A 29-year-old Jonny Gomes was a free agent two winters ago after hitting .267/.338/.541 with 20 homers and 51 RBI in 281 at-bats for the Reds. He re-signed with the Reds for $800,000.
A 33-year-old Andruw Jones was a free agent last winter after hitting .230/.341/.486 with 19 homers and 48 RBI in 278 at-bats for the White Sox. He signed with the Yankees for $2 million.
A 34-year-old Marcus Thames was a free agent last winter after hitting .288/.350/.491 with 12 homers and 33 RBI in 212 at-bats with the Yankees. He signed for the Dodgers for $1 million.
A 34-year-old Pat Burrell was a free agent last winter after hitting .252/.348/.469 with 20 homers and 64 RBI in 373 at-bats with the Rays and Giants. He re-signed with the Giants for $1 million.
A 33-year-old Juan Rivera was a free agent this winter after hitting .258/.319/.382 with 11 homers and 74 RBI in 466 at-bats for the Blue Jays and Dodgers. He re-signed with the Dodgers for $4.5 million.
Dodgers GM Ned Colletti simply couldn’t wait to lock up Rivera this winter, clearly overpaying him in order to do so.
I’d put Rivera’s free agent credentials ahead of those of Thames and Burrell, but I’d say he’s a worse bet than Gomes was two years ago or Jones was last year. Rivera also disappointed in 2010, coming in at .252/.312/.409. He’s now three years removed from his last quality season, he hasn’t had an OPS better than .730 against righties since 2006 and he’s a below average defender in left field. He has his uses as a guy who can smack left-handers around and not embarrass himself against righties, but that kind of player isn’t hard to find and the going rate is $2 million or less. If the Dodgers had waited, they almost certainly would have been able to sign him for less.