Big Offseason MLB Moves That Look Like Steals, Busts Entering June
Not all the big MLB offseason moves work out.
While the signing of Tim Hudson has made San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean look like a genius, the New York Mets likely would prefer a re-do on the decision to bring in outfielder Curtis Granderson. What follows is a rundown of five big offseason moves that have been steals and five deals that have been busts.
There isn't any room on this list for New York Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka. There's no doubt that the 25-year-old has been remarkable in his first two months in the big leagues, but at a price of $22 million the right-hander simply can't be described as a steal.
Now, let's take a look at five of the best and worst big moves of the MLB offseason.
Bust: Jim Johnson, RP, Oakland Athletics
The Deal: Oakland Athletics acquire RP Jim Johnson from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for 2B Jemile Weeks (Johnson has a $10 million salary in 2014)
It's never a good sign when a player gets booed by the home fans.
That's exactly the situation that Jim Johnson has been in since day one of his tenure with the Oakland Athletics. The right-hander took the loss on Opening Night and has been impossibly bad since then. The 30-year-old has a 6.55 ERA in 22 games and has racked up 13 walks in 22 innings.
Johnson actually owns a 1.98 ERA in 11 games on the road—mostly in mop-up work. At the O.co Coliseum, though, the two-time All-Star has a 14.04 ERA, and opponents are hitting .465 against him.
Steal: Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
The Deal: Chicago White Sox sign 1B Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68 million contract
The Chicago White Sox took a major risk in dishing out a six-year, $68 million deal to Jose Abreu before the first baseman had ever played a single game in the major leagues.
However, two months into the season, that move has looked brilliant for the club. The 27-year-old has been on the shelf since May 18 with a left ankle injury but is still tied for fourth in baseball with 15 home runs. The Cuban slugger has been an extra-base hitting machine, as he's also added 11 doubles and owns a .595 slugging percentage.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura believes that Abreu could be back in Chicago's lineup on Monday, according to Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune.
Bust: Curtis Granderson, OF, New York Mets
The Deal: New York Mets sign Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million contract
Just how bad has it become for Curtis Granderson with the New York Mets?
the $60 million free-agent pickup was recently double-switched out of a tie game, as Anthony DiComo of MLB.com tweets. It's difficult to fault New York Mets manager Terry Collins for pulling the outfielder considering how poorly he's been performing.
In his first two months with the Mets, the left-handed hitter is batting .198 and has been piling up punch-outs. Granderson has already totaled 59 strikeouts in 53 games.
Citi Field has proven to be a terrible fit for the powerful outfielder. At home, Granderson owns a .167 average and a .572 OPS.
Steal: Tim Hudson, SP, San Francisco Giants
The Deal: San Francisco Giants sign Tim Hudson to a two-year, $23 million contract
Tim Hudson has been historically good in 2014.
The veteran right-hander owns a 5-2 record with a 1.92 ERA in his first season with the San Francisco Giants. That makes Hudson the first San Francisco starter since 1985 to post a sub-2.00 ERA through his first 10 outings, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Of his early success, Hudson joked to Shea: "I hope they don't expect me to be this good all year."
The key for the 38-year-old has been his remarkable command. In 70.1 frames, Hudson has issued just six free passes.
Bust: Joe Nathan, RP, Detroit Tigers
The Deal: Detroit Tigers sign RP Joe Nathan to a two-year, $20 million contract
The biggest issue for the Detroit Tigers in 2014 has been the underwhelming bullpen, and the trouble starts with Joe Nathan.
The six-time All-Star has already blown four saves in 17 opportunities after botching just three in 46 opportunities a season ago. Nathan has also issued an uncharacteristically high number of walks with nine already in 20.2 innings.
Plus, it hasn't helped that the veteran has been tagged for four home runs in the opening two months of the season. The Tigers have already committed a substantial amount of money to Nathan over the next two seasons, but if the struggles continue the team will have no choice but to consider alternate closing options.
Steal: Will Smith, RP, Milwaukee Brewers
The Deal: Milwaukee Brewers acquire RP Will Smith from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for OF Norichika Aoki (Smith has a $502,000 salary in 2014)
Will Smith has been nearly perfect for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014.
The lefty reliever has allowed just one earned run in his first 28 appearances, and has 36 strikeouts in 25.1 innings of work. The 24-year-old has dominated left-handed hitters, keeping them to a .121 average.
Meanwhile, Norichika Aoki, the player whom the Brewers sent to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Smith, has posed a .647 OPS.
Bust: Grant Balfour, RP, Tampa Bay Rays
The Deal: Tampa Bay Rays sign RP Grant Balfour to a two-year, $12 million contract
Grant Balfour is yet another big-name bullpen arm who has struggled significantly this season.
The right-hander is 9-of-11 in save opportunities, but has also posted a 5.49 ERA in his first 20 games for the Tampa Bay Rays. The central issue for Balfour has been his complete lack of command. In 19.2 innings of work, the 2013 All-Star has allowed 18 walks.
Steal: Scott Kazmir, SP, Oakland Athletics
The Deal: Oakland Athletics sign Scott Kazmir to a two-year, $22 million contract
Scott Kazmir has been dealing for the Oakland Athletics in 2014.
Through his first 11 outings, the starter is 6-2 with a 2.36 ERA, which is the fifth-best mark in the American League. Kazmir's most recent appearance on May 28 was his best start yet as a member of the Athletics. The 30-year-old picked up the win as he allowed one earned run in nine innings of work for his first complete game since 2006.
Bust: Prince Fielder, 1B, Texas Rangers
The Deal: Texas Rangers acquire Prince Fielder* from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Ian Kinsler (Fielder has a salary of $24 million in 2014)
Prince Fielder's first season with the Texas Rangers was an utter disaster.
The slugger's campaign is already done after he underwent neck fusion surgery on May 27, per Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas. In 43 games, the first baseman managed just three home runs and a .360 slugging percentage. Those unimpressive numbers suggest that Fielder's neck could have been an problem throughout 2014.
The Rangers are still on the hook for $144 million from 2015 to 2020.
*Note: The Tigers also agreed to pay the Rangers $30 million as part of the deal.
Steal: Nelson Cruz, DH/OF, Baltimore Orioles
The Deal: Baltimore Orioles sign DH/OF Nelson Cruz to a one-year, $8 million contract
Nelson Cruz sure has been worth his $8 million salary in 2014.
The designated hitter/outfielder is currently leading all of baseball in home runs (20), RBI (52) and slugging percentage (.675). His .343 ISO is also the top mark in MLB, per FanGraphs.
As of late, Cruz has been on an absolute tear. In the last 10 games, the right-handed hitter has six home runs and a .485 average for the Baltimore Orioles.
If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.