New York Mets fans were kind of disappointed on Monday night, when it was announced that center fielder Michael Bourn had signed a four-year contract with the Cleveland Indians. (Bourn's first choice was to sign with the Mets, but that didn't happen when draft pick compensation took longer to untangle than expected.) Bourn's deal -- four years with an option for a fifth -- could total $60 million, meaning Cleveland general manager Chris Anonetti spent $130 million during the offseason on Bourn and Nick Swisher. Not so good. Yet those ridiculous deals pale in comparison to what Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers has done since the 2012 season ended. Ahead, a brief look at what might be the worst grouping of moves made by a Major League team since any year Steve Phillips ran the New York Mets front office.
Oct. 20: As part of a three-team trade with Oakland and Miami, Arizona acquired Heath Bell and Cliff Pennington for Chris Young.
Pennington hit .215 last season for Oakland, while posting an OPS of .589; Bell was fodder for the glue factory, finishing 2012 with an ERA of 5.09 after effectively killing the Miami Marlins' season in April. For the privilege of acquiring those two players, Towers dealt Young, 29, a perpetually disappointing but potentially dynamic outfielder. Young -- who is under contract through 2014 (with a buyout at the end of this year) -- missed 61 games in 2012, but otherwise turned in his usual season: power, speed, defense, OPS and poor average. He'll fit right in on the A's. For Towers, however, Young wasn't as valuable as a mop-up reliever and late-inning defensive replacement. Not that Arizona will use Pennington in that way; he's set to start at shortstop for the Diamondbacks. That's because ...
Dec. 11: As part of another three-team trade, this one with Cleveland and Cincinnati, Arizona acquired a group of prospects, including shortstop Didi Gregorius, for top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer.
Gregorius, a blue chip infielder that was in the running to start at shortstop for Arizona, will begin 2013 on the DL after he was diagnosed with a strained UCL ligament. Tough break, except he potentially had that injury when the deal was completed. It's just that Arizona didn't bother to give Gregorius a physical. (Oops.) Right now, Gregorius' strain doesn't require surgery. Of course, even assuming that diagnosis remains -- and Gregorius comes off the DL later this season -- the move was still questionable: Bauer is a potential top of the rotation starter who was basically run out of Arizona because his attitude rubbed veterans the wrong way. (Paging Scott Kazmir ...)
Dec. 22: Cody Ross signs a 3-year, $26 million contract.
To ostensibly replace Young, Arizona signed Ross, a 32-year-old fourth outfielder coming off a career season with Boston. That's a bad deal, but to give Towers some benefit of the doubt, the 2012-13 off season was one where Angel Pagan (4/40) and Nick Swisher (4/56) and also signed bad deals. Fourth outfielders for everyone!
Jan. 24: As part of a trade with Atlanta, Arizona acquired Martin Prado and Randall Delgado for Justin Upton.
Justin Upton is 25 years old and signed through the 2015 season. He profiles as a perennially MVP candidate when healthy; a No. 3 hitter with speed and power. Naturally, Towers moved him. The politics of this move aside -- Upton's relationship with Arizona had apparently soured -- dealing Upton makes so little sense that you almost want to think Towers was hiding an injury. Then you remember most players undergo physicals before getting traded. Just not Gregorius.