While many seem guilty of irresponsibly spending on free agents, others deserve reprimand for not pulling the trigger. In several instances, general managers missed out on great opportunities by second-guessing themselves.
Every MLB team should have traded for Felix Hernandez! Why didn't every MLB team try to do this? Stop second-guessing yourselves general managers and just do it.
The 2013 regular season will expose the following errors.
General managers, consider yourself exposed! You are in Bleacher Report's slideshow crosshairs now! There's no getting out.
Let's start the slideshow!
Arizona Diamondbacks: Trading Justin Upton for Weak Package
The Arizona Diamondbacks cannot be reprimanded for trading Justin Upton. They identified him as a poor fit for their clubhouse and organization and had a surplus of outfielders to fill the void.
(Diamondbacks Executive #1) "We have a lot of outfielders, don't we?"
(Diamondbacks Executive #2) "Yes, we do. Perhaps we should trade the most talented and promising outfielder we have."
(Diamondbacks Executive #1) "Consider it done."
Martin Prado is an impending free agent who reportedly seeks at least $12 million annually on a contract extension.
They already signed him to a 4 year $40 million deal. Next issue.
Randall Delgado has MLB experience, though there's skepticism as to whether or not he can lead a rotation without a breaking ball to miss more bats.
There's skepticism about a prospect? Well, the Diamondbacks should have insisted the Braves include a prospect that there were no questions or skepticism about. There was a grand total of zero of these prospects in the Braves system (mostly because what prospects don't have some skepticism about them? Very few), so that demand would have worked out well.
Atlanta Braves: Claiming Jordan Schafer off Waivers
This is the problem with Bleacher Report's overly-long lists. The Braves claimed Jordan Schafer off waivers and he probably isn't going to even make the team out of Spring Training. If that is a team's biggest offseason mistake then I dare say that team had zero offseason mistakes. But Bleacher Report requires really long lists for pageviews so every team has to be represented, regardless of whether it makes sense or not to include every team.
Boston Red Sox: Signing Stephen Drew
Homegrown shortstop Jose Iglesias has looked totally over-matched at the plate in limited MLB opportunities, and Xander Bogaerts isn't ready to debut.
Well clearly there is a need, so why did the Red Sox sign a shortstop? Couldn't they just leave that spot in the infield open or just move Dustin Pedroia to shortstop? Baseball players can just move wherever the fuck a team needs them to go without a decline in production, can't they?
The team has guaranteed him $9.5 million when similar stopgaps like Yuniesky Betancourt and Alex Gonzalez were available at dramatically lower prices.
Yes, but then the Red Sox would have been signing Yuniesky Betancourt or Alex Gonzalez. There's always the risk trying to sign Yuniesky Betancourt and Alex Gonzalez would eventually lead to the Red Sox signing Yuniesky Betancourt or Alex Gonzalez. That's too big of a risk to take. After all, these two shortstops are consistently the worst performers at their positions offensively. Stephen Drew was more expensive, but has a higher upside of he can stay healthy, and besides, it's only money Tyrone. The Red Sox like to spend it and if Drew stays healthy he could be worth that much money.
If the money had gone toward starting pitching, perhaps the Red Sox could have signed Anibal Sanchez instead of Ryan Dempster.
Dempster is old, but he still pitched fairly well last year. Plus, he is signed to a 2 year $27 million deal and Sanchez is signed to a more expensive 5 year $88 million deal. Signing Dempster over Sanchez gives the Red Sox more payroll flexibility in the future, and quite honestly, prevents them from signing a pitcher like Sanchez who was paid mostly based upon his potential.
Chicago Cubs: Signing Carlos Villanueva
The Chicago Cubs have splurged on the free-agent market, mainly to bolster their starting rotation. Scott Baker and Scott Feldman each received one-year contracts so that they may be flipped for prospects over the summer.
These pitchers haven't been signed to help the Cubs win games, but to get traded over the summer. The Cubs have no interest in these players pitching well and helping them wins. Not at all. They were signed purely to be trade bait.
Carlos Villanueva got $10 million to join the rotation mix.
It's a hefty price to pay a homer-prone right-hander with 56 career starts.
Villanueva got $10 million OVER TWO YEARS to join the Cubs rotation. Don't mislead your audience. Pitching isn't cheap and $5 million per year for a pitcher who is around the league average isn't a bad decision.
Plus, his presence blocks Chicago's cheap internal candidates.
I'm sure Cubs fans would want to hear more about these cheap internal candidates. I see pitchers in the Cubs farm system, but the top one is coming off Tommy John surgery and the rest don't seem quite ready to be an average MLB starter. I wish the author would do a little less making lists and more explaining statements such as this one.
Chicago White Sox: Guaranteeing Three Years to Jeff Keppinger
Jeff Keppinger was a smart addition for the Chicago White Sox, as he provides similar overall value to Kevin Youkilis at one-third the salary.
He's a smart addition but also the biggest mistake the White Sox made this offseason. You figure it out.
