Assessing All 30 MLB Teams on Key Free Agency Skills of the Past Decade

Jason MartinezContributor IDecember 3, 2013

Assessing All 30 MLB Teams on Key Free Agency Skills of the Past Decade

0 of 30

    Mark Teixeira was one of several free agent acquisitions to make a big impact during the Yankees' championship run of 2009.
    Mark Teixeira was one of several free agent acquisitions to make a big impact during the Yankees' championship run of 2009.The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

    Whether it's acquiring players on the free agent market, letting players depart as free agents, re-signing their own free agents to keep them off the open market or signing them to contract extensions prior to free agency, one thing is clear. Free agency plays a major role in how a roster is assembled and is likely to have played a factor in a team's success in just about every single season.

    Some teams are good in one or two of those areas. Some are bad in all facets. Some are relatively solid across the board. 

    For this study, which assesses each of the 30 teams back to the 2003-2004 offseason, I've separated an organization's free agency skills into four categories: 

    1. Long-term contracts: How much success has a team had when signing a free agent who last played for another team to a contract that is at least three years in length.

    2. Short-term contracts: How much success has a team had when signing a free agent who last played for another team to a contract that is either one or two years.

    3. Re-signings/Contract extensions: How much success has a team had when re-signing one of their own players who is eligible for free agency or signing a player not yet eligible for free agency to a contract extension that goes beyond when that player would've first been eligible for free agency?

    Note: If a player with three years left of club control, for example, signs a five-year contract extension, their performance for the first three years of the deal aren't given much weight for this assessment.

    4. Free Agent Departures: How did a player who signed elsewhere perform after signing a free agent contract with a new team?  

    Each category has been rated on a scale of 1 (worst) to 5 (best). The total of the four categories for each team is tallied up and teams are then ranked by overall score. In the case of a tie, of which there are several, I have used my best judgment to adjust the rankings. 

    The slideshow starts at No. 30, the team that has exhibited the worst free agent skills in baseball over the past decade, to No. 1, which is the best. Enjoy! 

    I've utilized Baseball Prospectus and Baseball-Reference, two great baseball resources, to research and compile this information. 

     

30. Cleveland Indians

1 of 30

    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 802-818 (.495)
    Playoff Appearances: 2 (2007, 2013) 

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 7 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    None

    Failures
    David Dellucci, OF: Three years, $11.5M (2007-09)

    It wasn't until last offseason that the Indians really became aggressive in free agency, signing Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher to four-year deals.

    While those deals are still too early to judge, it didn't take long to know they made a mistake by giving a three-year deal to Dellucci. After posting an .854 OPS with an average of 20 homers per season from 2004-2006, he began his Indians career with a .679 OPS in 56 games.

    Score: 1.5

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Scott Kazmir, SP: One year, $1M (2013) 
    Kevin Millwood (pictured), SP: One year, $700K (2005)

    Failures
    Aaron Boone, 3B: Two years, $6.75M (2005-06)
    Jason Johnson, SP: One year, $3.5M (2006)
    Brett Myers, SP: One year, $7M (2013)
    Joe Borowski, RP: Two years, $8.25M (2007-08)
    Roberto Hernandez, RP: One year, $3.3M (2006)
    Kerry Wood, RP: Two years, $20.5M (2009-10)

    Millwood re-built has value on a one-year deal before landing a $60 million deal with the Rangers. Kazmir didn't get close to that amount after his bounce-back season, but he received a two-year, $22 million deal from the A's after posting a 4.03 ERA in 29 starts last season.

    Two year-deals to Borowski and Wood late in their career didn't work out. Ditto for Hernandez.

    The Tribe took a shot on Boone after he missed the the entire 2004 season with a knee injury, but he only managed a .680 OPS in 247 games with the team. 

    Score: 1.5

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    None

    Failures
    Travis Hafner, DH: Four years, $57M (2009-12)

    The Carlos Santana contract extension has a good shot of paying dividends, although he's still three seasons away from when he would have been eligible for free agency.

    Injuries kept Hafner from earning his money over his last four years in Cleveland. He was still productive, posting an .814 OPS, but only managed to play in 93 games per season. 

    Score: 1

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Kevin Millwood, SP: Signed with Rangers for five years, $60M (2006-10)

    Failures
    Omar Vizquel, SS: Signed with Giants for three years, $12.25M (2005-07)

    Millwood continued to be a workhorse, averaging 189 innings per season over the course of his deal. His 4.67 ERA, however, was a far cry from his year with the Tribe when he led the league with a 2.86 ERA. 

    Vizquel may have been approaching 40, but he was still one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. He won back-to-back Gold Glove awards in his first two NL seasons and posted a .720 OPS with 48 stolen bases. 

    Score: 3

     

29. Kansas City Royals

2 of 30

    USA TODAY Sports

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 681-939 (.420)
    Playoff Appearances: 0 

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 8 out of 20 

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    None

    Failures
    Jose Guillen, OF: Three years, $36M (2008-10)
    Gil Meche, SP: Five years, $55M (2007-11)

    As they look to possibly make a splash this offseason by adding an impact bat such as Carlos Beltran, the Royals will likely have Guillen and Meche in the back of their minds. Each had a couple of productive seasons, but fell well short of expecations.

    Score: 1.5

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Mark Grudzielanek, 2B: One year, $4M (2006)
    Jeff Francoeur (pictured), OF: One year, $2.5M (2011)
    Scott Podsednik, OF: One year, $1.65M (2010)

    Failures
    Jason Kendall, C: Two years, $6M (2010-11)
    Reggie Sanders, OF: Two years, $10M (2006-07)
    Jose Lima, SP: One year, $2.5M (2005)

    Francoeur (.805 OPS, 20 HR, 22 SB), Grudzielanek (.740 OPS) and Podsednik (.753 OPS, 30 SB) proved to be great values on one-year deals, although the two-year contracts given out to Kendall and Sanders resulted in almost no return due to injuries.

    Score: 2

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Mark Grudzielanek, 2B: Two years, $8.5M (2007-08)

    Failures
    Jeff Francoeur, OF: Two years, $13.5M (2012-13)

    Even for an inconsistent player like Francoeur, a deal covering his ages 28 and 29 seasons didn't seem like a bad idea after his impressive Royals debut. But that wasn't the case. He was awful.

    Grudzielanek earned his salary despite only playing in 202 games in his final two seasons with Kansas City, posting a .760 OPS. 

    Score: 2.5

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    None

    Failures
    None

    Ervin Santana is one of the top free agents available after a terrific season in Kansas City. Obviously, this is a rare feat for a Royals player. 

    Score: 2

     

28. Los Angeles Angels

3 of 30

    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 900-720 (.556)
    Playoff Appearances: 5 (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009) 

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 9 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Kendrys Morales, 1B: Six years, $4.5M (2005-10)
    Orlando Cabrera, SS: Four years, $32M (2005-08)
    Vladimir Guerrero, OF: Six years, $85M (2004-09)
    Jose Guillen, OF: Three years, $9.7M (2004-06)
    Torii Hunter, OF: Five years, $90M (2008-12)
    Kelvim Escobar, SP: Three years, $18.75M (2004-06)
    C.J. Wilson, SP: Five years, $77.5M (2012-16)
    Scott Downs, RP: Three years, $15M (2011-13)

    Failures
    Albert Pujols (pictured), 1B: Ten years, $240M (2012-21)
    Josh Hamilton, OF: Five years, $125M (2013-17)
    Garry Matthews Jr., OF: Five years, $50M (2007-11)
    Bartolo Colon, SP: Four years, $51M (2004-07)
    Justin Speier, RP: Four years, $18M (2007-10)

    A decline in performance over the tail end of a long-term contract can almost be expected in most cases. When that decline appears to have begun with eight and four years left on a remaining contract, respectively, as is the case with Pujols and Hamilton, it can set a team back for years.

    Of course, a bounce-back from either wouldn't be a huge surprise so there is still plenty of time for both contracts to turn in the Angels' favor. That's not the case for Colon, Matthews and Speier, who weren't able to turn things around.

    While the Hamilton and Pujols contracts are currently casting a black cloud over the way the team is viewed in regards to free agency, there are too many success stories to label this team as being bad in this particular area. 

    Score: 3.5

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Bobby Abreu, OF: One year, $5M (2009)

    Failures
    Joe Blanton, SP: Two years, $15M (2013-14)
    Joel Pineiro, SP: Two years, $16M (2010-11)
    Sean Burnett, RP: Two years, $8M (2013-14)
    Ryan Madson, RP: One year, $3.25M (2013)

    Blanton and Pineiro have been costly failures, while Burnett will need a return to health and a return to his pre-injury form if he's to make up for his lost season of 2013. Madson earned $3.25 million and didn't throw a pitch for the Halos as he continued to experience setbacks during what has been a long road back from Tommy John surgery.

    Abreu's strong 2009 season (.825 OPS, 15 HR, 30 SB) keeps the Angels from complete failure in this area.

    Score: 1.5

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Jered Weaver, SP: Five years, $85M (2012-16)

    Failures
    Erick Aybar, SS: Five years, $40.08M (2012-16)
    Bobby Abreu, OF: Three years, $27M (2010-12)
    Garret Anderson, OF: Four years, $48M (2005-08)
    Kelvim Escobar, SP: Three years, $28.5M (2007-09)
    Ervin Santana, SP: Five years, $42M (2009-13)
    Fernando Rodney, RP: Two years, $11M (2010-11)

    Weaver's 31-13 record and 3.02 ERA over the first two seasons of his new contract don't begin to make up for the numerous failures of the past several contract extensions. 

    Score: 1

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Adam Kennedy, 2B: Signed with Cardinals for three years, $10M (2007-09)
    Chone Figgins, IF: Signed with Mariners for four years, $36M (2010-13)
    Maicer Izturis, IF: Signed with Blue Jays for three years, $10M (2013-15)
    Dan Haren, SP: Signed with Nationals for one year, $13M (2013)
    John Lackey, SP: Signed with Red Sox for five years, $82.5M (2010-14)
    Troy Percival, RP: Signed with Tigers for two years, $12M (2005-06)
    Francisco Rodriguez, RP: Signed with Mets for three years, $37M (2009-11)

    Failures
    Mark Teixeira, 1B: Signed with Yankees for eight years, $160M (2009-16)
    David Eckstein, SS: Signed with Cardinals for three years, $10.25M (2005-07)
    Torii Hunter, OF: Signed with Tigers for two years, $26M (2013-14)
    Zack Greinke, SP: Signed with Dodgers for six years, $147M (2013-18)
    Fernando Rodney, RP: Signed with Rays for two years, $4.25M (2012-13) 

    The Angels have made certainly made some bad moves in free agency. The list of non-moves, however, shouldn't go unnoticed. Several productive players have gone on to struggle after signing big money contracts elsewhere.

    That wasn't the case for Teixeira, who had an .863 OPS and 34 homers per season in his first four years with the Yankees, or Greinke and Hunter, who each had strong debuts with their new teams in 2013.  

    Score: 3

     

27. Washington Nationals (2005-13) /Montreal Expos (2004)

4 of 30

    Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 743-875 (.459)
    Playoff Appearances: 1 (2012)

    Total Free Agency Rating: 9 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    None

    Failures
    Jayson Werth (pictured), OF: Seven years, $126M (2011-17)
    Yunesky Maya, SP: Four years, $8M (2010-13)

    Werth debuted with a so-so season in 2011, then missed most of 2012 with a wrist injury. He still has a long way to go in order to turn this mega-contract into a success but his .931 OPS in 2013 has him back on track.

    Maya, who was recently released from the organization, had a 5.80 ERA in 59 innings pitched in a few unimpressive stints with the club.

    Score: 1

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Adam Dunn, 1B/OF: Two years, $20M (2009-10)
    Dmitri Young, 1B: One year, $500K (2007)
    Esteban Loaiza, SP: One year, $2.9M (2005)

    Failures
    Paul LoDuca, C/1B: One year, $5M (2008)
    Ivan Rodriguez, C: Two years, $6M (2010-11)
    Adam LaRoche, 1B: Two years, $16M (2011-12)
    Dan Haren, SP: One year, $13M (2013)
    Ramon Ortiz, SP: One year, $2.5M (2006)
    Chien-Ming Wang, SP: One year, $2M (2010)

    Dunn's power wasn't affected by the pitching-friendly confines of Nationals Park as he hit 38 homers in each of two seasons with the club. 

