10 Worst MLB Contracts

Los Angeles Angels v Cleveland Guardians
Los Angeles Angels v Cleveland Guardians / Ron Schwane/GettyImages

Every MLB season sees several players get head-scratching contracts. While many top guys receive their perceived value in free agency, many teams go big and overpay for talent. That is where we're looking today. What follows is the list of the 10 worst contracts currently on the books in Major League Baseball, coming after we dissected this topic during the 2023 MLB season.

10. Jose Berrios, Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays landed Berrios from the Twins at the trade deadline in 2021, getting what they thought was an ace for the top of the rotation. He was solid to finish that season, going 5-4 with a 3.58 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 70.1 innings. He parlayed that performance into a seven-year, $131 million contract extension and in the two years since he hasn't lived up to the deal.

In 2022, Berrios went 12-7 with a 5.23 ERA and a WHIP of 1.42 with 149 strikeouts in 172 innings. Opposing batters hit .288 against him, he allowed 10.4 hits per nine innings, posted an ERA+ of 74 and his OPS against (.805) was MLB's highest. Things got slightly better in 2023 as he went 11-12 with a 3.65 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP and 184 strikeouts in 189.2 innings. His OPS against dropped to .697 and opponents hit .241 against him. He's still not the ace the Blue Jays thought they were paying for.

Berrios will turn 30 in 2024 and with his signing bonus factored in, he's owed $104.6 million over the next five seasons. It's a rough contract unless he turns things around.

9. Avisail Garcia, Miami Marlins

The Marlins went out of their usual lane and handed Garcia a big contract in December of 2021. Garcia was coming off a career-year with the Brewers in which he slashed .262/.330/.490, with 29 home runs and 86 RBIs. Miami handed the right fielder a four-year, $53 million deal and has regretted it ever since.

Garcia has been constantly injured since joining the Marlins and has only played 135 games in two seasons. In that time he's slashed .215/.260/.316 with 11 home runs and 47 RBIs. His OPS of .576 is brutal and his WAR for the two seasons is -1.7 combined. Garcia is 32 and is owed $24 million over the next two seasons and Miami has a $12 million club option for 2026.

8. Javier Baez, Detroit Tigers

The Tigers signed Baez to a six-year, $140 million deal in December of 2021. The aim was for him to be the face of their young, rebuilding roster. He had the pedigree as a two-time All-Star and a Gold Glove Award winner who had helped lead the Chicago Cubs to a World Series title in 2016. But at that point, he had clearly regressed. The Tigers were hoping for a bounce-back. It hasn't happened.

In 2022, Baez played 144 games and slashed .238/.278/.393 with 17 home runs, 67 RBIs and 147 strikeouts against 26 walks. That .671 OPS was his lowest in a full season. In 2023, he was even worse, slashing .222/.267/.325, with nine home runs, 59 RBIs and 125 strikeouts against 24 walks in 136 games. His OPS fell to .593. It has been a terrible contract thus far. Baez will be 31 in 2024 and is owed $98 million over the next four seasons. What's worse, the Tigers are stuck with him, since no one is taking that contract.

7. Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox engineered a huge trade to land Sale before the 2017 season and it looked like a great move for the first few seasons of the deal. He helped the club in a World Series in 2018 while posting a 2.11 ERA and everything was going swimmingly. Then the wheels fell off. Prior to the 2019 season, Sale earned a five-year, $145 million extension from Boston and he hasn't been the same since.

The lefty was an All-Star from 2012 through 2018 but has only made 56 stars in the five seasons since. He's been decent when he's actually been on the mound but that doesn't happen much. Since the start of the 2019 campaign, Sale is 17-18 with a 4.18 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP, an ERA+ of 113 and 400 strikeouts, but he's only pitched 298.1 inning. That's an average of fewer than 60 innings a season. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2020 and missed the entire COVID-shortened campaign, made only nine starts in 2021 as he was recovering, then made just two starts in 2022 after dealing with a number of injuries. It has been a terrible string of bad luck for Sale.

He's entering the final year of his contract in 2024 and is set to make $27.5 million.

6. Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers

Coming off an MVP season in 2018 and a near-MVP campaign in 2019, the Brewers signed Yelich to a nine-year, $215 million contract extension in March of 2020. It seemed like the smart move as he had become the cornerstone of the team and the face of Milwaukee's franchise. The deal has been a bust so far, though. In 2018 and 2019 combined, Yelich hit 80 home runs, drove in 207 runs and slashed .327/.415/.631 with an OPS+ of 171 in 277 games. In the first three seasons of his new contract he hit 35 home runs and drove in 130 runs while slashing .243/.358/.388 with an OPS+ of 106 in 329 games. No one could quite diagnose what was wrong, but he fell off a cliff.

