MLB Free Agency: 15 Players Teams Will Regret Not Re-Signing

Dmitriy Ioselevich@dioselevSenior Analyst IIIJanuary 23, 2011

MLB Free Agency: 15 Players Teams Will Regret Not Re-Signing

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    CHICAGO - AUGUST 10: Bobby Jenks #45 of the Chicago White Sox signals to teammates against the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field on August 10, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Twins defeated the White Sox 12-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Being a baseball general manager is a thankless job. Every move that you make is second-guessed, critiqued and analyzed to death before a new player even steps out onto the field. Then there's the separate issue of what to do with your hometown players, some of whom have evolved into local legends or fan favorites.

    Every player has to become a free agent eventually, but the gut-wrenching question facing every general manager is when is the right time to let those players go? In the case of these 15 players, their GM's let them go too soon.

    For the sake of this list we'll eliminate players who had no chance of re-signing with their former teams (Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford) and players that teams made an effort to sign but were outbid (Cliff Lee).

Matt Albers

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    OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 07:  Matt Albers #34 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum on June 7, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The Red Sox scooped up the 28-year-old Albers from the Orioles early in the offseason to add some depth to the bullpen. The right-hander's numbers are underwhelming (career 5.11 ERA), but he showed some serious promise last season.

    In 75.2 innings out of the Baltimore bullpen he had a 4.52 ERA and a respectable 1.48 WHIP. He's not going to overpower anyone (career 5.8 SO/9), but he's good at inducing ground balls and especially effective against righties. He also began his major league career as a starter, so he has the ability to pitch multiple innings if needed.

    The Red Sox gave Albers a major league contract worth $875,000, all but guaranteeing him a spot in the Boston bullpen. He won't be called upon in any key situations, but he's definitely a quality arm. If he can improve his consistency then he could be a very effective piece.

    Albers came to Baltimore as part of the Miguel Tejada trade and would have been under team control through 2013. Hard to see why the Orioles gave up on a relatively young, cost-controlled pitcher with potential. Don't they have enough pitching problems already?

Johnny Damon

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 16:  Johnny Damon #18 of the Detroit Tigers salutes the crowd prior to his first at bat against the New York Yankees on August 16, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Damon may be 37, but he's still got quite a bit of baseball left in him. The outfielder appeared in 145 games for the Tigers last season and hit .271, showcasing his usual blend of power (eight home runs) and speed (11 stolen bases).

    It was a down year for Damon, but for some reason baseball evaluators didn't think he could play the field anymore and labeled him as a DH. But the Rays challenged that notion and brought him in for $5.25 million to replace Carl Crawford, who signed with the Red Sox.

    The Tigers are going to end up relying on Magglio Ordonez to stay healthy to keep their outfield stocked, something they never had to do with Damon around.

Matt Diaz

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 07:  Matt Diaz #23 of the Atlanta Braves reacts after striking out during the second inning against the San Francisco Giants pitches during the second inning of game one of the National League Division Series at AT&T Park on Octobe
    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Diaz, 32, spent several seasons as a reserve outfielder for the Braves, but his career line (.301/.350/.456) indicates that he's definitely capable of being more. He's especially deadly against lefties, hitting .335 and slugging .533. 

    The Pirates beat out at least half a dozen teams who were after Diaz and signed him to a two-year, $4 million deal. That's actually a pay cut for Diaz, who made $2.55 million in 2010, but playing in Pittsburgh should give him an opportunity to play every day.

    The Braves will miss Diaz, who had good power and speed and filled in admirably for the injured Nate McClouth last season.

Jon Garland

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    ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 19: Starter Jon Garland #27 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on September 19, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Cardinals beat the Padres 4-1.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    The Dodgers somehow got the journeyman starting pitcher to agree to a one-year, $5 million deal after having one of the best seasons of his career.

    Garland, 31, was an incredibly stable force atop the Padres rotation, pitching exactly 200 innings and earning a career-low 3.47 ERA. He eclipsed the 200-inning mark for the sixth time in his 11-year career`and he hasn't pitched less than 190 innings since 2001.

