Prior to the 2016 season, the offseason market produced the three contracts that contained the largest average annual value in Major League history.Free agent Zack Greinke's six-year deal with the Diamondbacks averaged $34,416,666. Jose Cabrera signed an eight-year deal to remain with the Tigers that averaged $31 million annually. And
Prior to the 2016 season, the offseason market produced the three contracts that contained the largest average annual value in Major League history.
Free agent Zack Greinke's six-year deal with the Diamondbacks averaged $34,416,666. Jose Cabrera signed an eight-year deal to remain with the Tigers that averaged $31 million annually. And David Price's seven-year deal with the Red Sox also had an AAV of $31 million.
The past offseason? Yoenis Cespedes, whose four-year deal with the Mets puts him in a tie for sixth at $27.5 million, was the high point, by far.
While there might not have been a lot of high-priced help available in the past offseason, teams did find some impact players looking for work.
Seven under-the-radar signings who are flying high:
Rockies closer Greg Holland, who underwent Tommy John surgery after the 2015 season and missed the entire '16 season, signed a one-year guarantee at $6 million with incentives. He has opened the season 21-for-21 in saves, and he is a key part of the Rockies getting off to the best start in franchise history and finding themselves in first place in the NL West. There is a mutual option for 2018 at $10 million, but if Holland makes 50 appearances or finishes 30 games (he's already finished 23) it becomes a $15 million player option.
Rockies first baseman Mark Reynolds declined an offer to re-sign with the team last October, and then found himself still looking for work in February. He took a Minor League deal to return to Colorado at $1.5 million, and then got an extended opportunity to play in April when offseason free-agent signee Ian Desmond was on the disabled list with a broken hand. By the time Desmond had healed, Reynolds was among the most productive players in the game, and he has continued to get playing time, with Desmond playing left field as well as first base.
Brewers first baseman Eric Thames split his time in 2011 and '12 between the big leagues and the Minors, but at the age of 26, in '13, he was back to bouncing around in the Minor Leagues, which prompted him to take a deal to play in Korea. Milwaukee saw enough in him to sign him in the offseason to a three-year, $16 million deal, and his run production has been a key part of the Brewers' rise in first place in the National League Central.
Matthew Holliday reached a point where the wear and tear was taking a toll, so he opted to sign a one-year, $13 million deal to DH for the Yankees, where his veteran presence has helped provide leadership for a team that finds itself on top of the Amerian League East. He is third among DHs with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs.
Giants closer Mark Melancon -- signed to a four-year, $62 million deal -- saw his chance at a save on Opening Day go bad, and then wound up on the disabled list with a right forearm strain. However, he has converted 10 of 12 saves thus far, and since his return from the DL, he has been 4-for-4 in save situations, working 4 2/3 innings over five appearances and allowing just one run. Meanwhile, Melancon's most recent former team, the Nationals, which he had expected to re-sign with, continues to look for the closer who can address the team's one roster void.
Angels right-hander Bud Norris signed a $1.75 million deal with the idea he could be a swingman, but injuries opened up late-inning opportunities. Norris finally earned his first save on April 20. Beginning with that game, he is 10-for-11 in save situations. Norris has allowed only six earned runs in 20 1/3 innings over 22 appearances, striking out 27 and giving up only 11 hits.
Kendrys Morales stepped into the Blue Jays' DH role after the departure of Edwin Encarnacion, and he has been the second-most effective DH in the AL. Hitting .265, Morales has 11 home runs and 34 RBIs overall after signing a three-year, $33 million deal. That's slightly more than half the three-year, $60 million deal Cleveland signed with Encarnacion, who is hitting .231 with 10 home runs and 22 RBIs.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.