10 MLB Offseason Moves That Won’t Pan Out
10 MLB Moves That Will Fail
Figuring out if an MLB deal will work out has many facets to it. What are the expectations of the player? How much money and how many years are involved in the deal? How old is the player and will he miss time due to injury? All of these questions need to be asked and included in assessing whether or not a move will be successful.
We’ve seen a number of big-time moves in recent years with high-profile players moving all over. The results have been inconsistent and almost impossible to predict. The blockbuster trade that helped both teams actually happened during the 2012 season, but paid dividends in 2013. The Boston Red Sox sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a couple of good pitching prospects (Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster), James Loney, and two other players who were later dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Of course, the Red Sox won the World Series in 2013 thanks to the freed-up payroll that allowed them to spend huge dollars on major contributors to the club. Koji Uehara, Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, Stephen Drew and Shane Victorino were among the seven biggest Boston signings, totaling more than $126 million. They were all huge pieces in netting Boston the crown. Meanwhile, the Dodgers fell two wins shy of the Fall Classic, losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. They received a solid year out of Gonzalez and impact performances from Crawford, key cogs in the Dodgers’ division title.
With that said, one only needs to look at the lack of success the Miami Marlins had in trying to "buy a championship," and how the haul of MLB players sent to the Toronto Blue Jays didn't quite work out. Many of these deals often look good on the surface, but just don’t do the job.
There will still be some more transactions prior to the opening of the new season, including Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka eventually signing with a club. As of right now, however, these are the deals that will not pan out.
10. Scott Kazmir -- Oakland A's -- Starting Pitcher
Apparently, Scott Kazmir showed the Oakland A’s enough in his 158 innings in 2013, since he had pitched exactly 1.2 frames in the big leagues in 2011 and 2012 combined. The soon-to-be 30 year old spent 2012 in an independent league and scuffled to an ERA over 5.00 in 14 starts. The A’s must have been sold on his 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings a season ago with the Cleveland Indians. They ignored the fact he had an ERA north of 4.20 in four of the six months he pitched. Kazmir has no track record of sustained success since 2007-08, making his two-year, $22 million tag a bad deal for Oakland.
9. Jason Vargas -- Kansas City Royals -- Starting Pitcher
Jason Vargas has been little more than average in his career, especially considering his home park was Safeco Field for four seasons. The Kansas City Royals are hoping to get into the playoffs for the first time since 1985, so they were intent on reaching a bit for a starter. Vargas has had one ERA+ season better than 100 (average), and that was in 2010. Now, he moves to Kaufmann Stadium, which is far more hitter-friendly than Safeco. That’s a bad sign for a pitcher who saw his hits per nine innings go up to 9.7 in his only season with the Angels, whose home park favors pitchers. The Royals will regret spending $32 million on the nearly 31-year-old starter.
8. Robinson Cano -- Seattle Mariners -- Second Baseman
This is a classic move to win now, with the understanding that this contract will hurt a ton in a few years. There’s no doubt, Robinson Cano will be a positive force for the Seattle Mariners for a number of years, but then things will get dicey. First of all, a 10-year deal at $24 million per season acts as an albatross hanging on the franchise, as Cano's value will not keep up with the money. There's also a huge risk attached because of the guaranteed money in MLB. While Cano will be productive, expect the power numbers to drop consistently as he loses the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. Instead, he’ll be trying to drive balls out of Safeco Field, which last year yielded the 10th fewest long balls and ranked 29th out of 30 teams in home runs allowed in 2012.
The deal becomes a success if the Mariners can win a World Series in the next few seasons and are in the playoffs multiple times; however, the squad doesn’t look good enough to capitalize on Cano’s best years in Seattle, making this transaction a loss.
7. Jhonny Peralta -- St. Louis Cardinals -- Shortstop
The new St. Louis Cardinals shortstop has put up some good offensive numbers for the position in the past three seasons, as he’s been able to stay healthy. Never blessed with great range to begin with, Jhonny Peralta will be a defensive liability playing short, especially if he’s there for more than 130 games. That will also take its toll on his bat, wearing down his legs and limiting any power potential. Peralta had a down year in 2012, then bounced back last season, though he missed 50 games due to a PED suspension. At $53 million for four years, the Cardinals spent more than anyone expected, and they’ll pay the price when Peralta fails to deliver.
