Tag:Yankees
Posted on: February 14, 2012 2:48 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 3:05 pm
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Indians interested in Hafner-Burnett swap



By C. Trent Rosecrans

While CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman reports the Yankees and Pirates are still hoping to get a deal done that would send A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh, he also notes the Angels and Indians have tried to get in on the talks for Burnett.

While the Angels are on Burnett's no-trade clause, the Indians deal could make some sense. The two teams are discussing sending Travis Hafner to New York in exchange for the much maligned right-hander.

So does it make sense for the Indians? Perhaps.

Let's not make any mistake, Burnett's not been good as a Yankee and he's certainly not been $82.5 million good. But it's also a mistake to dismiss Burnett as a someone who doesn't belong in the big leagues or in a rotation. The right-hander has enough stuff to tempt a team to give him big money -- in fact before the Yankees splurged on Burnett, the Blue Jays spent a lot of money on him.

Let's get the first part out of the way, Burnett, despite early concerns in his career, has been durable, starting 32 or more games in each of the last four seasons. In 2008, he led the American League with 34 starts and threw 221 1/3 innings. Last season, for all the complaints and even some early hooks, he threw 190 1/3 innings, averaging nearly six innings a start. He still struck out 173 batters -- he can miss bats. He also misses the glove too much, throwing a big-league most 25 wild pitches, hitting nine batters and walking 83.

While Burnett's road ERA was actually worse than his home ERA, he did give up homers at a slightly lower rate away from Yankee Stadium.

Burnett's ERA last season 5.15 -- not exactly a number you want to see in the probables -- but his xFIP (Fielding Independent Pitching -- a measure of things pitchers are directly responsible for, while taking away the ability of his fielders and normalized for his ballpark) was a respectable 3.86. To put that in perspective, that was better than the likes of Mark Buehrle (4.14), Ervin Santana (3.93) and Trevor Cahill (3.90), and not much worse than the likes of Ryan Vogelsong (3.85), Jered Weaver (3.80) and Matt Cain (3.78). His career xFIP is 3.78 -- better than his career ERA of 4.10.

Burnett can add 10 teams to his no-trade list each season, with word that most of those teams are on the West Coast.

It still seems like the Pirates are the team that will get Burnett -- and he should help them -- picking up as little as $13 million of the $33 million owed to Burnett for the final two years of his contract.

The Indians still owe Hafner $13 million for this season and have an option for $13 million next season with a $2.75 million buyout, meaning they owe less than half of what they'd be on the line to pay Burnett. To make the deal, the Indians would likely need some money sent back to Cleveland, if not the $20 million they're willing to eat in a deal with the Pirates.

For the Yankees, Hafner is an upgrade of Russell Branyan or Andruw Jones, the two best candidates currently on the roster. Pronk's not the same hitter the Indians signed to a six-year, $66.1 million deal before the 2007 season, but he's still dangerous when at the plate, despite his injury concerns.

Hafner's home run rate has dropped from one per every 10.8 at-bats in 2006 to one every 25 at-bats last season (and a best of one every 21.1 at-bats in 2009 since 2006). But if he's healthy, his left-handed stroke would work well in new Yankee Stadium. While his power numbers have dropped, he still got on-base at a .361 rate, good for a 126 OPS+.

As for the Indians, a rotation with Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe, Burnett and Josh Tomlin should help in their chase with the Tigers.

In the end, it all comes down to money and just how much the Yankees would take off of Burnett's salary for 2013, but New York may not want to give much if they're taking Hafner's $13 million this season and the buy-out.

The Pirates have some good, young prospects and could offer more future talent while the Yankees could add one of the veteran free agent DHs still left on the market like Vladimir Guerrero or Johnny Damon at little financial hit.

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Posted on: February 12, 2012 11:46 am
Edited on: February 12, 2012 3:45 pm
 

Update on Burnett-to-Pirates trade talks

By Matt Snyder

This past week, trade talk connecting maligned Yankees starting pitcher A.J. Burnett to the Pirates picked up. Here's the latest, via CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman.

