As a follow up to yesterday’s “Cash For Clunkers” post, which drew a lot of attention and some good debates, I present to you “Grand Theft Auto”, the biggest steals of this offseason.
It was a very strange Hot Stove season that still saw the effects of tough financial times as well as a glut at several positions especially at first base and corner outfield where I found some of the best bargain signings.
Mets GM Omar Minaya repeatedly asserted that it was a slow moving market, but deals were actually getting done quickly from the word “go” and it never really let up.
Here are some of the best values of the Winter.
Adam La Roche – D’Backs 1 year, $6.0MM – I can’t tell you how much I prayed that the Mets would sign him. A .355 OBP to go with a .843 OPS and tallying 25 homers and a whopping 38 doubles, all while providing sound defense. His left-handed bat would have given the right-handed heavy Mets lineup some much needed balance. I’ve got my eyes on you now Murph.
Kelvim Escobar, Mets – one year, $1.125MM – I alluded to Escobar yesterday in comparison to Ben Sheets who got $10MM from Billy Beane (wow). Yesterday, Omar Minaya practically anointed Escobar as the team’s setup man, ”At some point in time we see him being that guy. He’s done it before.” In his last full season, Escobar was 18–7 with a 3.40 ERA in 30 starts for the Angels in 2007. I’m not ruling out a surprise return to the rotation by mid-season, especially if recently acquired Ryota Igarashi or fire-baller Bobby Parnell can assume the setup role.
Nick Johnson - Yankees 1 year, $5.75 MM - Yeah, yeah, I know all about the injury history all of which arose out of game action and not anything chronic… A .426 on-base percentage to go with a .831 OPS and solid defense. What a steal for the World Champs who give credence to the old adage that you can always go home again.
Ryan Garko – Mariners 1 year, $500K - Can we just hand the 2010 GM of the Year award to Jack Zduriencik? What an outstanding job he has done in totally revamping a lackluster Mariners team and turning it into a juggernaut in their division. Garko is the right-handed batter the Mets should have signed instead of nice-guy and resident church builder, Fernando Tatis. All Garko does is eat up southpaws to the tune of a .308 BA, .391 OBP and a .870 OPS.
Eric Bedard – Mariners 1 year, $1.5MM - Of all the injured or injury prone pitchers that were available this offseason, few if any had more upside than this left-handed ace-caliber pitcher who really needs to start avoiding the disabled list. Unlike many of the other risky choices who signed deals in excess of $5 million bucks, Bedard’s deal makes you salivate at the thought of getting all that ace potential for such a minuscule price tag. The interesting thing about this is that the Mariners, who probably know Bedard’s arm better than any other organization, thought well enough about it that they decided to keep him rather than let another team sign him. But for a few dollars more, you’d think the Mets would have been all over him.
Other steals worth noting include Andruw Jones $500K, Jim Thome $1.5MM, Yorvit Torrealba $1.25MM, and Justin Duchscherer $2.0MM