2012 MLB Free Agency: 15 Players Whose Agents Will Demand Way Too Much for Them
It's the offseason, and that means one thing—overpaid players, thanks to their crafty agents. Looking at you, Scott Boras.
One thing that owners and GMs never learn is that agents love to jack up the price. Then there are some organizations that just create ridiculous contracts on their own with little help from the agent (see the Washington Nationals and Jayson Werth—not even Scott Boras expected that).
This'll be an exciting year, since we've got two big blockbuster names in Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Don't forget there's another player who isn't quite on that level but is close enough in Jose Reyes.
Then there's the ever-thin pitching market headlined by C.J. "Don't Let Me Pitch in the Postseason" Wilson. Let's not forget the Japanese import of the year Yu Darvish, a.k.a. What Should've Been Daisuke Matsuzaka 2.0.
Here are 15 free agents who will likely get overpaid because their agent asked for too much and got it.
In case you're wondering, yes, this will be the first of many Scott Boras clients on this list.
Damon's on the tail end of his career, but Boras will likely act like Damon's south of 30 years old.
His age will be one of the primary reasons he'll get overpaid.
He had a better year stat-wise this past season with the Tampa Bay Rays than he did with the Detroit Tigers. Therefore, Boras will probably end up asking for more this year, saying Damon still has something left in the tank.
Damon got $5.25 million last winter, so I figure he'll get something higher than that, likely in the $6-7 million range, maybe even $8 million if Boras gets crazy and suckers—I mean convinces—the right team.
That may not be a lot when compared to other contracts, but for a 38-year-old DH, that's a bit much.
It's easy to forget that people were ready to say David Ortiz was done just two years ago.
He's done his best to erase that, but you can't forget about that 2009 season.
Ortiz is soon to be 36. Once a player crosses that age line, there's no telling if he'll be able to perform at a high level consistently.
Regardless, contracts are usually based on how well a player did the previous season, and Ortiz actually did pretty well.
His average was over .300 for the first time since 2007, and 29 HR and 96 RBI is nothing to laugh at.
There's no question that Ortiz can still hit. My only concern is how long can he keep it up.
The DH role can extend a player's career, but we've already seen Ortiz go into a downward slide. There's a good chance that will happen again sooner than later.
You kinda figure that the guy who pitched a no-hitter and a perfect game two years apart is going to demand a large contract.
Not to mention that Mark Buehrle is pretty much the second-best pitcher on the market.
He's consistent and he'll get you outs, but he's not exactly ace material.
This year's pitching market has more question marks than the Riddler's suit and America's financial future combined.
Buehrle is just about the only solid option out there.
The White Sox would love to have him back, but there are many teams in need of pitching. Buehrle's agent will have quite a bit of fun pitting teams against each other this offseason.
Here's an instance of where a player's past history will influence contract negotiations more than his most recent season.
Back when he was on the Houston Astros, Roy Oswalt was one of the better pitchers in the league.
He was still pretty good when he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010.
This past year, he was bothered by injuries, which'll make teams cautious with him.
However, you can be sure his agent will downplay those injuries and instead focus on Oswalt's three All-Star appearances and his NLCS MVP award.
Oswalt's agent is also going to highlight how he was an ace back in Houston and has a career 3.21 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.
Any time you have a former ace going for a contract, you can bet the agent is going to pull a Jerry Maguire.
And we're back to the land of Scott Boras clients.
Magglio Ordonez has had a rough couple of years battling injuries.
Don't expect Boras to let that keep him from obtaining the best contract he can.
If anything, Boras is going to oversell Ordonez by focusing on his six All-Star appearances and three Silver Sluggers.
Ordonez is going to be 38 at the start of next season, and with his injury history, DH is probably the best bet for him.
There's no telling if he'll bounce back from his injuries—or even if his age will slow down his bat.
Either way, Boras is going to do what he does best and get some team to sign a ridiculous contract.
How can Scott Boras convince a team that a notoriously wild-pitcher is worth the big bucks?
Well, there's Edwin Jackson's age (28) and the facts that he can hit 95 MPH and that he threw a no-hitter.
What should teams focus on if they plan on pursuing Jackson?
His wildness, five teams since 2008, his wildness, high WHIP and his wildness.
Jackson will strike out a good amount of guys, but it'll feel like he's walking every other batter. Makes sense, since he was supposed to be an outfielder until the Los Angeles Dodgers thought otherwise.
Regardless, Boras will once again oversell his client. While I don't envision Barry Zito money coming Jackson's way, unnecessarily large amounts of money probably will.
Francisco Rodriguez is looking to become a closer once again.
I'm sure Scott Boras will be more than happy to help K-Rod reach that goal.
K-Rod can still be an effective closer. It's all that off-field stuff and the Mets wanting to shed salary that got in the way and landed him on the Milwaukee Brewers.
So of course Boras is going to play the "He's one of the best at his position" card to get that large contract.
Knowing how teams are always looking for relief pitching—particularly closers—there's a team that will bite.
The Boston Red Sox might lose Jonathan Papelbon, the Tampa Bay Rays, if they're in a spending mood (they never are, but still they might), may want to upgrade Kyle Farnsworth, and there are numerous other teams who could use K-Rod's talent.