The Yankees and Pirates are still talking and there's been "progress and continuing optimism" on getting a deal done. One obvious snag to this point has been money, as Burnett is due a whopping $33 million for the next two seasons. The Pirates are willing to take on more than $10 million while the Yankees would prefer a 50/50 split, but there are indications of a compromise on the horizon. Next, the Yankees are seeking "at least a reasonably decent prospect" in return, but the Pirates are actually more willing to compromise on the money issue than prospects.

Pirates, Yankees talk trade
Burnett, 35, was 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 173 strikeouts in 190 1/3 innings last season for the Yankees. He led the majors in wild pitches, one season after leading the majors in hit batsmen. He's currently ticketed to be the Yankees' fifth starter, but shedding his salary would help free up some extra money to sign a left-handed designated hitter like Raul Ibanez, Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui.

If the proposed trade comes to fruition, Burnett would probably bump Jeff Karstens from the Pirates' rotation, joining Erik Bedard, James McDonald, Kevin Correia and Charlie Morton. Of course, Morton's health is in question to start the season and Bedard's health is pretty much always in question, so there would be a great bet that all six of the pitchers would get a good amount of starts.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 10:59 am
 

Spring position battles: American League East



By Matt Snyder


Here we are for the fifth of six installments of spring positional battles. This one is the mighty AL East, the most polarizing and probably best division in the majors.

Previous spring position battles: AL West | NL West | AL Central | NL Central

New York Yankees
Designated Hitter: Andruw Jones vs. Russell Branyan vs. Free Agent vs. Revolving Door

I still feel like the Yankees will sign either Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez or Hideki Matsui -- any of whom likely nails down this job full-time. But it's undecided as of right now, and wide open. Will Andruw Jones or Russell Branyan hit well enough to justify being the full-time DH? Maybe, or maybe they platoon -- as Jones hits from the right side while Branyan is a lefty. Or maybe the Yankees use bench players like Eduardo Nunez, Bill Hall and Chris Dickerson in the field while using starters like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher at DH a few times a week in order to keep guys healthy and in tip-top shape.

Tampa Bay Rays
No. 4-5 starters: Jeff Niemann vs. Wade Davis vs. Matt Moore vs. Six-man rotation

Talk about a nice "problem" to have. The Rays obviously have David Price, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson as the top three in the rotation. While there isn't a big problem with either Niemann or Davis, it's time to find a place in the rotation for Moore and I'm certain they will. The 22-year-old left-hander was awesome in his limited time in the majors last year, including a stellar outing against the Rangers in Texas for Game 1 of the ALDS. Moore's already received the type of team-friendly contract Evan Longoria got when he was a rookie -- as Moore is signed through 2016 with club options running all the way through 2019. So the question is, do the Rays demote either Niemann or Davis to the bullpen or trade one of them? Niemann would be the trade candidate, as Davis also has a team-friendly contract with club options that take him through 2017. And I doubt this happens, but the Rays could always go with a six-man rotation. Seeing how this plays out will a big spring storyline.

Boston Red Sox
Shortstop: Nick Punto vs. Mike Aviles vs. Jose Iglesias

After trading both Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie this offseason, the Red Sox are left with what appears to be Mike Aviles against Nick Punto at short. Punto had a good offensive campaign by his standards last season, when he hit .278 with a .388 on-base percentage. He only had six starts at shortstop, though, and his career numbers don't indicate he's worthy of an everyday gig at shortstop. Aviles also only started six games at short last season, and he only hit .255/.289/.409. He did hit well for the Red Sox, but it was a small 107 plate appearance sample. So the choice between Punto and Aviles is dubious defensively and neither is a good offensive option. Enter Iglesias, the dazzling defensive prospect. He's a dreadful hitter -- his line in Triple-A was .235/.285/.269 last season -- but it's not like Aviles or Punto are going to be confused with Troy Tulowitzki or anything. Maybe the Red Sox just plant Iglesias in the nine-hole and enjoy the exceptional defense?

