2014 MLB Free Agency: 15 Overrated Players About to Get Overpaid
Though the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals are still battling it out in the World Series, there are 28 other teams who are thinking about nothing but free agency. Teams are looking into who they should be pursuing and how much they are willing to spend.
Every year, we see players who are coming off one good year sign massive contracts that end up backfiring horribly. We saw the Los Angeles Angels pay a fortune for Josh Hamilton last year, only to watch him choke miserably this season.
These are the guys who will be given ridiculous contracts for mediocre services this year.
13. Omar Infante
2013 Team: Detroit Tigers
2013 Stats: 118 GP, .318/.345/.450, 10 HR, 51 RBI
Omar Infante picked a great time to have the best year of his career.
While he didn't set career-highs in any major categories, he had a better all-around season than he has ever had, and he'll be paid handsomely for it.
However, Infante will turn 32 years old in December, and his production has to be expected to decline.
While he won't be bringing in eight figures, by any means, Infante will receive a nice check this offseason after his performance this year.
It's a bad move to sign an aging utility guy to a lucrative contract, but there will be some poor team that signs him to be a starter and overpay him.
12. Carlos Ruiz
2013 Team: Philadelphia Phillies
2013 Stats: 92 GP, .268/.320/.368, 5 HR, 37 RBI
Carlos Ruiz has been behind the plate for the Phillies for the last eight seasons, but now, he has the chance to test the waters of free agency, and he will be paid royally for his services.
There are some very wealthy teams looking for a catcher this offseason, including the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers. Outside of Brian McCann, there aren't very many quality catchers available this winter. That leaves teams to fight over a quality player like Ruiz in a bidding war that will end up paying him like a star.
Ruiz has been an excellent game-manager throughout his career, and he was even named the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year in 2012.
While he isn't quite a star, a lack of depth among catchers will lead to Chooch being overpaid.
11. Michael Young
2013 Team: Philadelphia Phillies/Los Angeles Dodgers
2013 Stats: 147 GP, .279/.335/.395, 8 HR, 46 RBI
At 37 years old, Michael Young will hit the free-agenct market once again.
After being traded from the Phillies to the Dodgers, Young finished the year on a hot streak. He batted .314 in his final 21 games of the season, and that alone raised his price.
Young is getting old and wearing down. If he didn't have such a productive finish to the year, he would have received a minor contract.
However, after closing out the year strong, there will be some team in desperate need of a third baseman who will overpay him on the off chance that he can return to form at the age of 37.
10. Curtis Granderson
2013 Team: New York Yankees
2013 Stats: 61 GP, .229/.317/.407, 7 HR, 15 RBI
Curtis Granderson is coming off his shortest season since 2005. A guy who has proven his value when healthy dealt with injuries all year, right before he is set to hit free agency.
You'd think that such a bad season would lead to a small contract and that he would be underpaid. However, that will not be the case.
Granderson will turn 33 before the 2014 season begins, and he may have already peaked in his career.
The fact of the matter is that Granderson's injuries could hold him back for years to come, and if he leaves the Bronx, his production will drop off.
In 2011 and 2012, Granderson became a power hitter whose game centered around his ability to hit home runs instead of making contact and utilizing his speed. However, a big reason why his power numbers increased is because he was playing in the launching pad known as Yankee Stadium.
There were more home runs hit in Yankee Stadium than in any other ballpark in 2012, and Granderson took advantage of the hitter-friendly park. However, if he signs with another team, we could see his home run totals dip dramatically, leaving him as an average player being who will be paid like a power hitter.
9. Ricky Nolasco
2013 Team: Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers
2013 Stats: 34 GP, 13-11, 3.70 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 1.8 WAR
Ricky Nolasco had a very solid 2013 campaign with the Marlins and Dodgers, helping to secure a trip to the postseason for the Dodgers.
Available as a free agent, Nolasco is actually one of the top pitchers on the market who isn't an aging star like Kiroki Kuroda and A.J. Burnett.
Nolasco is going to generate a lot of interest from teams, and that will secure him a big paycheck this offseason. Teams who are in desperate need of starting pitching are likely to overpay for a guy who has a grand total of two seasons in which he posted an ERA below 4.00.
Nolasco is coming off a great season compared to his usual production, and that will secure him a bigger contract than he actually deserves.
8. Grant Balfour
2013 Team: Oakland Athletics
2013 Stats: 65 GP, 38 SV, 3 BLSV, 2.59 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 1.4 WAR
Grant Balfour has defied logic by having the best three years of his career in his thirties. He signed a three-year deal with the Athletics at the age of 32, and he has been dominant since he signed.
Balfour has looked like one of the top closers in the game with the Athletics, but he may simply be a by-product of the stadium he pitches in.
Over the course of his career, Balfour has a 1.55 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in Oakland. That's less than half of his career ERA of 3.27, and it seems as though pitching in McAfee Coliseum has been key to his success.
However, Balfour and his agent will be pointing to the fact that he has been dominant over the past three seasons, and you can expect that a team in desperate need of a closer will throw down way too much money for a reliever who will turn 36 later this year.
