1. #1
    daneblazer
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    Fangraphs 10 worst moves of the baseball offseason

    10. Phillies sign Marlon Byrd.
    Cost: Two years, $16 million.
    $8 million per year for a guy coming off a +4 WAR season would ordinarily have no shot at ending up on any kind of list of the winterís worst moves, especially given the short term of the deal and the limited risk that the overall expenditure implies. That said, it isnít often that a guy goes from -1.0 WAR and a PED suspension at age-35 to +4 WAR at age-36, and so the question is simply how much should we put into one excellent season versus what Byrd had done previously. We had over 4,000 plate appearances showing Byrd to be an average hitter, and now we have 600 where heís been an excellent hitter. Maybe he found a late career miracle cure and is going to ride his new found success to glory, but more likely, heís going to go back to being Marlon Byrd, and the Phillies are going to remember why they gave up on him a decade ago.
    9. Yankees sign Carlos Beltran.
    Cost: Three years, $45 million.

    Beltran is still a really good hitter, and in 2014, heíll probably earn his $15 million paycheck, even if heís now more of a DH than a regular OF. But Beltran is going to be 37, and it wonít be long until heís exclusively a DH, and the bat isnít so good that he can afford to slip much and still be an impact player without adding anything in the field. And his age, slippage has to be expected, and $15 million for a 38 or 39 year old Beltran probably isnít going to look very good. On a one or two year deal, this could have made sense, but for $45 million over three years, the Yankees could have done better.
    8. Colorado acquires Brandon Barnes and Jordan Lyles.
    Cost: Dexter Fowler.

    I get that the Rockies have outfield depth, and wanted to give guys like Corey Dickerson and Charlie Blackmon a shot, and Fowlerís getting expensive enough in arbitration where heís not some kind of massive bargain anymore. However, heís still a quality player, in the prime of his career, and the Rockies basically gave him to the Astros in order to free up enough room in the budget to sign Justin Morneau, who is older, worse, and not really much cheaper. Moving Michael Cuddyer to first base would have freed up playing time for Dickerson or Blackmon in the same way that trading Fowler did, and the team would have been better off for it. Lyles and Barnes are unlikely to ever make any real contribution in Colorado, and itís hard to see this series of moves actually paying off for the Rockies.
    7. Diamondbacks sign Bronson Arroyo.
    Cost: Two years, $23 million.

    Bronson Arroyo is unoffensive. Heís not bad, and when he keeps the ball in the ballpark, he can even look deceptively effective. But the reality is that Arroyo turns 37 in a week, gets destroyed by left-handed batters, and his entire success is based on walking the tightrope of weak contact. If he doesnít hit his spots perfectly, 2011 happens, and he threatens the all time record for home runs allowed in a season. Arroyo is an okay back-end starter, but thereís no good reason to spend $12 million per year on okay back end starters, especially for an organization with a limited payroll and younger kids who project to be nearly as good. Arroyoís biggest selling point is his durability, but 200 mediocre innings just arenít that valuable.
    6. Diamondbacks acquire Addison Reed.
    Cost: Matt Davidson.

    I donít mean to pick on the Diamondbacks, but I actually like this trade even less than I like the Arroyo deal, and I donít think I hid the fact that I didnít really like that deal too much. Itís not that Addison Reed is bad, because heís not. Heís fine, and heíll be a good enough closer for Arizona. But they already had J.J. Putz and David Hernandez, who also would have been good enough closers, and the DíBacks didnít need a third good-not-great right-handed reliever enough to justify trading a player with some legitimate value. Even if they didnít see Davidson as a long term piece to build around given their roster and his defensive skills, heís still a property of some real value; Marc Hulet ranked him #62 on his Top 100, while Baseball America came in at #72. This isnít a guy to just give away for a minor bullpen upgrade. To make things worse, Reed has racked up a ton of saves in his time in Chicago, and is going to be quite expensive to retain in his arbitration years, so this probably ends up being Davidson for a few years of Reedís services before he gets non-tendered. And thatís not a good swap.
    5. Mets sign Curtis Granderson.
    Cost: Four years, $60 million.

    I get that the Mets offense was lousy last year, and Granderson makes it less lousy, but for $60 million, you have to get more than what Granderson projects to give over the next four years. Both ZIPS and Steamer see him as roughly a +2 to +3 WAR player for 2014, and the reality is that left-handed hitting outfielders of similar value were signing for a fraction of what Granderson cost the Mets. He may be marginally better than David Murphy (2/$12m), David DeJesus (2/$11M), or Nate McLouth (2/$11M), but thereís no way the gap is worth $10 million per year, plus an extra two years committed for ages 35 and 36. Granderson is getting paid like an impact player, but he just isnít one, and the Mets could have gotten 90% of the production for 15% of the cost.
    4. Yankees sign Masahiro Tanaka.
    Cost: Four years, $108 million, plus player option for another 3/$67M.

