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MLB Free Agents 2014: 10 Players About to Be Overpaid

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistNovember 2, 2013

MLB Free Agents 2014: 10 Players About to Be Overpaid

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    Free agency is the best chance a team has of building its roster for the upcoming season, but it is by no means an exact science, and there is a good deal of risk/reward that goes into each signing.

    Every offseason, there are a handful of players who exceed expectations and wind up being absolute steals. And on the other end of spectrum, there are a few guys who wind up being vastly overpaid.

    It's certainly guesswork at this point, as we don't know where these guys will sign or how much they'll be signing for, but here is my best guess at 10 guys who could be overpaid this offseason.

     

SP Phil Hughes

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    2013 Stats

    G/GSW-LERAWHIPHBBKIP
    30/294-145.191.45517042121145.2

     

    Why He'll Be Overpaid

    A 27-year-old pitcher with 56 wins under belt, including an 18-win and a 16-win season, is generally a hot commodity when he hits the open market, but Phil Hughes will be an interesting case.

    He has shown flashes of being a great pitcher throughout his career, but he's never lived up to the hype that made him the No. 4 prospect in baseball, according to Baseball America.

    Given that he still has plenty of upside given his age, and in a thin market for starting pitching, Hughes will likely get more than he deserves this offseason from a team looking to tap into his full potential.

1B James Loney

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    2013 Stats

    GBA/OBP/SLGH2B3BHRRBIRSB
    158.299/.348/.43016433 013 7554 3

     

    Why He'll Be Overpaid

    After hitting .331/.381/.538 with 15 home runs in 344 at-bats as a rookie in 2007, James Loney struggled to live up to expectations throughout his time with the Dodgers, and he seemed like a prime candidate to break out with a change of scenery.

    The Tampa Bay Rays gave him a one-year, $2 million deal in the offseason and handed him the starting first base job. He rewarded them by being one of the best bargains of the offseason.

    Still just 29, he's more than capable of putting up similar numbers again next year, but he'll never be a prototypical first baseman. He's a plus defender, but his power is limited.

    While he likely won't reach eight figures, he'll receive a substantial raise from someone for limited production.

SP Bartolo Colon

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    2013 Stats

    G/GSW-LERAWHIPHBBKIP
    30/3018-62.651.16619329117190.1

     

    Why He'll Be Overpaid

    Out of the major leagues altogether in 2010, Bartolo Colon made a solid comeback with the Yankees in 2011 before joining the Oakland A's on a one-year, $2 million deal in 2012. 

    The veteran anchored the A's staff on their surprise playoff run that year, going 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA. A 50-game PED suspension cut his season short, but he was back in Oakland on a one-year, $3 million deal this year. 

    That proved to be one of the steals of the year. Colon was one of the best pitchers in the AL in 2013, and he's set himself up for a substantial raise. Spending big on a pitcher over the age of 40 is always a risky proposition, though, and the drop-off could be a steep one.

2B Omar Infante

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    Winslow Townson/Getty Images

    2013 Stats

    GBA/OBP/SLGH2B3BHRRBIRSB
    118.318/.345/.45014424 310 5154 5

     

    Why He'll Be Overpaid

    The Detroit Tigers acquired Omar Infante from the Miami Marlins at the deadline in 2012. He has plugged what had been a black hole for several seasons, putting together a solid overall season in 2013.

    The 31-year-old has averaged a line of .295/.327/.415 with nine home runs, 50 RBI and 61 runs scored over the past four years and had a solid all-around year this past season despite playing in just 118 games.

    He's the top second base option on the market behind Robinson Cano and should be able to get something similar to the three-year, $20 million deal Marco Scutaro got from the San Francisco Giants last offseason. He'll fill a need for whoever signs him and should continue to be a plus option, but it's hard to say he's worth that kind of money.

RP Fernando Rodney

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    2013 Stats

    G/GSW-LSVERAWHIPHBBKIP
     68/0 5-4373.381.33553368266.2

     

    Why He'll Be Overpaid

    The Rays signed Fernando Rodney to a two-year, $4.25 million deal prior to the 2012 season to little fanfare, but he wound up closing games for them and turned in one of the best seasons by a reliever in recent memory.