The Boston Red Sox are dropping anybody and anything related to their September collapse.
Jonathan Papelbon seems to be next.
Despite what happened in September, Papelbon is still one of the league's better closers.
He's had more than 30 saves in each of his seasons in the majors. Also, he's only had an ERA north of 3.00 once, in 2010.
Those are all pretty good stats, and you can be sure Papelbon is going to use that to get a ridiculous contract.
Relief pitchers are always in high demand, especially the good ones. They're also the ones who tend to get bid on the most and more times than not, they'll get the absurd contract (see Soriano, Rafael).
Papelbon stands a good chance to be Rafael Soriano-ed this offseason.
Jose Valverde was arguably the best closer this past season, even edging out the legendary Mariano Rivera (and then the Bronx rioted for 42 days straight).
Sorry New York, but Valverde did have a bit of a save streak going, and he was pretty much unstoppable during it.
Let's not forget he did deliver on that prophecy he made against the New York Yankees in the ALDS.
Players have been known to play better on contract years, and Valverde definitely outperformed himself.
He's only had more than 30 saves in a season—let alone 40—twice, back in 2007 and 2008.
There's no indication that Valverde can continue this or if he'll be anywhere as good.
His agent's going to base his contract on last year's performance, so you can be sure that the agent will demand enough money to fill Noah's ark.
I've covered C.J. Wilson before in previous articles, and my opinion hasn't changed.
He's still the best starter in the market, but his postseason performance is going to hurt his chances to getting the contract he would've gotten.
Wilson is still going to get a ridiculous contract, maybe even be the highest-paid pitcher this offseason.
Teams get crazy when it comes to quality pitching. Even more so when it comes to quality southpaws.
Just about every team would love to have a pitcher like Wilson on their team—well, minus the whole postseason performance thing.
Regardless of where Wilson signs, he'll be doing the Scrooge McDuck, thanks to all the money his agent will demand and likely end up getting.
Yu Darvish is supposedly the second coming of Daisuke Matsuzaka—you know, the Dice-K that was supposed to come here, not the one that actually did.
In fact, I remember reading an article when Dice-K got signed saying that Yu Darvish was going to be better.
I'll believe that when I see it. Let's just say Japanese imports haven't lived up to the hype recently (has anyone seen Kei Igawa? Did he actually rob the Yankees and booked it out of here?)
Despite that, he's supposed to be good. In his career in Japan, he's 93-38 with an ERA of 2.12 and has struck out 276 batters in 232 innings. Those are pretty good numbers regardless of where you're playing.
So obviously, as has been the case with Japanese pitchers coming over here, someone's going to pay the (ridiculous) posting fee and then offer an absurd contract.
The question is, who?
I actually believe Carlos Beltran still has something left in him. He just has to stay healthy.
His numbers last year with the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants (.300 AVG, 22 HR, 84 RBI, .385 OBP) indicate that he can still play at a good level.
Of course, he's 34 and isn't getting any younger.
Beltran switched agents, leaving Scott Boras behind, but he'll still find a team willing to give him a contract larger than the budget of a small country.
He's likely the best outfielder on the market. He knows it, his agent knows it and the teams know it.
So Beltran and his agent will likely be asking for large sums of money. Most likely more than what a 34-year-old player with a history of injuries should be asking for.
Jose Reyes was once the most dynamic hitter in the league. Then he got injured.
Now he's trying to get back to that position, and he's on the right track by winning the batting title.
However, there's still the fact that he's an oft-injured shortstop, a position that isn't kind to players with injuries.
Teams, owners, GMs and his agent are going to remember what type of player Reyes once was and what type of player he could still be when negotiating his contract.
Reyes is still 28 and thus is in his prime. That's going to drive the cost up by a few million bucks.
Don't forget that he's one of the top-tier players on the market, and teams would love to have his energy at the top of their lineup.
Prince Fielder is probably going to deserve whatever money comes his way, but there's still a pretty good chance that it'll be way too much when compared to say, a cop's salary or a teacher's salary.
Fielder's one of the game's top hitters. If I had to bet on anyone crushing a home run at any given at-bat, I'd choose him.
In fact, I'd hypothetically bet the lives of my future children if I wasn't afraid my future wife/baby momma wasn't going to hypothetically murder me.
The big flaw with him, pun partially intended, is his lack of defense and—well, weight, which kind of goes hand in hand. He's a beast offensively, but his glove could use some work.
Here's to hoping that an NL team signs him so he'll never have to DH and end up blowing through his salary at a Golden Corral.
Like Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols absolutely deserves any and all of the money he's going to get.
Unlike Fielder, Pujols can actually play defense, so he's the more rounded of the two.
Pujols can hit for average and power, deliver clutch hits and performances and play defense.
I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Pujols is the best player on the market. Just saying.
Given Pujols' career and his historic Game 3 performance, he and his agent are going to demand a contract that'll make A-Rod's look like the only thing A-Rod can afford is a kid's meal.
Hopefully, Pujols stays in St. Louis since that where he belongs, and hopefully he'll give somewhat of a hometown discount for them.
Of course, that's not going to stop his agent from asking for enough money to make Mark Zuckerberg look homeless.
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