    I think Masahiro Tanaka is probably going to be very good. This isnít about being skeptical of his abilities, or his prior workload, or anything relating to Tanaka, really. This is all about the contract, and specifically, the opt-out. While Tanakaís deal is widely reported as $155 million over seven years, the opt-out means that itís really a contract for $88 million over four years, not including the $20 million posting fee, with some chance that the Yankees will have to pay Tanaka an additional $67 million if he goes bust. Essentially, the Yankees paid $27 million per year for the next four years if Tanaka is good, and if things donít break in their favor, they pay a $67 million tax to boot. If they only wanted a four year commitment, they could have signed any two of the domestic free agents for the same amount that they paid to get Tanaka, upgrading their roster in a very similar manner while taking a tiny fraction of the risk. Without the opt-out, at least this would have had a chance of working for NYY. With the opt-out, the deal is all downside.
    3. Rangers sign Shin-Soo Choo.
    Cost: Seven years, $130 million.

    $130 million isnít superstar money anymore, but it should buy a better overall player than Shin-Soo Choo. The things he does well, he does very well, and they certainly have value, but heís not a good fielder, he doesnít hit left-handed pitching, and he doesnít even have that much power for a guy whose value is almost entirely tied up in his bat. The total package is an above average non-star, and he probably was worth something closer to Curtis Grandersonís contract than the one he actually got. I thought the Giants overpaid for Hunter Pence, but he looks like the steal of the century compared to Chooís deal with Texas. For the next year or two, Choo will be worth $20+ million per year, but the back end of this contract is going to be a disaster, and there just isnít that much value at the front end; certainly not enough to make this contract anything but a mistake.
    2. Mariners sign Robinson Cano.
    Cost: 10 years, $240 million.

    Thereís a decent chance that, over the life of this contract, Cano actually is a $200 million player, and in terms of total wasted dollars, $4 million per year for a decade isnít actually a huge mistake. If Cano had signed this same deal with another team, it probably wouldnít have ranked this highly, but unfortunately for the Mariners, they are one of the organizations with the least to gain from signing the winterís best free agent. For starters, they still arenít particularly good even with him on board, so theyíre unlikely to take advantage of the first few years of the deal where heís likely to be worth his salary. Additionally, his signing displaced Nick Franklin, leaving one of the teamís better young players without a future in the organization. The Mariners needed a lot of things this winter, but a second baseman wasnít one of them, and the upgrade they got from replacing Franklin with Cano ó and whatever lesser thing they get for Franklin in trade ó simply wasnít the best use of their $240 million. By the time the Mariners are ready to win, Canoís contract is likely to be an anchor, and the kind of big splash that looks regrettable not too long after the ink dries.
    1. Tigers acquire Robbie Ray, Steve Lombardozzi, and Ian Krol.
    Cost: Doug Fister.

    There are basically two options here:
    1. Everyone is wrong about Robbie Ray. The Tigers actually just acquired one of the best young left-handed pitching prospects in the game, the kind of guy who could step into their rotation in 2015 and provide years of quality innings before he ever makes any kind of real money.
    2. Dave Dombrowski screwed up. Because if Robbie Ray isnít a quality, high-end pitching prospect, the Tigers sold a pitcher as good or better than Masahiro Tanaka, who will make less than $20 million over the next two years, for the kind of return that a team should expect when trading a decent role player.
    Pitching prospects are hard to predict, and there are plenty of scenarios where it turns out that #1 is actually true, and this deal works out for the Tigers. If Ray turns into something, swapping two years of Fister for six years of a good young arm wonít look like a bad idea at all, especially given the Tigers current pitching depth. But the consensus among other teams and prospect experts is that Ray is not that kind of prospect, and that this is the most lopsided trade weíve seen in years. For two bargain years of Doug Fister, the Tigers should have gotten a really strong return, and very few people think this qualifies. Maybe Ray will prove everyone wrong. Or maybe a good GM just whiffed.
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  2. #2
    Chi_archie
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    here is last year's top 10 worst for those interested

