My old buddy Steve Henson has come out with a pretty awful article about terrible contracts. It’s so awful that I think I’ll even be roused from my sacred Odin-sleep to pillory it! I hope I remember how to do this; it’s been a while.
Worst MLB contracts are obvious when players can’t be moved through waivers or a trade
Well, no, not really, Steve. That’s just a sign that the contracts are really really big. To take an example, the Red Sox put Manny Ramirez on waivers back in 2006. Nobody claimed him. Now, Manny Ramirez’s contract was very, very large, but he also did this in 2006: .321 / .439 / .619 / 1.058. He was paid $18 million for that, but it was also worth about four and a half wins. That’s pretty much spot-on money for that production.
Long story short: we haven’t even gotten past the title of this article, and Steve’s already making a fool of himself.
Waivers remind us of the most ridiculous contracts because the murky process is a lot like big fish languidly swimming far beneath the surface of the ocean. Big fish that aren’t good eating.
What the hell, Steve? That makes absolutely no sense.
Players placed on waivers – which are supposed to be kept secret – often have bloated contracts no other team is willing to take on. Once a player is ignored by every team, known as passing through waivers, he can be dealt just like before the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.
Remember the title of your article, Steve? It was "Worst MLB contracts are obvious when players can’t be moved through waivers or a trade." And here you are talking about how these players are being put on waivers so… they can be traded. You’re doing well.
Once in a while a player with a huge contract is claimed, as the Dodgers did with Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee on Friday. The Dodgers had to be willing to take on the $110 million or so Lee is owed through 2016 if the Phillies consented. As it happened, the Phillies did no such thing, mostly because they simply can’t reconcile that their much-hullaballood signing of Lee 18 months ago was irrational overspending.
What? No, the Phillies pulled him back because they have no intention of letting a pitcher that good go if they don’t get anything in return. Remember what you were just saying? How, if he clears waivers, they can try to trade him? That’s what they were doing, numbnuts. And the Dodgers claimed him mainly to make sure he wouldn’t get traded to the Giants.
Overspending, of course, occurs every year, and players with ridiculous price tags flow through waivers, drawing nothing more than laughs from general managers around baseball. Here are 11 players so wildly overpaid they can’t be given away, worst first:
You ready to hear about some players Steve honestly thinks couldn’t be given away? It’s an insane list. Let’s do this.
1. Vernon Wells, Los Angeles Angels; signed through 2014, owed $48 million
Well, it’s insane after this one, anyhow.
Trading for Wells before the 2011 season was unfathomably stupid. The Angels gave the Blue Jays Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera and got back an $84 million albatross.
That trade was hilarious, as I believe I said at the time. Though I feel compelled to point out that the trade did occur, which might not be something you want to acknowledge right here at the top of your list of players so bad they can’t be traded.
Wells’ last base hit came in May and he’s hit .219 with a .250 OBP as an Angel. He’s useless.
I hate you a lot, Steve. You’re about to make me defend Vernon Wells. Sure, Wells is pretty terrible, but a lot of the fault here lies with the Angels for pushing him into left field. As a CF, Wells still ain’t great, but you could do a lot worse. I mean, the Angels are paying him almost $30M, which is really really funny, but he’s not useless.
2. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins; signed through 2018, owed $145 million
I do not believe for one moment that the Twinkies would have difficulty trading Mauer.
Everybody rejoiced when the parsimonious Twins sprung for an eight-year, $184 million deal for hometown favorite Mauer before the 2011 season. Wonderful has already been whittled to what-in-the-world? He plays catcher only half the time and doesn’t hit with power. He’ll remain a .320 hitter for a few years, but that’s not enough for $23 million a year, more than 20 percent of the Twins’ payroll.
Joe Mauer’s career OBP is .404. That’s really, really good. For comparison, Albert Pujols’ is .416, and Albert Pujols plays catcher only none of the time. Joe Mauer’s bat is easily worth the money the Twinkies are paying him if he can stay healthy, which is, of course, the rub.
Here is a brief list of teams that would trade for Joe Mauer:
3. Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals; signed through 2017, owed $105 million
This deal wouldn’t be half as bad as it is if the Nationals hadn’t signed like sixteen other outfielders at the same time.
The Nats admitted they overpaid for Werth when they handed him $127 million over seven years on the first day of the 2010 Winter Meetings. They wanted to show that they were serious about winning, and Werth was the first piece in what is now a strong team. But the contract will make him all but untradeable, especially since he’s already 33 years old.
He’s also currently hitting .291 / .400 / .436 / .836. His power’s off a bit, but come on, that’s still a 127 OPS+. Nobody would trade for that? Have you seen the crap outfielders some contending teams are running with right now?
4. Carl Crawford, Boston Red Sox; signed through 2017, owed $109 million
Now you’re just being weird. Yeah, Crawford had a bad year last year; so did Adam Dunn, who I notice is not on this list. Care to guess if that’s because Dunn’s rebounded? Crawford, instead, got hurt. But in the limited playing time he’s had this year, he’s looked like his old self.
He’s the new Alfonso Soriano, and the Red Sox had better hope he’s not the new Vernon Wells.
It’s looking like the Cubbies might move Soriano pretty soon. And Wells was traded in the mythical, far-off days of last year. So great comparisons for illustrating how untradable this guy is, clown.
Crawford’s steep drop in production since signing a seven-year, $142 million deal before the 2011 season is one of baseball’s biggest mysteries. He’s gone from a perennial .300 hitter to a .250 hitter and the look on his face is one of bewilderment.
