Best and Worst MLB Free Agent Signings
Worst MLB Free Agent Signings
Posted On 05.17, 2013

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Carl Pavano ››

The Worst MLB Free Agent Signings

Forget crying: there are no bailouts in baseball either.  The free-agent silly season of throwing Monopoly money at available players is in full force.

It was launched last week as the two New York teams committed a hefty $280.5 million to three arms (and one belly); the Phillies gave $30 million to a 36-year-old outfielder who has never made an All-Star team; Cleveland bet $20.5 million on Kerry Wood's health; and Kansas City gave $9.5 million to Kyle Farnsworth, a set-up man with a 4.47 career ERA.  And it shows no sign of slowing. 

Signing free agents is often a crapshoot (just ask those teams who found themselves on the wrong end of our Top 10 Worst Free Agent Signings), particularly when a player's best year coincides with the ideal time for it – when his salary can skyrocket on the open market.   There are rarely bargains available, and no sure things, though some of the players signed to the biggest deals have made it seem that way.  We put together a list of the 10 Best Free Agent Signings.

But first, a look at the opposite end of the spectrum, and those players who quickly were discovered to be poor investments. Does Colorado wish they had kept the receipt on those Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle signings? How much does Anaheim regret handing over $50 million to Gary Matthews Jr.? And really, what was Texas thinking when they signed Chan Ho Park?

It’s safe to assume that those three made our Top 10 Worst MLB Free Agent Signings, but read on to see who was completed our list for most embarrassing franchise blunders.


Dishonorable Mention: Edgar Renteria, signed by Boston in 2004, four years, $40 million, which led by way of Alex Gonzalez (signed by Boston in Feb. of 2006, one year, $3 million) to Julio Lugo (signed by Boston in Dec. '06, four years, $36 million). Theo Epstein may be a great general manager, but he does have a problem with shortstops ... Barry Zito, signed by San Francisco in 2006, 7 years, $126 million. He could still bounce back, but so far it’s been two years with a W-L record of 21-30, and ERAs of 4.53 and 5.15 ... Jason Schmidt, signed by Los Angeles in 2006, 3 years, $47 million. Schmidt pitched 25.2 innings in 2007, none in 2008, for a per-inning rate of $1.22 million over the first two years. Injuries happen ... Jody Reed, signed by Milwaukee in 1994, one year, $750,000. This one was a “worst” from the player’s point of view. Reed earned his spot in the Hall of Shame by turning down a three-year, $7.8 million offer from his previous team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, believing he could make more elsewhere. He was wrong, hooking up at the start of spring training with Milwaukee at a bargain basement price. If Reed had accepted LA’s offer, baseball history might have been different; the Dodgers would not have needed to trade for Montreal second baseman Delino DeShields, for whom they gave up a 21-year-old Pedro Martinez ... Derek Bell, signed by Pittsburgh in 2000, two years, $9.75 million. Bell played just one year for the money, batting .173 in 46 games; the Pirates released him before the 2002 season ... Roger Clemens, signed by the Yankees in May of 2007, one year, $28 million (prorated). Signing a pitcher who’ll turn 45 during the season is rarely a great move, particularly at those rates. Clemens had his worst year since he’d, um, found the Fountain of Youth in Toronto, giving up a hit an inning and averaging fewer than six innings per start. The Yankees surely expected better than 6-6, 4.18 for their approximately $18 million. Oh well, at least he brought them some good publicity.

Carl Pavano ››

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