This has been the winter of the overpay, not to be confused with Overbay, the new Pirates first baseman who was himself overpaid. These monster deals for very good players and pretty big deals for OK players really shouldn't have shocked anyone. Beyond this being the golden age of baseball, the laws of supply and demand worked in favor of the players. There were relievers aplenty, and designated hitters galore, but beyond that, talent was in scarce supply. Here are the overpays and underpays of the winter:
1. Jayson Werth: $126 million, 7 years, Nationals. Washington GM Mike Rizzo has acknowledged this deal is an overpay but felt he was worth it (no pun intended) to start the Nats on road to establishing credibility. Werth is a five-tool player with an off-the-charts pedigree, but is still unproven as a No. 3 or 4 hitter.
2. Craig Counsell: $1.4 million, one year, Brewers. Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin believes in having strong depth and has never been shy about handing out decent-sized contracts to solid backups. Counsell is a clutch payer and superb clubhouse influence but he's a Milwaukee native and resident and there's no shot he wanted to leave town.
3. Carlos Peña: $10 million, 1 year, Cubs. It made sense for the Cubs because Peña gives them a strong defender at first base who should crack 30-plus home runs playing home games at Wrigley Field, and the one-year deal sets them up to play for Prince Fielder or even Albert Pujols (if he's a free agent) after the season. So I don't blame them. You just don't often see eight-figure salaries for sub-.200 hitters though.
4. Kevin Correia: $8 million, 2 years, Pirates. Despite an off year (10-10, 5.40 ERA) he got one of the most surprising contracts of the winter. We're rooting for him, though, after the tragic loss of his younger brother in a hiking accident last May.
5. Octavio Dotel: $3.5 million, 1 year, Blue Jays. Dotel has a great arm but has been habitually overpaid throughout his career. That's good for his agents, but bad for the teams.
6. Juan Uribe: $21 million, 3 years, Dodgers. The rival Giants were said to be willing to pay $20 million for three years so we have to concede this is indeed somehow his market price. Uribe is a clutch player who's been part of two championship teams in six years, but his on-base percentage (.310 in 2010, .300 for his career) is weirdly low. He's a good player, but he'll also be playing mostly second base in L.A., which diminishes his value a bit as a strong-armed infielder.
7. Aubrey Huff: $22 million, 2 years, Giants. This is the one that is said by Giants people to have annoyed Uribe, who apparently saw himself in a similar class. Huff deserved more, but this much? Good job by Ed Hayes, a noted lawyer who made a cameo here as a baseball agent.
8. Lyle Overbay: $5 million, 1 year, Pirates. Isn't Russell Branyan, who has yet to sign a new contract, better than Overbay at this point?
9. John Buck: $18 million, 3 years, Marlins. He certainly solves Florida's catching issue. But this looks like the classic case of a player turning one big year (20 home runs, 66 RBIs) into a long deal. In this case, it was one of many players who had big power seasons with the Blue Jays. Should the money have gone instead to Jays hitting coach Dwayne Murphy?
10. Kyle Farnsworth: $3.25 million, 1 year, Rays. Well, they needed someone for their bullpen. But rather to bring back Randy Choate, who got less than this number on two years from the Marlins, they settled for a great talent who was a failure in his first foray in the AL East, with the Yankees from 2006-08
11. Matt Diaz: $4.25 million, 2 years, Pirates. He turned a non tender into a bonanza. Good for him. But we didn't get his explanation for taking the Pirates over the Dodgers. Well, to each his own.
12. Adrian Beltre: $96 million, six years, Rangers. It's just $80 million for five years not counting the sixth option year. Beltre is a fine all-around player who just happened to put together his second best offensive season (the first happened the first time he was about to become a free agent). Not that my predictions are expected to be dead on, but I missed by at least half on this one, having predicted he would get a $40-million, three-year deal. Still, he helps Texas immensely, giving them the best defensive left side of the infield in baseball.
13. Scott Downs: $15 million, three years, Angels. The Angels didn't exactly "go for the downs'' this winter, unless you mean this middle reliever. They were outbid for top targets Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre. Seems they'd rather overpay for good middle relievers then spend on true difference-makers.
