The offseason is upon us, and of course, talk has turned to free agency. Teams can sign players at midnight Saturday, and there are already rumblings concerning various players. However, in a free agent class that is thin at the top, there's the very distinct possibility that some players are going to get way too much money this offseason. Hell, we already saw that with Brandon League on Tuesday. But there are going to be other players that get even more money than League, and whose contracts will damage their teams for more than three years. Here are ten of them.
1. Michael Bourn
As a Braves fan, I loved what Bourn did for the team last season. But he's apparently seeking a $100 million contract, which is something that has Braves fans chuckling and wishing him well. Bourn's most valuable assets are his speed and his defense, and as a player who turns 30 in December, those skills are going to start going downhill fast. We already began to saw that in 2012, when despite a .348 on-base percentage that was slightly higher than his career average, Bourn stole only 42 bases, the worst total of his career since he stole 41 in 2008, a season in which he got nearly 200 fewer plate appearances than in 2012. Bourn's success rate on steals also fell to 76.3%, the first time in his career he's stolen at a clip lower than 80%. Bourn's stats also trailed off dramatically in the second half. I personally wouldn't give him more than a three or four year deal for $15 million a season, but remember the Carl Crawford two offseasons ago? I'm sure that what Bourn and Scott Boras are going to be using as a framework for his contract.
2. Kevin Youkilis
Youkilis is still a solid player, but make no bones about it: this isn't the Kevin Youkilis that finished third and sixth in AL MVP voting in 2008 and 2009. Youkilis turns 34 in March, and he's been injury plagued even moreso than usual as of late. He hasn't had a 600 plate appearance season since 2008, and he hasn't had a 20 homer season since 2009, with his ISO steadily decreasing until bottoming out at .174 last season. But in an absolutely barren free agent market at third base, teams in need of someone to patrol the hot corner essentially have three choices: A) overpay for Youkilis, B) send a bounty of prospects to the Mets or Padres for David Wright or Chase Headley, or C) sign a much lesser player like Brandon Inge or the broken down Placido Polanco. Youkilis is in a great position to cash in this winter despite being a shell of the player he was in the past.
3. Marco Scutaro
Scutaro is in a similar situation to that of Youkilis as the best available middle infielder on the free agent market. While Scutaro's versatility and ability to play second, short, or third helps his value a lot, let's look at things objectively. With the Rockies in the first half of the season, Scutaro had a .685 OPS while playing half of his games in Coors Field. Then, he got traded to the Giants, saw his BABIP jump from .287 to .366, get 88 hits in 61 games with San Francisco, win the NLCS MVP award, and won a ring. The $6 million he made in 2012 after having a club option picked up by the Red Sox (who dealt him to the Rockies in January) is probably about what his true value is as a 37-year old middle infielder, but when teams are faced with either Scutaro or either of a pair of former Diamondbacks in Stephen Drew in Kelly Johnson, the veteran is looking pretty good.
4. Mike Napoli
After an unreal 2011, many expected Napoli to get PAID this offseason. He still might, but 2012 tempered expectations on just how much he should get. After a 2011 season that saw Napoli hit 30 homers, bat .320, and post a 1.047 OPS, Napoli's numbers fell across the board as his BABIP fell by 71 points. Napoli still smashed 24 homers, but struck out in 30% of his plate appearances and batted just .227 with an .812 OPS. He remains a horrendous defensive catcher, and at age 31, likely won't be getting any better behind the dish. If a team signs Napoli, they're essentially signing a DH masquerading as a catcher as opposed to an actual top-tier catcher. Napoli shouldn't be compared to Yadier Molina or Miguel Montero, but likely will be by his agency this winter, and that will lead to a team giving him more money than he actually deserves.
5. Adam LaRoche
There are plenty of indications that LaRoche will be returning to Washington. That's fine on a short-term deal. But this is a guy who had a career year at age 32, and will be 33 in a couple of days. He's the class of the first base market this offseason, and he's just not that good. Before 2012, his best season in terms of fWAR was 2006, when LaRoche hit 32 homers, had a .915 OPS, and contributed 2.5 fWAR to the Braves. After he declined his end of a $10 million option for 2013, it's clear to me that he's thinking of at least a $12 million salary, perhaps more if the Nationals are willing to throw a $13.3 million qualifying offer at him. That's just way too much for a player of his caliber, and if he gets more than a three year contract, it'll look pretty ugly if he falls back to his previous level of play, which I think is likely.
6. Delmon Young
Anything more than one year and $3 million (at the absolute max) is too much for Young, playof heroics not withstanding. The former number one overall pick has turned into a brutal player, one that doesn't walk at all and is an absolutely brutal fielder. Young also possesses some hefty platoon splits against righties, and just isn't an every day player. If anyone pays him like a former top overall pick instead of a bench player, they're absolutely crazy. This guy shouldn't be playing every day unless the player from 2010 miraculously rises like a phoenix from the ashes of the huge disappointment that Young has become.
7. Kyle Lohse
Lohse is good for what he is: a middle of the rotation starter. However, he's not worth a double digit salary per year at more than three years, which is what the sugar plum fairy in me thinks he's going to get after getting paid a hair shy of $12 million in 2012 for a 16-3 career year at age 33. Lohse turned 34 after the season ended, and he's been so spotty over his career that I wouldn't trust him to repeat his 2011-2012 hot streak. Of course, with how middle-heavy the free agency market for starting pitchers is this offseason, some team will likely value Lohse as an ace, and pay him as such.
8. Rafael Soriano
The Yankees overpaid Soriano two years ago, and he bailed them out by opting out on the final year of his contract. He'll likely decline the qualifying offer, and he's apparently looking for something in the general vicinity of four years and $60 million a season. Good luck with that. Spending a ton of money on relievers is stupid to begin with (unless your name is Ned Colletti, in which case it's just another day at the office), and spending a ton of money on a reliever that will be 33 when the season opens who has had a history of injury problems is even more stupid. It's funny though, because Soriano has been given the "capital C Closer" tag, despite being a full-time closer for only three seasons. Even when healthy, Soriano hasn't been dynamic, posting a two win year just once. A team signing him long-term is just begging for things to not end well.