It's risky nonetheless to make a three-year guarantee to someone who has never played 140 games in any season.
I like the arbitrary "140 games" rule the author is instituting here. Nevermind Keppinger's value lies in being able to play multiple positions and not embarrassing himself at the plate, who wants to give him a whole $4 million per year (on average) to do these things?
Cincinnati Reds: Moving Aroldis Chapman to Starting Rotation
A dominant starter is worth much more than a dominant closer, so you can't blame the Cincinnati Reds for trying Aroldis Chapman in a larger role.
This is the second straight "mistake" an MLB team has made which the author admits actually made sense. This is what happens when a list becomes overly-long, it starts to become factually inaccurate.
The Cuban Missile will need to refine a tertiary pitch to mix in with his fastball and slider. He also has a tendency to nibble during plate appearances ("wasting" pitches), which will limit him to a short outings in the rotation.
Nearly every single MLB starter "wastes" pitches. I can think of just a few starters who did not waste pitches at some point or another. So the idea Chapman will waste pitches will run up his pitch count is true, but this isn't an indication he will fail as a starter. Plus, Chapman was a starter in Cuba, so it isn't like he doesn't know how to do it.
Making this decision led the Reds to overpay for Jonathan Broxton.
Three years $21 million? For a quality closer/set up isn't a bad deal. Broxton's 2010 and 2011 seasons seem like aberrations to me. It seems this author struggles with the idea a team has to pay to attract quality free agent talent.
Colorado Rockies: Re-Signing Jeff Francis
Why does he deserve a major league deal?
The Colorado Rockies need to make wholesale changes to their pitching staff. This familiar face is not part of the solution.
They gave him $1.5 million on a one year deal. There's no risk after this year. If this is the Rockies worst move then they had a fantastic offseason.
Detroit Tigers: Choosing Prospect Bruce Rondon over Established MLB Reliever
You mean an established MLB reliever that is going to want a 3 year $21 million deal that you so strongly hate? Or an established MLB reliever that didn't exist on the free agent market for cheap?
Jose Valverde clearly wasn't the right man for the ninth-inning job. Still, it's risky to replace him internally.
If you remember, the author was upset the Cubs spent $5 million a year on an established MLB starter instead of looking at internal starters. Now he is upset the Tigers looked at internal relievers rather than sign an established MLB reliever. He just can't be pleased. Plus, Rondon has been lights-out at nearly every minor league level.
One minute the author is complaining a team doesn't look internally, the next minute he is complaining a team doesn't sign a free agent reliever, and then he complains a team paid a free reliever too much money...it's almost like he just doesn't get how baseball decisions are made nor understands a player's worth on the free agent market.
Kansas City Royals: Re-Signing Jeremy Guthrie
His game plan suits Kauffman Stadium, but left-handed power hitters have always given him trouble. Right on cue, Victor Martinez will return from a torn ACL, Justin Morneau is going through a normal, healthy offseason and entering his walk year and Nick Swisher has signed with the Cleveland Indians.
Earlier in this column the author said that Nick Swisher was the worst mistake the Indians made this offseason. Yet now, he is a slugger who is going to be feared in the AL Central. I guess the author's opinion changes depending on what point he wants to prove. Is Gregg Easterbrook writing this column?
Los Angeles Angels: Adding Tommy Hanson
Acquiring Tommy Hanson was particularly ill-advised because he has trended in the wrong direction since debuting with the Atlanta Braves in 2009.
Hanson is a 26 year old who only needs to work on his mechanics and staying healthy. They traded him for a relief pitcher. Hanson is arbitration-eligible but if the Angels get him to work on his throwing motion then he is a 26 year old pitcher with a career ERA of 3.61, a ERA+ of 110, who has shown he can throw 200 innings and strike out 160-170 batters. Come on. He hasn't even come close to reaching his potential yet and he got traded for a reliever? It's not a bad move for the Angels at all.
The Angels exchanged Jordan Walden for Hanson in a move that comprises their bullpen depth.
So they traded bullpen depth for taking a chance on a stud starter. What a terrible move!
Milwaukee Brewers: Conceding to Boston Red Sox in Ryan Dempster Bidding War
So the author thinks the Red Sox made a mistake in signing Ryan Dempster, but he thinks the Brewers made a mistake by conceding to the Red Sox in the bidding war for Dempster. I am starting to think this slideshow was really the biggest mistake that was made this offseason.
He has stayed true to his word, which leaves a host of inexperienced internal candidates to battle for rotation spots behind Yovani Gallardo and Chris Narveson.
If Dempster was the only available arm that Milwaukee trusted, why didn't the front office make a more tempting offer?
Apparently the Cubs don't need to sign any experienced pitchers and should trust their internal candidates to pitch, but the Brewers can not trust any internal candidates and should have outbid the Red Sox for a pitcher the author thinks the Red Sox overpaid for. It's web of deceit and lies.
Minnesota Twins: Signing Kevin Correia
Inexplicably, Minnesota deemed Kevin Correia worthy of two years and $10 million.
