The free agent "steal."
It's a dream for general managers and baseball fans.
You pluck a free agent off the market for a fairly reasonable price and he proceeds to exceed the expectations set by nearly everyone.
That's one iteration of it at least.
Sometimes a "steal" could be a player that succeeds in spite of sky-high expectations that often weigh down high-priced and high-profile free agents.
Of course, any signing's value is determined largely by the terms of the deal. Would the Yankees signing of AJ Burnett have been okay had it been for two years and $32 million dollars? No– but considering that his 2009 wasn't terrible and the Yankees did win the World Series, the end result of the deal would have been one ring, one decent season and one bad one, but that wouldn't have been disastrous. It's the additional three seasons (including two that have yet to be played) that have Brian Cashman and Yankee fans dreading his every outing.
If Albert Pujols and the Angels don't win at least the division this season then the signing will be called a "bust" by everyone. What if they win three of the following four and two rings though? That's still a ways down the road, but long-term contracts are just that– long-term. In other words, you've got to let a fair portion of the contract play out before making a determination as to whether or not it was a "bust" or a "steal."
Already this offseason, Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle have all signed big contracts with new teams. Many other lesser- and lower-profile players have singed deals as well. There's still plenty of talent left floating around, though.
Are there 15 guys out there that could be "steals" for a lucky team?