The early free agent signing cycles are traditionally where bargains are found - players who only get one offer tend to take it - and this year seems to be keeping with that tradition.
With a deep class of players and several marquee names at the top getting mucho attention, we've had some super-bargains sneak through in the early cycles. Here's how they line up so far:
GRAND LARCENY (slam-dunk, no-brainer...everybody else had to screw up)
Portland gets SP Jacob Martin - 2 x $6.75MM. A starting pitcher with a career 3.80 ERA, a 77 vR, and 3 pitches rated 77+ gets one offer for what he was asking? We were all asleep on this one.
RUN-OF-THE-MILL ROBBERY (there's a way it doesn't work out, but it's remote)
Austin gets SP Terry Pote - 3 x $5.2MM + a mutual option. Not quite the pitcher Martin is but c'mon...$5.2MM?
Richmond gets 2B Quilvio Diaz - 3 x $6.5MM. Excellent defensive 2B with blazing speed and a career .354 OBP. Not sure where the Poor Men play him with Tomas Cruz at 2B, but I'm sure they'll think of something.
Cincinnati gets SS Ivan Maranon - 3 x $6.6MM. Never the slickest fielder at SS but a huge plus there as a hitter. Can that work? Check out his 2 WS Championship rings.
Austin gets Ryan Shelley - 5 x $8.5MM. Tough to consider anyone a bargain at $8.5? Not with a 93 glove and a good bat. Does this make Felix Koh expendable?
Cincinnati gets RP Sherman Morris - 2 x $4.6MM. Started his career with 3 straight 5+ ERA years; last 4 ERA's have all been 3's - seems to have it figured out. Biggest risk may be the move to a more HR-happy ballpark.
Richmond gets RP Rich Brock- 2 x $3.0. Guys like this with great ratings but low stamina are baffling...they seem to put up worse numbers than comparable high-stamina guys. Maybe their low pitch counts keep them from working out of their own jams and their stats end up in the hands of lower-quality pitchers. Still, the odds are he'll do well, especially for this price. The Poor Men continue their 2-year effort to monopolize the setup market.
PETTY THEFT (maybe good, maybe not, but the price makes it a minimal risk)
Nashville gets RP Mike Simpson - 2 x $3.4. He's been up and down, but mostly pretty good. Nice price for a solid reliever.
Jackson gets RP Darren Gardner - 1 x $2.0MM. Gotta love the 1-year deal for the aging vet. Gardner has been very good, he's been terrible, and he's been most places in between. Even if he sucks, somebody probably grabs him off waivers.
OTHERS OF NOTE
Columbus gets RP Benito Rivera - 5 years, $25.4MM. Former FOY gets a fat deal...one of the first to sign who appears to have had several bidders.
Portland gets SP Vance Scutaro - 4 x $5.2MM. Pitched adequately (45 wins) for 3 years, backed by a juggernaut offense in Cleveland, before crashing last year in Syracuse. If his next 4 years look like his first 4, the Bar & Grillers will probably think they've done OK.