Grading the 2019 MLB season free agent signings

CLEARWATER, FL - MARCH 2: John Middleton, Philadelphia Phillies managing parter, shakes hands with Bryce Harper as general manager Matt Klentak looks on during the press conference introducing Harper as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday March 2, 2019 at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB via Getty Images)
CLEARWATER, FL - MARCH 2: John Middleton, Philadelphia Phillies managing parter, shakes hands with Bryce Harper as general manager Matt Klentak looks on during the press conference introducing Harper as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday March 2, 2019 at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Grading the 2019 MLB season free agent signings

American League West

Give Jeff Luhnow credit. The Houston Astros general manager spent $26.5 million – a relatively modest sum – on three free agents last winter and came away with three contributors. Only one of the three, by the way, was considered a front-tier pickup.

The exception was Michael Brantley, who Luhnow plucked for $16 million. That’s a healthy sum, but Brantley has rewarded it with a 2.9 WAA 2019 MLB season, the second strongest among AL West signees.

For perspective, Luhnow’s $26.5 million spent ranked only third in the Astros’ division.

Aside from Brantley, Houston also snared catcher Robinson Chirinos (1.8 WAA) and pitcher Wade Miley (0.9).

The only AL West player generating a stronger WAA than Brantley is also the free-agent class’s leader in that category, Texas pitcher Lance Lynn. At a $9.3 million price, he’s given the Rangers 4.8 WAA. The problem is that Texas GM Jon Daniels signed 14 free agents, and Lynn is the only one above 0.6. The net impact of those 14 has been -0.5 WAA…that at a cost of $29.58 million.

Los Angeles’ Billy Eppler splurged last winter, and that splurge produced only trouble. Eppler signed nine free agents, laying out $35.35 million in 2019 dollars to do so. This is what that $35.35 million bought him: Matt Harvey, Trevor Cahill, Justin Bour, Cody Allen, a couple of months worth of Jonathan Lucroy and four guys you never heard of. The net return on that $35.35 million: -5.6 WAA, MLB’s worst figure.

Like Eppler, Oakland GM David Forst was also active, signing nine players. The difference was that Forst shopped at the bargaining table. He netted only a -1.20 return, but at least it just cost him $21.6 million.

Seattle GM Jerry DiPoto largely occupied himself with trades, but he did take the time to sign seven free agents, notably Japanese pitcher Yusei Kikuchi. The pitcher cost him $10 million and has returned -0.6 WAA; in fact none of DiPoto’s pickups did better than reliever Cory Gearrin’s 0.4 WAA. But at least they came cheap.

Grades

  • Houston: Net ROI: A; Gross ROI: A. GPA. A
  • Oakland: Net ROI: C. Gross ROI: C. GPA: C
  • Seattle: Net ROI: C; Gross ROI: C. GPA: C
  • Texas Rangers: Net ROI: D+; Gross ROI: C. GPA: C-
  • Los Angeles Angels: Net ROI: F. Gross ROI: F. GPA: F