Corner Outfield spots: Cody Ross vs. Ryan Sweeney vs. Carl Crawford and his health

Crawford is said to be questionable for the start of the season after undergoing minor wrist surgery a few weeks ago. If he's healthy, he starts in left easily while Sweeney and Ross battle it out for the right field job. If Crawford can't start the season, Ross and Sweeney are the corner outfielders, yet still fighting for the right field job for when Crawford returns. At some point, Ryan Kalish will return from offseason shoulder surgery and could eventually fight for playing time in right field as well.

Toronto Blue Jays
Outfield logjam: Colby Rasmus vs. Eric Thames vs. Rajai Davis vs. Travis Snider

We know who mans right field, but these four guys are competing for the other two spots. Thames in left field and Rasmus in center seem the most likely, but Davis will get a shot at either spot and Snider is in the mix for left.

No. 5 starter: Dustin McGowan vs. Kyle Drabek

This may bleed up into the No. 4 starter as well, but I'll give Brett Cecil the nod for now, since he is left-handed. The top three are Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow and Henderson Alvarez. So, for now, I'll guess the last spot comes down to McGowan and Drabek. McGowan was once a very promising young arm. He went 12-10 with a 4.08 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 144 strikeouts in 169 2/3 innings back in 2007, when he was 25. He then made 19 starts before falling injured in 2008 and finally just resurfaced late last season -- two shoulder surgeries and one knee surgery later. Does he have anything left? He was good in 12 minor-league starts in 2011, but had a 6.43 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in the small sample of 21 innings pitched for the Blue Jays. Drabek was a top 30 prospect each of the past two years, according to Baseball America, but he fell flat last season for the Jays. He had a 6.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP and more walks than strikeouts for the big-league club. Even worse, he was knocked around for Triple-A Las Vegas, to the tune of a 7.44 ERA and 2.03 WHIP in 75 innings. Walks, again, were an issue with Drabek issuing 41 compared to 45 strikeouts. Prospects Deck McGuire and Drew Hutchison could also figure in the mix eventually, but this feels like Drabek vs. McGowan heading into March.

Baltimore Orioles
The entire pitching staff: Johnny Wholestaff vs. Joe Allstaff

So let's see ... the following pitchers might have a chance at the starting rotation: Zach Britton (very safe bet), Jason Hammel (safe bet), Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Dana Eveland, Wei-Yin Chen, Tsuyoshi Wada, Alfredo Simon and Tommy Hunter. That's quite a mix of pitchers to sift through, but the job isn't overwith yet, because we have to look at the bullpen.

Three pitchers -- Jim Johnson, Matt Lindstrom and Kevin Gregg -- will compete for the closer job, with Troy Patton, Pedro Strop and Darren O'Day also being part of the bullpen mix. Of course, guys like Simon, Hunter and Bergesen will get a shot in the bullpen if they miss out on the rotation, too. There are more (Willie Eyre, Armando Galarraga, etc.), but I already named 17 pitchers vying for 12 spots.

We could probably move Simon and Hunter to the bullpen while eliminating Eveland from the starting mix, but that still leaves eight guys in competition. In the bullpen, Johnson seems the best bet to win the closer gig, with Lindstrom and Gregg setting up. Add Strop, Patton, Simon and Hunter and you have your seven. But, again, we've thrown out Eveland and there would still be three extra starters along with O'Day, Eyre et al on the outside looking in.

I'll say one thing: Orioles manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair won't be bored this spring. Maybe frustrated, but definitely not bored.

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 6:27 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 6:53 pm
 

Minor signings: Branyan, Suppan find homes

By Matt Snyder

We're coming up on the start of spring training, so these last several days will see plenty of minor-league signings. Wednesday, veteran pitcher Jeff Suppan and veteran slugger Russell Branyan were signed. The Yankees inked Branyan to a minor-league deal while the Padres locked up Suppan with a minor-league deal of their own.