    The 36-year-old went 48-of-50 on save chances with a 0.60 ERA and 0.777 WHIP to finish fifth in AL Cy Young voting and AL Comeback Player of the Year honors.

    He was not nearly as dominant this past season, blowing eight saves, but he'll likely still be among the highest-paid relievers on the market. He's no doubt priced his way out of Tampa, and with a 4.17 ERA in his 10 seasons outside of 2012, he's likely to be paid more than he's worth.

C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    2013 Stats

    GBA/OBP/SLGH2B3BHRRBIRSB
    121.273/.338/.46611640 014 6568 4

     

    Why He'll Be Overpaid

    It took some time for Jarrod Saltalamacchia to settle into an everyday catching role, but he found a home with the Boston Red Sox. His 55 home runs over the past three seasons rank as the fifth-most among catchers.

    By all accounts, the 2013 season was the best of his career—and he could not have picked a better time for it, as he hits the open market for the first time in his career. 

    The 28-year-old earned $4.5 million this past season and will likely be in for a big raise this offseason, as there is always a big market for catching talent. However, he doesn't really hit left-handed pitching and is average defensively, so chances are he'll wind up overpaid.

SP Dan Haren

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    2013 Stats

    G/GSW-LERAWHIPHBBKIP2013 Salary
    31/3010-144.671.23817931151169.2 $13 million

     

    Why He'll Be Overpaid

    After a subpar 2012 season, and with concerns about the health of his back and hip, Dan Haren had to settle for a one-year, $13 million deal from the Washington Nationals last offseason.

    His overall numbers weren't great, but he put together a good second half, going 6-4 with a 3.52 ERA in 14 games (13 starts). He was especially good down the stretch, with a 2-1 record and 1.44 ERA over his final four starts.

    With a thin market of starting pitchers and the price at that position continuing to sky-rocket, Haren should be in line for a sizable multi-year deal.

RF Marlon Byrd

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    2013 Stats

    GBA/OBP/SLGH2B3BHRRBIRSB
    147.291/.336/.51115535 524 8875 2

     

    Why He'll Be Overpaid

    Teams weren't exactly beating down the door to sign Marlon Byrd last offseason—understandably so, as he hit just .210/.243/.245 with one home run in 143 at-bats between the Chicago Cubs and Red Sox.

    He wound up landing a minor league deal with the New York Mets last offseason and, thanks to their lack of outfield talent, quickly played his way into an everyday role. When all was said and done, he had put together a terrific all-around season and was hitting in the No. 5 spot for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the postseason.

    As one of the better power bats on the market, Byrd will no doubt get a multi-year deal this time around. The three-year, $26 million deal that Cody Ross got from the Arizona Diamondbacks last offseason seems like a good starting point. That may be a risky proposition for a 36-year-old not too far removed from a terrible season.

SP Matt Garza

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    Ed Zurga/Getty Images

    2013 Stats

    G/GSW-LERAWHIPHBBKIP
    24/2410-63.821.23615042136155.1

     

    Why He'll Be Overpaid

    After going 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA in 11 starts with the Cubs, including 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA over his final six starts leading up to the trade deadline, the Texas Rangers gave up a ton to land Matt Garza at the deadline.

    He stumbled post-trade, though, going 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 13 starts with the Rangers and failing to give the team the boost they needed to reach the postseason.

    Despite that, he remains arguably the top arm on the market and is headed for a big payday. The 29-year-old earned $10.25 million last season and will no doubt eclipse that this coming season; the five-year, $80 million deal that Anibal Sanchez got last offseason is a possibility.

2B Robinson Cano

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    2013 Stats

    GBA/OBP/SLGH2B3BHRRBIRSB
    160.314/.383/.51619041 02710781 7

     

    Why He'll Be Overpaid

    To put it simply, Robinson Cano is going to be overpaid because he's the premier name on the free-agent market by a long shot, and he's going to get an enormous contract as a result.

    According to a report from ESPN.com, Cano is reportedly seeking $305 million over 10 years. Chances are he's not going to get that, but something like a seven-year, $175 million deal does not seem out of the realm of possibility.

    Cano is the top offensive player at his position and one of the legitimate stars of the game, but he's also already 31 years old and, historically, second baseman don't age particularly well. Anyone paying him top dollar will be banking on winning it all with him at the front end of the deal and paying the price at the back end.

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