Here Are the Worst Contracts in Baseball

Kyle Koster
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With no salary cap to save teams from themselves, baseball is full of guys who make you sit up straight and ask, “he’s making how much?” Here are eight of the worst contracts in the game, all cases where the cost far outweighs the production.

Victor Martinez

The 39-year old designated hitter is in the fourth year of a four-year, $68 million contract. In two of those years he’s hit under .245 and posted an OPS south of .700. He cannot play the field or run the bases in critical situations. He’s hit a whopping 52 home runs in that time and yet maintained his position in the No. 4 or 5 slot of the Detroit Tigers order. It’s as though they think ignoring the problem will make it go away or be less real.

Albert Pujols

The future Hall of Famer is in the seventh year of a 10-year, $240 million deal. The Los Angeles Angels will be pay him $28 million in 2019, $30 million in 2020 and $31 million in 2021. Pujols will be 41 by then. Through six campaigns in L.A. he’s averaged 28 homers and a .771 OPS, which is fine, but not a stellar ROI.

Ryan Zimmerman

The Washington Nationals first baseman is in the fifth year of six-year, $100 million contract. One of those seasons (2017) saw good production. Injuries have plagued Zimmerman, so it feels a bit harsh to include him. On the bright side for the Nats, it’s certainly not a Jayson Werth situation.

James Shields

Big Game James is in the third year of a four-year, $75 million deal with the Chicago White Sox. There is no easy way to tell you this, but he is 11-28 with a 5.57 ERA on the South Side. His WAR is subzero. This year he’s 2-9, meaning he could become MLB’s first 20-game loser since Mike Maroth in 2003.

Homer Bailey

The Cincinnati Reds pitcher is in the fifth year of a six-year, $105 million contract. He is 18-23 since signing it and is on pace for yet another year of a ballooned, 6.00-plus ERA. He’s had a negative WAR in three straight seasons and is poised to do it again.

Joe Mauer

The Minnesota Twins veteran is in the final year of an eight-year, $184 million deal. He stopped playing catcher back in 2013, and has been playing in the power positions of 1B and DH since then. Just as a thought experiment, guess what you think he’s done, production-wise, over that time. Then go look and see yourself how it compares to perception. Wild, wild stuff.

Hanley Ramirez

The Boston Red Sox paid Ramirez $22.75 million to play baseball this year. He was released on June 1. That works out to about $128,531 per official at-bat. Good work if you can get it — and keep it.

Chris Davis

The Baltimore Orioles first baseman is in the third year of a seven-year, $161 million deal. His OPS failed to reach .800 in the first two. This campaign he’s managed only five homers and 20 RBI. His slash is horrific (.151/.230/.242) and he’s on pace to strikeout almost 200 times. Three more years of this would be catastrophic.

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