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Branyan, 36, will get $750,000 plus incentives if he makes the team, reports CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, and could prove to be a pretty interesting signing for the Yankees. He's left-handed and has good power. He hit 31 homers in 116 games for the Mariners in 2009 and then hit 25 bombs in 428 plate appearances in 2010. Now, last season Branyan hit just .197/.295/.370 for the Diamondbacks and Angels. Still, with the short porch in right field and the Yankees having a possible need at DH (Andruw Jones is probably the best bet to get most DH at-bats right now), this has a shot at paying off. Then again, if the Yankees sign Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon or Raul Ibanez, Branyan's chances of making the club plummet.

Suppan, 37, will get $950,000 if he makes the Padres, per Heyman. Suppan spent the entire 2011 season in Triple-A, going 11-8 with a 4.78 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 165 2/3 innings. He last pitched in the majors in 2010, where he split time between the Brewers and Cardinals. He hasn't really been a productive pitcher since 2006. The good news for the Padres is he's simply organizational depth. Tim Stauffer, Clayton Richard, Edinson Volquez, Cory Luebke and Dustin Moseley appear to be the rotation with Micah Owings next in line.

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 5:19 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 8:18 pm
 

Will A-Rod pass torch to Harper as most disliked?

By Matt Snyder

Earlier Wednesday, Forbes.com released its annual list of most disliked athletes, and only one baseball player appeared on it. Not surprisingly, it was Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees. Now, I don't say that because I personally dislike A-Rod (I don't), but it's pretty evident he's the most hated baseball player among casual fans nation-wide.

[EYE ON NFL: Suh, Vick, Burress among most-disliked athletes]

But seeing the list got me thinking -- from a baseball standpoint, because that's what I do -- of two different things. First of all, that's pretty cool that only one player made the list. The NBA and NFL combined for seven of the top 10. Plus, a few years ago, I'm sure A-Rod would have been joined by Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez.

So is baseball becoming more irrelevant? I'd say no. The World Series got gigantic ratings and earlier this year was tied with college football for second in a poll of America's favorite sport (take a wild guess as to what was No. 1).

So it's entirely possible baseball's new crop of players are just that much more likable. The testing for PEDs has to help, obviously, because fans really seem to hate guys getting rich and taking down records from beloved players like Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and the like by cheating the system. I feel like there's more to it, but that's probably a different discussion for a different day.

Anyway, the second thing that came to mind was this: A-Rod's been a fan punching bag for far too long. Isn't it old at this point? And, really, "A-Roid?" C'mon, let's be more creative than that. Baseball needs a new Public Enemy No. 1.

Bud Selig probably qualifies for many, judging from the intense ire he draws in our comments section, just as Frank McCourt and the Wilpon family do, but this is only for players.

And my best guess is Bryce Harper.

Just as I did with A-Rod above, I'll start by pointing out that I don't dislike Harper. My colleague Gregg Doyel wrote last August about how unfairly maligned Harper is. But there's only so much that can do. Let's look at the elements that I subjectively think usually cause the national public to dislike a player -- and see how they apply to Harper.

1. He's rich. C'mon. Let's face it. Jealousy is what drives most hate, and many fans are jealous of rich athletes to begin with. But it can't be just this, otherwise every single player would be hated.

2. He's not like them. Bryce Harper was so talented he began to gain significant hype when he was 15 years old. He was rich before he turned 18, so it wasn't like he labored as an adult to "make it." Also, many sports fans are loyal to their teams and cities. Harper is a fair weather fan. He recently took to Twitter to defend himself for growing up a fan of: Duke basketball, USC football, the Yankees, the Lakers and the Cowboys. I'm guessing that makes millions of fans cringe.

3. Excessive hype. Fans generally seem to get sick of hearing about guys and hard-core baseball fans have already been hearing about Harper for the past three-plus years. And he's still not even 20. It's only going to build as he gets closer to joining the Nationals.

