Reviewing Last Year’s MLB Free-Agent Signings

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Photo Credit: Associated Press

THE BAD

Pablo Sandoval – Third Base, Boston Red Sox (Age: 29)
Deal:
5 years, $95 million (includes club option for $17 million in 2020 with $5 million buyout)
Annual Salary Remaining:
2016: $17.6 million
2017: $17.6 million
2018: $18.6 million
2019: $18.6 million
2020: $17 million (club option)

The Skinny: When thinking of Sandoval’s first season Bean Town, “skinny” is far from the first word that comes to mind. The Portly Panda never was able to round into form after his gaudy $95 million contract. His season hit a low point when he was suspended by the team for “liking” a picture on Instagram while on the john in the middle of the game. To be honest, if I was suspended for doing this at my work, I may never work another day again. I digress.

Sandoval hit a paltry .245 with 10 HR and 47 RBI last season, not quite the return on investment the Bo Sox were counting on. To be fair, Sandoval never put up big numbers in the regular season during his time in San Francisco, where his lore was been built on great post season play. Sandoval also responded well when he was challenged by the Giants, and I have a strong feeling he will be able to add to his post season legacy over the remaining four years of his contract. Sandoval is still only 29 years old, and if he’s able to put together another hot playoff run and help lead Boston to another World Championship, his contract will be could be considered justified.

Grade: C

Ervin Santana – Starting Pitcher, Minnesota Twins (Age: 33)
Deal:
4 years, $55 million
Annual Salary Remaining:
2016: $13.5 million
2017: $13.5 million
2018: $13.5 million
2019: $14 million club option (Option Vests with 200 IP in 2018 or 400 IP from 2017+2018)

The Skinny: Ervin Santana’s Twins career started in a most auspicious manner as he was suspended 80 games for PED in Spring Training. The Twinkies brass was none too pleased as their big free-agent signing was sidelined half the year, but at least they didn’t have to pay $7 million for his typical sub-par performance. His play upon returning was, well, Ervin Santana-like. He made his first start in early July for a surprisingly competitive Twins club and he mixed in solid starts and terrible starts similar to what he has done throughout his career. He carried a 5.00 ERA into September, but a decent last month of the season allowed him to finish up with a 7-5 record and a 4.00 ERA.

Santana has averaged a WAR of 1.68 over his 11 year career and there is no reason to expect an improvement on these numbers as he heads into his mid-thirties. The best the Twins can hope for is a $13.5 million innings eater over the next three seasons.

Grade: C –

Victor Martinez – Designated Hitter, Detroit Tigers (Age: 37)
Deal:
4 years, $68 million, full no-trade clause
Annual Salary Remaining:
2016: $18 million
2017: $18 million
2018: $18 million

The Skinny: The 2015 season was an unmitigated disaster for Victor Martinez and the Detroit Tigers. Martinez, like many of his Tigers teammates battled injuries all year long and finished last in the American League Central. The Tigers overpaid in a big way for the career year Martinez provided in 2014.

Martinez has a career batting average over .300, and while he may never reach that mark again, it’s reasonable to expect an average in the .275 – .285 range as he heads into the twilight of his career. On the flip side, Martinez career average per season is 15 home runs and 76 RBI in 13 seasons. The Tigers will be quite fortunate if he reaches those numbers over the next three years. At $18 million a year, his contract will be one of many the Tigers front office will regret in the coming years.

Grade: D

Yasmany Tomas – Third Base / Outfield, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 25)
Deal:
6 years, $68.5 million (player opt out after 2018)
Annual Salary Remaining:
2016: $7.5 million
2017: $9.5 million
2018: $13.5 million
2019: $15.5 million * (player option)
2020: $17 million * (player option)

The Skinny:  The Arizona Diamondbacks tapped into the Cuban pipeline for Tomas and expectations were high for the young slugger. The season started out relatively positive as Tomas carried a batting average over .300 into the All-Star break. From there, his batting average steadily declined each month, and he batted .207 over the final two months while garnering only 107 at-bats.

A player tabbed as a power hitter, Tomas grossly under-performed in hitting just nine homers to go along with 48 RBI. Part of the problem for Tomas was his defense. He was a butcher in the field, as the D-backs tried him at third base and left field before somewhat settling on right field as his main position.

Tomas encountered a steep learning curve at the Major League level, but time is still on his side as he enters his age 25 season. Arizona is heading into 2016 with Tomas penciled in as their everyday right fielder but it remains to be seen how long his leash is given Arizona’s playoffs or bust mentality. Tomas, similar to the team he suits up for, will be expected to live up to their lofty promise in 2016.

Grade: Incomplete

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