    Young showed that he had one more big season in him, posting an .869 OPS in 136 games. The veteran Loaiza gave the team a 3.77 ERA in 217 innings during his lone season in Washington.

    LaRoche had a huge season in 2012 (.853 OPS, 33 HR), although that wasn't enough to make up for a lost 2011 season in which he posted a .546 OPS in 43 games before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.

    Haren's strong 2nd half nearly erased the bust label he had earned after posting a 6.15 ERA over his first 15 starts. It wasn't enough, though, in a season that was an overall disappointment.

    The $2 million the Nats gave Wang in 2010, the first of three consecutive one-year contracts they'd give him. He didn't pitch a game in his first season with the team as his recovery from shoulder surgery took longer than expected.

    Score: 2

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Ryan Zimmerman, 3B: Five years, $45M (2009-13)
    Livan Hernandez, SP: One year, $900K (2010)

    Failures

    Adam LaRoche, 1B: Two years, $24M (2013-14)
    Dmitri Young, 1B: Two years, $10M (2008-09)
    Cristian Guzman, SS: Four years, $16.8M (2005-08); Two years, $16M (2009-10)

    Chien-Ming Wang, SP: One year, $1M (2011); One year, $4M (2012)

    Zimmerman has an .817 OPS with an average of 26 homers, 31 doubles and 87 runs batted in over the past two seasons, which were his post-arbitration seasons had he not signed the contract extension.

    Guzman was an All-Star in 2008, but the other five seasons included in the two contract extensions were either mediocre or injury-plagued.

    LaRoche and Young each earned big contracts with performances in their walk years. Young had nothing much left in the tank, though, while LaRoche's power numbers dropped drastically in his first year of the new deal. 

    For the additional $5 million the team gave Wang in 2011 and 2012, he gave them a total of 94.2 innings and a 4.94 ERA.  

    Score: 2

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Adam Dunn, 1B/OF: Four years, $56M (2011-14)
    Alfonso Soriano, OF: Signed with Cubs for eight years, $136M (2007-14)
    Edwin Jackson, SP: Signed with Cubs for four years, $52M (2013-16)
    Esteban Loaiza, SP: Signed with Athletics for three years, $21.375M (2006-08)
    Sean Burnett, RP: Signed with Angels for two years, $8M (2013-14)

    Failures
    Joel Peralta, RP: Signed with Rays for one year, $925K (2011)

    Not too many free agents have left the Nats and gone on to bigger and better things, although letting Peralta go after he posted a 2.02 ERA in 39 relief appearances has proven to be a huge mistake. 

    Score: 4

     

26. New York Mets

5 of 30

    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 802-818 (.495)
    Playoff Appearances: 1 (2006)

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 10

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Carlos Beltran, OF: Seven years, $119M (2005-11)
    Mike Cameron, OF: Four years, $26.5M (2004-07)
    Francisco Rodriguez, RP: Three years, $37M (2009-11)
    Billy Wagner, RP: Four years, $43M (2006-09)

    Failures
    Kazuo Matsui, 2B: Three years, $20.1M (2004-06)
    Jason Bay (pictured), OF: Four years, $66M (2010-13)
    Pedro Martinez, SP: Four years, $53M (2005-08)
    Johan Santana, SP: Six years, $137.5M (2008-13)

    Santana earned every dollar during the first half of his deal, posting a 2.85 ERA in 88 starts. But he missed two of the next three seasons with shoulder problems and had a 4.85 ERA in the other.

    Bay's contract was a waste of all four seasons. Martinez gave them about one-and-a-half "Pedro-like" seasons and Matsui was a major disappointment after coming over from Japan with huge expectations.

    The four long-term contract successes don't make up for all that wasted money, but they do show how the worst contracts can overshadow the good ones and give an organization a reputation for "always" failing in this area.

    Score: 2

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Jose Valentin, IF/OF: One year, $900K (2006)
    Marlon Byrd, OF: One year, $700K (2013)
    Gary Sheffield, OF: One year, $400K (2009)
    R.A. Dickey, SP: One year, $600K (2010)
    LaTroy Hawkins, RP: One year, $1M (2013)

    Failures
    Moises Alou, OF: Two years, $15M (2007-08)
    Shaun Marcum, SP: One year, $4M (2013)
    D.J. Carrasco, RP: Two years, $2.4M (2011-12)
    Frank Francisco, RP: Two years, $12M (2012-13)
    Ryota Igarashi, RP: Two years, $3M (2010-11)

    The Mets have found some great bargains throughout the years, including Byrd and Dickey, most recently. At the least, they balance out some of the very bad short-term contracts handed out over the past few seasons. 

    Score: 3

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    David Wright, 3B: Six years, $55M (2007-12)
    Jose Reyes, SS: Five years, $34.25M (2007-11)
    Scott Hairston, OF: One year, $1.1M (2012)
    Kris Benson, SP: Three years, $22.5M (2005-07)
    R.A. Dickey, SP: Three years, $12.8M (2011-13)
    Tom Glavine, SP: One year, $10M (2006); One year, $7.5M (2007)

    Failures

    Luis Castillo, 2B: Four years, $25M (2008-11)
    Oliver Perez, SP: Three years, $36M (2009-11)

    Castillo (.681 OPS in 315 games) might not belong in the same conversation as Bay, but it's not far behind. Perez's deal wasn't as costly as Bay in terms of dollars, but it may have set the team back further. The lefty gave the team a 6.81 ERA in 112.1 innings pitched over the course of his deal. 

    Score: 3

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Al Leiter, SP: Signed with Marlins for one year, $7M (2005)
    Pedro Feliciano, RP: Signed with Yankees for two years, $8M (2011-12)

    Failures
    Jose Reyes, SS: Signed with Marlins for six years, $106M (2012-17)

    Losing the heart and soul of their team to a division rival is never a good thing, even if the price was extremely high. And in the case of Reyes, his contract really isn't considered to be out of line with his production. The Mets are still trying to find his replacement two years late and the best option on the market, Stephen Drew, is going to get a huge deal that will be risky for any team that signs him.

    Score: 2

     

25. Philadelphia Phillies

6 of 30

    Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 886-734 (.547)
    Playoff Appearances: 5 (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) 1 World Series Championship

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 10 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Raul Ibañez, OF: Three years, $31.5M (2009-11)
    Cliff Lee, SP: Five years, $120M (2011-15)
    Jonathan Papelbon (pictured), RP: Four years, $50M (2012-15)

    Failures
    Placido Polanco, 3B: Three years, $18M (2010-12)
    Adam Eaton, SP: Three years, $24M (2007-09)
    Jon Lieber, SP: Three years, $21M (2005-07)
    Tom Gordon, RP: Three years, $16M (2006-08)

    The only bad thing about the Papelbon deal is that the team hasn't been very good in his two seasons, making his contributions as one of the top closers in the game much less significant. They've also wasted two of Lee's prime seasons, which is why it's so important to turn things around while he's still under contract and getting paid $25 million per season.

    Score: 3

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Pedro Feliz, 3B: Two years, $8.5M (2008-09)
    Jose Contreras, RP: One year, $1.5M (2010)
    Chan Ho Park, RP: One year, $2.5M (2009)

    Failures
    Geoff Jenkins, OF: Two years, $13M (2008-09)
    Mike Adams, RP: Two years, $12M (2013-14)
    Danys Baez, RP: Two years, $5.25M (2010-11)

    Jenkins was a highly productive player during his 10-year career with the Brewers, which resulted in zero playoff appearances. He struggled in his lone season with the Phillies, but won a World Series ring and even had a double in one of his two World Series at-bats. 

    Feliz and Park made positive contributions to the championship team. 

    Score: 2

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Jimmy Rollins, SS: Six years, $46.5M (2006-11)
    Kevin Millwood, SP: One year, $11M (2004)
    Jamie Moyer, SP: Two years, $10.5M (2007-08)
    Ryan Madson, RP: Three years, $12M (2009-11)

    Failures

    Ryan Howard, 1B: Five years, $125M (2012-16)
    Chase Utley, 2B: Seven years, $85M (2007-13)
    Joe Blanton, SP: Three years, $24M (2010-12)
    Roy Halladay, SP: Three years, $60M (2011-13)
    Jose Contreras, RP: Two years, $5.5M (2011-12)
    Jamie Moyer, SP: Two years, $13M (2009-10)

    Brad Lidge, RP: Three years, $37.5M (2009-11)
    J.C. Romero, RP: Three years, $12M (2008-10)

    Howard's deal has gotten the most backlash, but there are plenty more to choose from. Utley and Halladay missing time because of injuries and Lidge's 7.21 ERA in year one of his deal highlight the list of players who were making extremely high salaries while not contributing on the field. 

    Score: 1

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Pat Burrell, OF: Signed with Rays for two years, $16M (2009-10)
    Aaron Rowand, OF: Signed with Giants for five years, $60M (2008-12)
    Jayson Werth, OF: Signed with Phillies for seven years, $126M (2011-17)
    Ryan Madson, RP: Signed with Reds for one year, $8.5M (2012)

    Failures
    Kevin Millwood, SP: Signed with Indians for one year, $7M (2005)
    Billy Wagner, RP: Signed with Mets for four years, $43M (2006-09)

    Score: 4

     

24. Baltimore Orioles

7 of 30

    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 736-884 (.454)
    Playoff Appearances: 1 (2012)

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 10.5 out of 12

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Ramon Hernandez, C: Four years, $27.5M (2006-09)
    Javy Lopez, C: Three years, $22.5M (2004-06)
    Aubrey Huff, 1B: Three years, $20M (2007-09)
    Miguel Tejada, SS: Six years, $72M (2004-09)
    Wei-Yin Chen, SP: Four years, est. $14.5M (2012-15)

    Failures
    Danys Baez, RP: Three years, $19.5M (2007-09)

    The O's have done a terrific job of avoiding long-term free busts, while those that have signed long-term deals have also given the team solid production.

    Hernandez and Lopez each faded towards the end of their deals, but not before putting together a few solid seasons.

    Huff had an .848 OPS with 24 homers and 41 doubles per season during the first two years of his deal, while Chen has provided the O's with a steady performer at the top of their rotation in his first two seasons with the club. 

    Tejada was traded to Houston after year four of his deal, but he had an .862 OPS with an average of 24 homers and 36 doubles during his stint. 

    Score: 3.5

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Kevin Millar, 1B: One-year, $2.1M (2006) 
    Koji Uehara (pictured), RP/SP: Two years, $10M (2009-10)

    Failures
    Mike Gonzalez, RP: Two years, $12M (2010-11)
    Kevin Gregg, RP: Two years, $10M (2011-12)

    Millar ended up signing three consecutive one-year deals, starting in 2006 when he posted an .811 OPS with 15 homers. Uehara was miscast as a starter when he came over from Japan (4.05 ERA in 12 starts during injury-plauged 2009 season). Fortunately, he found a home in the O's bullpen in year two of the deal (2.86 ERA, 13 Sv) and has gotten better every year since. 

    Signed to be the team's closer, Gonzalez went down with a shoulder injury early in his first year of the contract and never returned to form with the O's. He finished his Baltimore career with two saves and an ERA over 4.00.

    Score: 2.5

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Adam Jones, OF: Six years, $85.5M (2013-18)
    Nick Markakis, OF: Six years, $66.1M (2009-14) 

    Failures
    Brian Roberts, 2B: Four years, $40M (2010-13)
    Sidney Ponson, SP: Three years, $22.5M (2004-06)

    Jones is only one year into the contract extension, but he's already doing a great job of earning his money—he was 13th in MVP voting. Despte Markakis' decline in performance, he had a .796 OPS with an average of 14 homers and 37 doubles per season during the first four seasons of his deal. 

    The oft-injured Roberts played in only 192 games during the four-year deal while posting a .669 OPS. Ponson was not only terrible on the mound after re-signing (5.64 ERA in 2004-05), he had multiple brushes with the law over the course of his deal.

    Score: 2

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    B.J .Ryan, RP: Signed with Blue Jays for five years and $47M (2006-10)

    Failures
    None

    The O's haven't had many impact players reach free agency at the peak of their career so there hasn't been too many tough decisions to make. In Ryan's case, they passed on a lefty reliever who had a 2.60 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 12.4 K/9 in his three seasons leading up to free agency. And when the Jays offered him $47 million to be their closer, the O's likely had another easy decision letting him go.

