As fans, we certainly can appreciate hard work that ends in positive results. However, when top players get paid a ton of money to come to a market like Boston, New York, or Los Angeles, some work out, but others don't. Recently, we've seen the likes of Pablo Sandoval and Rusney Castillo come here and totally mess the bed with either poor performance, work ethic, or just overall hunger and drive to get better.
This past weekend on CSN's installment of "The Baseball Show," Jared Carrabis and Lou Merloni did a segment where they labeled the guys who they saw as the biggest busts in the Free Agent market in recent history.
In this installment of our BBS Roundtables, we dive in and tackle the biggest acquisition busts in recent Sox history.
Worst Free Agency Signings:
Jordan: Shying away from the most recent busts in Sandoval and Castillo, I'm going to go back to the winter between 2004 and 2005, when the Red Sox let defensive wizard, Orlando Cabrera, go to the Angels and signed the final out of the 2004 WS, Edgar Renteria. Renteria was signed to a multi-year deal to come in and play a solid shortstop, as well as give the Sox a little bit of an upgrade offensively. However, Renteria's average was .276 in 2005 (Cabrera hit .294 in 50+ games in 2004) and made a whopping 30 errors at short (Cabrera made 8). The Sox were a great regular season team, going 95-67 (tied for 1st in the East), but got swept in the ALDS by the eventual WS Champion White Sox. But just think of how better the Sox would've been with more production from Renteria. He was then traded to the Braves in the next offseason and the Sox brought in Alex Gonzalez to play short.
Matt: As Jordan said, Sandoval is almost too easy of an answer, so we'll make this a little more challenging. I'm going all the way back to 2007, when the Red Sox signed Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Sox spent $103 million in total to sign the righty from Japan, including a $51.1 million posting fee. While, he did play a role in the 2007 World Series, I can't help but think that he should still be pitching and dominating today with all the hype that surrounded him. In the last 4 years of Matsuzaka's deal he only made 34 starts, going 11-14 with an ERA over 5. I can almost excuse the bad contract, because every team has them, but I'll never forgive Daisuke for fooling us all into believing that a "Gyro Ball" was a real thing.
Pete: While you could certainly already make a case for Pablo Sandoval, I am going to go with Rusney Castillo. One could argue that the sample size is too small to already consider him one of the worst signings in Red Sox history, but the Red Sox royally screwed this up. In 2014, now-Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu was defecting from Cuba and slated to become a MLB free agent. Teams were bidding tens of millions of dollars for the first baseman's services and, to no surprise, the Red Sox were at the top of his list. Reportedly, the Red Sox were willing to give Abreu close to $55 million to play in a Red Sox uniform. Unfortunately, the Red Sox fell less than $5 million short, and Abreu ended up signing with the Chicago White Sox. In two years in the bigs, Abreu has hit 36 and 30 home runs, while also receiving MVP considerations. Because they missed out on Abreu, the Sox were hellbent on signing the next defector from Cuba that showed any type of promise. In August of 2014, the Red Sox signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a 6 (essentially 7) - year, $72.5 million deal. While Castillo has shown signs of greatness, it seems as if he simply does not know how to play the game of baseball and relies on his athletic ability too much. In 2015, Castillo hit .253 with five home runs and 29 RBIs in 80 games. If you're looking for Castillo, you can currently find him rotting away in Triple-A.
Jordan: I'm not going to go with the obvious guy, Eric Gagne, because that didn't effect the 2007 World Champion Red Sox. Although Gagne made me want to pull my hair out whenever he took the mound, he at least was available. Unlike the man we traded Josh Reddick for, Andrew Bailey. In a deal that looked brilliant at the time, the Sox dealt up-and-coming outfielder, Josh Reddick, for lights out closer, Andrew Bailey. Ryan Sweeney was also a player the Sox got in that deal (but no one cares about him), but the highlighted players were Reddick and Bailey. Bailey only pitched 44 innings in 2 seasons for Boston, with only 14 saves, before getting DFA'd. As for Reddick, he blossomed into a gold glove caliber outfielder, as well as a serious power threat at the dish.
Matt: I'll stay in the same year, 2007, when the Red Sox decided to trade for Eric Gagne from the Texas Rangers. The Sox sent lefty Kason Gabbard and outfielders David Murphy and Engel Beltre to Texas in exchange for the hard throwing closer. The trade didn't ruin the Sox farm system, but Gagne was another big name that came to Boston and did absolutely nothing. Gagne made 20 appearances with the Sox in '07, and finished only 11 of them. He had a record of 2-2 with an ERA north of 6, and only struck out 22 people. Again, maybe I'm a sucker for the big name guys but disappointment doesn't begin to describe Gagne's lack of production. He was one of the best closers in baseball for several years with the Dodgers, and Sox fans were so excited to acquire him, only to have their hearts ripped out.
Pete: It may come off as a head-scratcher, but I am going to say the initial trade that landed the Red Sox then-Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. At the time, this move seemed like a slam dunk. The Red Sox were getting one of the best first baseman in all of baseball, and were sending only prospects, albeit talented, in return. If you don't recall, the Red Sox sent Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly, Reymond Fuentes, and Eric Patterson to the Padres in this deal. Retrospectively, there are always deals that you can look at and kick yourself over. However, Anthony Rizzo has blossomed into one of the best players in all of baseball, now with the Chicago Cubs. In his three full seasons with the Chicago Cubs (2013-2015), Rizzo has averaged 20 home runs and 86 RBIs. Gonzalez, as we all know, was traded to the LA Dodgers in a blockbuster move along with Nick Punto and Carl Crawford. Gonzalez was never bad with the Red Sox, but he never turned into the mega superstar that the Red Sox thought he was when they traded for him. Imagine Rizzo on the Red Sox now. Damn.