Monday, 27 November 2006

What has been the worst FA signing so far this offseason?

Call it inflation. Call it teams having money to spend. Call it whatever you want. But there's no denying that there are some awful contracts being doled out right now in the MLB. Which one is the worst? Well, I'm on the case to find out.

The four that stick out most to me are Alfonso Soriano (8 years/$138 million), Carlos Lee (6 years, $100 million), Gary Matthews Jr. (5 years/$50 million), and Juan Pierre (5 years /$45 million).

If Gary Matthews can perform like he did this year (doubtful, but you never know), then $10 million/year is decently reasonable, so I'll take his name off the list. Carlos Lee's 6 year deal at over $16 million per is excessive in most markets, but almost looks reasonable after Soriano's deal. So I'll toss him out of consideration as well.

Which leaves us with just Alfonso Soriano's deal with the Cubs and Juan Pierre's deal with the Dodgers. Both awful, but which is worse? First, let's look at Soriano's.

No denying Soriano was solid last year. Heck, at the reported age of 30, it was the best season of his career. Can he keep it up? For a couple of years, maybe. For 8 years? Not a chance. One of Soriano's best talents is that he's really fast. Unfortunately, that tends to go quickly with age. And another thing is that even though he is fast, he's not that good at stealing bases. 41 SB is nice, but it's counterproductive when you get caught 17 times. Then there is his most glaring weakness... he's not that good at getting on base (and neither were the Cubs last year). The .351 OBP was ok, but again, can he keep that up. Then there's also the fact that the Cubs will ask him to play CF, which he's never been done before. All in all, if they signed up for $18 million per for 4 or 5 years, ok, that's a little more reasonable. But 8 years? By the time the contract is over, he'll be 39, have less power, less speed, and will probably not be a good player. But the Cubs will still be paying him like it.

Then there's Juan Pierre. He'll be getting $9 million a year to get on base at a below average rate, hit for no power, play bad defense, and steal bases at an ok rate. Everything about his game is predicated on speed... stolen bases, no power, etc. And of course, speed is generally one of the first things to go. He was good in 2004, below average in 2005, and even worse in 2006. That's generally not a good trend. He's a 4th OF type making $9 million a year... I need to hire his agent, I think.

Verdict: Alfonso Soriano's deal was really bad, but at least he'll have to chance to be worth something close to what he's making. Juan Pierre has no shot to be worth $9 million a year at any point in his contract. Which makes the Dodgers signing of Juan Pierre for $45 million over 5 years the worst deal of this offseason.