Just like Adam Dunn, right? Who is presently hitting .207 / .346 / .489 / .835 and leading the Majors in walks and home runs? I’m guessing the clinging-desperately-to-first-place White Sox aren’t looking to trade that guy, but do you think they’d have trouble if they were? Dudes have off-years, Steve. Have you never heard of this?
5. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees; signed through 2017, owed $123 million plus another $30 million for home-run milestones
Okay, yeah, you’re just being weird for the sake of weird.
A-Rod will be 42 when his contract expires, and he’s already slipping. He’s gone from a .300/30/100 slash line to something like .270/20/80 – in other words, he’s become an average player with nowhere to go but down.
That’s not what a slash line is, Steve. A slash line is BA / OBP / SLG. You’re doing triple-crown stats there, which are separated by hyphens. Are you new to writing about baseball? Also you’re wrong about the data; .270’s about right, but where are you getting 20 HR and 80 RBI? He’s never been that low in a full season, and he’s on pace to beat it this year. .270 – 30 – 90 seems a bit more accurate.
You know what? Never mind. Even if I give you that, you’re an idiot, and here’s why: the man is nearly 40 years old, and, yes, he’s declining. The Yankees knew this when they gave him this deal; he insisted on it. It was the price they had to pay to get his prime years, in which he hit .300 / .401 / .567 / .968 while hitting 238 HR, walking 501 times, and playing pretty-good defense out of position. He won two MVPs. Come the fuck on, Steve.
With 644 career home runs, he’ll reach some cool milestones, but he’ll get paid extra for those.
I sure do hope the Yankees can afford it.
6. Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies; signed through 2016, owed $112 million
Yeah, that contract is awful, but mainly for reasons you don’t understand. Case in point:
After years of being productive and underpaid, Howard signed a five-year, $125 million extension in 2010 but an injury kept him out of the lineup the first half of this season. The big man is back but at 32 it’s difficult to imagine him having any more 40-home run seasons.
Ryan James hit 33 homers last year, and that ain’t shabby. His real problems are that he doesn’t hit doubles for shit, and his defense is appalling. Neither of these is a new problem; he’d always been greatly overvalued by people who evaluate hitters solely by triple-crown stats. You know, like you, Steve.
He could end up as a DH for an AL team, but otherwise he’ll be more difficult for the Phillies to deal than Cliff Lee.
Wasn’t Cliff Lee claimed off of waivers yesterday? Oh, right, he was. And you mentioned it in this article. Honest to God, Steve, you’re a moron.
7. Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels; signed through 2021, owed $232 million
Yes, the ink is barely dry on this landmark 10-year, $240 million contract, and yes, Pujols is a bargain this year and next when the Angels are paying him a total of $28 million. But that just makes the back end of the deal more dangerous. Check back in 2017 when he’s 37 years old and the Angels still owe him $140 million over the next five years. He’ll likely be No. 1 on this list.
Okay, I take that back. You are a fucking moron. When you’re talking about how good or how bad a contract is, Steve, you can’t just like evaluate some isolated part of that contract. That’s like saying "oh dear, this movie is dreadful because the font they used for the credits is hard to read." Yes, the back end of Pujols’ contract will overpay him. That is part of the price the Angels have to pay to get his current production, which is something like 1.000 / 1.000 / 4.000 with 700 HR. Albert Pujols is the best baseball player not called Barry Bonds that you or I have ever seen. You seriously believe the Angels couldn’t trade him? What the hell is wrong with your brain, Steve?
If you really just want to pick isolated bits of contracts to complain about, how is this list not full of Manny Ramirez and Bobby Bonila and Eric Byrnes and all kinds of other dudes who are still getting deferred money but not playing at all? Oh gosh, look how little production the Mets are getting from Bobby Bo these days! What an awful contract!
8. John Lackey, Boston Red Sox; signed through 2014, owed $35.5 million
It’s about time you picked an actual stinker.
Lackey is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and maybe he’ll regain his effectiveness. After a decent 2010 season – his first after signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal – he was abysmal in 2011, posting a 6.41 ERA. He also was roundly criticized for his poor attitude. The Red Sox can only hope he gives them two – or three – serviceable post-surgery seasons. His injury might have triggered a clause in his contract that adds another year at league minimum salary.
But don’t worry, Red Sox fans — this still isn’t as terrible a signing as Albert goddamn Pujols.
9. Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs; signed through 2014, owed $42 million
Also a better contract than Pujols, apparently.
Although he’s having a reasonably productive season, the man they call “Sori” never came close to living up to the eight-year, $136 million deal the Cubs gave him in 2007.
That’s true. This is an actual, for-reals bad contract! One you don’t even have to pick cherries to make fun of!
Dodgers GM Ned Colletti also bid for Soriano, and he says "the best deals are the ones you never do" every time he remembers it.
Yes, the best deals do tend to be the ones Ned Colletti does not make.
Getting a prospect for him is all but impossible because every GM thinks better safe than Sori.
That is the dumbest joke I have ever sat through in my entire tenure as a sportswriting critic. You’re fired.
10. Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants; signed through 2013, owed $33 million
You get the impression that Steve didn’t really try to put this list in order like he said he would? Here is how this list should have gone:
Zito is untradeable; he couldn’t even make the World Series roster in 2010.
Because the Giants had like a thousand stud pitchers. He’d have been on pretty much any other team’s roster.
11. Jason Bay, New York Mets; signed through 2013, owed $24 million
Another contract in its last year. Good work, Steve.
Maybe we should all get together and write up a big primer on how to evaluate contracts and send it to Steve. Just kidding! He can’t read anyway.