The MLB Winter Meetings are without question the most anticipated off-season activity throughout any of the major sports. Just as the San Francisco Giants were celebrating their second World Series title in three years, focus shifted to Nashville, TN; site of the 2012 meetings.
Every team looks to improve upon their roster during this four day period in December; many of them do. However, many teams make moves that don’t always make the most sense. Too much money, too many years, whatever the reason may be. Here is a list of the five worst moves made this off-season.
#5: Blue Jays sign Melky Cabrera (2 years – $16M)
Melky Cabrera was having a career year, on his way to a possible batting title, and in the discussion for National League MVP. Everything changed when he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. His 50 game suspension not only ended his season, it also prompted the Giants to leave him off of the post-season roster. Enter the off-season; after being found guilty of cheating, the Blue Jays rewarded him. Yes, rewarded for cheating! He not only received a salary increase, it’s a multi-year deal. The Blue Jays have made three significant moves this off-season; this is the least significant – impact wise.
#4: Braves trade Tommy Hanson to Angels (receive Jordan Walden)
I understand that Tommy Hanson had a rough season and Jordan Walden has already made an All Star Team but it doesn’t appear as though the Braves got full value here. While he did have a career high 13 wins in 2012, his ERA (4.48) and WHIP (1.45) have many concerned about his future; including Braves GM Frank Wren. Concerns over his stamina may have led to his departure. Wren told the Atlanta Journal Constitution,
“At the end of the season, his outings got a little shortened…If we can help him from a stamina standpoint, getting stronger, I think that would help”
The Braves have a surplus of young pitchers and it appeared as if they were going to move at least one of them, but for a middle reliever? Walden was an All Star closer for Anaheim in 2010 but he is not going to unseat current Braves All Star closer, Craig Kimbrel. I expected the Braves to bring back a solid bat in return for some of their young pitching prospects. It seems as if the Braves are content with what they have on offense. I’m not sold.
#3: Giants sign Marco Scutaro (3 years – $20M)
Sure, Scutaro had a phenomenal end-of-season run with the Giants, culminating with his first World Series ring. That is in the rear-view mirror at this point. Do you foresee similar numbers from him throughout 2013? How about through 2015? I certainly don’t. Scutaro probably could have tallied $7M on a one-year deal but once you offer multiple years, the per-year amount needs to come down. The Giants may have spent $5M-$6M more than they needed to.
#2: Red Sox sign Shane Victorino (3 years – $39M)
The Red Sox entered this off-season with the deepest pockets, and they certainly exercised their checkbook. The signing of Shane Victorino is the most perplexing of their moves. The Indians were interested in acquiring the former All Star outfielder, at a cheaper price. The Indians made an offer of four years and $44M. Now, I would argue that even at that price, Victorino was marginally over-paid. So why would the Red Sox offer more? Well, because they had the funds burning a hole in their pocket. The fact is, Victorino saw his batting average decline significantly in 2012 and at 32 years of age it will be tough for him to reach the .280 – .290 again.
#1: Dodgers sign Brandon League (3 years – $22.5M)
Perhaps the only team willing to spend more money than the Red Sox, the Dodgers made one of the first signings this off-season when they inked League. In 2011 he recorded 37 saves for the Mariners; apparently that plus his 27.1 innings with the Dodgers late last season was enough for owner Magic Johnson. When was the last time you were rewarded with a 50% salary increase after two months on the job? His stat line will benefit from playing at Chavez Ravine, just as he benefited from the deep pockets in LA.
Is there is someone that you feel was left off of this list? I want to hear it.