5 MLB Players Who Have Already Been Way Overpaid This Offseason

Ben BerkonContributor IDecember 5, 2013

5 MLB Players Who Have Already Been Way Overpaid This Offseason

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    With the new ESPN television revenue deal kicking in this season, MLB teams have noticeably been spending a lot more money this offseason compared to years prior. In fact, to date, teams have spent approximately $6.5 million per 1.0 bWAR, which is significantly more than the standard five percent year-to-year spike.

    But regardless of the incredible inflation spike, some free-agent contracts have still been beyond fair market price. For instance, despite enduring two horrendous seasons in a row, the San Francisco Giants still handed pitcher Tim Lincecum a two-year, $35 million deal.

    Read on to see all the MLB players who have already been way overpaid this offseason.

     

    Note: The projected 2014 WARs are based on the "5/3/2" projected-WAR formula. It weighs a player's 2013 WAR at 0.5, his 2012 WAR at 0.3 and his 2011 WAR at 0.2. The sum creates a projection of a player's 2014 WAR.

    The projection of WAR beyond 2014 is based on a formula created by Tom Tango and Jeff Zimmerman. The formula assumes players lose 0.5 WAR from ages 28-32 and 0.7 WAR after age 32.

    In addition, teams have spent an average of $6.5 million per 1.0 bWAR so far this offseason. A 5 percent year-to-year inflation spike will be based on this figure to project players' values throughout their new contracts.

     

    All statistics sourced from Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com.

Ricky Nolasco

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    Once an organization that built from within, the Minnesota Twins decided to axe their usual approach and instead invest in free agency. The Twins' biggest catch thus far has been starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco. 

    Nolasco inked a four-year, $49 million with the Twinkies and will likely anchor their rotation. The only issue with Nolasco, however, is that he’s hardly a rotation anchor.

    Over the past three years, the 30-year-old has pitched to the tune of a 4.29 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 91 ERA+), 1.32 WHIP and 3.20 strikeouts per nine innings. Again, not bad numbers—just not top-of-the-rotation numbers.

    And Nolasco doesn’t project to get much better with age, either. Through 2017, the right-hander figures to accumulate around 3.008 bWAR total, amounting to just a fraction of the $49 million the Twins handed him.

      

     

    2014

    2015

    2016

    2017

    Total Contract

    Proj. bWAR

    1.58

    1.08

    0.38

    -0.032

    3.008

    Actual $ Value

    $10,270,000.00

    $7,371,000.00

    $2,723,175.00

    $(240,786.00)

    $20,364,175.00

    $/WAR

    $6,500,000.00

    $6,825,000.00

    $7,166,250.00

    $7,524,562.50

     

Skip Schumaker

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    Skip Schumaker has essentially stayed in the major leagues due to his position flexibility (second base and outfield) and solid on-base skills (career 7.8 percent walk rate). But the Cincinnati Reds’ decision to ink the free agent to a two-year, $5 million was unwarranted. 

    Schumaker’s minus-1.4 bWAR in 2013 was mostly due to his putrid fielding. Per The Fielding Bible, the 33-year-old posted a minus-4 DRS in the outfield and a minus-14 DRS at second base this past season.

    As a below replacement-level player, the Reds did not have to waste $5 million on Schumaker. Instead, the team could have inked a similarly-skilled player on a minor league deal.

     

     

    2014

    2015

    Total Contract

    Proj. bWAR

    -0.29

    -0.99

    -1.28

    Actual $ Value

    $(1,885,000.00)

    $(6,756,750.00)

    $(8,641,750.00)

    $/WAR

    $6,500,000.00

    $6,825,000.00

     

Tim Lincecum

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    The San Francisco Giants wasted little time re-signing Tim Lincecum this offseason. The team surprisingly inked the struggling pitcher to a two-year, $35 million on October 28. 

    Even though Lincecum won the Cy Young Award in both 2008 and 2009, the right-hander has looked like a different pitcher over the past two seasons. From 2012 to 2013, Lincecum has owned a 4.76 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 72 ERA+), 1.38 WHIP and 2.31 strikeouts per nine innings.

    In fact, ESPN Insider’s Keith Law (subscription needed) thinks that the Giants should “put [Lincecum] in the pen as a multi-inning relief weapon and hope that he regains a couple of mph on his fastball.” The Giants are unlikely to put Lincecum in the bullpen, but the starter is nowhere near the pitcher he was just a few seasons ago.

     

     

    2014

    2015

    Total Contract

    Proj. bWAR

    0.03

    -0.47

    -0.44

    Actual $ Value

    $195,000.00

    $(3,207,750.00)

    $(3,012,750.00)

    $/bWAR

    $6,500,000.00

    $6,825,000.00

     

Brendan Ryan

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    With the New York Yankees’ decision to bring back Derek Jeter, the team knew they’d need to sign a Plan B at shortstop. That man was Brendan Ryan. 

    Ryan has long been known as a glove-first shortstop, owning a career 97 DRS according to The Fielding Bible. And considering the 31-year-old posted a 3.8 and 3.5 bWAR in 2011 and 2012, respectively, perhaps his new two-year, $5 million contract isn’t that bad.

    But with defense being Ryan’s only saving grace (career park-adjusted 72 OPS+), it’s worth noting that the shortstop was noticeably weaker defensively in 2013 than in years past. In fact, Ryan witnessed his DRS drop from a kingly 27 DRS in 2012 to a more pedestrian 6 DRS in 2013.

    If Ryan’s defense continues to decline at this rapid rate, he will quickly be underserving of a roster spot.

     

     

    2014

    2015

    Total Contract

    Proj. bWAR

    2.01

    1.31

    3.32

    Actual $ Value

    $13,065,000.00

    $8,940,750.00

    $22,005,750.00

    $/WAR

    $6,500,000.00

    $6,825,000.00

     

Carlos Ruiz

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    After never hitting more than nine home runs in an individual season, Carlos Ruiz swatted 16 dingers in 2012. Paired with a .325 batting average and park-adjusted 149 OPS+, the then 33-year-old catcher truly enjoyed a career year. 

    But his triumphs were slightly tarnished by receiving his second drug-related pinch, forcing the catcher to serve a 25-game suspension. Between the suspension and injuries, Ruiz only accumulated 341 plate appearances in 2013.

    As a result, the 34-year-old also witnessed his sterling 4.5 bWAR drop to a mere 1.7 bWAR.

    Yet despite his dwindling health, the Philadelphia Phillies still handed their backstop a three-year, $26 million deal. Given the dearth of catchers, it’s possible the Phillies won’t get completely burned on the deal. But considering Ruiz has never collected more than 472 plate appearances in a given year, "Chooch" could soon be forced into part-time duty.

     

     

    2014

    2015

    2016

    Total Contract

    Proj. bWAR

    2.76

    2.06

    1.36

    6.18

    Actual $ Value

    $17,940,000.00

    $14,059,500.00

    $9,746,100.00

    $41,745,600.00

    $/WAR

    $6,500,000.00

    $6,825,000.00

    $7,166,250.00