    Score: 2.5

     

23. Minnesota Twins

8 of 30

    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 814-808 (.502)
    Playoff Appearances: 4 (2004, 2006, 2009, 2010)

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 10.5 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Josh Willingham, OF: Three years, $21M (2012-14)

    Failures
    Tsuyoshi Nishioka, IF: Three years, $9.25M (2011-13)

    Had Willingham stayed healthy in 2013, his team-friendly deal would look much better. He posted an .890 OPS with 35 homers in year one and a .709 OPS with 14 homers in 111 games in year two. A return to his normal self in 2014 will ensure this turns out to be a great deal for Minnesota. 

    Nishioka was overwhelmed in the big leagues, posting a .527 OPS in 68 games in 2011 and then went 0-for-12 in his last at-bats as a big leaguer in 2012.

    They've ventured into new ground by signing Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes to multi-year contracts this offseason. Considering that the Twins play in a pitcher-friendly ballpark, it will be interesting to find out how these deals have turned out a couple years from now.

    Score: 2.5

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Ryan Doumit, C/OF: One year, $3M (2012)
    Jim Thome (pictured), DH: One year, $1.5M (2010)

    Failures
    Jamey Carroll, IF: Two years, $6.5M (2012-13)
    Rondell White, OF: One year, $2.5M (2006)
    Livan Hernandez, RP: One year, $5M (2008)
    Jason Marquis, SP: One year, $3M (2012)

    Not too many risky signings, although Carroll's two-year deal for his ages 38 and 39 seasons was costly.

    Thome, on the other hand, gave the team great value in his age 39 season, posting a 1.039 OPS with 25 homers in only 108 games. 

    Score: 2.5

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Michael Cuddyer, OF: Four years, $35.5M (2008-11)
    Carl Pavano, SP: One year, $7M (2010)
    Brad Radke, SP: Two years, $18M (2005-06)
    Johan Santana, SP: Four years, $39.75M (2005-08)

    Failures

    Joe Mauer, C/1B: Eight years, $184M (2011-18)
    Justin Morneau, 1B: Six years, $80M (2008-13)
    Shannon Stewart, OF: Three years, $18M (2004-06)
    Rondell White, OF: One year, $2.75M (2007)
    Carl Pavano, SP: Two years, $16.5M (2011-12)
    Joe Nathan, RP: Four years, $47M (2008-11)

    Any decline at the plate from newly-converted first baseman Joe Mauer will result in a shift downward in this area's effectiveness. As of now, there's a good number of arguments for each side.

    Score: 3

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Jacque Jones, OF: Signed with Cubs for three years, $16M (2006-08)
    Johan Santana, SP: Signed with Mets for six years, $137.5M (2008-13)
    Carlos Silva, SP: Signed with Mariners for four years, $48M (2008-11)

    Failures
    Michael Cuddyer, 1B/OF: Signed with Rockies for three years, $31.5M (2012-14)
    Torii Hunter, OF: Signed with Angels for five years, $90M (2008-12) 

    Yet to recover from the loss of Hunter, the team has now struggled to replace Cuddyer's production. It's unlikely they were heavily involved in the bidding for Santana and Silva, but it's a good thing they didn't try to sign them to contract extensions sooner. 

    Score: 2.5

     

22. Milwaukee Brewers

9 of 30

    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 806-813 (.498)
    Playoff Appearances: 2 (2008, 2011)

    Overall Free Agency Ranking: 10.5 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Norichika Aoki, OF: Three years, $4.95M (2012-14)
    Kyle Lohse, SP: Three years, $33M (2013-15)
    Randy Wolf, SP: Three years, $29.75M (2010-12)

    Failures
    Jeff Suppan, SP: Four years, $42M (2007-10)
    David Riske, RP: Three years, $13M (2008-10)

    Aoki has been a bargain for the first two years of his deal and Lohse's career in Milwaukee is off to a strong start. Wolf won 26 games and posted a 3.93 ERA in two seasons with the team before struggling in the third year.

    Suppan wasn't terrible, but even a 4.96 ERA over the course of the deal was disappointing for the veteran starter.

    Riske earned his multi-year deal after posting a 2.45 ERA in 65 relief appearances for the Royals in 2007. He posted a 5.40 ERA in 69 relief outings in three seasons for the Brewers.

    Score: 2

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Mike Cameron (pictured), OF: Two years, $16.25M (2008-09)
    Jim Edmonds, OF: One year, $850K (2010)
    Gabe Kapler, OF: One year, $800K (2008)
    Trevor Hoffman, RP: One year, $6M (2009)

    Failures
    Jason Kendall, C: Two years, $9.25M (2008-09)
    Gregg Zaun, C: One year, $2.15M (2010)
    Craig Counsell, 2B: Two years, $6M (2006-07)
    Eric Gagne, RP: One year, $10M (2008)

    A trio of veteran outfielders gave the Brewers great value late in their career, while future Hall of Famer Hoffman gave Milwaukee his last great season.

    After a mid-season trade to Boston in 2007, Gagne posted a 6.75 ERA in 20 relief appearances the rest of the way. It was the first time he struggled in years. The Brewers must've felt that it wasn't a sign of things to come because they gave him $10 million the following season. He gave them a 5.44 ERA in his last 50 appearances as a big leaguer.

    Score: 3.5

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Geoff Jenkins, OF: Three years, $23M (2005-07)
    Ben Sheets, SP: Four years, $38.5M (2005-08)
    Francisco Rodriguez, RP: One year, $2M (2013)

    Failures

    Rickie Weeks, 2B: Four years, $38.5M (2011-14)
    Bill Hall, IF/OF: Four years, $24M (2007-10)
    Trevor Hoffman, RP: One year, $8M (2010)
    Francisco Rodriguez, RP: One year, $8M (2012)

    Jenkins had an .827 OPS in his last three seasons with the team and Sheets, despite averaging just 24 starts per season over the course of his contract, was still a very effective pitcher. 

    Brining back Hoffman and Rodriguez on one-year, $8 million deals proved to be a mistake.

    Barring a terrific bounce-back season, Weeks' production throughout the course of his contract extension will look a lot like Hall's, which isn't a good thing. 

    Score: 2

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Geoff Jenkins, OF: Signed with Phillies for two years, $13M (2008-09)
    Scott Linebrink, RP: Signed with White Sox for four years, $19M (2008-11)

    Failures
    Prince Fielder, 1B: Signed with Tigers for nine years, $214M (2012-20)
    Francisco Cordero, RP: Signed with Reds for four years, $48M (2008-11)

    Jenkins and Linebrink didn't live up to expectations with their new teams. Fielder's contract might be an albatross in the next few seasons, but that doesn't mean the Brewers don't miss him or could've used his left-handed power in the middle of their lineup over the past two years and the next several seasons.

    Score: 3

     

21. Los Angeles Dodgers

10 of 30

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 853-756 (.527)
    Playoff Appearances: 5 (2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2013) 

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 10.5 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Yasiel Puig, OF: Seven years, $42M (2012-18)
    Hiroki Kuroda, SP: Three years, $35.3M (2008-10)
    Derek Lowe, SP: Four years, $36M (2005-08)

    Failures
    Juan Uribe, 3B: Three years, $21M (2011-13)
    Rafael Furcal, SS: Three years, $39M (2006-08)
    Juan Pierre, OF: Five years, $45M (2007-11)
    Jason Schmidt, SP: Three years, $47M (2007-09)
    Matt Guerrier, RP: Three years, $12M (2011-13)

    Kuroda and Lowe gave the Dodgers solid production for their multi-year contracts, while Puig's arrival in Los Angeles is having a similar impact to star pitchers Fernando Valenzuela and Hideo Nomo.

    The bad deals can't be overlooked, though. Uribe finally produced in year three after two terrible seasons.

    Furcal had a strong debut, a poor second season and a third year lost to injury. Pierre was decent in year three of his five-year deal before being traded to the White Sox. Schmidt gave the team almost no return on his $47 million deal.  

    Score: 2

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Nomar Garciaparra, 1B: One year, $6M (2006)
    Orlando Hudson, 2B: One year, $3.38M (2009)
    Jeff Kent (pictured), 2B: Two years, $17M (2005-06)
    J.D. Drew, OF: Two years, $22M (2005-06)
    Luis Gonzalez, OF: One year, $7.35M (2007)
    J.P. Howell, RP: One year, $2.85M (2013)

    Failures
    Andruw Jones, OF: Two years, $36.2M (2008-09)

    Aside from the Jones blunder—he posted a .505 OPS and was released prior to year two of his deal—the Dodgers have a terrific track record of success in this area.

    Drew's contract was originally a five-year deal but he opted out after two seasons. Although he missed a lot of year one with an injury, he gave the team a .905 OPS in 218 games as a Dodger. 

    Score: 4

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Jeff Kent (pictured), 2B: Two years, $8.5M (2007-08)
    Hiroki Kuroda, SP: One year, $12M (2011)
    Brad Penny, SP: Three years, $25.5M (2006-08)

    Failures
    Nomar Garciaparra, 1B: Two years, $18.5M (2007-08)
    Juan Rivera, 1B/OF: One year, $4.5M (2012)
    Rafael Furcal, SS: Three years, $30M (2009-11)
    Manny Ramirez, OF: Two years, $45M (2009-10)
    Chad Billingsley, SP: Three years, $35M (2012-14)
    Ted Lilly, SP: Three years, $33M (2011-13)
    Eric Gagne, RP: Two years, $19M (2005-06)
    Brandon League, RP: Three years, $22.5M (2013-15)

    Penny's years as a productive major league pitcher were done by the time he entered year three of his contract extension. Fortunately for the Dodgers, he earned his money the first two seasons when he went 32-13 with a 3.65 ERA. 

    Furcal couldn't make up for his first three-year deal as injuries continued to keep him from returning to the form that made him such a great player early in his career with the Braves. Keeping Ramirez, Gagne and Lilly around were terrible decisions, in retrospect, while it's hard to see League pitching well enough over the next two seasons to make up for his 2013 debacle. 

    Score: 1

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Adrian Beltre, 3B: Signed with Mariners for five years, $64M (2005-09)
    Derek Lowe, SP: Signed with Braves for four years, $60M (2009-12)
    Jeff Weaver, SP: Signed with Angels for one year, $8.325M (2006)

    Failures
    Russell Martin, C: Signed with Yankees for one year, $4M (2011)

    Beltre gave the Mariners five pretty good seasons, although it took him more than two to match the 48 homers he hit in his last year with the Dodgers. Still, he wasn't close to the hitter he would eventually become later in his career. 

    Score: 3.5

     

20. Seattle Mariners

11 of 30

    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 718-902 (.443)
    Playoff Appearances: 0

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 11 out of 20  

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Kenji Johjima, C: Three years, $16.5M (2006-08)
    Richie Sexson, 1B: Four years, $50M (2005-08)
    Adrian Beltre (pictured), 3B: Five years, $64M (2005-09)
    Raul Ibañez, OF: Three years, $13.25M (2004-06)

    Failures
    Chone Figgins, IF: Four years, $36M (2010-13)
    Carlos Silva, SP: Four years, $48M (2008-11)
    Jarrod Washburn, SP: Four years, $37.5M (2006-09)

    As bad as the Figgins and Silva deals were, it shouldn't be surprising that they haven't been aggressive enough to land any of the top free agents over the last few seasons. 

    Score: 1

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Russell Branyan, DH: One year, $1.4M (2009)
    Ken Griffey, Jr., OF: One year, $2M (2009)
    Jose Guillen, OF: One year, $5M (2007)
    Raul Ibañez, OF: One year, $2.75M (2013)
    Hisashi Iwakuma, SP: One year, $1.5M (2012)
    Kevin Millwood, SP: One year, $1M (2012)
    Oliver Perez, RP: One year, est. $500K (2012)

    Failures
    Jack Cust, DH: One year, $2.5M (2011)
    Carl Everett, OF: One year, $3.4M (2006)
    Joe Saunders, SP: One year, $6.5M (2013)
    Jeff Weaver, SP: One year, $8.325M (2007)

    Giving Weaver over $8 million after he posted an ERA near 6.00 the previous season was a bad move and the results were even worse. He managed to make 27 starts in 2007 despite finishing with a 6.20 ERA. A long string of successful one-year deals have helped to make up for it, though. 