4. Outward arrogance/bad PR. While Harper works hard, never gets in trouble off the field and seems to have great intentions, he's had a few public relations issues already. He blew a kiss at a pitcher after homering off him in the minors last year. He was ejected from a game for screaming at an umpire. At the Future's Game last year, he missed a cutoff man that ended up costing his team a run, but in the locker room he said he didn't care that he just wanted to show off his arm. It also didn't help when a coach said he faced the most scrutiny of any player since Jackie Robinson (which isn't a comparison, but when the names are used side-by-side it just feels wrong to many).

Fair or not -- and I'd argue almost all of this is unfair -- many fans are already taking to message boards and Twitter and calling Harper things like a "spoiled little kid." I'm guessing that Harper hits this list within the next few years. So maybe A-Rod passes the torch to Harper.

And here's the thing that is most important: The entire general public doesn't "hate" someone irrelevant. So Nationals fans should actually be rooting for Harper to be good enough to "deserve," if you will, the impending wave of scorn.

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Posted on: February 7, 2012 4:07 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 9:03 pm
 

Yankees sign Bill Hall to minor-league deal

By Matt Snyder

Free agent Bill Hall has signed with the Yankees. The news was broken by Bill Hall, as he just posted on his own Twitter account: "IT'S OFFICIAL IM A YANKEE!!!!!!!! #IwannaRing!!!!" CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman reports that Hall signed a minor-league deal worth $600,000 with incentives.

Hall, 32, spent the first seven years of his career with the Brewers, but he's become a journeyman since then. In the past three seasons, he's played for five teams (including another stint with the Brewers). Last season, he spent time with both the Giants and the Astros, hitting .211/.261/.314 with two home runs and 14 RBI in 199 plate appearances. He did hit 18 homers in just 344 at-bats for the Red Sox in 2010, so there's hope for a decent season.

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Hall played second base and left field last season, but he's spent a lot of time at third base, too. If Hall makes the club, he'll provide infield depth along with Eduardo Nunez.

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Posted on: February 4, 2012 12:16 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2012 12:19 pm
 

Yankees could bring back Damon or Matsui



Raul IbanezBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he'd still like another bat for his lineup and would be interested in two former Yankees returning to the Bronx.

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"Johnny [Damon] has been a great player for a long time," Girardi told Dan Martin of the New York Post. "There's been a bunch of names talked about, and they're all good players. [Raul] Ibanez, he's had a great career, and [Hideki] Matsui has had a great career. Obviously, we know what Johnny and [Matsui] have meant to this organization and Ibanez has had success wherever he's been. … I can't tell you it's going to be one of those three guys, but we know they know how to play here."

The Yankees had been counting on Jesus Montero as their main designated hitter, but he was traded to Seattle for Michael Pineda. Instead of the 22-year-old Montero as the DH, it appears the Yankees want to go with a much older player and expect the new DH to be more of a complementary player than an impact bat like Montero. Matsui, Damon and Ibanez are 37, 38 and 39, respectively.

Matsui, a Yankee from 2003-2009, hit .251/.321/.375 with 12 home runs for the A's last season. Damon, a Yankee from 2006-2009, hit .261/.326/.418 with 16 homers for the Rays last season. Ibanez has never played for the Yankees, but spent the last three seasons in Philadelphia. He hit .245/.289/.419 with 20 home runs in 2011.

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Posted on: February 3, 2012 7:53 am
Edited on: February 3, 2012 10:13 am
 

Baseball's worst contracts, Part III: Pitchers



By Matt Snyder


As we conclude the short series on overpaid players, we'll take a look at the man on the hill: The pitcher.

The interesting thing I found about pitchers is that not too many "long-term" contracts stood out like a sore thumb as being bad in terms of what is left on the current deal. A lot of the honorable mention types are for just one year, maybe two. This, I believe, illustrates the caution the overwhelming majority of teams exercise when coughing up long-term deals for pitchers.

