2016’s Worst Free-Agent Signings

From the tenth worst to the very worst number one bad one, here is 2016’s list of the year’s worst free agent signings in major league baseball:

10. Rich Hill – 1-Year, $6 M

? Rich Hill? $6 Million? Seriously? He’s a journeyman fringe pitcher who seems to get his outright release once per year and who has hardly even pitched in the majors over the last few years (34 innings over the last two seasons, 88 over the last six). He was Washington Nationals’ property last spring but was released near mid-season without ever throwing a pitch for them. He then spent some time in the independent Atlantic League, and then went back to the minors in the Red Sox organization and eventually was called up to Boston where he did a fine job, but in four games and 29 innings. Somehow, that got him a $6 M GUARANTEED contract with Oakland for 2016.

9. Scott Kazmir – 3-years, $48 M

Once upon a time, Kazmir was a really good pitcher, with seemingly unlimited potential. That never came close to realization, and in fact, after once being considered by some to be

the ace of the Angels’ staff, he ended up “earning” his unconditional release. A couple of years later, his comeback took him to Cleveland, then to Oakland, where he did fairly well. But, in last year’s stretch drive he was acquired by the Astros, and he was a disaster for them, losing six of eight decisions. That, friends, rewarded him with a
$48 M contract from the Dodgers. That is not horrible in and of itself, if the team had a nice, pressure-less place for him at the bottom of the rotation. But, with the loss of Zack Greinke not properly addressed, and with injuries to Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy, Kazmir is penciled in for the number two spot in the rotation, behind only Clayton Kershaw, and he is set up to flash and burn in that role. So far he has had a terrible spring, but with their lack of starters and the money paid him, Kazmir cannot pitch bad enough to lose his starting spot.

8. Joe Blanton – 1-year, $4 M

Ok, a cheap, relatively speaking, one year deal, how can that be that bad? Well, it is if you’re paying that money to baseball’s worst pitcher of the past decade. As I’ve written over and over during his time with the Angels and his first go round with the Dodgers, Blanton is NOT a major league pitcher. His 2013 season in Anaheim was one of the absolute worst seasons any pitcher has ever had in the history of major league baseball (2-14, 6.04, 1.61 WHIP). Even with this light contract, his chances of making the Dodgers out of spring training are slim to none.

7. David Price – 7-years, $217 M

Baseball’s most over rated pitcher, Price is a very good pitcher, but a 30-year-old guy who

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has one great year out of every two or three. After 10-8, 3.33 and 15-12, 3.26 seasons, he was excellent during last year’s regular season, going 18-5, 2.45, but that means it will be 2017 or 2018 before he repeats that performance. And, Red Sox fans, he cannot pitch in the post season. In six post seasons, after last season’s disastrous 1-2, 6.17 ERA, lifetime he’s 1-2 with the one win in relief in his 2008 rookie year, with an ERA of 5.12. He’ll be 37 in the last year of that contract, being paid $30 M. Will he be earning it? No way.

6. Mike Leake – 5-years, $80 M

The 28-year-old, six-year veteran starter may be ready to put it all together and become a solid starter, but I doubt it. It looked like he had it al together in 2013 when he went 14-7 with a career low (still) 3.37 ERA, but since then has been a mediocre 22-23, including last season’s embarrassingly bad 2-5 down the stretch after being acquired by the Giants. At best, he’s destined to be a bottom of the rotation guy who flirts with .500 throughout the life of his five-year deal.

5. Johnny Cueto – 6-years. $130 M

The Giants are paying for the 2014 Cueto when he was masterful. Last year was a very different story, and the chances of him returning to his form of two seasons ago and becoming an elite starter again are nil. That said, the 2015 Cueto is still a good pitcher, a middle of the rotation guy who should be earning $15 M for his 12-15 wins. His six-year deal will also take him to 36 and chances of him still be humming along at even that pace is questionable.

4. Zack Greinke – 6-years, $206.5 M

Greinke is a great pitcher at the top of his game, but he will not be a great pitcher at the top of any game five, six years from now, at 37, 38 years of age, earning over $30 M per year. A six year contract for any 32-year-old pitcher is ludicrous. IT reminds me of the buy who paid $80,000 for a Range Rover. His friend told him he should have spent $30,000 on a Toyota SUV and taped $50.00 bills all over the outside of it.

3. Ian Kennedy – 5-years, $70 M

I’ve written a lot over the years about baseball’s number one headhunter, but beyond Kennedy being both that and a miserable person, Kennedy is also one of the worst pitchers

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in the game, and the fact that he was signed, and signed to this type of contract, by baseball people who normally seem to know what they are doing, is mind boggling. He’s 31 and the five year contract would take him to 36, and that alone, were he a great pitcher, would be scary. But he is horrible. Beyond horrible, He had one really good year and has absolutely stunk the rest of his career. Take away 2011, and for his career he is 54-64 with an ERA of 4.22. He has not had a WHIP under 1.29 since that 2011 season. This deal is throwing money in the toilet.

2. Jeff Samardzija – 5-years, $90 M

This defies logic and sanity. Samardzija is 31 and his contract will last until he’s 36. Again, that alone, were he an actual top level pitcher, would be scary. But he is nowhere near that. He’s not even a good pitcher. Over the past four seasons, he’s gone 33-42 (.440), and over last season’s 11-13 his ERA was 4.96, with a 1.29 WHIP. Those numbers compare almost perfectly with his lifetime 4.09 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and .435 winning percentage. This signing is the type of thing that screams out for some sort of investigation.

1. Jason Heyward – 8-years, $184 M

It’s a good thing that the Cubs eventually re-signed Dexter Fowler, because until then the plan seemed to be to move Heyward to center, which would have become a total disaster. As it is, as I wrote months ago, this guy is no way, no how a $184 M player. Heyward is a good defensive right fielder who’s a .268 lifetime hitter and who doesn’t drive in runs (52 average RBI over the last three seasons). Eight years at $23 mil a year? Stupid is the only word that comes to mind.

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