    Score: 3.5

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Raul Ibañez, OF: Two years, $11M (2007-08)

    Ichiro Suzuki, OF: Four years, $44M (2004-07); Five years, $90M (2008-12)
    Erik Bedard, SP: One year, $1M (2011)
    Felix Hernandez, SP: Five years, $78M (2010-14)
    Hisashi Iwakuma, SP: Two years, $14M (2013-14)
    Oliver Perez, RP: One year, $1.5M (2013)


    Failures

    Kenji Johjima, C: Three years, $24M (2009-11)
    Franklin Gutierrez, OF: Four years, $20.25M (2010-13)

    Keeping superstar players in town is good for business, especially when they're productive. Ichiro spent nearly twelve seasons in Seattle and Hernandez has been a Mariner for nine years and is signed for at least five more. 

    Score: 3.5

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Jose Guillen, OF: Three years, $36M (2008-10)
    Gil Meche, SP: Signed with Royals for five years, $55M (2007-11)

    Failures
    Adrian Beltre, 3B: Signed with Red Sox for one year, $10M (2010)
    Raul Ibañez, OF: Signed with Phillies for three years, $31.5M (2009-11)

    Guillen and Meche were busts in Kansas City. Beltre and Ibañez were highly productive players after leaving town. 

    Score: 3

     

19. Cincinnati Reds

12 of 30

    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 810-810 (.500)
    Playoff Appearances: 3 (2008, 2012, 2013) 

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 11 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Aroldis Chapman, RP/SP: Five years, $25.5M (2010-14)
    Francisco Cordero, RP: Four years, $46M (2008-11)

    Failures
    Alex Gonzalez, SS: Three years, $14M (2007-09)
    Eric Milton, SP: Three years, $25.5M (2005-07)

    Champan hasn't been the frontline starter the Reds were hoping for, but that window hasn't yet closed and he has been one of the most dominant closer's in the game over the past two seasons.

    Cordero had a 2.96 ERA and 150 saves in his four seasons with the club. 

    After a stellar start to his Reds career (.793 OPS, 16 HR in 2007), Gonzalez missed year two with a fractured knee and struggled when he returned in 2009.

    Milton was a terrible fit for homer-friendly Great American Ball Park. With 43 homers allowed for the Phillies the previous season, it shouldn't have been too much of  a surprise that he gave up 73 in 66 starts for the Reds. His ERA was close to 6.00.

    Score: 2

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Ryan Ludwick, OF: One year, $2M
    Manny Parra, RP: One year, $1M (2013) 

    Failures 
    Corey Patterson, OF: One year, $3M (2008)
    Willy Taveras, OF: One year, $2.25M (2009)

    Ludwick had his best season in years with 26 homers in 80 runs batted in during his Reds debut. Parra also made a strong first impression, posting a 3.33 ERA with 11.0 K/9 in 57 relief appearances.  

    Patterson and Taveras each had inconsistent track records and were coming off of poor seasons so the deals multi-million dollar contracts didn't make a lot of sense at the time. The deals looked worse after both struggled badly.

    Score: 2.5

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Brandon Phillips, 2B: Four years, $27M (2008-11)
    Adam Dunn, OF/1B: Two years, $21M (2008-09)
    Bronson Arroyo, SP: Three years, est. $26.3M (2008-10); Three years, $35M (2011-13)

    Failures
    Scott Rolen, 3B: Three years, $23.6M (2010-12)
    Ryan Ludwick, OF: Two years, $15M (2013-14)
    Mike Lincoln, RP: Two years, $4M (2009-10)

    Rolen had been a great player for a long time. It turns out that 2010 was his last, though, and the Reds paid him a substantial amount of money as he struggled to stay healthy and produce on the field over his last two seasons.

    After posting a 4.48 ERA in 64 appearances in 2008 to earn the two-year contract extension, Lincoln only managed 38 more relief outings and a 7.80 ERA before his big league career was over.

    Score: 4

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Francisco Cordero, RP: Signed with Blue Jays for one year, $4.5M (2012)  

    Failures
    Jeremy Affeldt, RP: Signed with Giants for two years, $8M (2009-10)

    Cordero posted a 7.55 ERA in the season following his successful stint with the Reds, while Affeldt has been going strong ever since leaving Cincinnati with a 2.55 ERA in 300 relief appearances with the Giants. 

    Score: 2.5

     

18. Atlanta Braves

13 of 30

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 877-743 (.541)
    Playoff Appearances: 5 (2004, 2005, 2010, 2012, 2013)

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 11 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    None

    Failures
    Kenshin Kawakami, SP: Three years, $23M (2009-11)
    Derek Lowe, SP: Four years, $60M (2009-12)
    B.J. Upton, CF: Five years, $75.5M (2013-17)

    Kawakami's deal, which covered his ages 34-46 seasons, didn't look terrible after a solid rookie campaign (3.86 ERA, 3.3 BB/9, 6.0 K/9), although his disastrous year two (1-10, 5.51 ERA) ensured he wouldn't be in the majors by year three. In fact, he never pitched in the majors again.

    Lowe went 31-22 in his first two season of the contract, but his ERA was 4.57 and he was allowing over 10 hits per game. After a rough season three (9-17, 5.05 ERA), he was traded to Cleveland for a minor league reliever. 

    Even with four seasons left on his deal, Upton will have a rough time digging himself out of a hole he created by posting an awful .557 OPS with nine homers and 151 strikeouts in 2013.

    Score: 1

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Billy Wagner (pictured), RP: One year, $7M (2010)

    Failures
    None

    The Braves haven't ventured much into one and two-year deal territory with free agents, but it was a huge success on one of the rare occasions they did. The only disappointment is that Wagner retired after his brilliant 2010 season (1.43 ERA, 2.9 BB/9, 13.5 K/9, 37 Sv) instead of returning at the $6.5M he was due when his vesting options for games finished was triggered.

    Score: 4

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Tim Hudson, SP: Four years, $37M (2010-13)
    Chipper Jones, 3B: Three years, $42M (2010-12)

    Failures
    Dan Uggla, 2B: Five years, $62M (2011-15)

    Keeping Jones, one of the best players in Braves history, in Atlanta for his entire career was a must and his .818 OPS over his last three seasons was just a bonus. Hudson continued to be one of the most effective starting pitchers in the game with a 3.33 ERA in 116 starts in his final four seasons with the team. 

    Uggla's extension came after an impressive debut season with the Braves that included 36 homers and 82 runs batted in. His production has declined since and he has almost no value with two years left on his deal.

    Score: 2

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Rafael Furcal, SS: Signed with Dodgers for three years, $39M (2006-08)
    Michael Bourn, OF: 
    Signed with Indians for four years, $48M (2013-16)
    Andruw Jones, OF: Signed with Dodgers for two years, $36.2M (2005-08)
    Russ Ortiz, SP: Signed with Diamondbacks for four years, $33M (2006-09)
    Mike Gonzalez, RP: Signed with Orioles for two years, $12M (2010-11)

    Failures
    J.D. Drew, OF: Signed with Dodgers for two years, $20.8M (2005-06)

    The only bright spot in the team's failure to sign impact players in the offseason is that the one's who depart Atlanta haven't had great success. Bourn's debut season in Cleveland wasn't one of his best. Jones, Ortiz and Gonzalez were complete busts.

    Drew is the one player they likely regret getting away, though. He exercised an opt-out clause in his five-year, $55 million deal after two seasons but posted a .905 OPS with 35 homers and 136 runs batted in during his 218-game stint with the Dodgers.

    Score: 4

     

17. Arizona Diamondbacks

14 of 30

    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 767-853 (.473)
    Playoff Appearances: 2 (2007, 2011)

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 11.5 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Tony Clark, Three years, est. $2.8M (2005-07)
    Troy Glaus, Four years, $45M (2005-09)
    J.J. Putz, RP: Three years, $15M (2011-13)

    Failures
    Russ Ortiz, SP: Four years, $33M (2005-08)
    Cody Ross, OF: Three years, $26M (2013-15)

    During Clark's first stint in Arizona—he signed with the Padres for the 2008 season but was traded back to the D'backs in mid-July—he posted an .878 OPS with 53 homers in 322 games.

    Glaus had one great season in Arizona (37 HR, 97 RBI) before he was traded to Toronto in a deal for Orlando Hudson, who was terrific in three seasons with the D'backs.

    Putz, who signed a one-year contract extension to return in 2014, has a 2.45 ERA, 2.5 BB/9, 10.1 K/9 and 83 saves during his three seasons in Arizona.

    Ortiz's contract was one of the biggest free agent flops of the decade and Ross' .745 OPS and eight homers in 94 games isn't exactly what Arizona had in mind when they signed him. He has two years to make this deal worth it, though.

    Score: 2.5

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Adam LaRoche, 1B: One year, $6M (2010)
    Kelly Johnson, 2B: Two years, $8.2M (2010-11)

    Failures
    Brandon McCarthy, SP: Two years, $18M (2013-14)

    LaRoche hit 25 homers and knocked in 100 runs during his lone season in Arizona, while Johnson's impressive 2010 season (.865 OPS, 26 HR) more than makes up a bit of a down year in 2011 (.699 OPS, 18 HR prior to late-season trade to Toronto for Aaron Hill).

    McCarthy has another season to prove he's worth the contract, but he only made 22 starts and posted a 4.53 ERA with a career-worst 10.7 H/9 during his first season with the D'backs.

    Score: 3

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Aaron Hill, 2B: Two years, $11M (2012-13)

    Failures
    Eric Byrnes (pictured), OF: Three years, $30M (2008-10)

    The Hill-for-Johnson trade "change of scenery" deal in August 2011 has paid huge dividends for the D'backs. Hill re-signed after the season, had an .882 OPS with 26 homers in 2012 and signed a contract extension that will keep him in Arizona through the 2016 season.

    Byrnes went from being a great value—he made less than $7 million combined in the 2006-07 seasons to post an .805 OPS with 24 homers and 38 stolen bases per season—to being a complete bust once his new deal began in 2008. He had a .653 OPS with 14 homers in his last 136 games with the D'backs and was released before the final year of his contract. 

    Score: 2

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Adam LaRoche, 1B: Signed with Nationals for two years, $16M (2011-12)

    Failures
    None

    While LaRoche's initial replacement at first base, former Yankee Juan Miranda, didn't light the world on fire (.717 OPS, 7 HR in 65 games), it turns out that he was just keeping the spot warm for future star Paul Goldschmidt.

    Despite not being a highly-touted prospect, Goldschmidt made the jump from Double-A in early August and made it clear right away that he was in the majors for good. Re-signing LaRoche to even a one-year deal might have delayed Goldschmidt's arrival.

    Score:

     

16. Pittsburgh Pirates

15 of 30

    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 705-913 (.436)
    Playoff Appearances: 1 (2013)

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 11.5

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    None

    Failures
    None

    The Bucs simply don't take chances when it comes to free agency. They've stuck with their plan of building from within and taking low-risk moves on short-term deals. It will be interesting to see if they're finally willing to add an impact player through free agency now that they could be considered to be one or two pieces away from being a championship-caliber team. 

    Score: 2

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Russell Martin, C: Two years, $17M (2013-14)
    Francisco Liriano, (pictured), SP: Two years, $12.75M (2013-14)
    Kevin Correia, SP: Two years, $8M (2011-12)
    Jason Grilli, RP: One year, est. $400K (2011)
    Jose Mesa, RP: One year, $200K (2004)

    Failures
    Rod Barajas, C: One year, $4M (2012)
    Lyle Overbay, 1B: One year, $5M (2011)
    Jeromy Burnitz, OF: One year, $6.7M (2006)
    Clint Barmes, SS: Two years, $10.5M (2012-13)
    Erik Bedard, SP: One year, $4.5M (2012)

    Up until last offseason when they signed Liriano and Martin, they hadn't had much success in this area. 

    Score: 3.5

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Jason Grilli, RP: Two years, $6.75M (2013-14)

    Failures

    Jose Mesa, RP: One year, $2.5M (2005)
    Salomon Torres, RP: Two years, $6.5M (2007-08)

    They may have missed on Mesa and Torres, but Grilli continued to dominate in year one of his new contract, which also was his first season as a big league closer. 

    Score: 3.5

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    None

    Failures
    Ryan Doumit, C/OF: Signed with Twins for one year, $3M (2012)
    Ryan Ludwick, OF: Signed with Reds for one year, $2M (2012)

    At those prices on one-year deals, the Pirates certainly could've used either Doumit or Ludwick in 2012.  