    10. The Royals acquire Ervin Santana.
    The Royals got out in front of the off-season, picking up Santana from the Angels on October 31st to ensure that they could get a durable pitcher with some bounce-back potential before the market exploded. The only problem is that the market for back-end starters didn’t explode. Other starting pitchers of similar value who did sign free agent contracts: Joe Blanton (2/15), Brett Myers (1/7), and Joe Saunders (1/7). Innings-eaters weren’t going for a premium this year, and if the Royals had waited, they could have gotten involved on the bidding for a better pitcher like Brandon McCarthy instead. By focusing on quantity of innings and cost certainty, they ended up paying far more than they needed to in order to acquire a guy whose main calling card is durability.
    9. The Twins trade Denard Span for Alex Meyer.
    This trade ranked as my favorite off-season move from Washington’s perspective, and I’ll reiterate what I said about the trade last week: +3 win outfielders under team control for three seasons at a total of $21 million are worth far more than one low-level pitching prospect. If this was the market for Span, then the Twins simply should have kept him, allowed him to continue to show that he’s over his concussion issues, and marketed him as trade bait at mid-season, when contenders pay marked up prices to get talent for the stretch run. Meyer might turn into something special, so it’s not like this deal couldn’t work out for Minnesota, but Span wasn’t so expensive that the Twins couldn’t keep him, nor was he reaching a point in his career where he ceased to be useful to a rebuilding team. The fact that the Twins kept Josh Willingham, the oldest of their three outfielders, and shipped out the two younger center field options makes the decision even more curious.
    8. The Royals sign Jeremy Guthrie for 3/$25M.
    All the things I said about the Ervin Santana acquisition apply here as well. I understand that Guthrie pitched well for the Royals after they picked him up from Colorado for a song, but his track record shows a pitcher in decline, and his success has hinged on an inconsistent ability to prevent hits on balls in play. Even if we grant that he’s likely better at hit prevention than an average pitcher, the rest of his game is still trending the wrong direction, and he projects out as a #5 starter over the next three years. #5 starters simply don’t require three year contracts. Even worse, the deal was backloaded into the future, as the team tried to fit Guthrie in under their payroll limit, so he’ll get paid the most when he’s likely a replacement level scrub in 2015. Had they not overpaid Santana, backloading probably wouldn’t have been necessary.
    7. The Dodgers sign Brandon League for 3/$23M.
    The Dodgers have a lot of money. They’ve repeatedly shown that they’re not working against a tight budget constraint, so signing League didn’t cause them to have to avoid signing a better player at another position. However, throwing $23 million at League still looks awfully silly, given that the market for relief pitchers never really took off either; the only reliever to get more guaranteed dollars this winter was Rafael Soriano. Mike Adams signed for half of what League got in total dollars. Jason Grilli and Joel Peralta will make in two years what League will make in one. Koji Uehara signed for $4 million. Brandon Lyon signed for less than $1 million. There was just no need to give Brandon League a three year contract, whether the Dodgers can afford to absorb mistakes like that or not.
    6. The Twins sign Kevin Correia for 2/$10M.
    There is a place in baseball for a pitcher like Kevin Correia. He throws strikes, gets some ground balls, and can be reasonably relied on for 150 not-completely-horrible innings. However, that place is as a #5 or #6 starter on a team that needs rotation depth to ensure that some young kid doesn’t pitch them out of the playoffs. For a rebuilding team with no real hope of contention in 2013, Correia offers little of value. He’s taking the rotation spot that could have been given to another pitcher with actual upside, who might turn into someone the team could get value from long term, and worse, because they gave him a two year deal, he’s now taking up payroll space that could have been spent on a legitimate upgrade at another position in 2014. Why the Twins let Scott Baker go, only to replace him with Correia at a higher price, is one of the mysteries of the winter.
    5. The Diamondbacks trade Chris Young for Cliff Pennington and Heath Bell.
    The Diamondbacks clearly wanted to change their culture, and had no interest in bringing Young back to Arizona for the final year of his contract. Cliff Pennington is actually a decent role player, and acquiring him in the process gives them some needed infield depth. However, this trade is still just silly. Whether they liked his personality or not, Young is still a above average center fielder who can destroy left-handed pitching and hold his own against righties, and turning that into a utility infielder and an overpaid setup man is just simply a downgrade in talent. It’d be one thing if they had turned Young into Pennington and then used the cost savings to make a real upgrade elsewhere, but Bell’s salary basically offsets the savings, and then they replaced Young in the outfield with a worse version of the same skillset, as seen in the next move on our list.
    4. The Diamondbacks sign Cody Ross for 3/$26M.
    Like Young, Ross has a large career platoon split, doing most of his damage against left-handed pitchers. Unlike Young, Ross can’t also play center field, and instead of having a lefty mashing outfielder under contract for one year, they had to give Ross three to sign as a free agent. Meanwhile, the similar skilled Scott Hairston got $5 million total over two years from the Cubs. There’s a reason Cody Ross had to settle for $3 million on a one year deal from the Red Sox last winter; he’s just nothing special, and that the D’Backs shipped out Young in order to make room for the opportunity to overpay Cody Ross just confounds all the more.
    3. The Mariners trade John Jaso for Michael Morse.
    The Mariners badly wanted to improve their offense this winter. Considering how problematic run scoring has been for them the last few years, that was a noble goal. Here’s the problem, though: this trade very well might make the offense worse, while also downgrading the defense at the same time. While John Jaso is coming off a career year that he likely won’t repeat, he has a career 116 wRC+ in over 1,000 big league plate appearances, making him the best hitter the Mariners had in the organization, and one of the best hitting catchers in baseball. However, the Mariners don’t like his defense behind the plate and he doesn’t have the power of a typical DH, so the organization simply didn’t value him very highly, and shipped him out for a 1B/DH that they’re going to let wander around left field. The catcher defense argument begins to fall apart when you realize that trading Jaso means thatJesus Montero is now the team’s starting catcher, and that the position opened up by not DHing Montero anymore will be filled by giving Justin Smoak another shot as a full-time first baseman. Shipping out Jaso to create a job for Justin Smoak offsets the offensive gain Morse might provide, and the realignment crushes the defense in the process. Oh, and Morse is a free agent at the end of the season, while Jaso had three years of team control remaining.
    2. The Royals trade Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, andPatrick Leonard for James Shields and Wade Davis.
    James Shields is a good pitcher. Wade Davis might be a good pitcher, maybe. Both are signed to below market contracts, though Davis’ isn’t so team friendly if the conversion back to the rotation doesn’t work. However, the price the Royals paid to acquire these two starters was simply too high. Myers should have been the Royals starting right fielder, but by losing him in the process of acquiring pitching upgrades, the team has to give a replacement level scrub a full time job again. And, unfortunately for Kansas City, this kind of future-value-for-present-value swap seems unlikely to pay off, as there’s still a vast gulf between the Tigers and the Royals in the race for the AL Central title. If everything breaks right, the Royals might have a shot at one of the two wild card spots, but even that seems like a longshot, given how many AL teams are pushing their chips into the pile this year. This trade significantly devalues the Royals future, all for the reward of making them the eighth or ninth best team in the AL this year. There’s a time to punt the future and go all-in. The Royals weren’t there yet. This trade makes it less likely that they’ll be there any time soon.
    1. The Marlins blow up their team again.
    You can make an argument for the moves the Marlins made this winter. Eno Sarris already did, actually. They shipped out a lot of talent and a lot of payroll, and if you believe that they’re going to be able to reinvest the funds freed up by losing the contracts of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, et al, then the Marlins might actually be better off long term with a glut of young players and a bunch of payroll flexibility. The problem, of course, is that payroll flexibility is only useful if it leads to players signing with your team. Given that the Marlins just gave the entire city of Miami the middle finger one year after their new stadium opened, and that they’ve angered their franchise player in the process, there’s no reason to think that premium free agents are going to be lining up to sign with the Marlins while Jeffrey Loria still owns the franchise. Their free agent haul this winter? Juan Pierre,Placido Polanco, and Chone Figgins. These are the kinds of players who will take Miami’s money. Instead of expecting the team to reinvest their savings into the product, we should expect the Marlins to do what the Marlins have done for most of Loria’s ownership; line the pockets of ownership with large profits while putting a bad baseball team on the field.
    Points Awarded:

