At times, it seems as if the only way to score that major free-agent signing is to pay way more than the player's estimated value.
This is an obvious consequence of the nature of the open market. Teams bid against each other and the price rises as a consequence. It is not surprising that this happens, but it sometimes leads to players who are paid an awful lot more than they’re worth.
Even though there are still plenty of free agents left on the market this winter, we can already see this phenomenon taking place. Following, are five players who must feel pretty good about the way their offseason negotiations went for them. I would have never thought that deals like this would be coming their way.
Robinson Cano was undoubtedly the best player on the free-agent market this winter. He also plays at a position where the talent level is generally pretty thin. However, I am not sure that a 10-year, $240 million contract was a very smart move by Seattle.
Cano's contract will end when he is 41. I doubt he will be worth what he is worth right now. A similar thing happened to Alex Rodriguez with the Yankees. For the first few years, his contract did not seem that bad, but as he has gotten older, he has begun to decline and not be as productive.
Right now, Cano is being paid like the best second baseman in baseball—which he is. In 10 years, however, he probably won’t hold that position, but he will still be paid like it.
Phil Hughes had a very difficult 2013 season with the New York Yankees. He stumbled to a 4-14 record and a 5.19 ERA. However, he still received a three-year, $24 million contract from the Minnesota Twins this winter, but I don’t know if that was the best use of money.
I would say that Hughes has talent, so I understand why Minnesota would want to sign him. However, I would have made the deal more incentive-heavy. Since he does have the potential to do well, having won 18 games in 2010, why not reward him for that?
In the terms of Major League Baseball payrolls, I understand that $8 million a year is not ridiculous by any means. However, I would say that it would have been better for Minnesota to offer less guaranteed money while giving him the potential to earn even more if he does well.
I have always been a big fan of Tim Lincecum, and when he is performing at his best, he is nearly unhittable. There is a reason that he won two NL Cy Young Awards. However, we haven’t seen that pitcher very much for the past two seasons.
That is why I am questioning the wisdom of his two-year, $35 million contract. He will earn $17 million in 2014 and $18 million in 2015. If he is performing at the level he did early in his career, his current contract would be a great deal for the Giants.
If he stays under .500 however, this could be a really bad situation for the San Francisco Giants. This is really what it comes down to: What version of Tim Lincecum will be playing for the Giants?
It was nice to see Scott Kazmir have a little bit of a resurgence last season for the Cleveland Indians, as he went 10-9 with a 4.09 ERA. Considering that he missed nearly all of the 2011 campaign and the entire 2012 season, it was a nice comeback for him.
In fact, it was a nice enough start that the Oakland Athletics decided to reward him with a two-year, $22 million contract. While that is not an outrageous amount of money, Kazmir is only one year removed from all of his previous injury troubles, but are they definitely behind him?
I certainly hope that he remains healthy, but it does seem like a rather large risk taken by a team that already has a wide variety of starting pitcher options. I don’t think that I would have done that if I were in the Athletics' situation.
Jacoby Ellsbury is a great leadoff hitter who hits for a high average and steals a lot of bases. He does that job so well that the New York Yankees decided it was worthwhile to sign him to a seven-year, $153 million contract.
I worry that this deal might end up being a lot like that of Robinson Cano’s. Ellsbury is 30 years old and a player who relies on his speed. You have to wonder if he will be able to keep that for the long term. Speed seems to be one of the main attributes that falls off when players begin to get older.
If he can ever find the power that he demonstrated in 2011, it would certainly make this contract much more attractive. With that, he would have another dimension to his attack in case he does slow down. However, the way it is right now, I wonder if this signing will become a liability for the Yankees in the long term.