14. Arthur Rhodes: $4.1 million, 1 year, Rangers. Rhodes had one of his best years last year, making the All-Star team for the first time at age 40. But can anyone expect him to repeat that performance in the AL?
15. Brad Penny: $3 million, 1 year, Tigers. Not as bad as the $7.5 million the Cardinals "invested'' last year. At this stage he's a solid No. 5 starter when healthy. One big plus: He's said to have gotten into better shape since becoming engaged to Dancing With the Stars dancer Karina Smirnoff.
16. Lance Berkman: $8 million, 1 year, Cardinals. He had a few moments with the Yankees, who acquired him from Houston late last season, where he looked out of shape but I still think he can hit. He's also a great guy for a clubhouse, and probably livable in leftfield (at best). But coming off a .248, 14 home run, 58 RBI season, this seems a tad steep.
17. Kevin Gregg: $10 million, 2 years, Orioles. Gregg's contract could reach $16-to-$20 million for three years, depending on some vesting numbers. Agent Danny Horwits of the Beverly Hills Sports Council had a big winter with relievers (Rhodes is also his, he shares Dotel with co-agent Dominic Brown and he got $4 million for two years for Will Ohman coming off an uncharacteristically poor season.)
18. Miguel Cairo: $2 million, 2 years, Reds. One of the Reds' greatest weaknesses in the playoffs last year was having Cairo as their first righthanded bat of the bench. If he isn't done, he's close.
19. D.J. Carrasco: $2.5 million, 2 years, Mets. If they think he's going to replace Pedro Feliciano and Hisanori Takahashi, they have another thing coming. Couldn't this money have been better spent on a starter with upside? And two years? For him?
20. Carl Crawford: $142 million, seven years, Red Sox. Sure, he's a great player. But is he this great? The Red Sox were said to be genuinely surprised to have beaten the favored Angels for Crawford's services. There were conflicting reports as to how high Los Angeles of Anaheim got. Some close to the team say they would have gone this high, if given more time. But Crawford, who didn't want to avoid Boston so badly, as it turns out, gave his word once the Red Sox got past $140 million. He's a fine all-around player, but he's still the highest-paid position player never to hit as many as 20 home runs.
1. Kerry Wood: $1.5 million, 1 year, Cubs. This is such an underpay it doesn't even make any sense. Word is, Wood has at the very least a verbal side deal to work for the Cubs forever. But this dollar figure seems so out of whack, no one could believe it at the time. The Yankees would have given him $10 million for two years. Hopefully, the personal services work in Chicago after his career will be high paying.
2. Paul Konerko: $37.5 million, 3 years, White Sox. With a 3.12 average, 39 home runs and 111 RBIs, he had a monster 2010 season but because he loves White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf so much he was really never a threat to leave. The White Sox paid him a fair salary in a down market, one in which he should have topped $15 million a year or at least gotten close to that number.
3. Hideki Matsui: $4.25 million, 1 year, A's. This seems to be a steal, though I'm not exactly sure why he was worth less than half of what Magglio Ordoñez got from the Tigers ($10 million). Apparently, Matsui enjoyed the West Coast so much he wanted to stay after spending last year with the Angels.
4. Vicente Padilla: $2 million, 1 year, Dodgers. Not only did he sign for a reasonable amount, he did it to be the Dodgers' sixth starter. He's turned himself around as a Dodger, and probably made the right call not to go elsewhere but he's better than a $2 million pitcher.
5. Rich Harden: $1.5 million, 1 year, A's. If he ever stays healthy, someone's going to get themselves a bargain. A great guy with a world of talent but a well-known propensity to get hurt.
6. Cliff Lee: $120 million, 5 years, Phillies. Sure, this great clutch pitcher got the highest yearly salary ever for a pitcher, and he got double the money Phillies' ace Roy Halladay got just one year prior. Great job by agent Darek Braunecker to get this much from the only team Lee wanted to play for, even if he left around $30 million on the table (the Yankees offered $148 million). That's admirable, but gets Lee on the underpaid list because we know he could have had more.
7. Jon Garland: $5 million, 1 year, Dodgers. This very solid and consistent pitcher probably could have gotten multiple years elsewhere.
