Earlier this week we examined Bill Simmons’ and Buster Olney’s free agent “bridesmaid” concept.Essentially, these are big contracts handed out to free agents who are not in the top tier of superstars (“the brides”), but thanks to a perfect storm of circumstances, still get paid like one.
In this economic climate, teams are less likely than ever to hand out long-term deals – a crucial ingredient in the bridesmaid recipe.
Yet there are still some second-level free agents that will garner huge contracts this offseason, and will likely that handcuff their team’s payroll for years to come.
You can't blame teams for not being able to afford Cliff Lee, but you can blame them for throwing top-of-the-rotation money to the next best thing. This year all signs point to Hiroki Kuroda as that guy. While he definitely makes a good number three or four starter, he's already 35 and hasn't been tested extensively outside the light-hitting NL West.
*Kuroda signed a contract with the Dodgers -- 1-year, $12M. That certainly doesn't qualify as a 'bridesmaid' deal.
Some team in need of a closer will be scared off by Rafael Soriano's price tag. Instead, they'll look to a more affordable option, find Kevin Gregg's gaudy save numbers and reward him with a deal that pays $7M per year. But 'Cardiac Kevin' keeps fans on the edges of their seats better than he keeps leads.
Adrian Beltre is the man if you're in the market for some help on the left side of the infield. But after rejecting the A's $60M+ offer, he's priced himself out of many a team's budget. Hopefully, those spurned suitors don't put too much stock in one great week in November, and resort to multiple years of Juan Uribe to get that infield help.
Every year several teams promise to shore up their bullpen, and go out and get the best non-closer on the market. This year, that's 34-year-old lefty Scott Downs. But relievers' performance from season to season is extremely unpredictable. Here's hoping he doesn't sabotage some team's payroll with a huge contract.
Some consider Victor Martinez the prize of the free agent hitters after Jason Werth and Carl Crawford. But here's something to keep in mind: he's simply not good enough defensively to be an every day catcher. And while 20 HRs and a .302 batting average sparkle for a catcher, those numbers are average for a 1B/DH. Teams probably won't spend accordingly.
Every team could use a power bat, but not every team can afford Adam Dunn. Aubrey Huff had a career-year last year, but lightning doesn't strike the same place twice. Rather than 'save' money by signing the bound-to-regress Huff, shell out the extra six million per year and grab Dunn.
Teams in need of pitching, but unable to afford Cliff Lee will duke it out for de la Rosa's services. Bidding could even reach eight-figures. But that would be a gross overpayment for a guy whose ERA has never dipped below 4.22 in the DH-less NL. Teams are better off looking for value elsewhere, or saving their cash for a midseason trade.
The Yankees are making it known that if they don't land Cliff Lee, they'll charge hard after the next most-coveted free agent: Carl Crawford. But the Yankees already get good contributions from their current outfielders, and despite appearance, the Yankees' bank account is not bottomless. No need to waste 8 per cent of it on overkill.
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