Saturday, January 31, 2009

Top Free Agent Signings

Here is a list of the ten most lucrative contracts signed during the free agent period. I have only included players who are moving to a new team - those who are returning to their old team were not included. The values listed include the total money over the entire life of the contract.

10. LF J.D. Jackson ($15 M/3 years) - Honalulu Dancing Halo's
With J.D. Jackson, the Dancing Halo's have signed a player who hits for decent average, but draws a ton of walks and scores a lot of runs. His outfield arm is a bit of a concern, even at LF, and he will be 38 by final year of the contract, so there is a chance that he will show some decline. Overall, a solid signing as long as he doesn't decline too much.

9. SS Endy Flair ($16.8 M/4 years) - Augusta Hitmen
Endy (no relation to pro wrestler Ric) Flair was signed to fill in at SS for the Hitmen. Offensively, nothing stands out about him. Last season, he posted a .320ish on-base percentage for Cleveland. That will be good enough for Augusta as long as he fields a solid SS. The Hitmen hope that he can cut down on the 21 errors from last season.

8. 1B Elmer Maloney ($17 M/5 years) - Oklahoma City Wranglers
While a solid offensive player, Maloney looks like a below-average 1B defensively. He hasn't logged more than 360 ABs at the ML level, and that was in Season 4 with Cincinnati, when he posted an on-base below .320 and drove in fewer than 50 runs. OKC will hope for much better than that this season and beyond.

7. SP Cam Montgomery ($17.7 M/4 years) - Fargo Northmen
This is a big contract for a pitcher who may not have the control to succeed in the big leagues. In season 5, he put up 11 wins with a 3.07 ERA, however last season in Triple-A, his ERA ballooned to over 6. Fargo will hope he performs more like than the guy from Season 5.

6. SP Nigel Woodward ($22.4 M/4 years) - Florida Flounders
Woodward is a pitcher who has great control and performs better against lefties than righties. Throughout his career, he has been solid, but last season he had a career high ERA (5.23) and a career low IP (96.1). Florida hopes he can bounce back, and if he does, this will prove to be a fine signing.

5. C John Hernandez ($23.4 M/3 years) - Rochester Grave Robbers
With Henderson, the Grave Robbers have a great offensive catcher with a good arm behind the plate. Last season he posted a .386 on-base percentage and drove in over 80 runs. At only 28 years of age, it's unlikely that he'll decline much, if it all, during this three-year contract. Looks like a great pick up for Rochester.

4. SP Carlos Maranon ($23.6 M/3 years) - Oklahoma City Wranglers
Maranon has great control, good splits, a good selection of pitches. The only drawback may be that he lacks the stamina to go deep into games. Also, at 35 years of age, one must wonder if he can perform at a strong level through this contract. In Season 2, he won nearly 20 games. The Wranglers will hope for a similar performance this season.

3. SP Glenn Kieschnick ($26 M/4 years) - Minnesota Mdewakantonwan
Kieschnick was one of the better pitchers on the market this off-season, and Minnesota was able to reel him in. To do so, they had to dish out a 4-year contract, which could be troublesome by the end, since he is 33 years old this year. Not withstanding, he looks primed for a solid season. Curiously, however, he has yet to make a start in Season 7.

2. 1B Gregory McNeil ($27 M/4 years) - Minnesota Mdewakantonwan
McNeil was awarded the largest contract to a position player, and why not? Last season he hit over 50 home runs and belted in over 130 RBIs for Chicago. Minnesota can only hope for similar production this season. He is under contract for four seasons - by then he may be one of the all-time leaders in HRs in Mattingly!

1. SP Billy Ray Sewell ($52 M/4 years) - Augusta Hitmen
In an attempt to shore up their pitching staff, Augusta deals out a contract that dwarfs any other signed this season. While some see Sewell as an injury concern, Augusta will look to him to anchor their rotation. He's won 18 or more games three times and hasn't had an ERA above 3.51 since Season 2 and Augusta will hope that he can maintain that level of performance, and his health.

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