5. Chicago White Sox Sign Melky Cabrera for 3 years, $42 million.
In the White Sox’s wild offseason, this is the one contract most likely to be second guessed down the road. Since 2010, Cabrera has put together two terrible season, two outrageously good seasons, and one average season. He’s dealt with back injuries, and been overshadowed by PED scandal, not to the detriment of his career (obviously). In short, Cabrera is a wild card. Also an awfully expensive one. His 42 million would’ve been better served elsewhere.
4. New York Mets Sign Michael Cuddyer to 2 year, $21 million deal.
I love Michael Cuddyer, but I seriously question whether his ridiculous numbers were simply a product of the cozy confines of Coors Field. Regardless, Cuddyer will be 36 before the season starts, and will be asked to defend a much spacier outfield in Citi Field. While the terms of the deal are very reasonable, you can’t underestimate the value of the draft pick that the Mets had to surrender in signing Cuddyer.
I think Cuddyer is a good enough player to put up respectable stats with the Mets, but like the last big free agent outfielder the Mets signed (Curtis Granderson) turned out to be a disaster, I fear Cuddyer will suffer a similar fate.
3. Houston Astros Sign Pat Neshek for 2 years, $12.5 million.
As a Cardinals fan, I fully appreciate the incredible job that Pat Neshek did at the back end of the Cardinals bullpen, how he picked up our erratic closer, and how he rescued so many of our games and probably the season, yet I am relieved to see him sign elsewhere. Despite Neshek’s video game like numbers, he actually struggled somewhat down the stretch, and had some problems with giving up home runs in key spots. He allowed 4 home runs in 67 innings, a year after allowing 6 in only 40 innings with Oakland. Problem is, he’s moving to Houston, which has an outfield about as spacious as a phone booth. Signing relievers is a risky business, one that rebuilding teams like Houston should try to avoid.
2a. White Sox Sign Zach Duke for 3 years, $15 million.
A year ago, Zach Duke was entering Spring Training on a minor league invite from the Brewers. Now he’s one of the highest paid left handed relievers in the game. Duke had a tremendous year in 2014, but not good enough to hide the ugly 6.03 ERA he posted in 2013. Teams should work on finding the next Zach Duke, not overpaying on him after only one good season.
2b. Kansas City Royals sign Kendrys Morales for 2 years, $17 million.
Not sure if this was a panic move by Dayton Moore after losing Billy Butler, but the Royals apparently ignored the horrendous season Morales had in 2014. Morales had a RC+ of 72 and a WAR of -1.7, meaning he was a way below average hitter. According to Bill James, Morales is passed his prime. I think Morales is a better hitter than the numbers indicate, and that he could bounce back, but if he doesn’t? It could be a long summer in Kansas City.
1. Oakland A’s give half their payroll to Billy Butler for 3 years of his sub-par services
Over this entire, tumultuous offseason in Oakland, I haven’t heavily scrutinized Billy Beane. He’s earned more that. Also, I kind of the like the moves he made, trading Josh Donaldson for 2 major league ready pitchers and a shortstop prospect, as well as dealing Jeff Samardzija for spare parts. The Billy Butler signing, however, makes absolutely no sense to me. First off, it’s expensive: $30 million over 3 years. Second, it’s a gamble: Butler has been declining, posting WARs of 2.9, 1.5, and -0.3 over the past three seasons. Third, it’s a downgrade defensively: Butler will be asked to play first base against left handed pitchers, something he hasn’t done in a long time and is generally supposed to be bad at. Yes, the free agent market was very thin, but why couldn’t the A’s net a first base prospect in their trading frenzy rather than overpay so heavily on a declining star?