Seattle Mariners: 10 Worst Free Agent Signings in History
The name Bill Bavasi strikes fear into the hearts of many Mariners fans. It wasn't that he was a scary guy, just what he did to the team between 2004 and 2008 as GM—a time we'd all like to forget.
His free agent signings were particularly harrowing. Six of the 10 players on this list were added by Bavasi. I probably could have done a full list of his mistakes alone, but we wouldn't learn anything new.
He wasn't the only one to make mistakes, though. In the past couple of decades, Mariners GMs have negotiated some truly disheartening contracts that resulted in devastating disasters.
You'll notice a consistency among most of the players in this list is that they were at least good at one point in their careers, just not necessarily with Seattle. It's actually a Mariner trend, and it works both ways. When they've got a young guy playing really well, they trade him (A-Rod, Randy Johnson and the list goes on).
I've put together a list of some of the biggest flops in Mariner's history that will include many names that you've been trying so hard to forget, sorry.
Not included, but still notable: Big Richie, Jarrod Washburn, Miguel Bautista, Rich Aurilia, and Adrian Beltre.
10. Kenji Johjima, 2006
I remember that fateful day in 2006 when we learned that Kenji Johjima would be coming over from Japan. He was going to be the next Ichiro. I was so excited about it that I shared with my sixth grade class the day after I read it. Little did I know...
But Kenji wasn't that bad. He had a couple decent years in '06 and '07 during which he made legitimate contributions to the team. After that, he sort of spiraled downward into free agency. He now plays back in Japan.
The reason Kenji makes this list is that he was supposed to be great. He was supposed to bring a wicked combination of power and speed, and he just sort of fizzled.
9. Mike Felder, 1993
Tiny Felder was also supposed to be big. He wasn't.
Maybe the Seattle management should have taken the warning that he was kind enough to include in his name.
Felder was supposed to be the regular LF and leadoff hitter for the 1993 Mariners team. However, you don't typically want your leadoff hitter to have a .211 average and just 10 runs through 374 plate appearances.
If the Mariners had been able to muster up a solid batting order that year, they would've been contenders. Tiny made sure that didn't happen.
So they decided to send him to Houston in a trade for Eric Anthony. Oh yeah, we also gave them All-Star pitcher Mike Hampton.
But at least the M's didn't wait on Felder. His -1.6 WAR suggested that a replacement player would probably perform better. Even though you can't call Felix Fermin much of an improvement.
8. Pete O'Brien, 1990
Pete is one of those drop-off guys I was talking about.
Up until he joined the Mariners, he was hitting like a pro with the Rangers and Indians. Who knows what caused it, but when he came to Seattle, he just couldn't hit—certainly not worth a massive four-year, $8 million contract that was practically unheard of in 1990.
His WAR never crept above zero in all four years with the Mariners, which is a pretty good indicator of how little he added on the diamond.
Off the diamond, he's said to have acted as a mentor of sorts to the up and coming Ken Griffey Jr. which is definitely worth some credit.
In addition, his leaving opened up a spot for a young guy named Edgar.
7. Scott Spiezio, 2004
Okay, we couldn't have expected too much out of Spiezio, but his fall out of the organization was of epic fashion.
For instance, he said: "The last two years in Seattle, it wasn't that fun. It wasn't a fun atmosphere. Everybody on the team was down. I didn't get to play much." Yes, Scott, you brought them down with your drinking and substance abuse.
He added, "Seattle was just not very good. Nothing against the city or coaching staff or anything like that. I just needed a change..." It wasn't the city or the coaching staff or anything like that, so it must have been...the fans? I guess Mariners' fans do have a reputation for being one of the rowdiest bunches—up there with the boy scouts and the golf team.
After Scott drank his way out of Seattle, he landed in St. Louis, where he got another World Series ring. However, he was arrested the next year for drunk driving and aggravated assault. Now that's what I call poetic justice.
6. Greg Hibbard, 1994
Greg Hibbard was going to be the start of a solid rotation to couple with the young, hot batting order that the M's had put together. He was going to be the final piece that put Seattle into the playoffs. Until he tore his rotator cuff.
You can't really blame this one on the management. They saw a guy coming off a 15-11 season with the Cubs. They had no idea that his 14 start campaign in 1994 would be his last ever. Or that he'd post an ERA of 6.69 on top of a 1-5 record.
This was really just a series of unfortunate events that never really worked out. Maybe the Mariners were destined never to make it to the World Series.
5. Chone Figgins, 2010
Chone, more affectionately known as Figgy, is our most recent flop.
This one also came out the blue. When Chone was with Los Angeles, he had a .290 average and swiped 50 bags a year. He was getting better each year, posting an all-star quality WAR of 6.1 in his last year with LAA.
So what happened? No one knows, but Figgins isn't his normal self. Manager Eric Wedge has tried benching him and moving him around in the order, but his average is still beneath the Mendoza Line.
Chone's most recent attempt at breaking out of the slump was to pull his socks up higher. If that doesn't work, the Mariners will try to trade the rest of his four-year contract elsewhere, and Alex Liddi will come up (too bad we didn't get Rendon, I was really looking forward to a big bat).
4. Carl Everett, 2006
I didn't realize it, but Everett was actually an MVP nominee in 1999. Since then, he's gone nowhere but down. The Mariners, more specifically, Bavasi, grabbed him at the tail-end of his career, hoping for a pleasant little surprise. Isn't that what you would expect out of Carl? As long as you put his legal record behind him...and all the altercations he had with other players...and umpires...and coaches.
Basically, Everett was a walking landmine, a dormant volcano. He could explode at any time. Luckily, it didn't take long for Seattle to realize that, and they cut ties with him in July of that same year.
After trying and failing to revamp his career with the Long Island Ducks, Everett decided to get arrested one more time, just for nostalgia's sake. In April, he pulled a gun on his wife and was consequently arrested for aggravated assault.
Who saw that one coming?
3. Pokey Reese, 2005
It's sort of hard to include Pokey as a bust because he never played a game in a Mariners uniform. But you can definitely call him a waste of a million bucks.
Who knows, maybe Bill Bavasi just wanted to know what it was like to be in the company of a World Series winner. After all, Pokey had just come off a nice season with the 2004 Red Sox. Unfortunately, the Mariners' faith in him wasn't rewarded.
After signing with the Marlins in 2006, Pokey disappeared forever. Really, he's gone.
2. Jeff Weaver, 2007
Let's just say this guy's no Jered Weaver.
He got $8 million in 2007 to go 7-13 with a 6.20 ERA. His ERA after eight starts was over 10. What else needs to be said?
1. Carlos Silva, 2008
First, allow me to throw some stats at you. In two years with the Mariners, Silva racked up a 5-18 record, a 6.81 ERA and a 3.9 K/9 ratio in 34 starts. How do you start this guy 34 times?
Well, I guess if you pay him $48 million over four years, you feel obligated to. But why would you ever give him $12 million a year? He was on a playoff team once, with the Twins, and he let up six runs off 10 hits in five innings, so it's not like he's clutch.
At least we traded him after two years, for Milton Bradley, because that worked out much better.
The Mariners still owe Silva $2 million at the end of 2012, even though he's currently unsigned to any team, after a fallout with the Cubs. The Cubs tried to trade him this Spring and even offered to pay off a chunk of his $12 million salary for this year, but there were unsurprisingly no takers.
Luckily, it looks like the Mariners won't have to rely on free agent signings anytime soon due to their promising farm system. It's time to get excited about Dustin Ackley, Nick Franklin, Alex Liddi, Danny Hultzen and how about Greg Halman? The future looks bright in Seattle!
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