In 2023, Yelich improved slightly, slashing .278/.370/.447 with 19 home runs, 76 RBIs and an OPS+ of 124 in 144 games. But he's still not the player the Brewers are paying for. He's still owed $130 million over the next five seasons and there's mutual option for $20 million in 2029.

5. Kris Bryant, Colorado Rockies

Bryant was a former MVP with the Cubs, so someone was going to give him a lengthy deal despite a few down seasons before he entered free agency after the 2021 season. That said, I don't think anyone expected the contract he got when the Rockies handed him $182 million over seven years. Unfortunately for Colorado, Bryant hasn't been able to stay healthy, and when he has played, he's been a shell of his former self.

In the first two seasons of the deal, Bryant has only played in 122 games and has slashed .259/.335/.404, with 15 home runs and 45 RBIs. His OPS+ of 93 has been woeful and there's no real sign the 31-year-old will get better. He just has to hope Coors Field boosts his stats at this point. The Rockies still owe him $136 million over the next five years. There's no way anyone is taking that deal off their hands.

4. Patrick Corbin, Washington Nationals

The Nationals signed Corbin to a six-year, 140 million deal to lure him away from the Arizona Diamondbacks before the 2019 season. While he helped the franchise secure its first World Series title in the initial season of that deal, the contract has been a disaster ever since. Since 2019, Corbin is 27-57 with a 5.62 ERA, a 1.55 WHIP, an ERA+ of 74 and his total WAR in those four seasons is -1.4. Yeah, it's been real bad.

The 34-year-old is entering the final season of that contract and he's due to make $35.4 million in 2024. Washington can't unload the deal and also can't afford to have him out there eating innings. It's truly an awful pickle for the Nationals.

3. Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees

The Yankees swung a trade for Stanton after an MVP season in 2017 and didn't give up a ton to get him from the Miami Marlins. He had hit 59 home runs, drove in 132 runs and slashed .281/.376/.631 with a WAR of 7.6 that year. It looked like a slam dunk deal for New York despite Stanton entering the fourth season of a 13-year, $325 million contract. He hasn't lived up to the deal.

In 2018, Stanton played in 158 games and slashed .266/.353/.509 while posting 38 home runs, 100 RBIs and a WAR of 4.0. It was his best season wiht the Yankees. Injuries have robbed him of huge chunks of time over the past five seasons. In that time he's only played in 391 games and has slashed .233/.322/.474 with 97 home runs and 259 RBIs. His OPS+ of 117 in that time is not as high as it should have been and in 2023 he bottomed out with a WAR of -0.8.

The Yankees are still on the hook to play him $118 million over the next four seasons and even their general manager admits he won't stay healthy moving forward. Ouch.

2. Anthony Rendon, Los Angeles Angels

Fresh off helping lead the Nationals to a World Series title in 2019, Rendon signed a massive seven-year, $245 million deal with the Angels. It was a lot for a player about to hit 30, but he was coming off a career-year and was the top hitter on the market. The deal has been a disaster thus far.

In 2019, Rendon slashed .319/.412/.598, with 34 home runs and 126 RBIs while playing 146 games. In his four seasons with the Angels, he's played in 200 games total due to various injuries and has slashed .249/.359/.399, with 22 home runs and 111 RBIs. The worst part? He's still due to make $38.6 million a year over the next three seasons. Just a disastrous deal that seems to keep getting worse.

1. Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

We've been over this a number of times, but Stephen Strasburg's contract is the worst in MLB history. Since signing a seven-year, $245 million deal in December of 2019, the former All-Star has made a grand total of eight starts. In that time he's 1-4 with a 6.89 ERA, a 1.56 WHIP and 28 strikeouts against 17 walks in 31.1 innings. He's suffered numerous injuries and been shut down repeatedly.

This summer the Nationals tried to convince him to retire and even had a press conference scheduled, but those talks blew up. He's still on their 40-man roster and is owed $105 million over the next three seasons. That's $35 million a year and, due to some strange contract stipulations, he'll get $26.6 million in deferred payments in 2027, 2028 and 2029. The Nationals didn't insure the contract either, so they're on the hook for all of it.