That doesn't mean there are no guys on the list, however. We have a couple really good fits.

As a reminder, we're only talking about the contracts from now until the conclusion of the deal. Any money already banked doesn't count in this exercise.

Right-handed starters

Worst: John Lackey
Remaining contract: 3 years, $47.85 million

Ignore that Lackey is injured now and will miss all of the 2012 season. In fact, that actually helps the Red Sox here if last season was any indication. Lackey was brutal in '11, putting together a 6.41 ERA, 1.62 WHIP while leading the majors in earned runs and wild pitches. He allowed a whopping 203 hits in his 160 innings pitched and posted a negative WAR (Wins Above Replacement player). And when he's healthy again, he'll be 34.

Honorable Mention

A.J. Burnett, Yankees: He helped the Yankees win the World Series title in 2009, but was he really integral? He was bad in the ALCS and was terrible in one of his World Series starts after leading the league in walks and wild pitches during the regular season. Since then, Burnett is 21-26 with a 5.20 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. He's now the Yankees' fifth starter and will make $33 million for the next two seasons.

"Fausto Carmona," Indians: He may miss the season after being caught for identity fraud (his name is actually Roberto Hernandez Heredia). He's due $7 million this season.

Jake Peavy, White Sox: It's hard to not appreciate the way Peavy is an absolute bulldog on the hill, but he was 7-7 with a 4.92 ERA last season as he battled back from a severe injury and he's set to make $17 million in 2012.

Jake Westbrook, Cardinals: Twelve starts in 2010 got Westbrook a two-year deal with the Cardinals. He's going to make $8.5 million this season after a pretty bad 2011 campaign.

Carlos Zambrano, Cubs/Marlins: He'll make $19 million this year, but the Cubs are paying most of it so Big Z can pitch for the Marlins.

Derek Lowe, Braves/Indians: He'll make $15 million this year, but the Braves are paying most of it so Lowe can pitch for the Indians.

Left-handed starters

Worst: Barry Zito
Remaining contract: 2 years, $39 million

Perhaps the worst news is there's actually a club option for 2014. Now, obviously the Giants won't pick that up, barring Zito becoming Tim Lincecum overnight, but there's a $7 million buyout if they don't pick up the option. So Zito will cost the Giants $47 million more, at the very least, before they can wash their hands of him. This actually has to be one of the worst contracts of all time. Zito is 43-61 with a 4.55 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and zero postseason innings pitched in his five seasons with the Giants.

Honorable Mention

Johan Santana, Mets: He was earning his deal pre-injury, so this one isn't really anyone's fault. Santana is due $49.5 million for the next two seasons, though, so that is rough.

Relievers

Worst: Rafael Soriano
Remaining contract: 2 years, $25 million

Soriano wasn't even the Yankees' best setup man last season (David Robertson was way better). Soriano was a stud in Tampa Bay in '10, so it's possible he's a great closer for the Yankees in 2013, if Mariano Rivera retires. But even when Soriano had a good second half last season, his numbers weren't awesome. And, again, we're talking about a non-closer making eight figures per season.

Honorable Mention

Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies: It will be interesting to see how Papelbon performs throughout this contract. He could very well earn his $50 million over the course of the next four years, but I'm wondering what the Phillies' front office thought when they saw that the Reds signed 2011 Philly closer Ryan Madson to a one-year, $8.5 million deal. I also wonder how this deal will feel if the Phillies can't find a way to lock up Cole Hamels long-term (he's a free agent next offseason). So this one has less to do with Papelbon and more to do with what the deal might end up costing the Phillies, because $50 million is an awful lot to give to a closer.

Brandon Lyon, Astros: Lyon will make $5.5 million this season. His 2011 season was cut short due to an injury, but he had an 11.48 ERA with as many blown saves as actual saves (four).



Part I: Infielders and catchers
Part II: Outfielders and designated hitters

Source for all figures was Cot's Baseball Contracts

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com