In case you haven’t heard (or solely rely on a newspaper for the news), Kevin Durant, who is a top five player in the NBA, signed with the Golden State Warriors in free agency. This massively chances the NBA landscape, as the NBA has its new “villain” team. These free agency bombshells don’t happen in just basketball, they happen in baseball as well. Let’s take a look back at the best and worst free agency signings in the MLB from the last 10 years.
2006 Best: Alfonso Soriano to the Cubs
Soriano signed an eight year $136 million contract with the Cubs, which is a hefty price tag (and the highest Cubs contract in team history at the time). Soriano, in this weak 2006 free agent class, ended up being a consistent threat for the Cubs. Over his eight years he batted .264, hit 181 home runs, and reached the All-Star game his first three seasons in Chicago. Soriano and the Cubs never got far in the playoffs (largely thanks to the 2008 Dodgers) but had a very respectable career.
2006 Worst: Gary Mathews Jr. to the Angels
There are a couple honorable mentions could have taken the top spot, which was Barry Zito (7 years $126 million) to the Giants, or Jason Schmidt (3 years $47 million) to the Dodgers, but Mathews Jr. takes the cake. Mathews, in 2007, was one of the names in the Mitchell Report for people who took HGH (human growth hormone). Mathews denied this allegation, and wanted to be traded in the 2009 offseason.
2007 Best: Alex Rodriguez resigning with the Yankees
After A-Rod wrapped up his 10 year, $252 million contract that started with the Texas Rangers, he signed another megadeal with the Yankees, which went for 10 years and $275 million. Even though A-Rod has been criticized for choking in the playoffs (and of course, steroids) he has set many records and has himself a ring.
2007 Worst: Andruw Jones to the Dodgers
After signing with the Dodgers for 2 years $36 million, Jones showed up overweight and out of shape and was never productive. He was put on the disabled list for the first time in his career and stayed there for most of his time with Los Angeles. Jones was released by the Dodgers in 2009.
2008 Best: The Yankees
It comes to no surprise, but the Yankees were big spenders again, signing Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and AJ Burnett. These players are all washed up now, but in 2008, they were in their prime (Teixeira started in the 2009 All Star Game) and helped lead the Yankees to its 2009 championship. These huge contracts were all worth it, right?
2008 Worst:Milton Bradley to the Cubs
Oh yeah, that guy. Bradley signed a 3 year $30 million deal and had issues on the Cubs since day one. He was suspended for two games for making contact with an umpire back in the first month in the season. Later, Cub manager Lou Piniella told Bradley to leave after he attacked a Gatorade cooler. Bradley was traded to the Mariners in the following offseason.
2009 Best: Matt Holliday to the Cardinals
Holliday signed for 7 years, $120 million and was an integral part of the Cardinals’ many deep playoff runs, some at the expense of the Dodgers. Holliday, now 36, still hits well at his advanced age. He is currently batting .246 with 15 home runs.
2009 Worst: Jason Bay to the Mets
This one was easy. Bay signed with the Mets for 4 years, $66 million. Bay only played 95 games in his first season with the Mets, and that trend stayed that way during his tenure in the Big Apple. Bay could not stay healthy, and in 2012, Bay and the Mets terminated his contract a year early to make himself a free agent.
2010 Best: Cliff Lee to the Phillies
I remember the days when Cliff Lee was at the top of the Dodgers wish list. Lee signed with the Phillies for 5 years, $120 million and joined a rotation with Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. Lee didn’t win a championship after this deal, but fought through injuries and bad run support to still put up good numbers. Lee was the Phillies’ opening day starter in 2014.
2010 Worst: Carl Crawford to the Red Sox
Crawford signed a massive 7-year, $142 million contract with Boston, and struggled with injuries throughout his time. Crawford had Tommy John surgery to repair his left elbow before being traded to the Dodgers in 2012, and on his way out the door, he called Boston “toxic.”
2011 Best: Carlos Beltran to the Cardinals
Beltran signed a low cost, 2 year $26 million with St. Louis and was very productive. With the Cardinals, he became the eighth player overall to reach the 300-300 (home runs-stolen bases) club. He helped lead the Cardinals to the 2013 World Series before filing for free agency in 2013.
2011 Worst: Jose Reyes to the Marlins
I could easily go after Pujols’ awful contract with the Angels, but Reyes makes more sense. He signed a giant 6 year $106 deal with Miami, and had success with the team, batting .287. But he was traded the next year to Toronto for a bunch of players who haven’t become stars. Kind of a head scratcher.
2012 Best: Zack Greinke to the Dodgers
The Dodgers paid top dollar (6 years $147 million) to a guy that had outstanding numbers and at some points was more reliable than Clayton Kershaw. Last year Greinke had an astounding 1.66 ERA. He never let the Dodgers down during his three years here.
2012 Worst: Josh Hamilton to the Angels
Hamilton, who signed for 5 years and $123 million, saw his numbers dip during his time as an Angel. He did not have a hit in the 2013 ALDS out of 13 attempts. It was also revealed that Hamilton had drug addition issues, which led to him being traded to the Rangers.
2013 Best: Robinson Canó to the Mariners
Yes, Canó chased after the money (10 years $240 million), but he is still really good. Canó made the All Star game in his first season in Seattle, and has had consistent numbers so far. Right now, he is batting .304 with 19 home runs. His contract may hurt Seattle in the latter part of his deal, but for right now, he takes the top spot in this weak free agent class.
2013 Worst: Brian McCann to the Yankees
McCann signed for 5 years $85 million, and has his All-Star level production drop off. McCann has averaged .232 during his time in New York, and hasn’t become the star Yankees fans have wanted.
2014 Best: Jon Lester to the Cubs
Lester signed a 6-year $155 million contract with Chicago, and his signing was the first indication that the Cubs were moving in a positive direction. He has posted stellar numbers in Chicago and now is relied upon for the Cubs’ postseason run coming up in October.
2014 Worst: Pablo Sandoval to the Red Sox
After tearing it up with the Giants, Sandoval signed a 5-year $95 million contract and has not carried his success to Beantown. Last year Sandoval only hit .245, and was replaced as the starting third baseman for this season. Sandoval is currently on the DL for the remaining of the season.
It is too early to tell, but it feels like Johnny Cueto to the Giants is the winner and David Price to the Red Sox is the loser. Price has struggled so far this season (he has a 4.74 ERA) while Cueto has a nice 2.57 ERA and has 3 complete games at the halfway mark of the season.
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