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  3. #3
    crackerjack
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    Interesting read...thanks for posting. Bookmarked...will revisit in a year or two.

  4. #4
    benjy
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    Great read indeed. Thanks for both of the posts. Cheers.

  5. #5
    El Nino
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    this guy doesn't know much in regards to #6. David Hernandez as a closer...ummm no. Putz and Ziegler, not Hernandez. Putz's arm won't hold up and Hernandez got shelled after his epic year. Sort of regained some of his stuff toward the end of last season but he's way too sketchy to be a closer.

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  6. #6
    Ralphie Halves
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    FanGraphs is not to be trifled with.

    Really the only ones they got wrong last year was Santana and to a much lesser degree Correia, who was doing great until he got hurt and tried pitching through injury. The Myers/Shields trade was a great move for both teams.

  7. #7
    Living The Dream
    Looks like an Underdog Week 2!
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    This list is bogus for not including Ellsbury at 7 years 155 mill...

  8. #8
    Bagman5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Living The Dream View Post
    This list is bogus for not including Ellsbury at 7 years 155 mill...

  9. #9
    NYSportsGuy210
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    The Mariners trading for Michael Morse last year was actually a GOOD TRADE for them.

    I agree with the Tigers losing Doug Fister as a lousy trade for them but how is the Mets signing Chris Young to a $7.25 million deal not on this list?

  10. #10
    Ralphie Halves
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    Quote Originally Posted by NYSportsGuy210 View Post
    The Mariners trading for Michael Morse last year was actually a GOOD TRADE for them.
    It started out that way (I had him on my FBB team), but after he got hurt he couldn't do anything, and the Mariners were trying to ship him away to every team out there.

  11. #11
    FrozenMAN
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    I hated my fish trade last year but in the end it wasn't that bad as they got rid of all the washed up guys they over paid for...I just wish these penetrates would get it together and put a winner out there..so disgusting this tem

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