6. Bartolo Colon -- New York Mets -- Starting Pitcher
Amazingly, Bartolo Colon has reduced his ERA and WHIP in the past three seasons, leading to an All-Star selection and a sixth place finish in Cy Young voting. However, at 5-foot-11, 265 pounds (uh, sure), Colon’s 40-year-old body is bound to break down soon. He’s now put 503.2 innings on his arm since 2011, after having tossed only 257 combined frames in the previous five seasons. Colon’s numbers can only get worse from here and the New York Mets will have to wallow in his two-year, $20 million contract as he gives them mediocrity at best.
5. Mark Trumbo -- Arizona Diamondbacks -- Outfielder/First Baseman
The Arizona Diamondbacks trade for Mark Trumbo is going to hurt on a couple of levels, which is why it makes the list of deals that won't pan out.
First of all, Trumbo will bring negative defense to Arizona's outfield where he experiences his fair share of problems. His power numbers should remain, and even improve a touch, but strikeouts and a lack of on-base skills add to the negative value. Additionally, the Diamondbacks gave up pitcher Tyler Skaggs, a coveted arm under team control, a high ceiling and minimal cost. He is the type of young pitcher teams don't give up unless you're getting an MVP-caliber player back. Not to mention, the Diamondbacks also dealt away promising outfielder Adam Eaton, who was touted as the No. 4 prospect in their system after the 2012 season. Arizona can make this deal work if Trumbo goes nuts in the home run department, ups his on-base percentage, and the club improves its pitching through free agency. I don't see all of that happening.
4. Marlon Byrd -- Philadelphia Phillies -- Outfielder
The 36-year-old outfielder enjoyed a bounce-back season in 2013, splitting time between the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s tough to gauge what the Philadelphia Phillies expect out of Marlon Byrd, but he’s a high-risk player considering his age, body type and PED use, which just adds to the questions surrounding his play. Despite the rejuvenation last season, Byrd will struggle in 2014 and 2015 as he fights injuries and regresses defensively. The $8 million per year will look foolish in no time.
3. Curtis Granderson -- New York Mets -- Outfielder
Another big Mets signing, Curtis Granderson's deal will pay him an average of $15 million a season to roam Citi Field. Like Cano, the 32-year-old outfielder is hurt by the switch from a left-handed hitter’s haven to a less hitter-friendly home park. Granderson has had only one season with an OPS over .815 in his last five years, is no longer a threat to steal consistently, and can’t hit southpaws to save his life. Granderson has the look and feel of a player falling off a cliff and infuriating a fan base. Mark this as a regrettable decision by the Mets.
2. Ricky Nolasco -- Minnesota Twins -- Starting Pitcher
The Minnesota Twins were desperate to improve their starting pitching, so they overpaid for Ricky Nolasco to head up the rotation. Four years for $49 million is a hefty price tag for a hurler who has basically been average throughout his career. Playing in two pitcher’s parks in Florida, Nolasco owns a career 4.37 ERA and 9.5 hits per nine innings, all while dealing in the National League. Now, he moves to the better offenses of the American League and to a neutral home for hitters and pitchers. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the 31-year-old righty post a couple seasons of ERAs in the 5.00 range. That's not exactly the output you're looking for in a $12 million per season starter.
1. Jacoby Ellsbury -- New York Yankees -- Outfielder
The New York Yankees avoided handing out a huge contract to Cano and Granderson, then spent $153 million for seven years on former Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. No one has questioned Ellsbury’s ability, it’s just his inability to stay healthy that is cause for concern. In the past four seasons, Ellsbury has played in less than 60 percent of his team’s games. The 30 year old can provide on-base production, stolen bases and solid defense, but he will not supply the power to justify $22 million per year. On top of that, he’ll play less than 50 percent of the Yankees’ games over the course of the contract as he slides down the wrong side of 30. It's difficult to see a happy ending in New York, and there may not be much of a honeymoon, either.
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