    Score: 2.5

     

15. Toronto Blue Jays

16 of 30

    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 791-828 (.489)
    Playoff Appearances:  

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 11.5 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    A.J. Burnett, SP: Three years, $32M (2006-08)

    Failures
    Maicer Izturis, IF: Three years, $10M (2013-15)
    B.J. Ryan, RP: Five years, $47M (2006-10)

    Burnett did them a favor by opting out of his deal after three solid seasons. Unfortunately, B.J. Ryan didn't have a clause that would've allowed him to opt out after posting solid seasons in year one and three of his deal. He was released half-way through year four after posting a 6.53 ERA in 25 appearances.

    Score: 2

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Rod Barajas, C: Two years, $3.7M (2008-09)
    John Buck, C: One year, $2M (2010)
    Bengie Molina, C: One year, $4.5M (2006)
    Gregg Zaun, C: One year, est. $400K (2004)
    Frank Thomas, DH: Two years, $18.12M (2007-08)
    Edwin Encarnacion, 3B: Two years, $6M (2011-12)
    Alex Gonzalez, SS: One year, $2.75M (2010)
    Matt Stairs, OF: One year, $850K (2007)
    Scott Downs, RP: One year, est. $400K (2005)
    Kevin Gregg, RP: One year, $2M (2010)
    Darren Oliver, RP: Two years, $7M (2012-13)

    Failures
    Melky Cabrera, OF: Two years, $16M (2013-14)
    Pat Hentgen, SP One year, $2.2M (2004)
    Jon Rauch, RP: One year, $3.5M (2011)

    Their run of successful short-term deals ended when they took a shot on Cabrera last offseason. Signing Encarnacion a month after losing him off waivers to Oakland, who later non-tendered him, has to be one of the best moves in Blue Jays history. 

    Score: 4

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Gregg Zaun, C: Two years, $2.9M (2005-06)
    Lyle Overbay, 1B: Four years, $24M (2007-10)
    Edwin Encarnacion, 3B/1B: Three years, $29M (2013-15)
    Jose Bautista, 3B/OF: Five years, $65M (2011-15)
    Roy Halladay, SP: Four years, $42M (2004-07); Three years, $40M (2008-10)
    Scott Downs, RP: Three years, $10M (2008-10)
    Casey Janssen, RP: Three years, $9.9M (2012-14)

    Failures

    Vernon Wells, OF: Seven years, $126M (2008-14)

    The team-friendly deals of Bautista and Encarnacion and keeping Halladay throughout most of his prime more than make up for overpaying Wells. And the Angels took them off the hook, anyways, by taking on most of the remaining four years of his deal. 

    Score: 4

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Kevin Gregg, RP: Signed with Orioles for two years, $10M (2011-12)

    Failures
    Bengie Molina, C: Signed with Giants for three years, $16M (2007-09)
    Carlos Delgado, 1B: Signed with Marlins for four years, $52M (2005-08)
    Marco Scutaro, IF: Signed with Red Sox for three years, $17M (2010-12)
    Kelly Johnson, IF/OF: Signed with Rays for one year, $2.45M (2013)
    Ted Lilly, SP: Signed with Cubs for four years, $40M (2007-10)
    Scott Downs, RP: Signed with Blue Jays for three years, $15M (2011-13)

    None have come back to haunt the Blue Jays, but there are several players who have moved on to bigger and better things after leaving Toronto. 

    Score: 1.5

     

14. Oakland Athletics

17 of 30

    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 843-776 (.521)
    Playoff Appearances: 3 (2006, 2012, 2013)

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 11.5

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Yoenis Cespedes (pictured), OF: Four years, $36M (2012-15)
    Grant Balfour, RP: Three years, $12.25M (2011-13)

    Failures
    Esteban Loaiza, SP: Three years, $21.375M (2006-08)

    Balfour's three-year stint with Oakland, the last two as the team's closer, helped solidify a very effective back of the bullpen. The addition of Cespedes to the middle of the lineup has helped catapult the A's to the top of the division. 

    Loaiza turned a solid 2005 season with Washington into a three-year deal with Oakland, where he lasted less than two seasons. He had a 4.89 ERA in year one of the deal and then spent most of the next season on the disabled list before the Dodgers claimed him in waivers late in the season.

    Score: 3.5

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Frank Thomas, DH: One year, $500K (2006)
    Coco Crisp, OF: Two years, $10.75M (2010-11)
    Jonny Gomes, OF: One year, $1M (2012)
    Shannon Stewart, OF : One year, $1M (2007)
    Bartolo Colon, SP: One year, $2M (2012)

    Failures
    Mike Piazza, DH: One year, $8.5M (2007)
    Jason Giambi, 1B: One year, $5.25M (2009)
    Orlando Cabrera, SS: One year, $4M (2009)
    Hideki Matsui, OF: One year, $4.25M (2011)
    Ben Sheets, SP: One year, $10M (2010)
    Brian Fuentes, RP: Two years, $10.5M (2011-12)

    The White Sox gave up a year too soon on Frank Thomas, who had a .926 OPS with 39 homers in his one season with the team. They went back to the well the next season with Mike Piazza and 2011 with Hideki Matsui, but their tanks were empty.

    Score: 3

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Jack Cust, DH: One year, $2.65M (2010)
    Mark Ellis, 2B: Three years, $16.5M (2009-11)
    Coco Crisp, OF: Three years, $20.5M (2012-14)
    Bartolo Colon, SP: One year, $3M (2013)


    Failures

    Eric Chavez, 3B: Six years, $66M (2005-10)
    Mark Kotsay, OF: Two years, $15M (2007-08)
    Justin Duchscherer, SP: One year, $1.75M (2010)

    From 2006, Chavez was a star player who had an .847 OPS and an average of 28 homers, 94 runs batted in and 148 games per season. Over the final four seasons of his contract extension, however, injuries took their toll and he posted a .689 OPS in only 154 total games. 

    Score: 2.5

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Jack Cust, DH: Signed with Mariners for one year, $2.5M (2011)
    Frank Thomas, DH: Signed with Blue Jays for two years, $18.12M (2007-08)
    Jay Payton, OF: Signed with Orioles for two years, $9.5M (2007-08)
    Brandon McCarthy, SP: Signed with Diamondbacks for two years, $15.5M (2013-14)
    Barry Zito, SP: Signed with Giants for seven years, $126M (2007-13)

    Failures
    David DeJesus, OF: Signed with Cubs for three years, $14.375M (2012-14)
    Jermaine Dye, OF: Signed with White Sox for three years, $15.75M (2005-07)
    Jonny Gomes, OF: Signed with Red Sox for two years, $10M (2013-14)
    Josh Willingham, OF: Signed with Athletics for three years, $21M (2012-14)

    Bringing Zito back wasn't possible with their tight budget, but they likely could've afforded any of DeJesus, Dye, Gomes or Willingham, all who went on to have success after leaving Oakland.

    Score: 2.5

     

13. Chicago White Sox

18 of 30

    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 827-794 (.510)
    Playoff Appearances: 2 (2005, 2008) 1 World Series Championship

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 11.5

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Tadahito Iguchi, 2B: Three years, $8.2M (2005-07)
    Jermaine Dye (pictured), OF: Three years, $16.5M (2005-07)

    Failures
    Adam Dunn, 1B: Four years, $56M (2011-14)
    Jeff Keppinger, 3B: Three years, $12M (2013-15)
    Scott Linebrink, RP: Four years, $19M (2008-11)

    The addition of Iguchi and Dye prior to the 2005 season proved to be critical to the team's first World Series championship since 1917. The more recent long-term deals given out to Dunn and Keppinger haven't gone well.

    Score: 3

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    A.J. Pierzynski, C: One year, $2.25M (2005)
    Shingo Takatsu, RP: Two years, $3.25M (2004-05) 

    Failures
    Orlando Hernandez, SP: One year, $3.5M (2005) 

    Pierzynski, another key signing for the World Series team of 2005, chipped in with 18 regular season homers and three more in the post-season.

    Takatsu didn't make an impact on that championship squad, although he earned his money in 2004 when he posted a 2.31 ERA and saved 19 games.

    Hernandez's lone season in Chicago resulted in a 5.12 ERA, although he did pitch three scoreless innings in an ALDS relief appearance. No runs were charged to him in another scoreless inning in the World Series, but he did walk four batters in what was his final appearance in a White Sox uniform.

    Score: 3

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    A.J. Pierzynski, C: Three years, $15.35M (2006-08)
    Paul Konerko, 1B: Three years, $37.5M (2011-13)
    Jermaine Dye, OF: Two years, $21M (2008-09)
    Mark Buehrle, SP: Four years, $56M (2008-11)
    Chris Sale, SP: Five years, $32.5M (2013-17)

    Failures
    John Danks: Five years, $65M (2012-16)

    The first two years of Danks' five-year extension have resulted in a 7-18 record with a 5.02 ERA in 31 starts, putting a black mark on an otherwise solid track record of keeping productive players in town. 

    Score: 4

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    None

    Failures
    Frank Thomas, DH: Signed with Athletics for one year, $500K (2006)

    Not many impact players have made it to free agency for the White Sox, either because they were traded or just not very good by the time they were eligible, but long-time superstar Frank Thomas was allowed to leave town after 16 years with the team. 

    It's understandable that they let him walk after two injury-plagued seasons, but the 37-year-old still had a couple of great seasons left in him. The first was with Oakland, where he posted a .926 OPS and hit 39 homers for the bargain price of $500,000. 

    Score: 1.5

     

12. Colorado Rockies

19 of 30

    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 761-860 (.469)
    Playoff Appearances: 2 (2007, 2009) 

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 12 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Michael Cuddyer (pictured), 1B/OF: Three years, $31.5M (2013-15)

    Failures
    None

    It's no surprise that the Rockies haven't signed a free agent pitcher to a long-term deal in the past decade, considering how badly that's worked out in the past. But they've stayed away from building their team through free agency altogether. 

    The success of Cuddyer, who has an .871 OPS in his two seasons as a Rockie and posted career-highs in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in 2013, should only strengthen the belief that Coors Field is a great destination for free agent hitters. 

    Score: 3.5

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Vinny Castilla, 3B: One year, $2.1M (2004) 

    Failures
    Ramon Hernandez, C: Two years, $6.4M (2012-13)

    Castilla, who averaged 38 homers per season for the Rockies from 1995-1999, returned after a five-year absence without missing a beat. He averaged 16 homers in his four seasons on teams other than the Rockies, then hit 35 homers with a league-leading 131 runs batted in during his one-year reunion. 

    Hernandez posted a .601 OPS in 52 games during an injury-plagued 2012 season before being designated for assignment and traded early in 2013. 

    Score: 3

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Rafael Betancourt, RP: Two years, $7.55M (2010-11)

    Failures
    Aaron Cook, SP: Three years, $30M (2009-11)
    Byung-Hyun Kim, RP: Two years, $3.75M (2006-07)

    Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez have the ability to make a major impact in this area once they get further into their current contracts, which were both extended well beyond their arbitration years.

    Betancourt's first contract extension with the team went well as he posted a 3.25 ERA in 140 relief appearances in a setup role. His second extension was also headed in the right direction—he saved 31 games in 2012—but an elbow injury that derailed his 2013 season ensured the Rockies wouldn't get full value on their investment.

    Cook was one of the best starting pitchers in Rockies history, but those days were behind him by the time he entered the first year of his contract extension. He went 13-29 with a 5.54 ERA over that span. 

    Score: 2

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Brian Fuentes, RP: Signed with Angels for two years, $17.5M (2009-10)  

    Failures
    None

    Fuentes had a good run with the Angels, but the Rockies adequately replaced him with Huston Street, who made only $11.7 million over those two seasons.

    Score: 3.5

     

11. Miami/Florida Marlins

20 of 30

    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 769-850 (.475)
    Playoff Appearances: 

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 12 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Carlos Delgado, 1B: Five years, $64M (2005-09)
    Jose Reyes, SS: Six years, $106M (2012-17)
    Mark Buehrle, SP: Four years, $58M (2012-15)

    Failures
    Heath Bell, RP: Three years, $27M (2012-14)

    The Marlins got one great year from Delgado before sending him in a trade to the Mets for three prospects, including Mike Jacobs, who had a few solid years in Florida.

    They did the same with Reyes and Buehrle, although it's still too early to determine how good this will turn out for the Marlins for several years as they await the arrival of the top prospects acquired in the deal. 