Correia owns one of baseball's lowest strikeout rates, despite spending the first decade of his career in the National League. The 32-year-old has one season of 30-plus starts and none above 200 innings pitched.
I think the author has a fundamental misunderstanding of the value of a starting pitcher on the free agent market. Kevin Correia is not a great pitcher. He's not being paid like a great pitcher either. He is getting paid $10 million over two years. In return, he will eat some innings and have an ERA of 4.00-5.00. I don't think signing him was the biggest mistake the Twins made this offseason.
New York Mets: Reaching Early Expiration Agreement with Jason Bay
By deferring the $21 million, the team was presumably going to spend more on the 2013 team. It's been nearly three months since the agreement, and Shaun Marcum is the only free agent to sign a major league contract with New York.
Getting rid of Jason Bay was not a bad thing almost any way you look at it. Even if the Mets don't use the payroll room, at least they have the payroll room to use now.
Meanwhile, the Mets don't have any established, right-handed-hitting outfielders.
They also don't have Jason Bay anymore. Win for the Mets.
Philadelphia Phillies: Acquiring Michael Young
Few full-time third basemen were available in free agency, and hardly any could be acquired via trade.
But the Phillies never should have signed Michael Young to fix the gaping hole they had at third base. What a mistake! They should just not have had a third baseman on the field and had seven defensive players instead.
Philly received surprisingly strong production from Kevin Frandsen's right-handed bat in 2012. Pursuing a platoon partner like Eric Chavez seemed like a more sensible choice.
Instead, this team sacrificed two relievers and remains on the hook for $6 million of Young's salary.
I'm not the biggest Michael Young fan (check my archive for evidence), but the Phillies could have paid $3 million for Chavez and had Frandsen (who has more value as a utility player) for $850,000 taking up two roster spots for one position or they could have had Michael Young for $6 million taking up one roster spot with Frandsen being a utility guy. I don't know if I agree with the decision but I don't think it was the worst move of the offseason for the Phillies.
San Francisco Giants: Re-Signing Angel Pagan
GM Brian Sabean spoils his own players, either in the form of premature contract extensions or lucrative free-agent contracts.
And it never works out in the form of the Giants winning the World Series. Never. Ever.
Locking up Angel Pagan for $40 million, however, is tougher to justify.
The San Francisco Giants had ample payroll to use, and Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton and Shane Victorino were on the market.
Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton both wanted more money than Angel Pagan wanted and Shane Victorino over Angel Pagan would have been a mistake. Pagan is younger, cheaper and a better player than Victorino.
Each of them is better established at the major league level.
One player being "better established at the major league level" than another player does not mean that player is a better option than a less experienced guy. Carlos Villanueva is better established at the major league level than the Cubs internal candidates for a starting pitching job and I seem to recall the author not liking the fact he was signed by the Cubs over internal candidates.
Seattle Mariners: Passive Approach to Felix Hernandez Extension Talks
Well, the Mariners have now given Felix Hernandez $175 million. I wonder what the author thinks is the Mariners biggest offseason mistake now?
Tampa Bay Rays: Signing Kelly Johnson
Instead, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has learned that he'll alternate between second base and the outfield.
The unofficial deal is presumably a cheap one, but it doesn't necessarily make Tampa Bay more competitive.
It does make the Rays more competitive in that they now have a left-handed bat that can play second base or the outfield and allow Ben Zobrist to possibly pick one position he will play. It cost the Rays $2.5 million. That's not a little bit of money, but there aren't a ton of better options out there who can play second base and the outfield.
Washington Nationals: Non-Tendering John Lannan
Paying upward of $5 million for a sixth starter isn't ideal, but at least John Lannan was somebody the Washington Nationals could trust to fill in if need be.
In conclusion, the Cubs should not have paid $5 million per year for Carlos Villanueva to be their fourth or fifth starter, but the Nationals should have paid $5 million per year for Lannan as their sixth starter. I guess the teams that should be trying to pay $5 million per year for an average starter are those teams that don't really need that starter in their rotation?
On paper, the Nats look like World Series favorites.
For the time being, though, they seem unprepared to handle a major injury to any rotation member.
There's not many MLB teams that can handle a major injury to any rotation member. Quality starting pitchers just aren't hanging out on the free agent market or in the minors. The Nationals could use Zach Duke as their fifth starter in case of an emergency, though this isn't ideal. The Nationals could use Christian Garcia in the rotation as well. The Nationals could also choose to sign Javier Vazquez if there is a major injury to a rotation member. My point is that the Nationals wouldn't be in any worse shape than a lot of other MLB teams if an injury happened to their starting rotation and not paying $5 million for a sixth starter who doesn't/can't work out of the bullpen is not a bad move.
I thank God that Bleacher Report is around to point out all of the mistakes teams are making, even if many of these moves aren't really mistakes. Overly-long lists and poorly defended arguments are something Bleacher Report seems to have cornered the market on.