Roundtable: Predicting the worst MLB free agent signings this offseason

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Two weeks ago, the 2020 MLB season came to a close with the Los Angeles Dodgers taking home the World Series. Now we can head into one of the most exciting parts of the season, the offseason. With players like George Springer and Trevor Bauer reaching the end of their contracts, there could be a lot of money dished out to get these All-Star pieces onto your favorite team, but will every single one of them be worth the absurd amount of money they get? Probably not. In this week’s roundtable, the DC Sports Section will give our takes as to who the worst MLB free agent signing will be this offseason. Personal biases welcome, let’s get right into it: 

Evan Rodriguez, Campus Correspondent 

For me, I’m going to go with an underrated pick and say Yoenis Cespedes. I know he hasn’t been getting solid playing time for two years due to injuries, but I feel like some team will still fall for the trap and pay him good money. With Cespedes, you’re getting an outfielder who won’t play much, will produce unproductive numbers and won’t contribute to team success at all. We saw that with his time on the New York Mets, as he caused drama and did little to help the team. At 35 years old, Cespedes is really only worth the risk for a minor league contract and anything more is just a waste of time at this point in his career. This is not the all-star outfielder we saw in past years and we definitely won’t see anything close to that with a brand new MLB contract in 2021.  

Jorge Eckardt, Staff Writer 

It’s a little off the board, but my pick is DJ LeMahieu, IF he signs with anyone other than the Yankees. He just put up two fantastic seasons, back-to-back for the Yanks, coming in fourth in the AL MVP voting in 2019 and followed that up by raising his OPS by over 100 points in 2020. He’s been nothing short of a superstar in the Bronx, but that’s the issue. In his previous six full seasons in Colorado, he had just one season with an OPS over .900 — the year he hit .348 and won the batting title. Other than that though, he was nothing more than average before he got to New York. Yes, he’s been awesome for the Yankees, and if he stays, I’m sure he’ll still be great. I just think if he leaves Yankee Stadium, leaves the short porch and leaves the stacked lineup the Yankees have, he won’t be the same. If someone wants to lure him away from the Yankees it’s going to take superstar caliber money, and going into his age-32 season, I just don’t think he’s a true superstar. He’ll still be good — but he won’t be as good as the contract. I think he’s had an awesome few years in a great situation, and he should get all the credit in the world for that. I just don’t think at his age that it’s sustainable, and if someone gives him big money, they’re going to regret it sooner rather than later. 

Cole Stefan, Campus Correspondent 

I love the man, but Nelson Cruz is 40 years old. Any team that signs him is going to be taking the biggest risk of their lives with a 40-year-old designated hitter. Sure, he will easily fill up the DH position without even trying, but what about his slugging? Will he continue to forge the same path that David Ortiz had in his swan song with Boston, or will Cruz falter in the later stages of his career like Tim Wakefield, among others? Age is just a number for many of these players, but unfortunately, at this age, the muscles start to get fatigued and things can go terribly wrong. If Cruz ends up retiring (which he will not), then my next best guess is going to be Blake Treinen because although he has a ring, he has not shown signs of his 2018 career year. 

Danny Barletta, Sports Editor 

We’re a UConn student paper, which usually makes this a “no George Springer slander” zone, since he, along with Kemba Walker, is one of our most notable athletic alumni currently playing pro sports. However, I believe some team is going to significantly overpay Springer this offseason. I have a bad feeling that team may be my hometown Boston Red Sox. The Sox have a bad habit of overpaying free agents while not holding onto their own homegrown stars (*cough* Mookie Betts *cough*). So it would not surprise me to see them dish out $175-200 million to Springer, who is a really good hitter and a solid outfielder. But he’s 31 years old, and I feel like he’s already hit his peak and will be declining in the next few seasons. If someone could get him in the neighborhood of four-years, $100 million, that would be perfect, but I have a feeling his value is going to be driven up because this isn’t a particularly strong free-agent market, especially for hitters. He will get close to $200 million, and as much as I love Springer, he’s frankly not worth that. 

Mike Mavredakis, Staff writer 

This may be a bit strange considering he’s probably the best player on the market right now, but I am going to pick J.T. Realmuto. He’s the best catcher in baseball right now, and he has been for a few years, but I just don’t think he’s going to last much longer. He’s a catcher whose game is predicated on a mix of contact-skills and speed. He’s not a big bopper and he doesn’t walk much. Catchers can dramatically decrease in value — think Jonathon Lucroy — and I have a sinking feeling that’s going to happen with Realmuto. The Mets or whoever gives him the $100 million-plus he’s looking for are going to be severely disappointed come 2022-23. 

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