    Bell was also traded after one season, although that was for different reasons. After he struggled in his Marlins debut season, they're paying a good chunk of his remaining contract for him to pitch in Arizona. 

    Score: 2.5

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Jorge Cantu, 3B/1B: One year, $500K (2008)
    Javier Vazquez (pictured), SP: One year, $7M (2011)
    Armando Benitez, RP: One year, $3.5M (2004)
    Joe Borowski, RP: One year, $327K (2006)
    Todd Jones, RP: One year, $1.1M (2005)
    Chad Qualls, RP: One year, $1.15M (2013)

    Failures
    Placido Polanco, 3B: One year, $2.75M (2013)
    Al Leiter, SP: One year, $8M (2005)
    Jon Rauch, RP: One year, $1M (2013)

    Overshadowed by the much-publicized fire sales, the Marlins have actually done a terrific job adding key contributors on one-year deals.

    Cantu had his best big league season (.808 OPS, 29 HR, 95 RBI) after the Marlins signed him to a $500,000 deal two weeks after he was released by the Reds. 

    After a rough start to his Marlins career, Vazquez was one of the best pitchers in the game to finish out the year. Benitez saved a league-leading 47 games in his lone season in Florida, while Borowski and Jones were also highly-effective as the team's closer during their respective one-year stints.

    Score: 3.5

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Luis Castillo, 2B: Four years, $21.75M (2004-07)
    Omar Infante, 2B: Two years, $8M (2012-13)
    Mike Lowell, 3B: Four years, $32M (2005-08)
    Ricky Nolasco, SP: Three years, $26.5M (2011-13)

    Failures

    Hanley Ramirez, SS: Six years, $70M (2009-14)
    Josh Johnson, SP: Four years, $39M (2010-13)

    Ramirez appeared to be on the decline prior to a trade to the Dodgers, which has revitalized his career, and Johnson still hasn't come close to returning to his dominant form that he displayed prior to a shoulder injury that derailed his career. 

    Score: 2.5

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Carl Pavano, RP: Signed with Yankees for four years, 39.95M (2005-08)
    Armando Benitez, RP: Signed with Giants for three years, $21M (2005-07)
    Joe Borowski, RP: Signed with Indians for two years, $8M (2007-08)

    Failures
    A.J. Burnett, SP: Signed with Blue Jays for three years, est. $32M (2006-08)

    Pavano was one of the biggest free agent busts in history after he bolted Florida for a multi-year deal with the Yankees. A year later, it was Burnett who left for big money. He'd also struggle with the Yankees, although that wasn't before an impressive three-year stint in Toronto. 

    Score: 3.5

     

10. San Diego Padres

21 of 30

    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 797-824 (.492)
    Playoff Appearances: 2 (2005, 2006)

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 12 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Akinori Otsuka, RP: Three years, $3.25M (2004-06)

    Failures
    None

    The free agency period in San Diego hasn't been too exciting since they signed Steve Garvey and Rich "Goose" Gossage prior to the 1984 season. They tend to go for short-term deals for players past their prime or trying to rebuild their value. Even Otsuka's third year wasn't guaranteed, but they picked up his very inexpensive club option after two terrific seasons as Trevor Hoffman's primary setup man. 

    Score: 2

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Mike Piazza (pictured), C: One year, $2M (2006)
    David Eckstein, 2B: One year, $800K (2009)
    Jon Garland, SP: One year, $5M (2010)
    Aaron Harang, SP: One year, $4M (2011)
    Greg Maddux, SP: One year, $10M (2007)
    Jason Marquis, SP: One year, est. $400K (2012)
    David Wells, SP: One year, $1.25M (2004)
    Woody Williams, SP: Two years, $8M (2005-06)

    Failures
    Orlando Hudson, 2B: Two years, $11.5M (2011-12)
    Tadahito Iguchi, 2B: One year, $3.85M (2008)
    Jay Payton, OF: Two years, $5.5M (2004-05)

    Six veteran pitchers on the "success" side says it all. San Diego is the best place in baseball for a pitcher. Aside from Piazza, who had one last productive season (.843 OPS, 22 HR), it's not an ideal destination for a free agent hitter. 

    Score: 4

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Mark Loretta, 2B: Two years, $5.5M (2004-05)
    Brian Giles, OF: Four years, $39M (2006-09)

    Greg Maddux, SP: One year, $10M (2008)
    Doug Brocail, RP: One year, $500K (2007)
    Trevor Hoffman, RP: Two years, $7.5M (2004-05); Three years, $19M (2006-08)
    Huston Street, RP: Two years, $14M (2013-14)

    Failures

    Jason Bartlett, SS: Two years, $11M (2011-12)
    David Wells, SP: One year, $3M (2007)

    After unsuccessful contract extensions given to players like Phil Nevin and Ryan Klesko, former general manager Kevin Towers played it much safer in the mid-2000's and didn't make too many mistakes as he kept the Padres competitive for several years upon moving into Petco Park. 

    Score: 4

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Ramon Hernandez, C: Signed with Orioles for four years, $27.5M (2006-09)
    Dave Roberts, OF: Signed with Giants for thre years, $18M (2007-09)
    Heath Bell, RP: Signed with Marlins for three years, $27M (2012-14)

    Failures
    Mike Cameron, OF: Signed with Brewers for two years, $17M (2008-09)
    Trevor Hoffman, RP: Signed with Brewers for one year, $6M (2009)

    Allowing Hoffman to finish his season was a huge mistake after spending 16 successful seasons with the Padres. It would've been nice to have him for his 17th, an All-Star season in which he posted a 1.83 ERA and saved 37 more games. 

    Score: 2

     

9. Chicago Cubs

22 of 30

    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 772-846 (.477)
    Playoff Appearances: 2 (2007, 2008)

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 12 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Mark DeRosa, IF/OF: Three years, $13M (2007-09)
    Ted Lilly, SP: Four years, $40M (2007-10)

    Failures
    Milton Bradley, OF: Three years, $30M (2009-11)
    Marlon Byrd, OF: Three years, $15M (2010-12)
    Kosuke Fukudome, OF: Four years, $48M (2008-11)
    Alfonso Soriano, OF: Eight years, $136M (2007-14)

    Edwin Jackson, SP: Four years,$52M (2013-16)

    DeRosa and Lilly were productive players over the course of their contracts, but the long list of free agent busts greatly outweigh their value.

    Bradley wasn't terrible, posting a .775 OPS in his lone season with the team, but it wasn't worth dealing with his volatile personality. He was sent packing for another bust, Carlos Silva, with two years remaining on his deal. 

    Byrd was solid for two seasons and then completely awful in year three. Soriano and Fukudome weren't terrible, either. Just overpaid. Jackson's tenure with the team is off to a rough start.

    Score: 1.5

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Carlos Peña, 1B: One year, $9.9M (2011)
    Scott Feldman, SP: One year, $6M (2013) 

    Failures
    Scott Baker, SP: One year, $5.5M (2013) 
    Kyuji Fujikawa, RP: Two years, $9.5M (2013-14)

    Peña had an .819 OPS with 28 homers while the Cubs took advantage of Feldman's early-season success by trading him to Baltimore for two younger pitchers that have a chance to be a big part of the team's success going forward. 

    Numerous setbacks in his recovery from Tommy John surgery delayed Baker's Cubs debut to September, while Fujikawa's had the same surgery in June after only making only 12 relief appearances. The Cubs can hope for a second half return in 2014 but it won't be enough. 

    Score: 3

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Derrek Lee, 1B: Five years, $65M (2006-10)
    Aramis Ramirez (pictured), 3B: Five years, $73M (2007-11)
    Ryan Dempster, SP: Four years, $52M (2009-12)
    Carlos Zambrano, SP: Five years, $91.5M (2008-12)
    Kerry Wood, RP: One year, $4.2M (2008)

    Failures
    None

    All five players listed have a long history of success as Cubs with only Zambrano's last couple of seasons making his deal a questionable one. But with a 43-26 record and 3.96 ERA from 2008-2011, it's hard to call him a bust. Maybe slightly overpaid, but not a total waste of the team's financial resources.  

    Score: 3.5

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Carlos Peña, 1B: Signed with Rays for one year, $7.25M (2012)
    Aramis Ramirez, 3B: Signed with Brewers for three years, $36M (2012-14)
    Matt Clement, SP: Signed with Red Sox for three years, $25M (2005-07)

    Failures
    None

    Clement won 13 games and posted a 4.57 ERA in his first season in Boston, which turned out to be the last semi-productive one of his career. Peña's return to Tampa Bay resulted in his worst season as a pro. 

    Ramirez's first season with Milwaukee was impressive as he posted a .901 OPS with 50 doubles and 27 homers. But knee problems kept him out of the lineup in year two—he only played in 92 games—and it could be more of the same in 2014. 

    Score: 4

     

8. Houston Astros

23 of 30

    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 734-885 (.453)
    Playoff Appearances: 2 (2004, 2005) 

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 12 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Andy Pettitte (pictured), SP: Three years, $31.5M (2004-06)

    Failures
    Carlos Lee, 1B: Six years, $100M (2007-2012)
    Kazuo Matsui, 2B: Three years, $16.5M (2008-10)
    Brandon Lyon, RP: Three years, $15M (2010-12)

    Pettitte only made 15 starts in his first season with Houston, but his 17 wins and 2.39 ERA in year two helped catapult the 'stros to an NL Championship and first-ever World Series appearance. 

    Lee was very productive over the first half of his deal and not productive enough to merit his big salary over the last three seasons.

    Giving Matsui a three-year deal after a few good seasons in Colorado probably wasn't the best idea, although it was his inability to stay healthy that made it difficult for him to earn his money. 

    Score: 2

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Roger Clemens, SP: One year, $5M (2004)
    Brett Myers, SP: One year, $3.1M (2010) 

    Failures
    Pedro Feliz, 3B: One year, $4M (2010)
    Woody Williams, SP: One year, $6M (2007)

    Bringing in a future Hall of Famer and Houston native in Clemens at a bargain salary of $5 million was a good move regardless of his production on the field. Winning 18 games and posting a 2.98 ERA made this one of the best free agent signings in franchise history.  

    Score: 4

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Lance Berkman, 1B/OF: Six years, $85M (2005-10)
    Roger Clemens, SP: One year, $18M (2005); One year, $12.2M (2006)
    Roy Oswalt, SP: Five years, $73M (2007-11)

    Failures
    Brian Moehler, SP: Two years, $5.3M (2009-10)

    Berkman, Clemens and Oswalt each performed at a high level throughout the end of their deals, while Moehler's struggles is a comparably minor flop for Houston. 

    Score: 4.5

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Clint Barmes, SS: Signed with Pirates for two years, $10.5M (2012-13) 
    Miguel Tejada, SS/3B: Signed with Orioles for one year, $6M (2010)

    Failures
    Jeff Kent, 2B: Signed with Dodgers for three years, $21M (2005-07) 
    Carlos Beltran, OF: Signed with Mets for seven years, $119M (2005-11)
    Jose Valverde, RP: Signed with Tigers for three year, $21.9M deal (2010-12)

    Beltran, Kent and Valverde each got away too soon. The Astros wouldn't have regretted matching either deal they signed as free agents. That is not the case for Barmes or Tejada, who each faltered for their new teams.

    Score: 1.5

     

7. Boston Red Sox

24 of 30

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 910-710 (.562)
    Playoff Appearances: 6 (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2013) 3 World Series Championships

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 12 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Marco Scutaro, SS: Three years, $17M (2010-12)
    Shane Victorino, OF: Three years, $39M (2013-15)

    Failures
    Julio Lugo, SS: Four years, $36M (2007-10)
    Edgar Renteria, SS: Four years, $40M (2005-08)
    Carl Crawford, OF: Seven years, $142M (2011-17)
    Matt Clement, SP: Three years, $25M (2005-07)
    Keith Foulke, RP: Three years, $18.75M (2004-06)

    Not a ton of success in this area, although a handful of players, including Clement, J.D. Drew and Foulke, had some nice moments during their Red Sox stints. And Scutaro is on the list only because he lived up to expectations as a solid, yet unspectacular, option at shortstop. 

    Victorino is only one year into what many believed to be an overpay, but he was a Gold Glove winner in right field who had one of his best seasons at the plate. And he helped the team win a World Series. Barring a significant decline in production, his signing should go down as a good one.  

