013

Grading Every Major Signing of the 2013 MLB Offseason

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    With just a few weeks separating teams all across the major leagues from spring training, we're beginning to get a clear picture of what the rosters may look like come Opening Day.

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

    We're all excited to see what the season will bring—but in the meantime, here's a rundown of some major ($25 million-plus) MLB signings that went down over the winter.

Jeremy Guthrie

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    Contract: Three years, $25 million

    Grade: D

    Among the moves the Rockies made in the 2012 offseason, the acquisition of Jeremy Guthrie was thought to be the most impactful. The hope was that he would enjoy the success he had enjoyed as a veteran starter for the Orioles.

    But he failed to make much of an impact in Colorado, compiling a 6.35 ERA and winning only three games in 19 appearances before being traded to Kansas City.

    Some of the pressure will be off of him this season with James Shields and Wade Davis now in the picture, but no matter how you look at it, Guthrie isn't worth $25 million.

Torii Hunter

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    Contract: Two years, $26 million

    Grade: B-

    Heading back to the division where he got his start in the league, Hunter and his strong defense will be a big plus in the spacious confines of Comerica Park, and if he can put up an offensive effort similar to his 2012 output, the team will be in a good position to make a run in the postseason once again.

    Looking at the number itself, the contract might be a bit high for Hunter at this point in his career.

    His 2012 performance was certainly something special, but he posted career highs in some categories that he may not see again in 2013, and with the prospect of paying a 39-year-old $13 million, the risk is elevated.

Cody Ross

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    Contract: Three Years, $26 million

    Grade: A-

    Having been an important part of championship teams, Cody Ross established himself as a moderately viable option for the Boston Red Sox in 2012.

    He struggled a bit throughout the season, though he did manage to go deep 22 times and post an on-base percentage around .330.

    If he continues to produce with the Diamondbacks, his efforts will go a long way toward filling the void left from Justin Upton's departure.

Ryan Dempster

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    Contract: Two years, $26.5 million

    Grade: C+

    Since removing Josh Beckett from the starting rotation last offseason, the Boston Red Sox have reloaded with a veteran arm, signing Ryan Dempster to a two-year contract.

    Dempster won 17 games in 2008 and posted a sub-3.00 ERA, though he's won fewer games and seen his ERA creep higher each season since.

    He'll turn 36 just a month into the season, and while he's shown more control on the mound of late, his payday might be high for a pitcher entering the final years of his career.

Rafael Soriano

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    Contract: Two years, $28 million

    Grade: B

    With Mariano Rivera lost early in the season, the New York Yankees had a big hole to fill as they looked to piece together the back end of their bullpen.

    Rafael Soriano stepped up in a big way in 2012, posting a 2.26 ERA in 69 appearances while saving 42 games—three short of his career high.

    He'll be a great addition to the Nationals' bullpen over the next two seasons, and while there probably won't be any questions as to his production, his lucrative contract probably could've been lowered, given how little interest he received.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

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    Contract: Six Years, $36 million

    Grade: Incomplete

    Leading the league in ERA in each of the past two seasons, Clayton Kershaw is the unquestioned ace of the Los Angeles Dodgers staff despite their recent signing of Zack Greinke to a mammoth six-year pact.

    This wasn't the only big addition the Dodgers made to their rotation this offseason, as they also inked Korean phenom Hyun-Jin Ryu to a long-term contract.

    The addition of Greinke is certainly less of a risk than Ryu, as we don't know much about the 25-year-old lefty, and until we actually see him face some major league pitching, it'll be hard to say if he's worth it. 

    In the short term, I'm skeptical.

Shane Victorino

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    Contract: Three years, $39 million

    Grade: C-

    Embarking on a rebuilding project of sorts, the Boston Red Sox have added quite a few players this offseason who will give the team a new look in 2013.

    Signing Shane Victorino was one of the first moves Boston made this winter, and with him coming off one of his two worst hitting seasons as a major leaguer, the $39 million contract may be a bit high.

    Victorino averages barely 60 RBI per season, and though he posted an impressive .355 on-base percentage in 2011, two of his past three seasons have seen percentages more than 30 points lower.

Angel Pagan

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    Contract: Four years, $40 million

    Grade: B-

    Angel Pagan led the league with 15 triples and 29 swiped bags. His speed is a huge asset, and with a .288 batting average in 2012, he's shown consistency at the plate.

    With the Giants again in 2013, Pagan will have a great opportunity to build on his early success, and fans will hope he doesn't revert to his days in New York.

    As a Met in 2011, Pagan batted 26 points lower than he did last year, with an on-base percentage that dropped right along with it.

    Pagan did have two seasons batting over .290 in a Mets uniform, but consistency isn't his strong suit in all facets of the game.

Edwin Jackson

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    Contract: Four years, $52 million

    Grade: B

    There are certainly concerns that can arise when significant dollars are handed out on a rebuilding team.

    In the case of Edwin Jackson, however, the pitcher could end up a very valuable part of the Cubs as they look to get back to where they were.

    He's got a proven track record in the NL Central, has remained healthy throughout his career and is seeing improved control on the mound, all things that point to the potential for a solid tenure at Wrigley Field.

Nick Swisher

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    Contract: Four years, $56 million

    Grade: B+

    Having spent the past four seasons in pinstripes, Nick Swisher has been one of the most animated players the Yankees have seen come through the clubhouse in recent years.

    For every bit of animation he may bring to the table, he has also been very consistent, batting .268 over the past four seasons while posting an on-base percentage of nearly .370.

    The Indians may be in a bit of a rebuilding mode, but bringing in a veteran player like Swisher who has the ability to lead a clubhouse could prove to be a good move over the next few seasons.

B.J. Upton

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    Contract: Five years, $75.25 million

    Grade: B

    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 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 with his brother, Justin.

Anibal Sanchez

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    Contract: Five years, $80 million

    Grade: C+

    Starting off the season with a team that had as much promise as any other in the league, Anibal Sanchez didn't last long with the Miami Marlins, as he and Omar Infante were sent to Detroit before the deadline.

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

    He isn't being paid near what the Dodgers are handing Zack Greinke, but Sanchez also isn't in the same ballpark, so paying him nearly $17 million toward the end of his contract could prove to be a mistake.

Josh Hamilton

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    Contract: Five years, $123 million

    Grade: A-

    With an astounding offensive outburst last summer, Josh Hamilton gave the entire league notice of what he's still capable of.

    He slowed a bit toward the middle of the season, but rebounded down the stretch and finished the season with 43 home runs and 128 RBI.

    Hamilton initially set his expected value at seven years, $175 million, but ultimately settled for five years and $123 million with the Los Angeles Angels.

    There will be no shortage of protection in the lineup with a plethora of power bats in the order, and Hamilton to the Angels becomes even more of a good thing when you consider that Los Angeles no longer has to play against him.

Zack Greinke

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    Contract: Six years, $147 million

    Grade: B+

    The Los Angeles Dodgers have no shortage of superstars on their revamped roster, and with the highest of expectations coming with all of them, none is higher than their biggest offseason acquisition.

    Zack Greinke's massive contract will no doubt put the pressure on heading into spring training, but with questions surrounding his long-term destination for years now as he's jumped around rosters, he should feel somewhat at ease knowing he'll call Dodger Stadium home for years to come.

    The biggest concern with any contract handed out to an ace is always the impact it could have on making other additions to a roster, but with the Dodgers working without limits, his contract shouldn't get in the way of the team making other improvements.