Big League Clu ranks the worst of the worst contracts in Major League Baseball.
With spring training baseball starting to heat up and with nothing better to talk about, I got to thinking about some of baseball’s truly atrocious contracts. This post is mainly about current players, but I threw in a couple of classics too. Some of them really make you scratch your head and wonder what that particular player did to deserve that kind of money. Let’s see who made the cut!
5. Ken Griffey, Jr., OF – Cincinnati Reds
Now before I get pelted with stones and sharp objects, I am talking merely from a contract standpoint. In the year 2000, Griffey signed with Cincinnati for 10 years and $116 million, a major contract at that point in time. He was coming off seasons of 49, 46, 46 and 48 home runs (1996 to 1999) with Seattle. In his first full season with Cinci, the Kid was legit yet again, but then he got bit by the injury bug…..badly. After the 2001 season, he did not play over 100 games until 2005, and didn’t play a “full season” until 2007. Before all of the injuries, Junior was on pace to break Hank Aaron‘s HR record (which was later broken by Barry Bonds). Definitely one of the best players in the 90s, and possibly one of the best all around players ever, Griffey still managed to put up great numbers, despite being sidelined with all of those injuries.
4. John Lackey, SP – Boston Red Sox
John Lackey certainly doesn’t score any bonus points with his charming good looks. In his final season with the Angels, he went 11-8 with a 3.83 era. How was he rewarded? With a cooool 5 year, $82.5 million offer from Boston. Lackey compiled a record of 102-71 with a 3.81 ERA after eight seasons with the Angels, and I’m sure that all those really high numbers helped convince him to sign his soul away to Boston. Boy has he paid dearly for it. Many LA fans scorned him for leaving and he hasn’t played well since signing with the Red Sox. He has amassed a 26-23 record, had a sparkling 6.69 ERA in 2011 and completely missed the 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Maybe he has come into spring training this season with something to prove? Well, so far in 3 innings pitched, he hasn’t fared too well, giving up 4 hits, 4 runs, and recording a 12.00 ERA. He will need to shape up or he will be playing for peanuts in Pawtucket.
3. Carl Crawford, OF – Boston Red Sox/Los Angeles Dodgers
Another monster contract! Carl Crawford was the face of the Tampa Bay Rays. He came up in their system and pretty much holds all of the major records in the Rays organization. Once it became time to hit the free agency market in 2010/11, boy did he cash in. He got seven years and $142 million from the Boston Red Sox. Now, don’t get me wrong, he is a good… but was he really worth $142 million? Here’s a guy who is primarily known for his speed, as he has stolen 50+ bases in multiple seasons, but he never hit over 20 home runs or had 100 RBI in his career (19/90 were the most, and that was in his walk year).
In 2011 he started in LF for the Red Sox and played 130 games, but it was revealed late in the season that he had an injured left wrist. He played through it though, so you have to give him some credit for that. Once the season was over he had surgery, recovered but missed the first 89 games of the 2012 season. However, he was injured again shortly thereafter and required Tommy John surgery to replace the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm, ouch!
In a strange turn of events, in late August of 2012, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington somehow managed to work a trade with the LA Dodgers, and shipped Crawford (along with Josh Beckett & Adrian Gonzalez) off in a mass exodus and salary dump deal. In the process, the remaining five years and $100 million left on Crawford’s contract is now in the hands of Magic Johnson’s group. It is likely that Crawford is going to open the 2013 season on the DL for the Dodgers, but it is a fresh start for him in a way. He has publicly gone on record as saying that the environment in Boston was “toxic” and might not have been the best fit for him. It might be a fresh start Crawford, but Dodgers fans can be just as bad if not worse than Boston fans, hopefully he won’t be eating your words.
2. Alex Rodriguez, 3B – New York Yankees
Now sure, people can sit here and say to me… Clu, what contract could possibly be any worse than A-Rods??? Well, I found one. So therefore, Alex Rodriguez gets the number two slot. Rodriguez signed a 10 year, $275 million dollar contract with the New York Yankees in 2007 (remember that whole 2007 World Series debacle??). Rodriguez has 5 years and 114 $million remaining on this contract (with another $30MM in potential milestone bonuses), and he’s 38 going on 57. Yikes!
Everyone already knows how bad this deal has become for the Yankees, so there is no real reason to go into it in great detail. His numbers have dipped since 2009, which was the last season he hit 30 home runs in as well. He has been injured in each of the past three seasons (including this year where he is out until at least August) and, to make matters worse, he is in the midst of a yet another PED scandal. The one positive about this contract is that it isn’t backloaded, meaning that A-Rod made his highest numbers between 2009-2011. Although he is currently set to make a cool $28 mil this year… that’s if the Yankees cant find a way to void his contract.
And the #1 worst contract ever goes to…..
Bobby Bonilla, 3B/1B/OF – New York Mets
Every Mets fan cringes when they hear this guy’s name. Bonilla signed with the Mets all the way back in 1991 for what was then the biggest contract in baseball (5 years, $29 million) and, although he had his share of ups and downs with the team, he was pretty productive. After spending some time with Baltimore, Florida and the Dodgers, he came back in 1999, but all he did was argue with then manager (and newly deemed Athletic Director of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT) Bobby Valentine, and was seen playing cards with Rickey Henderson during the ’99 NLCS.
The Mets decided to dump him soon thereafter, but rather than buy him out of his contract, they deferred it. Strange right? The club, which was struggling to make payroll, somehow thought it was a better idea to just defer nearly $6 million of the final year of Bonilla’s contract. So, instead of paying him the lump sum of the $5.9 million they owed him, they deferred the payment on the contract until 2011. Because of an interest rate of nearly 8%, they would then pay him the money over a period of 25 years, starting in 2011. This turned the $6 million they owed him into roughly $30 million. Needless to say Bonilla, will never have to work another day in his life. In fact, he currently makes more than almost everyone on the Mets 2013 roster. On another note, Bonilla is also owed money by the Baltimore Orioles from his time on the club in the mid-90s. He is also earning a deferred payment until 2015 from them! What a business man!
Mo Vaughn, 1B – Anaheim Angels/New York Mets
Mo signed a 6 year, $80 Million dollar deal with Anaheim in 1998, was traded to the Mets in 2001, retired in 2003 due to knee injuries and the Mets were stuck paying out the last few seasons of it.
Vernon Wells, OF – Toronto Blue Jays/Los Angeles Angels
Vernon signed a 7 year, $126 Million dollar extension with Toronto in 2006 and was traded to the Los Angeles Angels in Jan. 2011, where he currently stinks.
Jason Bay, OF – New York Mets
Jason signed a 4 year, $66 Million dollar deal with the Mets in 2009. After three terrible seasons in Queens, the Mets bought out the last year of his contract (which was worth $21 million) and released him as an unconditional free agent. He joins Bobby Bonilla as the two most expensive outfielders currently on the Mets’ payroll.
Featured image courtesy of: The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE
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