    Crawford was traded to the Dodgers less than two years into his deal, while Renteria was traded after one so-so season. The Sox would've loved to trade Lugo, but his lack of production made this a difficult task. They eventually traded him to St. Louis in the middle of his final year of the deal.  

    Score: 1

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Mike Napoli (pictured), 1B: One year, $13M (2013) 
    Adrian Beltre, 3B: One year, $9M (2010) 
    Cody Ross, OF: One year, $3M (2012)

    Koji Uehara, RP/SP: Two years, $8.5M (2013-14)

    Failures
    Bobby Jenks, RP: Two years, $12M (2011-12)
    Joel Pineiro, RP: One year, $4M (2007) 

    Had the Red Sox kept Napoli's three-year, $39 million offer on the table last offseason, it would go down as a long-term contract success. Since he had to settle on a one-year deal after a degenerative hip condition was discovered, it will go down as one of the best short-term contracts in team history.

    Beltre signed a one-year deal in order to boost his value after a poor 2009 season. It worked out great for both sides as Beltre had a .919 OPS, leading to a huge multi-year contract with Texas following the season. Ross did the same in 2012, posting an .807 OPS before landing a three-year deal with the Diamondbacks.

    Uehara would've still be a good signing had he been a setup man the entire season. His rise to the closer's role after season-ending injuries to Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey makes it one of the best values in recent history.

    Aside from Uehara, the Sox haven't had great luck with free agent relievers. Ramiro Mendoza, J.C. Romero and Julian Taveras were all busts. But Pineiro is in a different class while Jenks, who had a 6.32 ERA in 15.2 innings for the Sox before a string of injuries ended his career, goes down as the worst.

    Pineiro was brought in to be the team's closer so Jonathan Papelbon could move into the rotation, but those plans were scrapped before the season started. After struggling in a middle relief role during his short stint in Boston, Pineiro was traded, along with cash, in July. 

    Score: 3

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Jason Varitek, C: Four years, $40M (2005-08)
    David Ortiz, DH: Two years, $12.5M (2005-06); Five years, $64.5M (2007-11); One year, $14.575M (2012); Two years, $26M (2013-14);  
    Adrian Gonzalez, 1B: Seven years, $154M (2012-18)

    Dustin Pedroia, 2B: Seven years, $55M (2009-15); Six years, $85M (2016-21)
    Jon Lester, SP: Six years, $42.75M (2009-14)

    Failures
    Josh Beckett, SP: Four years, $68M (2011-14)
    Curt Schilling, SP: One year, $8M (2008)

    The Sox have had their share of long-term contract flops, but they've done a terrific job keeping their stars in town. And players like Lester, Pedroia, Ortiz and Varitek have been a huge part of the team's success over the past decade. 

    Gonzalez may not have been living up to lofty expectation after signing his contract extension, but his value was still strong enough that the Dodgers took on two very bad contracts (Beckett, Crawford) and sent over two good prospects (Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster) to acquire him. 

    Score: 4.5

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Victor Martinez, DH: Signed with Tigers for four years, $50M (2011-14)
    Jason Bay, OF: Signed with Mets for four years, $66M (2010-13)
    Cody Ross, OF: Signed with Diamondbacks for three years, $26M (2013-15)
    Pedro Martinez, SP: Signed with Mets for four years, $53M (2005-08)
    Jonathan Papelbon, RP: Signed with Phillies for four years, $50M (2012-15)

    Failures
    Adrian Beltre, 3B: Signed with Rangers for five years, $80M (2011-15)
    Johnny Damon, OF: Signed with Yankees for four years, $52M (2006-09)

    One of the keys to sustaining long-term success is to replace star players who have reached free agency and in line for risky, long-term deals for big money.

    While re-signing Beltre and/or Damon would've been excellent moves, most players leaving Boston for big contracts haven't panned out for their new teams. And those that have, the Sox don't miss because they've gotten terrific production in their place. 

    Score: 3.5

     

6. New York Yankees

25 of 30

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 951-669 (.587)
    Playoff Appearances: 8 (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) 1 World Series Championship

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 12 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Mark Teixeira, 1B: Eight years, $180M (2009-16)
    Johnny Damon, OF: Four years, $52M (2006-09)
    CC Sabathia (pictured), SP: Three years, $69M (2009-11)

    Failures
    A.J. Burnett, SP: Five years, $82.5M (2009-13)
    Kei Igawa, SP: Five years, $20M (2007-11)
    Carl Pavano, SP: Four years, $39.95M (2005-08)

    Damon, Sabathia and Teixeira all played a big part of the championship season of 2009, as well as throughout the majority of their deals. 

    Burnett had a solid debut season in New York before struggling in his final two and being traded to Pittsburgh before year four. Igawa and Pavano are two of the biggest free agent pitcher busts in major league history. 

    Score: 3

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Russell Martin, C: One year, $4M (2011)
    Raul Ibañez, OF: One year, $1.1M (2012)
    Andruw Jones, OF: One year, $1.5M (2011)
    Bartolo Colon, SP: One year, $900K (2011)
    Freddy Garcia, SP: One year, $1.5M (2011)
    Hiroki Kuroda, SP: One year, $10M (2012)
    Andy Pettitte, SP: One year, $16M (2007)
    Tom Gordon, RP: Two years, $7.25M (2004-05)
    Rafael Soriano, RP: Two years, $21M (2011-12)

    Failures
    Pedro Feliciano, RP: Two years, $8M (2011-12)

    Feliciano made an average of 86 relief appearances per season from 2007-2010, which the Yankees should've taken into closer consideration before giving him a multi-year deal. He didn't throw a pitch for them in two season.

    Aside from that blunder, general manager Brian Cashman has been nearly flawless in brining in players on short-term deals at bargain rates. So maybe it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that he pieced together a competitive roster with all of the injuries the team endured last season.

    Score: 4.5

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Russell Martin, C: One year, $7.5M (2012)
    Jorge Posada, C: Four years, $52.4M (2008-11)
    Robinson Cano, 2B: Six years, $59M (2008-13)
    Eric Chavez, 3B/1B: One year, $900K (2012)
    Derek Jeter, SS: Three years, $51M (2011-13)
    Andruw Jones, OF: One year, $2M (2012)
    Hideki Matsui, OF: Four years, $52M (2006-09)

    Hiroki Kuroda, SP: One year, $15M (2013)
    Mike Mussina, SP: Two years, $23M (2007-08)
    Andy Pettitte, SP: One year, $16M (2008); One year, $$5.5M (2009); One year, $11.75M (2010); One year, $2.5M (2012); One year, $12M (2013)
    Mariano Rivera, RP: Three years, $31.5M (2005-07); Three years, $45M (2008-10); Two years, $30M (2011-12); One year, $10M (2013)

    Failures

    Alex Rodriguez, 3B: Ten years, $275M (2008-17)
    Freddy Garcia, SP: One year, $4M (2012)
    CC Sabathia, SP: Five years, $122M (2012-16)
    Damaso Marte, RP: Three years, $12M (2009-11)

    Rodriguez's deal will continue to be a reminder, not only to the Yankees but to all teams in baseball, of the risks that come with signing star players to deals that go well beyond their prime. And if 2013 was a sign of things to come for Sabathia, the Yankees will have a second reminder.  

    With that said, the Yankees can afford to keep their stars and the high rate of success they've had with keeping the ones around that continue to be productive is a good reason why they've gone to the playoffs eight times in the past decade.

    Score: 3.5

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    None

    Failures
    Russell Martin, C: Signed with Pirates for two years, $17M (2013-14)
    Raul Ibañez, OF: Signed with Mariners for one year, $2.75M (2013)
    Roger Clemens, SP: Signed with Astros for one year, $5M (2004)
    Bartolo Colon, SP: Signed with Athletics for one year, $2M (2012)
    Andy Pettitte, SP: Signed with Astros for three years, $31.5M (2004-06)
    Javier Vazquez, SP: Signed with Marlins for one year, $7M (2011)

    Score: 1

     

5. San Francisco Giants

26 of 30

    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 821-798 (.507)
    Playoff Appearances: 2 (2010, 2012) 2 World Series Championships

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 12.5

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Bengie Molina, C: Three years, $16M (2007-09)
    Omar Vizquel, SS: Three years, $12.25M (2005-07)

    Failures
    Dave Roberts, OF: Three years, $18M (2007-09)
    Aaron Rowand, OF: Five years, $60M (2008-12)
    Mattt Morris, SP: Three years, $27M (2006-08)
    Barry Zito, SP: Seven years, $126M (2007-13)
    Armando Benitez, RP: Three years, $21M (2005-07)

    Zito is one of most notable free agent busts ever, but Rowand also failed to come close to expectations. He had two average seasons to start his Giants career and then two poor seasons before he was released before year five of his deal.

    Score: 1

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Aubrey Huff, 1B: One year, $3M (2010)
    Juan Uribe, IF: One year, $1M (2009)
    Moises Alou, OF: Two years, $13M (2005-06)
    Pat Burrell, OF: One year, est. $400K (2010)
    Ryan Vogelsong, SP: One year, est. $480K (2011)

    Failures
    Edgar Renteria, SS: Two years, $18.5M (2009-10)
    Miguel Tejada, SS: One year, $6.5M (2011)
    Randy Johnson, SP: One year, $8M (2009)

    Burell, Huff, Uribe and Vogelsong were all signed off the scrap heap with not much value to their names. All four made strong contributions to either one of the team's two recent championship seasons. 

    Score: 4

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Juan Uribe, IF: One year, $3.25M (2010)
    Barry Bonds (pictured), OF: One year, $15.8M (2007)
    Randy Winn, OF: Three years, $23.25M (2007-09)
    Matt Cain, SP: Six years, $127.5M (2012-17)

    Jeremy Affeldt, RP: Three years, $15.5M (2010-12)
    Javier Lopez, RP: Two years, $8.5M (2012-13)

    Failures

    Bengie Molina, C: One year, $4.5M (2010)
    Aubrey Huff, 1B: Two years, $22M (2011-12)
    Freddy Sanchez, 2B: Two years, $12M (2010-11); One year, $6M (2012)
    Omar Vizquel, SS: One year, $5.3M (2008)

    Bringing back a 42-year-old Barry Bonds at $16 million amid the potential distractions from the Balco scandal seemed risky. If it was a distraction, it didn't affect him. All he did in his final big league season was post a 1.045 OPS with 28 homers and 132 walks in 126 games. 

    Score: 3.5

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Juan Uribe, IF: Signed with Dodgers for three years, $21M (2011-13)
    Jason Schmidt, SP: Signed with Dodgers for three years, $47M (2007-09)

    Failures
    A.J. Pierzynski, C: Signed with White Sox for one year, $2.25M (2005)
    Carlos Beltran, OF: Signed with Cardinals for two years, $26M (2012-13) 

    Cody Ross, OF: Signed with Red Sox for one year, $3M (2013)

    Giving up top pitching prospect for two months of Carlos Beltran and failing to make the playoffs was a setback. It could've been viewed as less of a setback if they had re-signed him.

    They won the World Series the following season with Gregor Blanco as their starting left fielder so it's hard to make too much of this non-move.

    Allowing Schmidt and Uribe to leave for big money free agent contracts turned out to be the right move. That it was the division rival Dodgers who were paying them to fail was just icing on the cake.

    Score: 4

     

4. Tampa Bay Rays

27 of 30

    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 814-806 (.502)
    Playoff Appearances: 4 (2008, 2010, 2011, 2013)  

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 12.5 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Akinori Iwamura, 2B/3B: Four years, $12.3M (2007-10)

    Failures
    None

    Iwamura had a .747 OPS with an average of six homers, 26 doubles, 10 triples and 10 stolen bases per season in years one and two of his deal. He was traded to Pittsburgh after an injury-plagued year three. 

