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MLB Free Agents Who Have Little Chance of Living Up to Huge New Contracts

Ben BerkonContributor IDecember 29, 2013

MLB Free Agents Who Have Little Chance of Living Up to Huge New Contracts

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    With the additional funds teams received through the new television revenue, general managers have been handing out historical contract after historical contract. And while cases could be made either way for the deals Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury received, some new contracts are indefensible. 

    Perhaps the worst contract of the offseason goes to Tim Lincecum. The San Francisco Giants ignored the former ace’s past two miserable seasons and still handed him a two-year, $35 million pact.

    Read on to see all MLB free agents who have little chance of living up to their huge new contracts.

     

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

Shin-Soo Choo

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    Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

    Looking to add an elite bat atop their lineup, the Texas Rangers signed Shin-Soo Choo to a seven-year, $130 million contract.

    Based purely on Choo's overall 2013 season, his new contract seems fair. The 31-year-old hit to the tune of a .285 batting average, 15.7 percent walk rate, park-adjusted 143 OPS+, with 21 home runs and 20 stolen bases for the Cincinnati Reds last season.

    But the outfielder's season was far from elite. The left-handed hitter only managed a .612 OPS versus southpaws. In fact, all of Choo's home runs were against right-handed pitchers.

    In addition, Choo was statistically one of the worst defenders in baseball in 2013. According to The Fielding Bible, Choo gloved a dismal minus-17 DRS in center field.

    Regardless of how dynamic Choo can be on offense, his inability to hit left-handed pitching and field his position will only deteriorate further as he ages.

Curtis Granderson

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    The New York Mets promised their fans a “big move” this offseason. And in part, the team delivered by signing Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million deal.

    For a team that finished toward the bottom in home runs and runs scored, the addition of Granderson will undoubtedly be an upgrade. But considering the 32-year-old only accumulated 245 plate appearances in 2013 (due to injuries) and posted a mere .232 batting average and park-adjusted 115 OPS+ in 2012, perhaps the Mets overvalued Granderson.

    In addition, the left-handed hitter only owns a career .226 batting average and .704 OPS versus southpaws.

    It’s likely Granderson will produce for the Mets in 2014 and possibly 2015, but his latter two years could be tough ones to watch for fans.

Ricky Nolasco

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    The Minnesota Twins surprised a lot of critics with their heavy-spending strategy this offseason. The biggest shocker was the team’s decision to ink starter Ricky Nolasco to a four-year, $49 million deal. 

    Nolasco enjoyed his finest season since 2008, posting a 3.70 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 101 ERA+), 1.20 WHIP and 3.59-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio last season. Yet with a career 4.37 ERA (versus a 94 ERA+), the 31-year-old is arguably just as productive as free agent Paul Maholm (a career 4.28 ERA versus a 96 ERA+).

    With a projected 4.38 ERA from Steamer for 2014, the Twins paid a pretty penny for a glorified fourth or fifth starter.

Carlos Beltran

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    With another stellar season under his belt at age 36, Carlos Beltran has seemingly defied science. The veteran outfielder posted a .296 batting average, park-adjusted 128 OPS+ and 24 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013. 

    But as much praise as the viable Hall of Fame candidate deserves, the New York Yankees' decision to ink Beltran to a three-year, $45 million contract could quickly become a mistake. 

    Despite once being a Gold Glove defender, Beltran gloved a dismal minus-six DRS in right field per The Fielding Bible. It’s also unreasonable to think that Beltran will still produce enough on offense in his 37-39 years to balance out his quickly declining fielding skills.

    Considering the Yankees have so many aging stars, Beltran will still be forced to play the field even once he should be a full-time designated hitter.

Tim Lincecum

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    The San Francisco Giants wasted little time re-signing homegrown starting pitcher Tim Lincecum to a two-year, $35 million contract. Even though Lincecum’s deal isn’t a long-term commitment, the Giants severely overpaid for the right-hander’s services. 

    From 2007 to 2011, Lincecum was a legitimate ace. The 29-year-old owned a 2.98 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 137 ERA+), 1.18 WHIP, 2.97-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio and notched two Cy Young Awards over that span. But from 2012-present, Lincecum has been a below-league-average pitcher.

    Since 2012, “The Freak” has posted a mere 4.76 ERA (versus a 72 ERA+), 1.38 WHIP and a 2.31-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.

    Given his new contract and recent performance, the Giants would have been better off cutting ties with Lincecum and instead handing his rotation slot to Eric Surkamp, whom the team designated for assignment on December 20.

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