Stocks rise and fall. Likewise, so does the value of Major League Baseball players. They can turn career years into huge paydays. On the other hand, heading into free agency on an off year can cost a player millions of dollars. For instance, here are five players whose stocks have fallen this season.
RP Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers -- Timing is everything. Valverde, who converted all 49 of his saves chances in 2011, would have made a killing as a free agent last offseason. But he's heading into free agency after a rocky 2012 regular season. Plus, he imploded in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. Unless he redeems himself in the World Series, it's going to cost him.
1B/OF Carlos Lee, Miami Marlins -- At one time, Lee was one of baseball's best run-producers. He hit at least 30 home runs in five straight seasons from 2003-07 and has six 100-RBI seasons under his belt. However, his power numbers declined for the sixth straight season -- Lee hit nine home runs in 2012 -- and he batted a career-low .243. The only thing going up is his age (36).
C Mike Napoli, Texas Rangers -- I'm not saying Napoli won't get paid, but the slugging catcher is coming off a down year heading into free agency. He batted a career-low .227 with 24 home runs and 56 RBIs. That's not bad for a catcher, but those are his lowest totals in four seasons. Plus, White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski (one of my five rising stocks) is a pending free agent, too.
OF Nick Swisher, New York Yankees -- Earlier this year, Swisher reportedly was going to seek "Jayson Werth money" in the offseason. However, after a solid regular season campaign, the streaky hitter was 5-for-30 in the playoffs to lower his career postseason average to .169 in 46 games. Any contending team that's thinking about signing him has to factor in his postseason failures.
OF Melky Cabrera, San Francisco Giants -- Cabrera was on his way to winning the N.L. batting title and a huge payday in the offseason when a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs tainted everything. A career .275 hitter prior to this season, he was batting a sizzling .346 at the time of his resulting suspension. The amount of money Cabrera may have cost himself is inconceivable.
Is now the right time for teams to buy these free agent players? Would you take a chance on any of them? Let me know in the comments section below.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who roots for the New York Mets (and any team that is playing the New York Yankees). An avid fantasy baseball player and fan of Major League Baseball, his games of choice growing up were Strat-O-Matic and MicroLeague Baseball.