The Most Overrated Moves of the 2013 MLB Offseason
During the 2013 MLB offseason, well over a hundred free agents signed new contracts that equaled a value comparable to that of the gross national product of several countries.
Indeed, overpaying was the theme this offseason.
Each free agent will no doubt work hard to justify the bloated contracts offered to them. Some of them could in fact show that the money rewarded to them was the right decision.
However, there were several contracts offered and accepted that made many fans and experts shake their heads in dismay.
Here are six deals made this offseason that might qualify.
Joakim Soria: Texas Rangers
Reliever Joakim Soria first underwent Tommy John surgery when he blew out his right elbow in 2003.
Nine years later, Soria again went under the knife after he was diagnosed with right elbow ligament damage. Soria missed the entire 2012 season.
In between his two surgeries, Soria did save 160 games in five seasons for the Kansas City Royals with an impressive 2.40 ERA and 1.043 WHIP, giving up just 6.9 hits per nine innings.
Despite the two elbow ligament replacement procedures, the Texas Rangers saw fit to offer Soria a two-year, $8 million deal.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels did all he could to justify the signing at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, TN last December.
Via T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com:
"When he's right, he can be an impactful person in the bullpen. When he comes back, we want him to come back once, get it right, and be a big part of our bullpen."
Soria isn't expected back until late May at the earliest. He threw off the mound for the first time on Monday, delivering 15 pitches while reporting no pain.
The Rangers took a huge chance in expecting that Soria can fully recover a second time around.
Offering a second year seemed like overkill for a player needing to prove himself once again.
Lance Berkman: Texas Rangers
This is another player signed by the Texas Rangers who is coming off major injuries.
This time, the Rangers offered an eight-digit contract to 14-year MLB veteran Lance Berkman.
Berkman endured two surgeries on his ailing right knee last year, limiting him to just 32 games with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Now, Berkman will be tasked with helping to replace the offense left behind by the departures of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young.
At the age of 37, Berkman's knee isn't going to suddenly regenerate itself. While he won't put more strain on the knee by playing the field every day, justifying a $10 million contract on a player who missed all but a month of last season overall is a huge gamble.
Carlos Villanueva: Chicago Cubs
When the Chicago Cubs signed Carlos Villanueva to a two-year deal for $10 million, they did so with the belief that he would transition to a role as a full-time starter.
Villanueva started 29 games for the Toronto Blue Jays over the past two seasons.
However, the numbers indicate that Villanueva is much better served in a relief capacity.
Here's a quick breakdown:
Villanueva as starter: ERA 4.80, K/9 6.49 xFIP 4.84
Villanueva as reliever: ERA 3.76, K/9 9.04, xFIP 3.84
In addition, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, Villanueva has the "fifth-worst home run rate among pitchers still in the big leagues with 500-plus innings since 2006."
This deal smacks of an overpay and a pitcher far overrated in terms of his starting capabilities.
Shane Victorino: Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox went into this offseason with the mindset of offering shorter-term deals with a higher annual average value. In theory, it makes sense given the past few years when multi-year deals of five years or more was the norm rather than the exception.
To that end, the Sox signed outfielder Shane Victorino to a three-year, $39 million contract.
At this point in his career, Victorino's numbers suggest he's better suited in a platoon role.
Over the past three years, Victorino has hit just .244/.311/.390 against right-handed pitching, including a .229/.296/.333 in 472 plate appearances in 2012 against righties.
Unless Victorino can somehow reverse that trend at the age of 32, this deal is absolutely overrated.
Edwin Jackson: Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs swung and missed on a potential big signing when Anibal Sanchez agreed to re-sign with the Detroit Tigers for five years and $80 million.
Instead, the Cubs went after Edwin Jackson, locking him up with a four-year, $52 million deal instead.
Sanchez appeared to fit into the overall plan for the Cubs—sprinkling in free agents for players deemed worthy of long-term success while also building from within.
Jackson, however, does not.
Jackson has built a reputation for durability and an ability to eat innings. While admirable qualities in a starter, it doesn't equate to quality. Jackson is average at best—a career 70-71 and 4.40 ERA.
Paying out $52 million for average pitching is par for the course these days, and Jackson was the beneficiary this time.
Zack Greinke: Los Angeles Dodgers
Here is what I wrote about the Zack Greinke signing by the Los Angeles Dodgers back in January:
The Los Angeles Dodgers paid starting pitcher Zack Greinke $147 million over six years.
Stop reading right now if you think Greinke is a better pitcher than Felix Hernandez, Cole Hamels or Clayton Kershaw.
Stop reading right now if you think Greinke is worth more per year than Justin Verlander, Matt Cain or even David Price.
Greinke now makes more than all of them.
I rest my case.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.