2014 MLB Free Agents: High-Profile Players Certain to Be Overpaid This Offseason

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2013

Oct 1, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA;  New York Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson (14) rounds the bases on his two run home run during the second inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

In what has become just another baseball tradition, teams will overpay on free agents during the winter. The only question is: Which players will go to which organizations?

We have already seen one huge contract this season, as Hunter Pence re-signed with the San Francisco Giants for five years and $90 million, according to USA Today. While the outfielder does a lot of things well, this is a high annual average for a complementary player.

As teams head into the offseason looking to get the final piece toward a championship run, expect a lot of other stars to get overpaid in similar fashion. While guys like Robinson Cano represent good value for a big contract, these big-name players do not. 


Tim Lincecum, SP, San Francisco Giants

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers at AT&T Park on September 26, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

When it comes to Tim Lincecum, someone will pay for the name and the hope that he will regain the ability that won him two Cy Young awards in the first three years of his career.

The truth is that he is still capable of a great game every so often. He threw a 13-strikeout no-hitter in July while also posting four more scoreless starts of at least six innings. 

Unfortunately, he also allowed five or more earned runs in nine different starts. You need a pitcher who gives your team a chance to win, and Lincecum does not do that often enough.

It has been two years since he was an elite pitcher, and it would be a mistake to expect a return to greatness.


Grant Balfour, RP, Oakland Athletics

Sep 17, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Grant Balfour (50) pitches in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at O.co Coliseum. Oakland won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

The save is one of the more overrated statistical categories in baseball. Teams want a proven player in the back of their bullpen, but this is more about opportunity than anything else. Jim Johnson showed that this season when he led the American League in saves as well as blown saves.

Grant Balfour had a big year shutting down games for the Oakland Athletics, reaching the All-Star Game in his first full season in the closer role. 

Unfortunately, he had his highest ERA since 2009 and does not have the strikeout rate of top closers like Craig Kimbrel. The more balls that go into play, the more that luck plays a factor in his results. This is not a good thing to put a huge contract on.

At 35 years old, Balfour was a great story this year. However, it would be a mistake to count on more success in the closer role going forward. Still, there is certain to be some team looking for experience that gives him a big contract.


Curtis Granderson, OF, New York Yankees

Aug 25, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Curtis Granderson (14) at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. New York Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

One place where this free-agent class has a lot of depth is in the outfield, where there are a number of well-rounded players who can fill up a box score. Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and others can provide teams with power, speed and good defending.

While Curtis Granderson used to be able to provide all three of these skills, age and injuries have reduced his speed to the point that he is almost strictly a power hitter. He only had 10 stolen bases in a full season last year, and was only slightly more successful on a limited basis in 2013.

Additionally, his average has continually dropped to the point that it is hard to trust him when you need a hit.

Teams will give him a strong look after slugging over 40 home runs in two seasons, but he will not be worth the cost it will take to get him.


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