Caveat emptor. It's a Latin phrase, so you know it's serious. And the meaning behind that phrase -- buyer beware -- is especially germane this time of year. It is, of course, free-agent season, and that means important, expensive decisions are forthcoming. Some of those decisions will be sound and in the service of championship baseball. Others, however, will lead to contracts that range from uninspired to self-defeating. Such are the hazards of playing the free-agent game. With those warnings in mind, let's take a look at a few prominent, bandied-about free agents who figure to be overpaid this winter. Dayn Perry knows who they are, and here's why teams should be wary ...
At first blush, Marquis tempts. After all, this season he ranked eighth in the NL in innings pitched, and he notched a 4.04 ERA despite pitching roughly half his innings at a mile above sea level. On the other hand, Marquis has a long history of collapsing down the stretch, and 2009 was no exception. As well, too often he's failed to pitch deep into games, and thus he taxes the bullpen. Marquis isn't the sort of addition who altogether shanghais a team, but he's the epitome of a half-measure. And this winter, he figures to be an expensive half-measure. --Dayn Perry
DeRosa has his merits: He boasts positional flexibility and good pop from the right side. However, he'll be 35 before Opening Day, his OBP dipped to .319 last season, and his defensive reputation is roundly exaggerated. In the right circumstances (e.g., on the North Side of Chicago), he can be a useful addition, but DeRosa's reputation far outstrips his actual value. The market apparently hasn't figured this out. --Dayn Perry
How will teams regard Washburn? Will they see the pitcher who posted a sparkling 2.64 ERA in Seattle during the first half of the season? Or will they see what he likely is -- the 35-year-old who's generally struggled in recent seasons? Washburn's substantial dip in BABIP suggests that he'll hurtle back to earth in 2010. So which team is willing to bet the over? -- Dayn Perry
It's possible that Chapman, the ballyhooed Cuban defector, will be reach unimagined heights and redefine our notions of the possible. It's also possible that he'll be an inflation-adjusted Ariel Prieto. Chapman has new representation, plenty of hype, and free-agent status. As well, the 21-year-old lefty touches 102 on the gun, and wealthy outfits like the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets are interested. Those factors mean Chapman will likely command a hefty contract. Considering the challenges of scouting and projecting a player about whom so little is known (and that's to say nothing of his established control problems), suitors should proceed with caution. But they probably won't. -- Dayn Perry
Pineiro -- whether by dint of luck, the Mr. Miyagi-like powers of Dave Duncan, or the one-seam sinker -- enjoyed a breakout season in 2009. It's possible that Piniero's new-found success is sustainable, but the smart money --the safe money -- says it isn't. In 2009, Piniero pitched 214 innings (a career high) and logged an ERA of 3.49 (his best mark since 2002). He induced ground balls by the truckload and posted the NL's lowest walk rate. Again, though, it's risky to assume that Pineiro has established a new level of performance in his 10th major-league season. His struggles late in the season also raise concerns. -- Dayn Perry
Potentially, adding Bay to the fold won't be mistake. It won't be a mistake if, A. he signs with an AL team, and B. he's misreading the market. On the first point, Bay, because of his defensive shortcomings, needs to stay in the DH league. Bay makes the routine plays in left field, but since his 2007 knee injury his range has been plainly inadequate. In fact, the advanced fielding metrics at Fangraphs rate Bay as one of the worst left fielders in all of baseball. (And that's to say nothing of his poor throwing arm.) On the second point, Bay has reportedly turned down a four-year, $60-million-plus offer from Boston. It may well be that he's correct to do so, provided another team offers him more. Considering Bay's limitations, though, topping Boston's offer would be a mistake. If you sign Bay, you're getting an accomplished hitter. However, you're also getting a 31-year-old who can't fiel