Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Most Expensive International Free Agents

I'm not sure how it is in other worlds, but the international free agent market in Feller seems competitive. High quality IFAs rarely sign for anything under $15m, and regularly go over $20m.

Part of this is due to budgeting and lack of carryover. If you don't use your prospect budget, it's lost, so owners often hold out hope a future all-star will pop up late in the season and there's usually a scramble at the very end to grab whatever's left. Compared to the amateur draft, international free agency is a gamble, but the rewards can be worth the risk.

It's also essentially the only method outside of trading for successful teams to grab high-level prospects. Glancing over the past 10 seasons of signings, you'll see a lot of the best organizations highly active on the IFA market, from long-standing dynasties (Cleveland, Columbus, Washington DC) to the teams on the rise (Seattle, Toledo and San Francisco).

The following is a list of the five most expensive IFAs in Feller history, and my prediction as to whether they'll be worth the cost. Of course, "worth the cost" is a relative statement, since market demands and talent levels per class vary. In an ideal world, though, $20m should net an All-Star.

1. Carlos Rosa (3B) - $25.2m by Toledo Muddy Webfoots in Season 14

Will he be worth it? Yes. He's 25 now, and has three seasons in the bigs with a .879 career OPS. His makeup, endurance, and health indicate he'll have a long career. He's a great fielder at 3B, blazing fast, and a very good hitter. Awards haven't happened yet (outside of the two times he's hit for cycle), but they will. He should have a number of All-Star appearances in his future.

2. Luis Almonte (CF) - $24.5 by Seattle Suckerfish in Season 17

Will he be worth it? Maybe. Only 20 years old, but he's an ideal leadoff hitter in CF. He lacks power, but he's got great speed and and a terrific batting eye. With a 64 Makeup rating, reaching his full potential will be a concern. He may not be an MVP, but he'll be a very good roleplayer for a young, dangerous Seattle squad.

3. Orber Martin (SP) - $23.2m by Charlotte Sturgeon in Season 13

Will he be worth it? Maybe. Martin has the potential to be a very good ML starter, a 4th or 5th option on Charlotte's incredible staff. So far, he's been mediocre, with a 4.45 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. His main concern is control; he'll be lucky to top out over 70 in that rating.

4. Eduardo De La Rosa (3B/2B) - $22.9 by Portland Timbers in Season 11

Will he be worth it? Probably not. While a great defensive asset at 3B, a career OPS of .737 over his first five seasons isn't great. Since I signed him, I know this was one of those desperate end-of-the-season grabs, though the field that season wasn't much better. Except for MVP candidate Geraldo Marichal, I mean, who signed for $5.2m that year. The money clearly could've been better spent.

5. Naoto Suzuki (C) - $22.4 by Baltimore Blast (now Syracuse Excuse) in Season 13

Will he be worth it? Probably. His defense is serviceable enough to get by behind the plate, and his 72 Durability means he'll need a decent backup, but his 88 Power and 95/93 splits are beast-like. On the day this post was written, Suzuki ripped off 4 home runs and 9 RBIs in one game. His career OPS in the bigs is .912. Maybe he won't play everyday, but he's got the kind of bat that changes a game. Season 13 featured a number of quality IFAs (from the aforementioned Orber Martin to Max Arias), but Suzuki could end up being the best, at least when he's on the field.

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