    The Padres got a steal when they signed him for $4.7 million last offseason, and the Dodgers turned around and stole Garland for themselves. Finding a pitcher with that kind of consistency is next to impossible these days.

Bill Hall

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 08:  Bill Hall #22 of the Boston Red Sox throws the ball away as Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees reaches first and a run scores during their game on August 8, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Hall was a jack-of-all-trades last season for the Red Sox, playing everywhere on the field except for first base and catcher (yes, he even pitched once). In 119 games filling in for a depleted Boston lineup, Hall smacked 18 home runs and stole nine bases.

    He's not a good enough hitter to be a starter for a big-market team like the Red Sox, but he's the perfect super utility man. However, Hall wanted a chance to start again so he signed for $3 million with the Houston Astros.

Bobby Jenks

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    CHICAGO - AUGUST 01: Bobby Jenks #45 of the Chicago White Sox pitches in the 9th inning against the Oakland Athletics at U.S. Cellular Field on August 1, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Athletics 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The White Sox non-tendered Jenks, deciding to part ways with their closer because of a down year and a hesitancy to pay him over $7 million through arbitration. But the Red Sox were more than happy to take Jenks off their hands, signing him to a two-year, $12 million deal to be their set-up man.

    Jenks has been one of baseball's best closers since his major league debut in 2005. The two-time All-Star has 173 career saves and a career 3.40 ERA. He regressed to a 4.44 ERA and a career-low 27 saves in 2010, but his other numbers were still phenomenal (10.4 SO/9 in 52.2 innings).

    Jenks wanted out of Chicago and by all indications the White Sox and Ozzie Guillen wanted Jenks gone too. But, they'll have a hard time replacing his production. 

Gerald Laird

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    CHICAGO - JUNE 10: Gerald Laird #12 of the Detriot Tigers takes a swing against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on June 10, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Tigers 3-0.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Tigers made a big move to bring in Victor Martinez to be their starting catcher and jettisoned Laird, who signed with the St. Louis Cardinals for $1.1 million to be their backup catcher.

    The 31-year-old was atrocious offensively in his two seasons in Detroit, hitting only .218 and striking out (125) nearly as many times as he got on base (207). But Laird is steady defensively and threw out a terrific 34 percent of attempted base-stealers last season. 

    Martinez is one of the worst defensive catchers in baseball and teams will be running all day against the Tigers and V-Mart's career 24 caught-stealing percentage. 

Russell Martin

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 25:  Catcher Russell Martin #55 of the Los Angeles Dodgers jumps onto a rail beside the New York Mets dugouts as he pursues a pop foul ball that fell into the stands on July 25, 2010 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.   T
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Martin was non-tendered by the Dodgers after another lackluster year and a hip injury that ended his season. He turned down $4.2 million to come back to Los Angeles and instead joined the Yankees for $4 million.

    The 27-year-old catcher was one of the game's best a few years ago, being named to consecutive All-Star teams in 2007 and 2008. But his numbers have gone down every season since then and some scouts wonder if he may have already peaked.

    A extra few thousand dollars to see if one of their best players could reinvent himself wouldn't have killed the Dodgers. If he's good enough to start for the Yankees, he's probably good enough to start for the Dodgers.

Melvin Mora

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    DENVER - SEPTEMBER 25:  Melvin Mora #6 of the Colorado Rockies follows through on his two RBI single to rightfield off of starting pitcher Barry Zito of the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field on September 25, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. Troy Tulowitzki and
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The 38-year-old Mora had a strong 2010 season for the Rockies, playing in 113 games and batting .285 with a .779 OPS. His power has declined each of the last two seasons, but he can play all over the field and is a great bat to have off the bench.

    The Diamondbacks brought in Mora for $2 million to be the replacement for Mark Reynolds, who was traded to the Orioles. The Rockies will certainly miss Mora's timely hitting and defensive flexibility.

