Tier 2: Mostly Efficient Spending Teams

Tier 2: Mostly Efficient Spending Teams   Tier 2: Mostly Efficient Spending Teams Team Dollars Spent fWAR Generated $/fWAR World Series Appeared In Playoff Appearances Arizona Diamondbacks 412258202 55.4 $...

Tier 2: Mostly Efficient Spending Teams


This is a tricky tier to label properly because there are competing themes at play. On the one hand, you have teams like the Dodgers, who have used their financial might to take risky shots on players (and thus why their $/fWAR wasn’t even better) but have still succeeded in free agency and where it matters most. On the other hand, you have the perpetually-playoff-chasing Mariners, who have been efficient with their finances in free agency and have still failed to get sustainable positive results on the field.

The most surprising entry in this tier was the Mariners. You would think with their zero playoff appearances that they were completely irresponsible with their free agent cash, but actually, Seattle has been just fine with its money.


Seattle Mariners


In fact, they haven’t even missed too badly on any contract. Here are the “worst” Mariner contracts of the past 10 off-seasons:

The Not-So-Good Mariners Contracts

Kikuchi got a good chunk of money from the Mariners and never really lived up to it, but he still produced a positive fWAR. Rzepczynski and Rodney didn’t produce much, but Seattle didn’t commit much to either of them, anyway.

Seattle’s “winners” have been especially good:

The Good Mariners Contracts

It’s a good thing the Mariners cut bait with Cano when they did, because not only did he net them a strong $/fWAR value, but in his trade to the Mets, the Mariners picked up Jarred Kelenic.


Milwaukee Brewers


The Brewers haven’t really missed. Take a look at their year-by-year investments:

The Brewers Don’t Miss

Zero negative contract years, with every year producing greater than 1 fWAR? Not even the Rays, Pirates, or A’s could lay claim to that. When they did miss, the Brewers’ $/fWAR didn’t even get too bad. Let’s take a look at the 2012-13 off-season:

Maybe They Do, A Little Bit

Lohse might not have lived up to all the expectations the Brewers had for him (and most teams would kill for that kind of value from a pitcher contract), but at $10 million/fWAR, it’s above the Brewers’ regular rate. The extra misses in 2012-13 didn’t do much in a vacuum, but when added to Lohse’s “bad” contract, it completes a rare miss of an off-season for the Brewers. It didn’t even come in the midst of a strong Brew Crew playoff window, as the Brewers spent 6 seasons trying to get back to the playoffs after their 2011 loss in the NLCS. None of these guys were on the team when the Brewers reached the playoffs in 2018.


Minnesota Twins


Look at the Twins, doing some great stuff in the off-season. That’s the kind of stuff that will really complement your core players! While the Twins have unfortunately run into the New York Yankees in the playoffs too many times, there’s only so much you can do when you get there:

One of the things Minnesota’s free agent profile lacks is a huge “home run” signing. They’ve got some good value contracts, but no contract as comically undervalued as some of the other ones with teams in this tier and in the tier above them. The Twins have been pretty good at just getting solid value out of the guys in free agency:

The T-Wins

One thing you’ll notice throughout Minnesota’s free agent forays is how much of a cheat code signing Nelson Cruz is. All the man does is mash, year-in and year-out, and the team lucky enough to get him at far under his true market value gets to reap the rewards. Alternatively, with the Ervin Santana contract, you can see how signing a long-term deal can sometimes come back to “bite” a team. The teams in lower-ranked tiers, like Minnesota, had their $/fWAR hit harder by each player’s aging curve, as the fWAR production dried out as the players got older, and teams often felt they needed to keep these players on the roster because of the large financial commitment they made to the player.

Alternatively, the Twins didn’t suffer too many “bad losses,” as they kept their financial commitments relatively light and short-term:

The T-Losses

I’m going to be honest, I thought that¬†Addison Reed¬†contract was a typo upon first look. Technically, Reed signed that contract for 2 years, but the Twins cut him in May of 2019 after Reed failed to see the field in April 2019, so it’s reflected as a 1 year contract. The same goes for Andrelton Simmons, but I will cut the Twins some slack here because Simmons only signed for a year. And Ryan Doumit¬†just stunk it up — luckily for the Twins, a short-lived stink — for a little bit.


Arizona Diamondbacks


Arizona survived one heck of a bad contract in¬†Yasmany Tomas¬†to post a top-10 showing in $/fWAR. And similarly to the Mariners, the Diamondbacks haven’t had a whole lot of playoff success, even with their free agent spending efficiency. They’re also the first team to spend more than the average and still post a strong efficiency rating. Let’s take a look at some of their wins:

A-Win-Zona Diamondbacks

Some of the teams with good, efficient spending have been carried by some fantastic investments in high-priced free agents (you’ll see one when we get to the Nationals). But the Diamondbacks have taken swings on free agents in different cycles of team competitiveness and have had success in each.¬†Eduardo Escobar‘s contract would have been even better without a rough 2020 in the middle of those 2 other great years. And¬†Zack Greinke¬†was just plain good. The Diamondbacks weren’t able to pick up a big win in the Greinke trade as I see it; they picked up Seth Beer¬†in that deal, but didn’t get a whole lot else (Depending on how much you love¬†Josh Rojas). The jury is still out on the Escobar trade, as the Diamondbacks did acquire semi-promising prospect Cooper Hummel¬†from the Brewers in the exchange.

Arizona’s Losses

Staying with the “One contract from each ‘era'” theme, we have a bad contract from each of the different competitive cycles of the Diamondbacks. Yasmany Tomas was an obvious one, and Kubel’s contract isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great. There aren’t a lot of bad contracts to choose from with Arizona, and my editor said I have to pick 3, so I went with Madison Bumgarner. He’s still got some time left to be good, and 2020 was an aberration of a year for a lot of good players, so I was hesitant to select him. But the amount of money committed to Bumgarner relative to what the Snakes have gotten from him hasn’t really been worth it yet.


Washington Nationals


The Nationals were pushed up this high by a pair of fantastic, high-value contracts. The rest of their free agent spending is littered with “meh” and “not so good” contracts.

Adam Sloate

Die-hard Angels fan since birth; misses the good ol' days of Vladdy, Kendrys, and Weaver. Temple University alumnus, UCLA Law student.

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