7. Marlon Byrd
2013 Team: New York Mets/Pittsburgh Pirates
2013 Stats: 147 GP, .291/..336/.511, 24 HR, 88 RBI
Marlon Byrd had a breakout season at the age of 36 years, and he's going to cash in because of it.
Despite being well past his prime, Byrd's one good season will be enough for some poor, desperate team to sign him to a substantial deal.
Byrd had a career-high 24 home runs and batted just under .300 in 2013. Throw in the fact that he closed out the year batting .318 with the Pirates, and you can see why teams will be all over him this winter.
The problem with going after Byrd is that he will turn 37 during the 2014 season. He is going to decline soon, and it's likely that he'll never put up numbers as good as the ones he posted in 2013.
6. Fernando Rodney
2013 Team: Tampa Bay Rays
2013 Stats: 68 GP, 37 SV, 8 BLSV, 3.38 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 0.5 WAR
Fernando Rodney was a nobody before he joined the Rays in 2012, but now, he's arguably the best closer available this offseason.
After saving 48 of his 50 opportunities to the tune of a 0.60 ERA in 2012, Rodney put himself on the map. He then came back witha solid 2013 campaign, and he's in line for a big payday.
The problem with Rodney is that he struggled outside of Tampa, and he'll struggle again.
The Rays don't have the money to match what other teams will be offering Rodney for his services, and he'll likely walk away.
Rodney had an ERA around 4.00 before he joined the Rays, and that's likely going to happen again once he leaves. He has a 2.56 ERA in Tampa Bay, but he struggles away from Tropicana Field. Once he leaves the Rays, he'll go back to being a mediocre reliever, but he'll be paid like a star.
5. Matt Garza
2013 Team: Chicago Cubs/Texas Rangers
2013 Stats: 24 GP, 10-6, 3.82 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 1.5 WAR
Matt Garza was the most sought-after pitcher on the trading block this year, and the Rangers were the ones to scoop him up.
However, Garza was mediocre in Texas to the last degree, posting a 4.38 ERA while going 4-5. Frankly, if he hadn't pitched so well in his first couple of starts with the team, he could have easily posted an ERA above 5.00.
Garza is still considered to be a very solid pitcher, and there is going to be a team that pays him like a second or third starter.
The problem with paying Garza that much is that he struggles in the American League, as seen by his poor performances with the Rangers. If an AL team signs Garza, any amount of money they spend will be overpaying him.
4. Brian McCann
2013 Team: Atlanta Braves
2013 Stats: 102 GP, .256/.336/.461, 20 HR, 57 RBI
Brian McCann is simply asking for too much money.
Even after an injury-riddled season, one unnamed MLB GM told ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand that McCann could receive upwards of $100 million on his next contract. And, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, some of the richest teams in baseball will be pursuing him, so there's a good chance he gets it.
McCann will be 30 by the time the 2014 season starts, which is pretty old for a catcher. Catchers often have their careers ended in their early-to-mid thirties due to injury, and McCann has already undergone shoulder surgery.
Paying any aging catcher $100 million is a bad idea, and paying one with an injury history is just ridiculous.
McCann could be the worst value on the free-agent market this year.
3. Ervin Santana
2013 Team: Kansas City Royals
2013 Stats: 32 GS, 9-10, 3.24 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 2.9 WAR
Ervin Santana is likely on his way out of Kansas City after the team missed out on the playoffs this season, as he will probably want to play for a contender again.
As one of the top starting pitchers on the market, Santana is going to be signed by an elite team with money to burn, and the team who does so will be throwing away a few extra million dollars on him.
After a great 2013 campaign, Santana is in line for a big payday. And in a year when most of the top pitchers on the market are aging stars (A.J. Burnett, Hiroki Kuroda, Bartolo Colon, etc.), Santana is going to end up being the prize of a heated bidding war.
2. Bartolo Colon
2013 Team: Oakland Athletics
2013 Stats: 30 GP, 18-6, 2.65 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 5.1 WAR
Bartolo Colon's 2013 season made him look like a Cy Young contender again for the first time in eight years.
Winning 18 games and posting a new career-best in ERA, Colon looked like he was 15 years younger than he is. The guy is 40 years old, but he was a legitimate ace once again.
Colon picked a great time to get hot, as he is a free agent this winter, and many teams will be interested in him after seeing him dominate this year.
While Colon might have enough gas left in the tank for another year or two, there's no way he replicates his 2013 season again. However, teams are going to be paying a lot to get the aging star, and someone will surely overvalue his latest season.
1. Robinson Cano
2013 Team: New York Yankees
2013 Stats: 160 GP, .314/.383/.516, 27 HR, 107 RBI
Robinson Cano is the best second baseman in baseball, but that doesn't entitle him to the largest contract in MLB history.
According to a report from ESPN.com, Cano is reportedly seeking $305 million over 10 years. While it's unlikely that any team is stupid enough to spend that much money on him, it wouldn't be out of the question for him to sign a $200 million deal.
As good as Cano is, he's not worth $200 million. Sure, the guy is a superstar and can completely change a lineup, but handcuffing yourself to one player like that is absurd.
There is no way that Cano is worth as much money as he'll sign for this offseason.