The Best and Worst MLB Signings (So Far) from the Offseason

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2018

The Best and Worst MLB Signings (So Far) from the Offseason

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    As we chug toward mid-July, the 2018 MLB season is coming into focus. There's plenty of baseball left, but we can begin to draw conclusions.

    Like, say, rating the top and bottom signings from the offseason.

    Let's pick the seven best and worst 2017-18 deals, based on dollars spent, stats delivered and a dollop of opinion.

    One other note: We'll keep our focus on marquee players who received big dollars and arrived on their new squads with concurrently big expectations.

Worst: RHP Wade Davis, Colorado Rockies

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    In an effort to bolster their bullpen, the Colorado Rockies signed Wade Davis to a three-year, $52 million contract, the largest MLB pact ever for a relief pitcher on a per-year basis.

    Davis posted a crooked 9.31 ERA in June and owns a 4.04 ERA overall. He hasn't allowed a run in July and could be on his way to a summer resurgence, but his lack of consistent production has hurt a Colorado bullpen that ranks 29th in baseball with a 5.28 ERA.

    Davis isn't the sole culprit for the Rocks' late-inning woes, nor is he the only reason they're in third place in the National League West.

    He's part of the problem, though, while he's being paid handsomely to be part of the solution.

Best: RHP Jake Arrieta, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Jake Arrieta hung on the vine for quite a while as other pitchers (one of whom will appear later on this list) fell off the board.

    Eventually, Arrieta was scooped up by the Philadelphia Phillies for three years and $75 million.

    Granted, he was coming off a season in which he posted a 3.53 ERA for the Chicago Cubs, his highest tally since 2013.

    He also posted a questionable 4.16 FIP and no longer looked like an unequivocal ace. The Cubs went another direction, and everyone else kept their distance.

    In the end, the Phils snagged a pitcher who has posted a 3.47 ERA overall and a 0.90 ERA in May while providing veteran leadership to a young pitching staff on a squad with the potential to reach the postseason.

    Arrieta has endured some hiccups. But Philadelphia got him for a relative bargain without compromising its enviable payroll flexibility.

Worst: RF Jay Bruce, New York Mets

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    The New York Mets were hoping to be a factor in the National League East when they signed veteran outfielder Jay Bruce to a three-year, $39 million contract in January.

    Instead, the Mets are all but sunk in the NL East, and Bruce is performing like an albatross.

    In 62 games, Bruce has mustered a .212 average, .292 on-base percentage and .613 OPS. Add a hip injury that has kept him on the disabled list since mid-June, and the news curdles from not great to utterly terrible.

    Bruce is hurt, 31 years old and clearly on the downslope.

    The Mets can no sooner trade him than they can count on him to contribute.

Best: CF Lorenzo Cain, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Lorenzo Cain turned 32 on April 13 after signing a five-year, $80 million contract in January with the Milwaukee Brewers.

    There were reasons to fret, given Cain's age and the fact he plays center field, a premium defensive position.

    This contract might sting later, but for now the Brewers are getting their money's worth and then some.

    Through 73 games, Cain is hitting .290 with a .394 on-base percentage and an .829 OPS. That last figure is his highest mark since 2015, when he finished third in American League MVP voting for the world champion Kansas City Royals.

    A groin strain landed him on the disabled list in June, but Cain is back and healthy and a member of the National League All-Star squad.

    Even with his time away, he's 12th in MLB with 3.4 WAR by FanGraphs' calculation.

Worst: RHP Alex Cobb, Baltimore Orioles

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    The Baltimore Orioles opened the season hoping to compete in the crowded American League East. Hence the four-year, $57 million pact they slung at right-hander Alex Cobb.

    In 16 starts, Cobb owns a 6.57 ERA and 2-11 record. His best ERA in any calendar month this season is the 4.67 he posted in May.

    Baltimore, meanwhile, is buried in last place in the division—37 games out.

    Cobb exited his most recent start on Sunday with a blister, per's Brian Hall. Whether he misses time or takes his next turn is almost immaterial for a club that pushed its chips in and is now searching for a way to fold and leave the table.

Best: DH/OF J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    The Boston Red Sox won the AL East in 2017 despite hitting the fewest home runs in the Junior Circuit.

    This offseason, they went after a power bat and landed designated hitter J.D. Martinez for five years and $110 million.

    So far, Martinez has more than rewarded Boston's vote of confidence.

    Through 85 games, the 30-year-old leads MLB with 27 home runs and 74 RBI and has helped the Sox keep pace with the powerful, archrival New York Yankees.'s Matt Snyder spelled out the value Martinez brings to Beantown:

    "Obviously, Martinez isn't going to hit like this throughout his contract, but he's predictably hitting like this now. If he's dead weight in the last year of his deal, who cares? By then, he will have far outpaced the value of the deal in the first place. A World Series title is worth far more than Martinez's last year or two to ownership, and it's pretty damn priceless for fans. Flags fly forever."

    Indeed they do.

Worst: RHP Yu Darvish, Chicago Cubs

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    When the Cubs opted to let Arrieta leave and instead signed Yu Darvish to a six-year, $126 million deal, the Japanese right-hander was supposed to be the new No. 1 on the North Side.

    Instead, Darvish has spent extended time on the disabled list and posted a 4.95 ERA while on the mound. He was seemingly called out in April by then-25-year-old catcher Willson Contreras for being complacent.

    If you only get one chance to make a first impression, Darvish missed his.

    "It's a patient process right now, and I'm going to be very patient," manager Joe Maddon said of Darvish's ongoing recovery from right triceps tendinitis, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.

    Whether Cubbies fans share that sentiment is another matter.


    All statistics and contract information accurate entering Monday and courtesy of Baseball Reference.


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