I remember when I was 13 and had my first big crush. She was also 12 but had a body of a 14 year-old. I was, shall I say, smitten. But I was just getting over the girls have cooties phase and had never really thought of a girl like that before so I obviously had no idea what to say or do. But I built up enough courage to march (read stagger) over there and say the best thing I could come up with – “uh, hey!” She looked at me and said “Ew!” and ran away. I was gutted. I felt horrible, like I would never see the light of day again. Well, that is basically how a fan feels watching a player making multi-million dollars on your team and stinking up the joint. It began with such hope and promise for a bright future together. You know, the usual, 50 home runs, a .400 batting average, countless hours “kissing in a tree;” no, actually, that was the girl still.
But that hope and optimism turned into horror and dismay watching the player your team signed to a huge contract going down in flames.
Just ask how Dodgers fans felt watching Andruw Jones make about $five million per home run in the 2008 season. Or Royals fans and Gil Meche (yes Gil freaking Meche signed a five-year, $55 million dollar contract with the Royals). At least he was kind enough to retire when he realized he wasn’t earning his contract.
These signings can set many franchises back for the duration of the contract and will cause fans erectile dysfunction and anal leakage. So with that in mind (the bad contracts, not anal leakage or erectile dysfunction) let’s look at the five worst active contracts.
1. Alex Rodriguez
– Annual Salary: 08: $27M, 09: $32M, 10: $32M, 11: $31M, 12: $29M, 13: $28M, 14: $25M, 15: $21M, 16: $20M, 17: $20M
Alex Rodriquez signed this deal after coming off a completely different 10-year $200 million + deal. Lucky him. Unfortunately, it looks like A-rod won’t be living up to this deal. He will turn 37 this year and only played 99 games last year because of injury. Thankfully, the Yankees do not have a set DH this year so I am sure they will be swapping A-rod and Jeter into the DH spot which could help keep A-rod healthy. However, I don’t think A-rod will be able to play with a plastic hip in 2017 when he will be making $20 million a year.
– Rodriguez’s WAR (Wins Above Replacement) last three years: 4.3, 3.8, 4.2
2. Ryan Howard
– Annual Salary: 12: $20M, 13: $20M, 14: $25M, 15: $25M, 16: $25M, 17: $23M club option ($10M buyout)
Hey, remember when Ryan Howard and the Phillies signed that deal that made Albert Pujols blush? Ya, that was signed in April of 2010 and just now will begin. Howard is 32 years old, already had a big injury in his last at-bat last season and has not hit 35 home runs since 2009. He is no longer that hitter that pitchers are scared to pitch to and it’s only getting worse from here. Did I say that the five-year, $125 million deal just now kicks in?
– Howard’s WAR last two years: 1.4, 1.6
3. Alfonso Soriano
– Annual Salary: 07: $9M, 08: $13M, 09: $16M, 10-14: $18M annually
I almost forget Alfonso Soriano is still playing. That does not bode well for the $54 million that the Cubs still owe him through 2014. I would bet that Soriano is no longer on the Cubs roster by this time next year because Theo Epstein has to get Soriano off that team but that money is NOT coming off the books.
– Soriano’s WAR last three years: 0.0 (means Cubs paid Soriano $16 million to be a replacement level player) , 3.1, 1.3
4. Vernon Wells
– Annual Salary
08: $0.5M, 09: $1.5M, 10: $12.5M, 11: $23M, 12: $21M, 13: $21M, 14: $21M
Since the very minute that the Blue Jays inked Wells to this deal it has been the most untradeable contract in the league. Nobody would ever trade for him. Oh wait, the Angels did. Well, buck up Angels fans, at least you did not give up anything of value for Wells. Oh wait. Sorry, I’ll move on. Wells really did tank from the very beginning of this deal as evidenced by the WAR numbers below:
– Wells’ WAR last five years: 1.8, 1.3, 0.2, 3.8, 0.3
5. Joe Mauer
– Annual Salary
11-18: $23 million annually
This one actually pains me to take a look at because Mauer really should be worth this money but given the vulnerability of catchers to injuries, this one just will not work out. Many say that Mauer can just move to first base and he won’t get injured as much. True. But if that happens, automatically ALL of his value is gone. Mauer was worth $23 million a year precisely because he was a great defensive catcher with good pop… for a catcher. If he turned into a first baseman, he will essentially turn into an average to slightly below average first baseman. That’s obviously not good enough for $23 million a year.
– Mauer’s WAR last year: 1.6 (and this will go WAY down if he starts to DH or play 1B more)
– Annual Salary: 08: $19M, 09: $20M, 10: $21M, 11: $22.5M, 12: $24M, 13: $25.5M, 14: $25M club option ($5.5M buyout)
– Santana’s WAR last three years: 2.6, 3.5, missed 2011 season with injury.
Jason Bay (Poor Mets)
– Annual Salary: 10: $6.5M, 11: $16M, 12: $16M, 13: $16M, 14: $17M club option ($3M buyout)
– Bay’s WAR last two years: 1.5, 0.7 (Also, he only hit 12 home runs last year. Just in case you forgot Mickey)
– Annual Salary: 11: $10M, 12: $13M, 13: $16M, 14: $20M, 15: $21M, 16: $21M, 17: $21M
– Werth’s WAR last year: 2.5
– Annual Salary: 07: $10M, 08: $14.5M, 09: $18.5M, 10: $18.5M, 11: $18.5M, 12: $19M, 13: $20M, 14: $18M club option ($7M buyout)
– Zito’s WAR last five years: -1.7, 1.4, 2.0, 1.9, -0.4 (Ding, Ding, Ding! We have our first negative WAR year… what do we have for our winner, Johnny? $19 million!! Holy crap, you should give me some Barry!)
*All contract numbers provided by http://www.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/cots/
*All stats provided by http://www.fangraphs.com/