What a deal! (cont.)
11. Vladimir Guerrero, Angels outfielder, 2004; $75 million, five years. Guerrero's deal was signed in a tough winter for free agents, when all the owners decided to toughen their stance on big contracts. In the end, the Angels got him, right before the Dodgers could get their act together to match or beat it.
12. Bernie Williams, Yankees outfielder, re-signed 1999; $87.5 million, seven years. While this was a lot of money, it was worth it. The beauty was keeping Williams away from the Red Sox, who chased Williams once he became a free agent. Two World Series titles soon followed.
13. Paul Molitor, Blue Jays designated hitter, 1993; $13 million, three years. Back then, the Blue Jays were doing almost everything right and Molitor was the right guy for the right team. He won World Series MVP honors in his first season as the Jays captured their second straight title.
14. Pete Rose, Phillies first baseman, 1979; $3.2 million four years. In his second year in Philadelphia, Rose sparked the Phillies to their only World Series title. He'll be remembered as a Red, but he made a big contribution in Philly, too.
15. Steve Garvey, Padres first baseman, 1983; $6.6 million, five years. He took his act 120 miles south to San Diego, and it worked. The 1984 NLCS MVP led the Padres to their first World Series appearance.
16. Magglio Ordonez, Tigers outfielder, 2005; $75 million, five years. This contract seemed plain nuts when it was agreed to following a year in which Ordonez was out with a knee injury. But it now looks as reasonable as Guerrero's deal with the Angels. One of several free agents who helped turn the Tigers from laughingstock to winner.
17. Jimmy Key, Yankees pitcher, 1993; $17 million, four years. He was the right man at the right time after the Yankees failed to lure Maddux and David Cone to the Bronx. Cool customer aided the Yankees' revival, then stuck around for the World Series title in 1996. Better than most remember.
18. Pudge Rodriguez, Tigers catcher, 2004; $40 million, four years. Left the World Champion Marlins and took a chance on coming to Detroit when no one else would and helped turn things around in Motown.
19. Hideki Okajima, Red Sox reliever, 2007; $2.5 million, two years. His signing drew no headlines, yet he has been superb as a set-up man in Boston. The Astros and Mets should have regrets because they also had an inkling what Okajima could be. Both those teams were kicking the tires when Boston got the mega-bargain done, which also includes an option for $1.75 million for 2009.
20. Hideki Matsui, Yankees outfielder, 2003; $21 million, three years. "Godzilla" has not been the monster power hitter he was in Japan, but still a productive hitter and all-around team player who came cheap.
More Bad Signings
My list of worst free-agent signings a few weeks ago sparked more than 100 e-mails, many with suggestions of terrible signings I missed. Several came up with some excellent examples, some that should have easily made my list of 13. So I will add these for dishonorable mention: Bobby Bonilla, Mets $29 million, five years; Danny Tartabull, Yankees $25.5 million, five years; Derek Bell, Pirates, $9 million two years; Vince Coleman, Mets $11 million four years; Mark Davis, Royals, $13 million four years.