Earlier this week, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney wrote that several soon-to-be free agent starting pitchers are either hurt or struggling mightily over extended periods, greatly impacting their value come the offseason. Buster was looking forward. I'm going to put on my hindsight shades and put the ship in reverse.
Fourteen players signed free agent contracts this past winter worth $25 million or more with a team they did not play for the previous season. While I'm not suggesting any of them are busts after five weeks or so, most of those players are either hurt or struggling right now.
Zack Greinke ($147 million) broke his collarbone in a brawl, but he is ahead of schedule to return, while Josh Hamilton ($125 million is batting a meek .205/.255/.311 with three home runs and 40 strikeouts for the Angels. B.J. Upton ($75 million) is batting .153/.240/.270 with 42 punch outs while Michael Bourn ($48 million) and Shane Victorino ($39 million) have spent the majority of the year on the disabled list. Cody Ross ($26 million) hasn't been awful, necessarily -- .280/.310/.378 -- but those are fourth outfielder numbers and he began the year on the disabled list.
Right-hander Edwin Jackson ($52 million) has posted a 6.39 ERA and allowed 64 baserunners in 38 innings.
There have been some good starts for last offseason's top free agents, including Torii Hunter ($26 million), who is batting .358/.402/.480 in 28 games for the Detroit Tigers. Washington closer Rafael Soriano ($28 million) is up to his usual strong performances and Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez has been terrific.
Kyle Lohse ($33 million), who did not sign with the Brewers until March, has been solid, despite a couple of so-so outings the past two times he's taken the ball. Boston's Ryan Dempster ($26 million) has been very good, too, collecting 55 strikeouts in 43 frames and entering his next start with 2.93 ERA in seven outings.
Other 2012-13 prominent free agents have been good, such as Royals righty Jeremy Guthrie, but he re-signed with his former team and does not qualify for out little exercise here. Jake Peavy did the same in Chicago.
"The Detroit Tigers traded prospects Rob Brantly, Jacob Turner, Brian Flynn and a 2013 compensation draft pick for Sanchez and Omar Infante last July. The deal could be considered a success only if they got to the World Series and/or were able to sign Sanchez long term. “Check” on both counts. Sanchez’s impressive postseason, which included a 1.77 ERA in three starts, was enough to convince Tigers boss Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland that signing Sanchez would give them the best chance of getting back to the World Series. Sanchez has proved them right so far."