Was Washington's signing of Jayson Werth the worst move of the off-season?
With pitchers and catchers just weeks away, it's time to examine what were the worst moves made during this offseason.
There were misguided deals, ridiculous contracts handed out and trades that left people around baseball scratching their heads.
Moves were judged based on length of contract, amount of money given out, as well as (in the case of trades) players parted with.
Without further ado...
Benoit's one lights out season was good enough for Detroit to hand him a multi-year deal, at age 32
The Detroit Tigers signed former Tampa reliever Joaquin Benoit to a three-year, $16 million deal to serve as the set-up man to Jose Valverde.
Last year, Benoit seemingly had an epiphany, at age 32, finally fulfilling the promise the Texas Rangers always thought he had in him.
Relievers are probably the most volatile of all MLB players. Time and again we see guys have amazing years only to flame-out the next season.
While Benoit was wildly effective last season, he posted a 5.00 ERA with a nearly 1.7 WHIP the year before. Some might question the wisdom of handing someone as inconsistent as Benoit a deal like this.
It's for this reason that lavishing a 32-year-old reliever with a long-term deal, at over $5 million/year no less, comes in at No. 10 on this list.
Francoeur's worn out his welcome in several cities, but that didn't stop Kansas City from giving him a major league deal
Jeff Francoeur could be one of the nicest guys in baseball. Always flashing that million dollar smile, it's hard not to like him as a person.
However, when it comes to production on the field, Francoeur is one of the worst "regulars" in all of baseball.
The only above-average part of Jeff's game is his arm, which seemingly detracts attention away from the fact that, overall, he's a pretty mediocre defender.
Of course, where Francoeur's mediocrity really stands out is at the plate, where he's never met a pitch he didn't like.
Francoeur is the proud owner of three consecutive seasons of a sub .740 OPS (on base percentage + slugging percentage), which might have been even lower were it not for him catching lightning in a bottle in his first few months as a Met.
His complete inability to draw walks or even so much as work the count makes him an easy target for opposing pitchers. Francoeur has been below league average in just about every offensive category in the last few seasons.
For anyone to give him a major league deal, let alone one which promises him significant playing time (he's penciled in as the Royals everyday RF), is simply ludicrous. For this reason, this signing checks in at No. 9.
Crawford hit the big time in Boston, becoming baseball's highest paid OF
Let me preface this by saying that I love Carl Crawford. This ranking is by no means a knock on the player, nor do I think Boston was wrong in signing him.
The sole reason for Crawford's place on this list is the sheer abundance of greenbacks he received.
I understand inflation and that Crawford's deal, which made him the highest paid outfielder of all-time, wasn't necessarily indicative of Boston believing he's on that echelon.
However, to give someone who's never hit 20 home runs, driven in 100 runs or had an OPS of over .900 in a season (I know that's not his game, but still) over $20 million per season is borderline crazy.
Furthermore, Crawford's value is almost entirely tied to his other-worldly speed. For a guy who will turn 32 in year three of this contract, diminishing returns have to be a concern.
Perhaps the Red Sox can afford to overpay certain players, especially ones who are as dynamic as Crawford. That being said, it'll be very interesting to see how this deal is playing out in 2013 and beyond.
For that reason, this deal checks in at No. 8.
Paul Konerko turned a terrific contract year performance into a long-term deal
This is another case of "like the player, don't like the deal."
Konerko has been tremendous for the White Sox over the years, so it's difficult to argue that he doesn't mean more to that franchise than he might to others (keep that argument in mind for one of the next people on our list).
Having said that, Konerko's monster 2010 season, in a contract year, came on the heels of three very average years in which he didn't break .280 or go over 90 RBIs.
Furthemore, he's going to be 35 on Opening Day, making it difficult to expect him to repeat last year's performance.
The Pale Hose may get another solid year out of Konerko, but that contract could look pretty ugly if he reverts back to the form we saw in 2007-2009.
Thanks to that, Konerko checks in at No. 7.
Juan Uribe turned a World Series title into a hefty payday from the Dodgers
When last we saw Juan Uribe, he was soaked in champagne, celebrating his second World Series title (he won one with the White Sox in '05).
Apparently, Ned Colletti and the Dodgers value this championship pedigree over actual production on the field, as they saw it fit to hand Uribe a multi-year deal, worth $7 million per season.
Sure, Uribe set a career high in homers and RBIs last season, but look a little closer and you'll see just how empty his production actually was.
This is a guy who consistently hits in the .235-.250 range and struggles to get his on-base percentage over .300.
Furthermore, he was absolutely putrid in last year's playoffs, striking out in over one-third of his plate appearances.
That didn't stop the Dodgers from handing him a long-term deal to be the club's starting 2B, a position he's only played at in 189 games in his 10-year career.
Because of all of the above, Uribe comes in at No. 6.
The Braves parlayed Omar Infante's first all-star selection into Dan Uggla
It was no surprise that the Florida Marlins were looking to move their 2B Dan Uggla, with Uggla looking to sign a multi-year extension.
The surprise was when they traded him and what they settled for in return.
The Marlins decided not to wait for the Winter Meetings and instead pulled the trigger on dealing Uggla before most teams had even solidified their offseason plans.
Not only did the Marlins deal Uggla to a division rival, what they got back had people refreshing their computer screens to make sure they weren't seeing things.
Omar Infante, glorified utility player, one-time All-Star (we can discuss the merits of that at a later date), and owner of one pretty good season in his nine-year career was the "headliner" of the package that Florida received.
