After three days of the winter meetings we are still anxiously awaiting the final destination of many superstar free agents. However, one thing is certain, teams are not willing to give the players long term deals which has made the process move even slower. Most notably, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder have been seeking extremely long and lucrative deals. Pujols has just accepted an insane 10 year $254 million dollar contract with the Angels while Fielder’s market is still up in the air. The reason that teams are no longer willing to offer deals longer that five or six years is based on the recent history of huge free agent signings ending up as terrible deals. One of the best examples is Chicago Cubs outfielder, Alfonso Soriano who has not even come close to living up to the expectations after signing an 8 year $136 million contract. Deals like this have proved to severely hurt many teams in the past and will continue to hurt teams in the future. Here is a list of five of the worst baseball contracts in the last ten years.
After a solid season with the Dodgers in 2000 including a phenomenal final three months, the Dodgers signed Dreifort to a 5 year 55 million dollar contract. Prior to signing this deal, Dreifort had not even won 40 games in his major league career. After he signed the deal, he won a total of nine games for the Dodgers.
4. Carlos Lee – Houston Astros
Carlos Lee was a dominant hitter for the White Sox, Brewers and Rangers his entire career. In 2007, he signed a deal with the Houston Astros of 6 years and 100 million dollars. After having a solid season his first year in Houston, his numbers have been rapidly declining ever since. This past season he hit .275 with 18 home runs and 94 RBIs. While that may not seem terrible, it’s nowhere close to the type of production that is expected of a player making 17 million dollars a year.
3. Barry Zito – San Francisco Giants
Zito was one of the best pitchers for the MLB when he was in Oakland, pitching alongside of Mark Mulder and Dan Haren. Like most star players of the Oakland Athletics, Zito left the team when his contract was up, seeking a much larger deal. In 2007 the San Francisco Giants signed him to a 7 year deal worth 126 million dollars. Since joining the Giants, he has posted a record of 43-61 with an ERA of 4.75. The stats speak for themselves in Zito’s situation.
2. Alfonso Soriano – Chicago Cubs
After being one of the best players in baseball for many years, including multiple times in the 40/40 club, the Chicago Cubs signed Alfonso Soriano to an unbelievable 8 year deal worth $136 million. Soriano started off hot for the Cubs in his first couple of months with the team, but then suffered a string of injuries that slowed him down. He never really recovered and has been for more than disappointing for the Cubs. It seems they have been trying to trade him ever since he signed.
Mike Hampton was never an elite pitcher in the MLB, rather more of an innings eater and strike thrower, which is why its was very hard to understand why the Colorado Rockies signed him to an 8 year contract worth $121 million. The reason that this is the worst deal is because all of the other players seemingly deserved the huge contracts they got when they signed them. Hampton was never worth this kind of money and never lived up to the expectations.
Pujols contract with the Angels will be the last of these absurd contracts. Teams will no longer sign players for more than five or six years simply because the deals almost never work out. The only exception to this is Prince Fielder, it will be very interesting to see what kind of deal he ends up signing.