MLB Free Agency: 15 Players Teams Will Regret Not Re-Signing
Being a baseball general manager is a thankless job. Every move that you make is second-guessed, critiqued and analyzed to death before a new player even steps out onto the field. Then there's the separate issue of what to do with your hometown players, some of whom have evolved into local legends or fan favorites.
Every player has to become a free agent eventually, but the gut-wrenching question facing every general manager is when is the right time to let those players go? In the case of these 15 players, their GM's let them go too soon.
For the sake of this list we'll eliminate players who had no chance of re-signing with their former teams (Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford) and players that teams made an effort to sign but were outbid (Cliff Lee).
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The Red Sox scooped up the 28-year-old Albers from the Orioles early in the offseason to add some depth to the bullpen. The right-hander's numbers are underwhelming (career 5.11 ERA), but he showed some serious promise last season.
In 75.2 innings out of the Baltimore bullpen he had a 4.52 ERA and a respectable 1.48 WHIP. He's not going to overpower anyone (career 5.8 SO/9), but he's good at inducing ground balls and especially effective against righties. He also began his major league career as a starter, so he has the ability to pitch multiple innings if needed.
The Red Sox gave Albers a major league contract worth $875,000, all but guaranteeing him a spot in the Boston bullpen. He won't be called upon in any key situations, but he's definitely a quality arm. If he can improve his consistency then he could be a very effective piece.
Albers came to Baltimore as part of the Miguel Tejada trade and would have been under team control through 2013. Hard to see why the Orioles gave up on a relatively young, cost-controlled pitcher with potential. Don't they have enough pitching problems already?
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Damon may be 37, but he's still got quite a bit of baseball left in him. The outfielder appeared in 145 games for the Tigers last season and hit .271, showcasing his usual blend of power (eight home runs) and speed (11 stolen bases).
It was a down year for Damon, but for some reason baseball evaluators didn't think he could play the field anymore and labeled him as a DH. But the Rays challenged that notion and brought him in for $5.25 million to replace Carl Crawford, who signed with the Red Sox.
The Tigers are going to end up relying on Magglio Ordonez to stay healthy to keep their outfield stocked, something they never had to do with Damon around.
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Diaz, 32, spent several seasons as a reserve outfielder for the Braves, but his career line (.301/.350/.456) indicates that he's definitely capable of being more. He's especially deadly against lefties, hitting .335 and slugging .533.
The Pirates beat out at least half a dozen teams who were after Diaz and signed him to a two-year, $4 million deal. That's actually a pay cut for Diaz, who made $2.55 million in 2010, but playing in Pittsburgh should give him an opportunity to play every day.
The Braves will miss Diaz, who had good power and speed and filled in admirably for the injured Nate McClouth last season.
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The Dodgers somehow got the journeyman starting pitcher to agree to a one-year, $5 million deal after having one of the best seasons of his career.
Garland, 31, was an incredibly stable force atop the Padres rotation, pitching exactly 200 innings and earning a career-low 3.47 ERA. He eclipsed the 200-inning mark for the sixth time in his 11-year career`and he hasn't pitched less than 190 innings since 2001.
The Padres got a steal when they signed him for $4.7 million last offseason, and the Dodgers turned around and stole Garland for themselves. Finding a pitcher with that kind of consistency is next to impossible these days.
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Hall was a jack-of-all-trades last season for the Red Sox, playing everywhere on the field except for first base and catcher (yes, he even pitched once). In 119 games filling in for a depleted Boston lineup, Hall smacked 18 home runs and stole nine bases.
He's not a good enough hitter to be a starter for a big-market team like the Red Sox, but he's the perfect super utility man. However, Hall wanted a chance to start again so he signed for $3 million with the Houston Astros.
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The White Sox non-tendered Jenks, deciding to part ways with their closer because of a down year and a hesitancy to pay him over $7 million through arbitration. But the Red Sox were more than happy to take Jenks off their hands, signing him to a two-year, $12 million deal to be their set-up man.
Jenks has been one of baseball's best closers since his major league debut in 2005. The two-time All-Star has 173 career saves and a career 3.40 ERA. He regressed to a 4.44 ERA and a career-low 27 saves in 2010, but his other numbers were still phenomenal (10.4 SO/9 in 52.2 innings).
Jenks wanted out of Chicago and by all indications the White Sox and Ozzie Guillen wanted Jenks gone too. But, they'll have a hard time replacing his production.
