MLB Hot Stove: 10 Under-the-Radar Signings That Will Pay Huge Dividends

Rey JeffersonContributor IJanuary 30, 2011

MLB Hot Stove: 10 Under-the-Radar Signings That Will Pay Huge Dividends

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    KISSIMMEE, FL - JANUARY 28:  Baseball gloves and a baseball lie in the dirt during the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring on January 28, 2011 at the Houston Astros Spring Training Complex  in Kissimmee, Florida.  Jim Evans was a Major League Umpir
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Coming off a crazy/exciting offseason, the MLB season is slowly upon us. Big moves were made in both the NL and AL, highlighted by Philadelphia Phillies signing Cliff Lee and Boston Red Sox signing Carl Crawford. Here’s a list of the top 10 under-the-radar signings that will pay huge dividends this season.

10.) Rick Ankiel Signs with the Washington Nationals

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    JUPITER, FL - MARCH 14:  Rick Ankiel #49 of the St. Louis Cardinals stands at bat against the Washington Nationals on March 14, 2007 at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. The Nationals and Cardinals finished in a tie game in the 10th inning 2-2. (Pho
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Remember when Ankiel was a wild pitcher who couldn't’t throw a strike? He then reinvented himself as an outfielder in 2005. You wouldn't’t think that Ankiel and Babe Ruth are the only players to start a postseason game as a pitcher and hit a home run in the postseason as a position player.

9.) Jeff Francoeur Signs with the Kansas City Royals

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 31:  Jeff Francoeur #21 of the Texas Rangers looks on dejected from the dugout against the San Francisco Giants in Game Four of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 31, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (P
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The strong-armed outfielder is on the move again, as Francoeur agreed to sign a one-year $2.5 million dollar deal with the Royals.

    Francoeur said he wanted to "get back to having fun." Hopefully this year "Frenchy" will get back to playing well.

8.) Lyle Overbay Signs with the Pittsburgh Pirates

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 04:  Lyle Overbay #35 of the Toronto Blue Jays bats 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 has been a pretty healthy player throughout his entire career. Overbay will be an upgrade for the Pirates at first-base with his solid glove. In Pittsburgh, Overbay will be reunited with his third base coach from his days in Toronto (Nick Leyva). 

7.) Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez Sign with the Tampa Bay Rays

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    BOSTON - MAY 01:  Johnny Damon of the New York Yankees talks with former teammate Manny Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park May 1, 2006 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    After losing much of its core, Tampa Bay finally made some moves as the Rays went out and signed both Damon and Ramirez.

    The Rays needed offensive help after losing Crawford, Jason Bartlett and Carlos Pena this offseason and they're hoping that Damon and Ramirez will help them with that.

6.) Derrek Lee Signs with the Baltimore Orioles

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 10:  Derrek Lee #27 of the Atlanta Braves reacts after striking out against the San Francisco Giants during Game Three of the NLDS of the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Turner Field on October 10, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Lee was bothered by a bad thumb all last year in Atlanta. Supposedly Lee is fully healthy now, plus he has a solid lineup around him and he'll be playing in a hitter’s ballpark; this all means that Lee is primed to have a bounce-back season.

5.) Adrian Beltre Signs with the Texas Rangers

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    SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 15:  Adrian Beltre #29 of the Boston Red Sox bats against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 15, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    It seems like after Lee decided to sign with the Phillies, most of the money that the Rangers would have given to Lee was passed along to Beltre. This is a move that top teams in the AL (like the New York Yankees) may regret come October.

4.) Victor Martinez Signs with the Detroit Tigers

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    SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 13:  Victor Martinez #41 of the Boston Red Sox bats against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 13, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    One thing is certain: Martinez can swing the bat. Signing Martinez is going to help boost the Tigers' lineup by giving Miguel Cabrera some much-needed help.

3.) Rafael Soriano Signs with the New York Yankees

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    NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 19: Rafael Soriano of the New York Yankees speaks during his introduction press conference on January 19, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees signed Soriano to a three year contract. (Photo by J
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    After losing out on the best free agent pitcher available in Lee, the Yankees decided to strengthen their bullpen by adding Soriano. He joins Mariano Rivera, Pedro Feliciano, David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain to form one of the best bullpens in all of baseball.

2.) Jayson Werth Signs with the Washington Nationals

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    WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 15:  Jayson Werth #28 of the Washington Nationals speaks as he is introduced to the media on December 15, 2010 at Nationals Park in Washington, DC.   (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Overshadowed by the big signings of Lee and Crawford, the slugging right fielder signed the richest contract in franchise history. Werth will be a centerpiece of the Nationals' offense for years to come.

1.) Dan Uggla Signs with the Atlanta Braves

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    SAN FRANCISCO - JULY 29:  Dan Uggla #6 of the Florida Marlins bats against the San Francisco Giants during an MLB game at AT&T Park on July 29, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    After finally being traded from the Florida Marlins to the Braves in November, Uggla would finish the season in Atlanta. This offseason Uggla re-signed with the Braves to the tune of five years, $62 million dollars. Uggla’s extension is the highest average annual salary for a second baseman in MLB history.