8. Matt Treanor: $850,000, 1 year, Rangers. A virtual coach and reliable backstop, he was probably wise to stay with the the team that sees him as a future manager.
8. Victor Martinez: $50 million, four years, Tigers. That deal is nothing to scoff at, but it just seems he could have squeezed a few more million out of his deal. The Tigers probably did well signing him early in the offseason. The Orioles were at $48 million and the Red Sox weren't far behind, either.
9. Eric Hinske: $1.45 million, 1 yr. Braves. Took this deal over a similar one from the Brewers. He is a good-luck charm who brings power and versatility.
10. Jason Varitek: $2 million, 1 year, Red Sox. They turned down an option for a bit more and saved themselves some loot, taking advantage of the common knowledge that he loves the Red Sox and wouldn't dare go elsewhere. He's not the catcher he used to be but still solid insurance in case Jarrod Saltalamacchia doesn't turn out to be the dynamic player Red Sox people envision.
11. Brandon Webb: $3 million 1 year, Rangers. If healthy, he's a top of the rotation starter and so worth the risk. Their own team doctor, Keith Meister, did the shoulder surgery on Webb in Aug. 2009, so his butt's on the line here.
12. Derrek Lee: $7.25 million, 1 year, Orioles. The assumption is that he turned down the $8.5 million offer from the Padres because he likes his chances to put up better numbers in Camden Yards (it's either that or the crab cakes), and it's hard to blame him if that's his reasoning. But after Baltimore has so much trouble landing free agents, this number looks well within reason.
13. Pat Burrell: $1 million, 1 year, Giants. You know who two of the last three World Series champions had as their starting leftfielder? That's right, this guy. He's no charmer, but he fits into their clubhouse and can hit pitching that is either mediocre or a Met.
14. Dioner Navarro: $1 million, 1 year, Dodgers. He had a falling out with Rays manager Joe Maddon but he's worth a flier at this price.
15. A.J. Pierzynski: $8 million, 2 years, White Sox. Word is he could have gotten more with the Blue Jays or Dodgers and came within a whisker of signing with L.A. Another of the longtime White Sox loyalists.
16. Scott Olsen: $500,000, 1 year, Pirates. His career has hit the skids, but he's a lefty with talent and thus worth a look.
17. Jim Thome: $3 million, 1 year, Twins. The future Hall of Famer proved last year he's still got it, hitting 25 home runs in 276 at-bats. In a tight market for DHs he's a real bragain.
• The annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation dinner is to be held Saturday night at the Century City Hyatt in Los Angeles. The event, one of the best around, is sold out, and features an spectacular memorabilia auction and a dinner that will honor Tom Seaver, Brooks Robinson, Robin Yount, Bobby Valentine, Jim Fregosi and the Lachemanns. Bud Selig will speak, and the co-masters of ceremony will be Larry King and Bob Uecker and further entertainment will be provided by actor and comedian Jon Lovitz. The scouts dinner, held to benefit baseball scouts in need, is run by Dennis Gilbert, the former superagent who is now a White Sox executive and one of the prime candidates to purchase the Dodgers should Frank McCourt sell the team.
• The Angels continue to strike out. They started at $60 million for Beltre, which was below the A's early, well-publicized $64-million bid, but eventually got to $75 million -- still $21 million below what the AL West-rival Rangers signed Beltre for.
• The Rays are looking or a DH and seem to like Vladimir Guerrero best, followed by Manny Ramirez.
• Carl Pavano's Twins deal is taking longer than expected. It appears that some other team may be making a run. But executives still see the Twins as the favorite. He's their ace,and they need him, especially with Orlando Hudson, Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain already defecting, and Jon Rauch likely to go.
• Rauch is being considered by the Jays and Rays, among others.
• The Jays also are talking to Brian Fuentes.
• The Yankees want a righthanded-hitting outfielder. They would like Andruw Jones but are still apart on money. They also like Marcus Thames (though his defense was a concern last year) and Johnny Damon, who hits lefties well for a lefthander. Damon has expressed particular interest in playing in the AL East, and the Rays are another possibility.