The other part was Mike Dunn, someone who profiles, at best, as a lefty reliever and who couldn't find the strike zone with a magnifying glass (career 4.1 BB/9 IP in his minor league career).
The part that made it even more of a head-scratcher is that Infante, like Uggla (until he signed his extension), is a free agent after the 2011 season.
Not only did Florida practically give away one of their more valuable chips, they did it for a guy who might not even be in black and teal for more than one season.
Because of those reasons, this trade is No. 5.
Adrian Beltre capitalized on a terrific year in Boston to land himself a ridiculous deal in Arlington
Perhaps we should start referring to Adrian Beltre as the "contract year bandit."
Back in 2004, Beltre, at that time still a Dodger, wowed the rest of the baseball world by obliterating his career highs in just about every major category. His .334 average, 48 HRs, and 1.017 OPS are such statistical outliers that it's still difficult to believe he had the kind of season he did.
On the heels of that season, Beltre signed a huge deal with Seattle, only to return to the average ballplayer that he'd been for most of his career.
Fast forward to 2010. Playing on a one-year deal with the Red Sox, Beltre again went crazy, hitting .321 with over 100 RBIs and a .919 OPS.
Unfortunately for Ranger fans, the Texas organization had just been spurned by Cliff Lee and was looking for someone to sink their allotted funds into. I guess the folks in Arlington don't abide by the old adage, "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice..."
Not only is handing Beltre a $16 million per year deal a huge leap of faith, a six -year deal for a guy who will be 32 a week after the season starts is just plain shortsighted.
Would it surprise anyone if Beltre, his new contract in tow, regressed back to the player we've seen 11 of the 13 seasons he's been in the big leagues?
For that reason, Beltre comes in at No. 4.
Jeter was all smiles as the ink dried on a contact that's going to be difficult for him to justify
Derek Jeter is one of the greatest Yankees of all time. In fact, incredibly enough, he's only 74 hits from becoming the first person to ever record his 3,000th hit in a Yankee uniform.
His value to the Yankee franchise may be perhaps the most difficult to quantify of anyone else in the league.
However, contracts are based on expected production, not on past glory and legacy. With that in mind, the Yankees handing Jeter a $17 million per season deal, on the heels of his worst season by far, is highly suspect.
If any team can afford to overpay someone, it's the Yankees. That doesn't mean, though, that this move made sense from a baseball standpoint.
Not only did Jeter decline drastically last season, despite the Gold Glove award that he's seemingly grandfathered in for, his defensive range is almost non-existent. It's inevitable that a position switch is in his near future, but with Alex Rodriguez at 3B, Robinson Cano at 2B and Mark Teixeira at 1B, there's no apparent solution as to where to put him.
Some suggest the outfield, but realistically, the Yankees could be looking at paying a first-time outfielder, on a serious offensive decline, $17 million a year. That's just a gross misappropriation of funds.
The Yankees will try to justify this deal because Jeter will get his 3,000th hit and may ultimately retire, as a Yankee, when this three-year pact is up.
While that's all well and good, it still doesn't stop Jeter from ranking No. 3 on this list.
Jayson Werth hit the jackpot in Washington, but will the Nats be reaping the benefits or reaping what they sowed?
The first surprise was the team: "You said who signed Jayson Werth?"
The second surprise was the money: "And for what?!?"
Yes, that figure at the top of the screen is no typo. The Washington Nationals rewarded soon to be 32-year-old Werth with a contract befitting a franchise player.
Only it's highly debatable as to whether Werth is a franchise player now, let alone for the remainder of his seven-year deal.
Werth was the unsung star for the potent Philadelphia offense these last few seasons, but he's never driven in over 100 runs, nor has he hit .300. Last year was his first time topping 100 runs scored, even in the lineup he's been playing in.
While Werth is a very good player and should continue to be, at least for the next few seasons, he's certainly not "werthy" of a deal paying him as (thanks to Carl Crawford) the second highest outfielder of all-time.
I understand the Nationals were looking to make a big splash to make fans forget about Stephen Strasburg's injury and last place finishes in six of the last seven seasons. However, not only did they hamstring themselves now, but for many years going forward.
In a few seasons, this deal could be the albatross king, replacing the No. 1 player on our list.
For these reasons and more, this is No. 2.
The Angels gave the Blue Jays a late Christmas present by taking Vernon Wells, and his absurd contract, off their hands
The Vernon Wells contract was, is, and will be considered one of the worst of all-time.
It's so bad that, even with only four years remaining on it, it still retains it's place in baseball lore.
Naturally, any team that took on this contract, without significant financial considerations, would be considered the laughingstock of baseball.
Enter the Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels, fresh off of striking out on Carl Crawford, were apparently desperate to hand their available funds to somebody.
Shrewd Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous was able to convince Angels GM Tony Reagins that not only should the Angels take back Wells, they should do so without receiving any money from the Jays AND part with Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera.
Usually we only read about heists like this in fictional books, but the Jays not only cleared Wells' contract, they acquired a useful piece in Napoli (whom they ultimately spun to Texas for relief help).
Suddenly, the Angels are paying two outfielders (Wells and Torii Hunter) a combined $41 million next year and $39 million in 2012, both of whom are on the decline and will seemingly be relegated to corner outfield spots.
If this move doesn't take the cake for worst off-season move, well, I don't know what does.