Free Agent Landmines
We’ve done several posts outlining free agent acquisitions that we think would be a great fit for the M’s. Don’t worry, we’re not done. I’ve got a few more individual posts to go before we reveal the giant overall offseason plan. Today, though, let’s talk about the guys to avoid, the albatross contracts just waiting to happen. One of the risks of the free agent market is the significant chance of buying a soon-to-be-sunk-cost. There are potential landmines everywhere in the free agent market. Last year, teams flushed money down the drain on Edgar Renteria ($40 million), Russ Ortiz ($32 million), Eric Milton ($24 million), Jaret Wright ($21 million), Corey Koskie ($18 million), and Cristian Guzman ($16 million). Those guys were basically replacement level players, not significantly better than a run-of-the-mill minimum salary performer. And they’re all signed for several more seasons, dragging their teams payroll down and being a millstone around the franchise’s proverbial neck.
These are the contracts you have to avoid. And there are some glaring landmine potentials in this free agent class.
Jarrod Washburn, LHP, Angels
Washburn had the greatest positive difference of any pitcher in the American League between his actual ERA and his fielding independant ERA. His 3.20 ERA was great. His 4.39 FIP is totally mediocre. His expected FIP, which normalizes his home run rate based on the amount of flyballs he allowed, was 5.01. His strikeout rate stinks, he’s an extreme flyball pitcher, and he’s got middling command. Run away, run away…
Matt Morris, RHP, Cardinals
Since the all-star break, Matt Morris has been, well, awful. His numbers across the board have taken a nosedive. His strikeout rate has fallen and he’s getting lit up like a Christmas tree. He has a history of arm problems, and at this point, wouldn’t be a good bet even on a one year contract. Given his reputation and his overall totals, someone is certainly going to overpay.
Kenny Rogers, LHP, Rangers
There’s no way the M’s pursue him, but Kenny Rogers is in for a massive collapse next year. His peripherals across the board this season were poor with one exception; his home run rate. He allowed just 7 percent of his flyballs to leave the yard. That’s not sustainable. His exepected fielding independant ERA was 4.88. I’d be surprised if Kenny Rogers was still a major league pitcher at this time next year.
Bengie Molina, C, Angels
He’s got the rep as the best free agent catcher on the market. That shows just how bad this free agent catching crop is, I guess. Anyone want to pay for the age 31-33 seasons of an out-of-shape catcher who has a career .272/.308/.395 line? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
Other potential landmines include Todd Jones, Trevor Hoffman, Mike Piazza, Jason LaRue, and Jason Johnson. Also, Jeff Suppan, if the Cardinals decline his option.
If you see the M’s pursuing any of these players, it’s bad news. These guys are the prime candidates for the bad offseason signings of 2005. Avoid like the plague.