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The Tigers made a big move to bring in Victor Martinez to be their starting catcher and jettisoned Laird, who signed with the St. Louis Cardinals for $1.1 million to be their backup catcher.
The 31-year-old was atrocious offensively in his two seasons in Detroit, hitting only .218 and striking out (125) nearly as many times as he got on base (207). But Laird is steady defensively and threw out a terrific 34 percent of attempted base-stealers last season.
Martinez is one of the worst defensive catchers in baseball and teams will be running all day against the Tigers and V-Mart's career 24 caught-stealing percentage.
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Martin was non-tendered by the Dodgers after another lackluster year and a hip injury that ended his season. He turned down $4.2 million to come back to Los Angeles and instead joined the Yankees for $4 million.
The 27-year-old catcher was one of the game's best a few years ago, being named to consecutive All-Star teams in 2007 and 2008. But his numbers have gone down every season since then and some scouts wonder if he may have already peaked.
A extra few thousand dollars to see if one of their best players could reinvent himself wouldn't have killed the Dodgers. If he's good enough to start for the Yankees, he's probably good enough to start for the Dodgers.
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The 38-year-old Mora had a strong 2010 season for the Rockies, playing in 113 games and batting .285 with a .779 OPS. His power has declined each of the last two seasons, but he can play all over the field and is a great bat to have off the bench.
The Diamondbacks brought in Mora for $2 million to be the replacement for Mark Reynolds, who was traded to the Orioles. The Rockies will certainly miss Mora's timely hitting and defensive flexibility.
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Nady has spent most of his career in baseball purgatory, coming up with the Padres and then wasting away with the Pirates. But he's an extraordinarily productive player when he's healthy.
The 32-year-old outfielder hit 25 home runs and batted .305 in 2008 between the Pirates and Yankees, but a second Tommy John surgery caused him to miss almost all of the 2009 season. He returned in 2010 with the Cubs but struggled, hitting only .256 while his OPS dropped to .660.
The Diamondbacks signed him for $1.75 million to provide some extra depth, but if Nady is finally fully recovered from his surgery he could be a great third outfielder.
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Overbay was overshadowed by some of the other first basemen in the free-agent class, but at only $5 million he may be the best bargain.
The 33-year-old had another solid season for the Blue Jays, hitting 20 home runs and sporting a .762 OPS. He's also one of the best defensive first basemen in the game and has a .995 career fielding percentage, seventh among all active players.
But that apparently wasn't good enough for the Blue Jays. Overbay will instead be the everyday first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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Putz was borderline unhittable during his time in Seattle, saving 91 games in a span of three seasons. He joined the Mets in 2009 to be the set-up man for Francisco Rodriguez and struggled, appearing in only 29 games and putting up a horrendous 5.22 ERA.
The White Sox brought him back to the AL in 2010 and the 33-year-old reinvented himself, pitching 54 innings and earning a 2.83 ERA with a 10.8 SO/9 rate. But the White Sox apparently weren't interested in retaining either Jenks or Putz, severely depleting their bullpen.
Putz signed a two-year deal with the Diamondbacks worth $10 million, with an option for 2013. The right-hander will be given every chance to close again.
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Sherrill had a down year in 2010 for the Dodgers, pitching only 36.1 innings and surrendering 46 hits and 28 runs for a WHIP that was just a shade under 2.00. But the 33-year-old lefty had a 1.70 ERA in 2009 and made an All-Star team in 2008.
He's been dominant against left-handers throughout his career, but the Dodgers still non-tendered him despite uncertainty about the future of closer Jonathan Broxton.
The Braves decided Sherrill's 2010 campaign was an aberration and added him for $1.2 million. That's a bargain.
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Wood took a serious hometown discount to come back to Chicago, signing with the Cubs for just $1.5 million when there were offers out there for three or four times that.
The 33-year-old has been an impressive pitcher the last few seasons since converting into a reliever. He finished the 2010 season with the New York Yankees, appearing in 24 games with a 0.69 ERA and a 10.7 SO/9 rate.
The Yankees brought back Mariano Rivera and signed Pedro Feliciano and Rafael Soriano for a combined $73 million. But they would have been better off throwing a few of those millions at Wood instead.
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Ty Wigginton's been around, both in baseball and on the baseball field. He spent his most recent season in Baltimore playing first, second and third base for the Orioles. In 154 games he hit 22 home runs and 29 doubles, all while playing solid defense and making his first All-Star team.
The Orioles wanted more of a thumper at first and let him go, allowing the Rockies to scoop him up for two years and $8 million. Baltimore's loss is Colorado's gain.