The one year contract is becoming something that's used more and more by GMs across the league. One reason it gets used is as a buy low option for a player coming off an injury who can't get the multiple year contract he desired. Another reason it gets used is for players that had a disappointing year and want to rebuild their value for a multiple year contract. One more reason it gets used is when a player simply doesn't like the multi-year contracts offered to him, and wants to maximize his salary in the next season.
Whatever the situation where a one-year deal is used, it can work out really well or really poorly - there's generally not much of a middle ground. The players that perform well during their single year contract generally get a multi-year offer or extension the next winter, and all is well. The players who don't do well are either looking at another single year contract for a lesser salary or simply have to settle for a minor league contract.
Last winter was no exception. Plenty of players got one year deals. Some excelled, some flopped. Here are the best and worst one year contracts from last offseason, with the caveat that I'm not considering exercised options or deals to avoid arbitration.
Mike Napoli, Red Sox. The whole situation with Napoli in Boston was a mess. He initially agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract with the club, but that fell apart over concerns about Napoli's hip. The deal was reworked into a one-year, $5 million contract with $8 million in incentives based on health and playing time. Napoli didn't go on the DL once this year, logged a career-high 578 plate appearances, and hit .259/.360/.482 with 23 homers. That's $13 million well spent, and Napoli will look to cash in this offseason.