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April 4, 2013

Overthinking It

So You Want to Buy a 2014-15 Free Agent?

by Ben Lindbergh

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Greetings, friend, and WELCOME to Free Agent Emporium, home of the finest free agents your non-CBA-restricted spending can buy! If you’re trying to turn your team around quickly, you’ve come to the right place. Why settle for the same old players year after year when you could bring some excitement to your roster construction instead? No Extensions, Reinventions!™ We’ll help you pick out the right free agents to fit your needs, and you can take them home today. No need to spend time training them: all our free agents come completely clubhousebroken, so you won’t have to worry that they’ll high-five the fans or forget they’re in the field. Now with no draft-pick compensation required!

Is that a shopping list? Let me take a look. [Reads] Hey, you’ve got quite a few positions to fill. Seems like someone’s been “neglecting” their drafting and player development! Ha, ha. That’s what we like to see. Those Who Build from Within, Never Win.™

You need a catcher? We’ve got catchers. Remember Joe Mauer? Never had him in stock. Minnesota just had to lock him up long term. How’s that working out for them, I wonder? Probably wish they’d come to me. Never did have many Pohlads in these parts.

There I go again, talking about guys who got extensions. I was going to show you a couple clips. One of these is Mauer, the other is Ryan Doumit, a free agent after 2014. One guy making hundreds of millions. The other one? Make me an offer. I ask you, can you tell them apart? Mauer might have better hair, but put a helmet on him and they’re basically the same.

Now that I think about it, I probably shouldn’t have shown you that. Might’ve given you the idea that Ryan Doumit can’t catch. Ha, ha. He can catch. He catches a very high percentage of pitches. But in that clip he was catching Jason Marquis. Guy has electric stuff. He’s a free agent too, actually. Might look pretty good at the top of your rotation. We’ll talk.

Look, catcher is too important a position for you to take risks on someone who’s barely been back there. If there’s one solid investment you can make, it’s an over-30 catcher. Nice and dependable. Just might want to DH him most days.

What? No, I didn’t say anything about DHing most days. I said you could use some help at third base. Headley and Sandoval? What does this look like, 2003? Those guys were extended ages ago. Anyway, you don’t want Sandoval. I’ll show you Sandoval:

That’s Sandoval four years and 40 pounds ago. You want that guy going up for a double down the line? Or would you prefer this guy?

Meet Cody Ransom, free agent. I’ll put together the paperwork.

All right. Shortstop. Anchor of the infield and all that. Can’t afford to skimp here. At the Free Agent Emporium, Cost Control is Not Our Goal.™ I was hoping to have Elvis Andrus in stock, but—surprise, surprise—he got extended. So here’s who I’m going to give you: J.J. Hardy.

Yes, I realize he’s about to be 33. If you wanted Manny Machado, you came to the wrong store. Yeah, I know he’s never led the league in sacrifice bunts, like Andrus has. You know why that is? Because HE HITS FOR F***ING POWER, that’s why.

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to lose my cool. I just get kind of defensive about old player skills. They’re the only skills I sell. I’m only going to do this if you’re not going to go on and on about defense and contact and speed. Tell it to your Scouting Director.

Speaking of old player skills, you know who just hit the market? Adam Dunn. Last time I had him, he went for four years and $56 million. I’ll take a little less this time, but I’m not gonna give him away. Uh, no, I don’t know what his time to first is. How the hell should I? He never needs to run. When was the last time you saw him put a ball in play? If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see his 500th career homer, and maybe his 300th strikeout. Of the season.

Okay, you’re set at DH. Where were we? Oh, outfield. Yeah, about that. Carlos Gonzalez was supposed to come in this year. Now he’s delayed until 2018. That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news: Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells are finally on the market again. You wouldn’t believe what I got for them last time. They’re willing to take paycuts. We’ll work out which one you want more later.

I was planning to offer you Jay Bruce for right field, but he signed an extension through 2017. Really original, Reds. But I can still give you what you want: a former first rounder, and a former no. 1 prospect. It’s just a different one, only a year and a half older. Delmon Young.

You wanted someone with better range? I’ll show you what good range gets you:

Delmon doesn’t get anywhere near that ball. Anyone but Bruce, that’s a double off the top of the wall. Careful what you wish for.

I’ll let you and Delmon work out the details. Good guy. Don’t Google him. Lots of lies out there.

I know you need pitching. You probably had your heart set on Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, and Justin Verlander. Hate to burst your bubble. Look, I warned you. I offered you Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum last year. Those guys were basically Felix, Kershaw, and Verlander a few years before Felix, Kershaw, and Verlander were. You said no. You asked why they were marked “as is.” It’s not my fault you were afraid of a little fixer-upper.

I have another first overall pick for you: Luke Hochevar. Okay, it sounds like you wanted someone more established. How does Josh Beckett float your boat? Ryan Dempster? Dempster can touch 90 when he wants to. Have you ever tried to throw something that fast? It’s really hard. But not for Dempster. He still does it sometimes. We’re also having a sale on Jair Jurrjens.

You may have noticed that we skipped center field. That’s because we were saving our FINEST item for last: Colby Rasmus. A genuine under-30 free agent, with a full year to spare! They don’t make them like this anymore. Look at his long, flowing locks. Not a touch of gray, and not a bald spot in sight. Look at that body—still runs smooth. And he comes with a full instruction manual. Only $9,999,999, plus luxury tax.

Wait. Please don’t leave. I know we’ve fallen on hard times here, but we can still build you a winner. We’re just going through a rough patch. Pre-Arbitration is Not Salvation.™ The Free Agent Emporium still has so much more to give. Soon we’ll have Bryce Harper, and Mike Trout, and Stephen Strasburg. They’re not going to sign extensions. They would never sign extensions. Would they?

Ben Lindbergh is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

Related Content:  Free Agents,  Free Agency,  Extensions

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