The 10 Most Overvalued Moves of the 2014 MLB Offseason so Far

Karl BuscheckContributor IIIJanuary 13, 2014

The 10 Most Overvalued Moves of the 2014 MLB Offseason so Far

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    It's remarkably easy for players to become overvalued on the MLB trade and free-agent markets. 

    Overvaluation most commonly occurs when there simply aren't enough quality players available at a given position. Teams also tend to overvalue trade and free-agent targets when they find themselves locked in a bidding war with rival suitors. 

    The problem of overvaluation also pops up when teams sign underperforming stars, hoping they'll return to past levels of production. 

    And finally, sometimes teams just downright overpay for a player. 

    With these considerations in mind, here's a breakdown of the 10 most overvalued moves of the 2014 MLB offseason so far.

     

    Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy Baseball-Reference.com and salary information courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts on Baseball-Prospectus.com.

     

     

10. Los Angeles Angels Sign Joe Smith to a Three-Year, $15.75 Million Deal

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    Joe Smith has been a highly effective reliever for the Cleveland Indians over the past three seasons. 

    In each of those campaigns, the right-hander tallied at least 70 appearances and posted a sub-3.00 ERA. There's no doubt that Smith will be a strong addition to the Los Angeles Angels' bullpen. Still, the question remains if the Angels made the best use of the team's funds.

    As Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com observes, the Angels are tying to remain under the luxury tax threshold and still have holes to fill. 

    Most notably, the club is in the market for an additional starting pitcher. If the Angels fail to address that need, then it won't particularly matter how well Smith pitches in relief. 

9. Colorado Rockies Sign Boone Logan to a Three-Year, $16.5 Million Deal

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    Just as Smith will be a solid addition to the Angels' bullpen, there's no question that the signing of Boone Logan will upgrade the Colorado Rockies' relief corps. 

    The group could certainly use the help, too, as Colorado's bullpen served up the most earned runs in the National League in 2013, per ESPN.com. Of course, that statistic is also indicative of an underperforming starting staff. 

    For a team on the verge of contention, Logan could be the final piece to the puzzle. The Rockies, though, are coming off a 74-88 season and will have to climb past the Arizona Diamondbacks, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. That makes a shutdown lefty like Logan more of a luxury than a necessity. 

8. Kansas City Royals Sign Omar Infante to a Four-Year, $30.25 Million Deal

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Omar Infante enjoyed a stellar contract year in Detroit, as the second baseman hit .318/.345/.450 with 10 home runs in 2013. 

    Despite those numbers, it's still hard to grasp how the 32-year-old commanded a four-year, $30.25 million deal from the Kansas City Royals. Part of the answer is that outside of Robinson Cano, Infante was the only starting-caliber second baseman available on the free-agent market. 

    The other part of the answer is that the Royals simply valued Infante more highly than the rest of the bidders. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees only offered Infante $24 million over three years. 

7. Arizona Diamondbacks Acquire Mark Trumbo

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    John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

    Power hitters are hard to come by.

    That's why the Diamondbacks valued Mark Trumbo so highly that they were willing to part with Adam Eaton and Tyler Skaggs in order to acquire the slugger. Trumbo should provide the Diamondbacks with plenty of power in 2014.

    Trumbo hit 34 home runs last year, and he hit 32 the year before. Outside of the long balls, though, Trumbo doesn't provide much production at all. The 2012 All-Star owns a career .299 OBP and is a question mark in the field. With Paul Goldschmidt stationed at first, Trumbo could prove to be a huge liability in the outfield.

     

6. Kansas City Royals Sign Jason Vargas to a Four-Year, $32 Million Deal

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    There's no reason why Jason Vargas should have received a four-year deal from the Royals. Kansas City got him at a reasonable rate of $8 million per year, but four years is far too long of a commitment for such an undistinguished starter.

    The Royals appear to have overvalued Vargas' ability to eat innings, as that is the left-hander's only discernible skill. Vargas has cracked the 200-inning mark in two of the past three seasons. Nonetheless, the Royals would have been better off handing out a two- to three-year deal to a different pitcher on slightly higher per-year terms. 

5. Minnesota Twins Sign Phil Hughes to a Three-Year, $24 Million Deal

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    John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

    This offseason, the Minnesota Twins absolutely needed to upgrade the club's rotation. 

    That explains why the team has brought in Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes while also re-signing Mike Pelfrey. Of those three moves, though, it's the signing of Hughes that is the most perplexing. 

    The right-hander went 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA for the New York Yankees last year. There is talent to work with, however, as Hughes is a former first-round pick and was an All-Star in 2010.

    If the Twins were in the market for a reclamation project, though, Josh Johnson would have been a far better pick. Johnson struggled through an injury-riddled campaign last season with the Toronto Blue Jays, but he brings far more upside than Hughes.

    Plus, the San Diego Padres landed Johnson for one-year and $8 million, while the Twins will be paying Hughes $24 million over three years. 

4. New York Mets Sign Curtis Granderson to a Four-Year, $60 Million Deal

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    David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

    Curtis Granderson's four-year, $60 million deal makes perfect sense, just so long as you utterly disregard his dismal 2013 campaign.

    In an injury-plagued season, the outfielder only appeared in 61 games while hitting .229 with seven home runs. Of course, in the two years before that, Granderson clubbed a combined 84 home runs for the Yankees. 

    At $15 million per year, the New York Mets clearly are paying him as though he will return to his 2012 level of production

    That could definitely happen, but it's clearly a gamble since Granderson will be leaving behind the friendly 314-foot right-field porch at Yankee Stadium and will also turn 33 in March.

3. Philadelphia Phillies Sign Carlos Ruiz to a Three-Year, $26 Million Deal

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    It's not easy to find a catcher. 

    That helps explain why Philadelphia Phillies' GM Ruben Amaro Jr. was willing to dish out a three-year, $26 million payday to Carlos Ruiz. Amaro told Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly that the "dearth" of options at the catching position had compelled the club to extend Ruiz for a third year. 

    The only problem with that logic is that Amaro badly misread the market. After the Phillies locked up Ruiz, fellow veteran A.J. Pierzynski landed with the Boston Red Sox on a one-year, $8.25 million deal. Jarrod Saltalamacchia also snagged a three-year deal, but his agreement with the Miami Marlins was only worth $21 million. 

2. Texas Rangers Sign Shin-Soo Choo to a Seven-Year, $130 Million Deal

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    With the trade for Prince Fielder and the signing of Shin-Soo Choo, the Texas Rangers are clearly in win-now mode. 

    In the short term, Choo will be an excellent addition to the lineup, as he steals bases, hits for power and owns a career .389 OBP. That means Choo should produce plenty of runs in the first three to four years of his contract.

    Just how much value he'll provide in the final three years of the deal (Choo's age 35-37 seasons) remains to be seen, though.  

     

1. Seattle Mariners Sign Robinson Cano to a 10-Year, $240 Million Deal

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    There's no doubt that the Seattle Mariners overvalued Cano.

    As Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York reported, the Yankees' final offer for the eight-time All-Star was a seven-year, $170 million deal. That means that the Mariners outbid the Yankees by three years and $70 million. 

    If the second baseman revitalizes the franchise and catapults the club back into contention in the AL West, then the Mariners' decision to massively outbid the Yankees will prove a shrewd one. For now, though, it's a major overpay. Based on the history of 10-year deals in baseball, it's also a major risk.