The ill-advised "mutli-year contracts to relievers" train continued to roll along on Wednesday, with the Angels signing Sean Burnett (last of the Nationals) to a two-year, $8 million deal and the Cardinals signing Randy Choate (last of the Dodgers) to a three-year, $7.5 million deal.
Both of these relievers owe Brandon League and Jonathan Broxton a fistbump for setting the market so high this winter. The 30-year old Burnett had a career year in 2012 with the Nationals, posting career bests in strikeout rate and walk rate, accruing 1.1 fWAR for the Nationals while pitching to a 2.38 ERA in 70 games and 56 2/3 innings. Burnett was terror against lefties, allowing just a .534 OPS, 28 strikeouts, and one walk in 2012, but struggled much more against lefties, allowing a .767 OPS, 29 strikeouts, and 11 walks against righties. Congratlations Jerry DiPoto, you just guaranteed $8 million to a LOOGY!
The Choate signing though, is much worse than Burnett's contract. Choate turned 37 in September, and in 2012 between Miami and Los Angeles, was worth just 0.6 fWAR while posting a 3.03 ERA in 80 games and just 38 2/3 innings. If you thought Burnett's splits were severe, Choate's will blow your mind. Against lefties, Choate allowed a miniscule .461 OPS while striking out 30 and walking nine. But against righties, that OPS jumped all the way up to .821, and Choate actually walked more hitters (nine) than he struck out (eight). And this is the type of player you're giving three years to? Lord.
Apparently, overpaying relievers is the new trend this offseason. I can only imagine what Jason Grilli will get when his deal gets finalized, but after these two contracts, his asking price might have moved up a tick.
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