Now that Shin Soo-Choo has been taken off the market by the Texas Rangers, let’s pause from free agent season to review what have been the best and worst signings so far.
1) Carlos Beltran-(3 years, $45 million with the New York Yankees)
Beltran had a number of suitors, and may not have taken the best deal on the table. Everyone loves Beltran, and with good reason.
At 36, Beltran batted .284 with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs for the St. Louis Cardinals.
His teams have won. In each of the four years he’s been to the postseason, they’ve advanced at least the LCS. Beltran has a .333 batting average with 16 home runs and 40 RBIs in 51 postseason games.
The Yankees are betting he’ll be consistent until he’s 39.
2) Omar Infante (4 years-$30.26 million with Kansas City)
There wasn’t a lot of talk about Infante, and I don’t know why. Maybe he’s not quite as good defensively as some of his counterparts, but his offensive numbers are swell.
At 31, he batted .318 in 118 games for Detroit. He’s a little too aggressive at the plate, but smart on the bases. In 2012, he stole 17 of 20.
He’ll fit nicely into the Royals’ lineup, and I think he would have been a nice addition to the Orioles even though they envision Jonathan Schoop as their second baseman in years to come.
3) Edward Mujica-(2 years, $9.5 million with Boston)
Had the Orioles aggressively gone after Mujica, who probably won’t start the season as the Red Sox’s closer, they wouldn’t have been in this mess.
Mujica doesn’t have the resume of Grant Balfour, Fernando Rodney or Chris Perez, but he did save 37 saves a year ago.
He lost his job in St. Louis late last season to Trevor Rosenthal, and the Cardinals have a lot of good, young arms, but he would have been a great pickup for the Orioles.
4) Tim Hudson (2 years-$23 million with San Francisco)
The Orioles did show interest in Hudson, but he signed early in the free agent process. There aren’t many opportunities to sign a pitcher with 205 lifetime wins and a .649 lifetime winning percentage, and the Giants took advantage of it.
Even at 38, Hudson would have looked great in an Orioles uniform, and the contract comparatively looks entirely reasonable this offseason.
5) Joe Nathan (2 years-$20 million with Detroit)
He had his best season at 39, and with intelligent use, Nathan could be a shrewd acquisition by the Tigers. Nathan averaged just five hits per nine innings and gave up just two home runs all season.
1) Robinson Cano (10 years, $240 million with Seattle)
As much as everyone in baseball seemed to like the Beltran signing, they hated this one even more.
No one believes that Cano will be a productive enough player in the second half of his contract to justify this ludicrous signing.
The Mariners are desperate for attention, and it’s a desperate deal.
2) Jacoby Ellsbury (seven years, $153 million with the Yankees)
New York made a smart call to allow Cano to walk. Their signings of Beltran, Brian McCann, Hiroki Kuroda and even Brian Roberts were smart, but this one seems extreme.
Ellsbury will earn $21 million a season. He’s a nice player with terrific speed, but speed doesn’t age well. Ellsbury missed a lot of time in 2010 and 2012.
While the deal could hurt the Red Sox, I don’t think it really helps the Yankees over the long term. They’ll regret this one after two or three years.
3) Marlon Byrd (two years, $16 million with Philadelphia)
Byrd raced to accept this deal with the Phillies early in free agency, and he was smart not to wait. Philadelphia wasn’t smart to offer it.
He’s 36 and had a career year with 24 home runs and 88 RBIs. In 2012, he had a PED suspension.
The Orioles had some interest in him, but not at that money.
4) Jason Vargas (four years, $32 million with Kansas City)
Vargas had long been coveted by the Orioles, but they weren’t going to give him a four-year contract.
He’s just 51-58, and while the left-hander fit well in their rotation. Way too long, too much.
5) Phil Hughes (three years, $24 million with Minnesota)
Hughes was awful last year. He was 4-14, and in three starts against the Orioles, allowed 17 hits and five home runs in 12 innings.
He’s just 27, but Hughes has clearly slipped from the 18-game winner in 2010 and the pitcher who won 16 in 2012.