Free Agent Redux, Part Seven
Can you believe it? We’re a mere seven parts into this series, and it’s coming to an end already. Just when we were really starting to have fun. For the first half dozen parts of our look at the last MLB free agency period, check here: Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five and Six.
San Diego: The Padres made five moves, but three were insignificant signings and one was a re-signing they probably regret, leaving just one impact addition this offseason.
Catcher Michael Barrett, acquired in a mid-season deal with the Cubbies, was re-signed for one year and $3.5 million. This one hasn’t worked out; not only did Barrett just come off the DL after missing almost the entire season to date, but he’s been absolutely awful in his limited PT so far. Remember when this guy was a legitimate fantasy option? Seems a long time ago, doesn’t it?
Randy Wolf, who somewhat bounced back with the Dodgers last year (when he wasn’t hurt, of course), earned himself a one-year, $4.75 million from San Diego. We pegged him as a long shot gamble, and so far, it’s been a pretty good investment, as he’s really cut his home run rate (predictable in his new home park) and has garnered decent fantasy attention. Unfortunately, Wolf is pitching like crap in May, and hence is winding up on the waiver wires, but his last three outings have been solid, so I’d suggest taking another look at the veteran southpaw.
Robert Fick, who has been slipping for a couple of years, got himself a minor league deal from the Padres, but was released before Spring Training. Stick a fork in Fick.
In another ineffectual move, the Padres gave outfielder Jeff DaVanon a minor league deal, and then released him when Fick was set free. At least DaVanon found a new job, however, landing in the ChiSox organization.
Finally, after Tony Clark enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance in Arizona last year, the Pads gave him $900,000 for one year. Unfortunately, they were not able to catch lightning in a bottle here, as Clark’s power has completely evaporated, something we sure didn’t see coming.
San Francisco: The Giants only made one free agent move, but it was a biggie as they brought in Aaron Rowand from the Phils. With Rowand coming off a career year, San Francisco committed $60 million over five years for him, hoping he’d help offset the offense lost with Barry Bonds not being brought back. So far, Rowand has surprisingly lived up to the lofty deal, especially in terms of his ability to get on base (11th in the NL in OBP and fifth in BA), something Giants’ fans were rather used to with Bonds. He’s been absolutely on fire lately, and a strong start to the season has gotten even better. I admit that – so far – I was wrong about this one, as I expected Rowand to flop.
Washington: The Nats were somewhat active this offseason, adding four new bodies.
The key addition was bringing in a new starting catcher in the form of Paul Lo Duca, signed away from the Mets for one year and $5 million. Toronto had been rumoured to be chasing Lo Duca, but the Nats won this battle. Unfortunately, Lo Duca got hurt in mid-April, and less than a week after being activated, found himself right back on the DL. He’s likely out until at least after the All-Star game, making this signing a big time flop.
The club also brought in veteran infielder Aaron Boone for one year and $1 million. After an injury cut short his 2007 campaign with the Marlins, he’s become a key backup for the Nats, and has recently taken over at third for the injured Ryan Zimmerman. Boone has been hitting incredibly well this year, showing power like never before (urine sample, please). His play is dictating more PT, and perhaps soon will even make him an attractive target in deeper NL-only leagues.
Another veteran utility man added was Rob Mackowiak, signed for one year and $1.5 million. Unfortunately, this deal hasn’t worked out as whatever happened to Mackowiak’s hitting ability after landing in San Diego last year has gotten worse this season. While he was someone worth looking at last August, he’s now a marginal major leaguer, but the Nats are probably stuck with him for the year given their investment.
Lastly, lefty Odalis Perez was brought in from the Royals for one year and $850,000. This deal is a major bargain, as Perez not only won a rotation spot, but has pitched his best since 2004, when he was a Dodger. The long balls he’s allowing worry me, but for now, Perez looks like a decent gamble in NL-only leagues.
Okay, that’s a wrap for our in-depth recap of the free agency period. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed typing it. Pardon me now, while I go get my sore wrists tended to by a scantily clad 18-year-old who will later hand-feed me Twinkies and Skittles.