    Score: 2.5

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Casey Kotchman, 1B: One year, $750K (2011)
    Travis Lee, 1B: One year, $1.3M (2005)
    James Loney, 1B: One year, $2M (2013)
    Jeff Keppinger, IF: One year, $1.325M (2012)
    Kelly Johnson, IF/OF: One year, $2.45M (2013)
    Jose Cruz Jr., OF: Two years, $6M (2004-05)
    Johnny Damon, OF: One year, $5.25M (2011)
    Danys Baez, RP: Two years, $6M (2004-05)
    Joaquin Benoit, RP: One year, $750K (2010)
    Kyle Farnsworth, RP: Two years, $5.9M (2011-12)
    Joel Peralta, RP: One year, $925K (2011)
    Fernando Rodney (pictured), RP: Two years, $3.25M (2012-13)
    Jamey Wright, RP: One year, $900K (2013)

    Failures
    Manny Ramirez, DH: One year, $2.02M (2011)
    Carlos Peña, 1B: One year, $7.5M (2012)
    Luke Scott, 1B/OF: One year, $6M (2012)
    Pat Burrell, OF: Two years, $16M (2009-10)
    Troy Percival, RP: Two years, $8M (2008-09)

    Filling holes throughout the roster year after year without one of the lowest payroll's in baseball isn't the best way to become a successful organization. Yet, the Rays have managed to do just that with four playoff appearances in six seasons. 

    Score: 4

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Carlos Peña, 1B: Three years, $24.25M (2008-10)

    Failures

    Travis Lee, 1B: One year, $2.45M (2006)

    Handing out an $8 million per season deal to a player who doesn't produce can set a small market team like the Rays back for years. Peña made sure the Rays got their money's worth with an .832 OPS and 33 homers per season over the course of his three-year extension.

    Score: 3.5

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Jeff Keppinger, IF: Signed with White Sox for three years, $12M (2013-15)
    Carl Crawford, OF: Signed with Red Sox for seven years, $142M (2011-17)
    B.J. Upton, OF: Signed with Braves for five years, $75.25M (2013-17)

    Failures
    Grant Balfour, RP: Signed with Athletics for three years, $12.25M (2011-13)
    Joaquin Benoit, RP: Signed with Tigers for three years, $16.5M (2011-13)

    Trading Crawford or Upton while their value was extremely high may have been a mistake, considering that they had no chance of signing them to long-term deals.

    Give them credit for letting Keppinger walk when he was likely affordable, but they wouldn't have regretted matching the offers that Balfour and Benoit landed on the open market.

    Score: 2.5

     

3. Texas Rangers

28 of 30

    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 859-762 (.530)
    Playoff Appearances: 3 (2010, 2011, 2012)  

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 13.5 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Adrian Beltre, 3B: Six years, $96M (2011-16)
    Colby Lewis, SP: Three years, $8M (2010-12)

    Failures
    Kevin Millwood, SP: Five years, $60M (2006-10)

    Score: 3

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Rod Barajas, C: One year, $500K (2004)
    A.J. Pierzynski, C: One year, $7.5M (2013)
    Vladimir Guerrero (pictured), DH: One year, $5.5M (2010)
    Sammy Sosa, DH: One year, $500K (2007)
    Mark DeRosa, IF/OF: One year, $500K (2005)
    Milton Bradley, OF: One year, $5.25M (2008)
    Marlon Byrd, OF: One year, $550K (2007)
    Andruw Jones, OF: One year, $500K (2009)
    Gary Matthews Jr., OF: One year, est. $500 (2004)
    Kenny Rogers, SP: Two years, $6M (2004-05)
    Eric Gagne, RP: One year, $6M (2007)
    Joe Nathan, RP: Two years, $14M (2012-13)
    Darren Oliver, RP: Two years, $6.25M (2010-11)

    Failures
    Yorvit Torrealba, C: Two years, $6.25M (2011-12)
    Lance Berkman, DH: One year, $11M (2013)
    Rich Harden, SP: One year, $7.5M (2010)

    Bradley, Byrd, Jones and Matthews all rebuilt their value in Texas before landing multi-year deals elsewhere. The Rangers were happy to oblige. 

    Score: 4

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Michael Young, 3B: Five years, $80M (2009-13)
    Frank Francisco, RP: One year, $4M (2011)

    Failures

    Colby Lewis, SP: One year, $2M (2013)
    Roy Oswalt, SP: One year, $5M (2012)
    Vicente Padilla, SP: Three years, $33M (2007-09)

    Francisco didn't pitch another game for Texas after accepting arbitration, which would've kept the potential free agent in town for one more season. Prior to the arbitration hearing, he was sent to the Blue Jays for Mike Napoli, who had a .931 OPS with 54 homers in his two years in Texas. 

    Score: 3

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Vladimir Guerrero, DH: Signed with Orioles for one year, $8M (2011)
    Carlos Lee, 1B/OF: Signed with Astros for six years, $100M (2007-12)
    Milton Bradley, OF: Signed with Cubs for three years, $30M (2009-11)
    Josh Hamilton, OF: Signed with Angels for five years, $125M (2013-17)
    Mike Adams, RP: Signed with Phillies for two years, $12M (2013-14)
    Koji Uehara, RP: Signed with Red Sox for two years, $8.5M (2013-14)

    Failures
    Mike Napoli, C/1B: Signed with Red Sox for one year, $5M (2013)
    Mark DeRosa, IF/OF: Signed with Cubs for three years, $13M (2007-09)
    Cliff Lee, SP: Signed with Phillies for five years, $120M (2011-15)
    Brandon McCarthy, SP: Signed with Athletics for one year, $1M (2011)
    C.J. Wilson, SP: Signed with Angels for five years, $77.5M (2012-16)

    Hamilton still has four years to make the Rangers regret letting him go. Most think of it as "the Rangers have another four years to enjoy watching the division rival Angels pay him an average of more than $26 million per season as his performance continues to decline". 

    Score: 3.5

     

2. Detroit Tigers

29 of 30

    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 843-778 (.520)
    Playoff Appearances: 4 (2006, 2011, 2012, 2013) 

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 14 out of 20

    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Ivan Rodriguez, C: Five years, $53M (2004-08)
    Victor Martinez (pictured), DH: Four years, $50M (2011-14)
    Magglio Ordonez, OF: Six years, est. $89M (2005-10)
    Joaquin Benoit, RP: Three years, $16.5M (2011-13)
    Jose Valverde, RP: Three years, $21.9M (2010-12)

    Failures
    Prince Fielder, 1B: Nine years, $214M (2012-2020)

    Fielder's deal is in the "failures" department because of his slight decline in 2013 and still seven years left in his deal that will take him to his age 36 season. And it's hard to see Ian Kinsler, who Fielder was recently traded for, picking up the slack and making it a worthwhile deal. 

    The others, despite Ordoñez's last two injury-plagued seasons, Martinez's missed year with a knee injury and Valverde's late-season meltdown in 2012, they've gotten solid production out of their long-term signees.

    Score: 3

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Johnny Damon, OF: One year, $8M (2010)
    Torii Hunter, OF: Two years, $26M (2013-14)
    Rondell White, OF: Two years, $6M (2004-05)
    Kenny Rogers, SP: Two years, $16M (2006-07) 

    Failures
    Brad Penny, SP: One year, $3M (2011)

    Aside from Penny giving the team a 5.30 ERA in 31 starts during his one-year stint in 2011, the Tigers have had great success on short-term deals.

    Damon (.756 OPS), Hunter (.800 OPS in year one of two-year deal) and White (.811 OPS in two years with team) all produced, while Rogers, despite missing most of year two of his deal, gave the team 17 wins and a 3.84 ERA in his age 41 season of 2006. 

    Score: 3.5

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Miguel Cabrera, 1B/3B: Eight years, $152.3M (2008-15)
    Jhonny Peralta, SS: Three years, $15.75M (2011-13)
    Anibal Sanchez, SP: Five years, $80M (2013-17)
    Justin Verlander, SP: Five years, $80M (2010-14)

    Failures
    Carlos Guillen, IF/OF: Four years, $48M (2008-11)
    Brandon Inge, 3B: Two years, $11.5M (2010-11)
    Kenny Rogers, SP: One year, $8M (2008)
    Dontrelle Willis, SP: Three years, $29M (2008-10)

    With Cabrera and Verlander combining on three MVP's and a Cy Young award during their extension years, it's hard to do much better. Sanchez's deal seemed excessive until he pitched brilliantly in year one of his deal. 

    The contract extensions given out to Guillen (72 games per season over four-year deal) and Willis (6.86 ERA over course of deal) were obvious blunders, as were those of Inge and Rogers. The impact of the success stories still far outweigh these.

    Score: 3.5

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Placido Polanco, 3B: Signed with Phillies for three years, $18M (2010-12)
    Edgar Renteria, SS: Signed with Giants for two years, $18.5M (2009-10)
    Fernando Rodney, RP: Signed with Angels for two years, $11M (2010-11) 

    Failures
    None

    Letting Polanco, Renteria and Rodney walk, despite having the financial resources to keep them around, is just one of many reasons why they've been so successful over the past decade. 

    Score: 4

     

1. St. Louis Cardinals

30 of 30

    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Overall regular season record since 2004: 904-715 (.558)
    Playoff Appearances: 7 (2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013) 2 World Series Championships   

    Overall Free Agency Rating: 14.5 out of 20


    Notable Long-term Contracts (3 years or more; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    David Eckstein, SS: Three years, $10.25M (2005-07)
    Jeff Suppan, SP: Three years, $9M (2004-06)
    Randy Choate, RP: Three years, $7.5M (2013-15)

    Failures
    Adam Kennedy, 2B: Three years, $10M (2007-09)
    Juan Encarnacion, OF: Three years, $15M (2006-08)

    The Cards haven't had to utilize their financial resources to lure big name free agents to St. Louis. They have, however, given three-year deals out a handful of times with solid results from Eckstein and Suppan—Choate was also good in year one of his deal—while missing on Encarnacion and Kennedy.

    Score: 3

    Notable Short-term Contracts (1-2 years; doesn't include players who were re-signed)

    Successes
    Mark Grudzielanek, 2B: One year, $1M (2005)
    Lance Berkman, OF/1B: One year, $8M (2011)
    Carlos Beltran, OF: Two years, $26M (2012-13)
    Reggie Sanders, OF: Two years, $6M (2004-05)
    Kyle Lohse, SP: One year, $4.25M (2008)
    Julian Taveras, RP: Two years, $4.2M (2004-05)

    Failures
    Rafael Furcal, SS: Two years, $14M (2012-13)
    Ty Wigginton, IF: Two years, $5M (2012-13)
    Brad Penny, SP: One year, $7.5M (2010)
    Kip Wells, SP: One year, $4M (2007)

    While they have their share of misses on one and two-year deals, bringing in Beltran and Berkman at discounted rates due to age and injury concerns were the kind of savvy moves that continue to keep them at the top of the league.

    Score: 3.5

    Notable Re-signings/Contract Extensions

    Successes
    Yadier Molina, C: Five years, $21.25M (2008-12); Five years, $75M (2013-17)
    Albert Pujols, 1B: Eight years, $111M (2004-2011)
    Jim Edmonds, OF: Two years, $19M (2007-08)
    Matt Holliday (pictured), OF: Seven years, $120M (2010-16)
    Chris Carpenter, SP: Two years, $2.3M (2004-05); Two years, $13M (2006-07); Four years, $54M (2008-11)
    Kyle Lohse, SP: Four years, $41M (2009-12)
    Matt Morris, SP: One year, $2.5M (2005)
    Joel Pineiro, SP: Two years, $13M (2008-09)
    Adam Wainwright, SP: Six years, $36M (2008-13)
    Jason Isringhausen, RP: Four years, $32.5M (2005-08)

    Failures

    Lance Berkman, 1B: One year, $12M (2012)
    Chris Carpenter, SP: Two years, $21M (2012-13)
    Mark Mulder, SP: Two years, $13M (2007-08)
    Ryan Franklin, RP: Two years, $6.5M (2010-11)

    Keeping star players around and not paying them past their prime is a great strategy. The Cardinals have executed this plan to near perfection. 

    Score: 4

    Notable Free Agent Departures

    Successes
    Lance Berkman, 1B: Signed with Rangers for one year, $11M (2011)
    Albert Pujols, 1B: Signed with Angels for ten years, $240M (2012-21)
    Matt Morris, SP: Signed with Giants for three years, $27M (2006-08)
    Joel Pineiro, SP: Signed with Angels for two years, $19M (2010-11)
    Julian Taveras, RP: Signed with Red Sox for three years, $10.5M (2006-08)

    Failures
    Mark Grudzielanek, 2B: Signed with Royals for one year, $4M (2006) 
    Kyle Lohse, SP: Signed with Brewers for three years, $32M (2013-15)

    Failing to fill the second base spot with a productive player after Mark Grudzielanek left is their only costly mistake. Allowing the others to go elsewhere when they likely had the financial means to keep them had to involve an intelligent decision from the front office. 

    Score: 4