Xavier Nady

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    SEATTLE - JUNE 24: Xavier Nady #22 of the Chicago Cubs bats against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on June 24, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Nady has spent most of his career in baseball purgatory, coming up with the Padres and then wasting away with the Pirates. But he's an extraordinarily productive player when he's healthy.

    The 32-year-old outfielder hit 25 home runs and batted .305 in 2008 between the Pirates and Yankees, but a second Tommy John surgery caused him to miss almost all of the 2009 season. He returned in 2010 with the Cubs but struggled, hitting only .256 while his OPS dropped to .660.

    The Diamondbacks signed him for $1.75 million to provide some extra depth, but if Nady is finally fully recovered from his surgery he could be a great third outfielder.

Lyle Overbay

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 04:  Lyle Overbay #35 of the Toronto Blue Jays fields the ball against the New York Yankees on August 4, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Overbay was overshadowed by some of the other first basemen in the free-agent class, but at only $5 million he may be the best bargain.

    The 33-year-old had another solid season for the Blue Jays, hitting 20 home runs and sporting a .762 OPS. He's also one of the best defensive first basemen in the game and has a .995 career fielding percentage, seventh among all active players. 

    But that apparently wasn't good enough for the Blue Jays. Overbay will instead be the everyday first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

J.J. Putz

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    CHICAGO - JULY 07: J.J. Putz #40 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at U.S. Cellular Field on July 7, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Angels 5-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Putz was borderline unhittable during his time in Seattle, saving 91 games in a span of three seasons. He joined the Mets in 2009 to be the set-up man for Francisco Rodriguez and struggled, appearing in only 29 games and putting up a horrendous 5.22 ERA. 

    The White Sox brought him back to the AL in 2010 and the 33-year-old reinvented himself, pitching 54 innings and earning a 2.83 ERA with a 10.8 SO/9 rate. But the White Sox apparently weren't interested in retaining either Jenks or Putz, severely depleting their bullpen.

    Putz signed a two-year deal with the Diamondbacks worth $10 million, with an option for 2013. The right-hander will be given every chance to close again.

George Sherrill

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 15:  George Sherrill of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on April 15, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Sherrill had a down year in 2010 for the Dodgers, pitching only 36.1 innings and surrendering 46 hits and 28 runs for a WHIP that was just a shade under 2.00. But the 33-year-old lefty had a 1.70 ERA in 2009 and made an All-Star team in 2008.

    He's been dominant against left-handers throughout his career, but the Dodgers still non-tendered him despite uncertainty about the future of closer Jonathan Broxton.

    The Braves decided Sherrill's 2010 campaign was an aberration and added him for $1.2 million. That's a bargain.

Kerry Wood

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 22:  Kerry Wood #39 of the New York Yankees gets set to throw a pitch against the Texas Rangers in Game Six of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 22, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. The Rang
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Wood took a serious hometown discount to come back to Chicago, signing with the Cubs for just $1.5 million when there were offers out there for three or four times that.

    The 33-year-old has been an impressive pitcher the last few seasons since converting into a reliever. He finished the 2010 season with the New York Yankees, appearing in 24 games with a 0.69 ERA and a 10.7 SO/9 rate. 

    The Yankees brought back Mariano Rivera and signed Pedro Feliciano and Rafael Soriano for a combined $73 million. But they would have been better off throwing a few of those millions at Wood instead.

Ty Wigginton

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    HOUSTON - AUGUST 26:  Ty Wiggington #21 of the Houston Astros fields a ground  ball off the bat of Jason Bay of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fifth inning of the MLB game on August 26, 2007 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Ty Wigginton's been around, both in baseball and on the baseball field. He spent his most recent season in Baltimore playing first, second and third base for the Orioles. In 154 games he hit 22 home runs and 29 doubles, all while playing solid defense and making his first All-Star team.

    The Orioles wanted more of a thumper at first and let him go, allowing the Rockies to scoop him up for two years and $8 million. Baltimore's loss is Colorado's gain.