Justin Lovell, Sports Editor
After a tremendous regular season and playoffs, MLB is gearing up for my favorite time of the year, free agency. Free agency is a period in which each team has the ability to sign their own players, as well as other teams players. This can help teams looking to make a run in the playoffs next year or ruin teams chances if they can’t sign key players. This sounds like a great thing for teams, except free agency is the biggest risk/reward event in all sports. As major sports continue to make more money, contracts of players continue to get bigger. Each year, teams invest millions of dollars into players that may or may not be successful for their team. Look at last offseason as an example; Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes, C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle got huge contracts and only Fielder remotely played up to his value. The year before that, back in 2010, even more awful contracts were signed. As a Red Sox fan, the past few years have been dominated by bad contracts. Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, John Lackey and J.D. Drew are just some of the few and that’s just one of 30 major league teams.
As a free agency kicked off earlier this week, the biggest name on the market is Josh Hamilton. Hamilton is a former MVP and a fantastic player, who any team would want. However, he comes with a ton of a baggage. He will be 32 come May, is known as an emotional player who plays when he wants to and he is a recovering drug addict. All those factors mixed with the fact he wants a huge contract, both in money and length, make him a huge risk, so why would teams sign him? That is the question everyone around baseball will ask and no answers will be given.
In recognition of this soon-to-be disaster of a contract, I compiled a list of the worst baseball contracts ever.
Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels – 10 years, 250 million dollars – Pujols is arguably the best player in MLB history, so can any deal he signed really be considered bad? Well yes and no, sure he is great player still, but at the time the deal was signed, he was already 32 years old and in the decline of his career. In ten years when the deal is done, he will be 42 years old and be making almost 30 million a season. Suddenly that deal doesn’t look as good as it did back in 2012.
Mike Hampton, Colorado Rockies – 8 years, 121 million dollars – Hampton back in 2000 was coming off a NLCS MVP with the Mets and was ready to cash in. The Rockies always in need of pitching help were more than happy to help. At the time, it was the most expensive contract in sports history! Needless to say, Hampton did not live up to the deal. After two injury-plagued seasons, he was traded to the Braves and so started the bad contract phase in sports.
Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals / Carl Crawford, Boston Red Sox – 7 years, 126 million/ 7 years, 142 million – During the free agency class of 2010, these two outfielders were the two hottest players available and they cashed in. Both players were significantly overpaid and both teams regretted the deals only two years later. After only a year and half injury filled years in Boston, Crawford was shipped off to the Dodgers this past year as Boston realized their mistake and hit the reset button. Werth is still with Nationals but he will be 34 years old next season and on a young, up and coming team, his age and contract will hold the them back.
Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants – 7 years, 126 million dollars – After seven successful years in Oakland, Zito relocated to a new bay address in San Francisco. One problem though is that he seemed to have left his skill in Oakland. Since signing the deal in 2007, Zito has had some of his worst seasons ever and up until this postseason, he never pitched well. Some of the bad memories of this contract have been forgotten with the two World Series titles he has won but overall this deal was a bust.
Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees – 10 years, 275 million dollars – Back in 2001, A-Rod signed the biggest contract ever with the Texas Rangers. In 2007, he broke his own record when he resigned with the Yankees for this current one. At the time he was coming off an MVP season and the Yankees have more money than any other team in baseball. What’s the problem you ask then? Well five years later, Rodriguez is now deep into the decline of his career, at age 37. He just isn’t the same player he used to be. Also add in the fact that he is owed over 100 million dollars still over the next five years and this deal goes down as one of the worst ever.