The Pittsburgh Pirates received a fair amount of attention this offseason when they signed catcher Russell Martin to a two year, $17 million contract that represented the franchise's most expensive free-agent acquisition ever.
The Martin contract cast a bit of a focus on the Pirates' historical performance in free agency, especially as the catcher is off to a slow start this season. It doesn't take a particularly keen eye to note that the Bucs' free agent track record is less than strong.
When compared with other recent free-agent signings, the Martin contract looks like a pretty sound decision almost regardless of his performance. The Pirates' past is littered with free-agent acquisitions that represented misguided approaches and were difficult to even justify at the time, which cannot be said for Martin regardless of the differing opinions about his worth.
Most of these deals were for relatively minimal dollar amounts and/or contract lengths, so their effect on the Pirates' long-term outlook was not too profound. It's still a rather amusing list, though.
(Note: This slideshow would have been nearly impossible to put together without this excellent summary of the Pirates' historical offseason moves.)