Ranking the Worst Contracts in MLB

Dan WilkinsCorrespondent IIMarch 31, 2017

Ranking the Worst Contracts in MLB

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    With the MLB offseason and free agency period upon us, many teams will be aggressive in attempts to acquire a player that they so covet. However, they must remain cautious of not grossly overpaying at the same time.

    As much as teams will try, it happens every year. With the way that contracts for the league's best players have consistently escalated and topped each other over time, the money spent is sometimes unavoidable.

    Sometimes the bidding ends up worth the money, but there are always those cases where after a few years of a new contract, a team is stuck paying an under-performing player a lot of money for a lengthy period of time.

    All too often, we are wondering how teams could have possibly got themselves locked into deals that they do.

    Here are the worst contracts in MLB.

Honorable Mentions

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    Prince Fielder - Signed a nine-year $214 million deal with the Detroit Tigers in 2012.

    Joe Mauer - Signed an eight-year $184 million deal with the Minnesota Twins in 2010.

    Barry Zito - Signed a seven-year $126 million deal with the San Francisco Giants in 2006.

    Carl Crawford - Signed a seven-year $148 million deal with the Boston Red Sox in 2010.

    Alfonso Soriano - Signed an eight-year $136 million deal with the Chicago Cubs in 2006.

5. John Lackey

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    John Lackey missed the 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Originally having signed a 5-year $82.5 million contract with the Red Sox, he is still owed $15.25 million in each of the deal's remaining two years.

    After signing with the team prior to the 2010 season, Lackey's performance started to go downhill. The worst of which came in 2011 where he posted a career-worst 6.41 ERA, finishing with a 12-12 record.

    Now 34 years old and coming off the surgery, it would be a surprise to see Lackey regain the form of his days with the Los Angeles Angels. With a Red Sox team that looks to be retooling, this is not a contract that it would like to have on the books.

4. Jayson Werth

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    Prior to the 2011 season, the Washington Nationals signed then-free agent Jayson Werth to a seven-year $126 million deal.

    That season, Werth went on to hit just .232 with 20 home runs and 58 RBI. In 2012, although missing half of the team's games due to injury, he had a bit of a statistical rebound and hit .300 from then on, but tallied just five home runs.

    Just two years into a deal that surprised many at the time, the Nationals will be paying Werth for quite a while. According to Baseball Reference, Werth is scheduled to make $21 million in each season from 2015-2017, when he will be 36 to 38 years old.

    Now 33, the Nationals hope he can return to his form of the 2009 season. If he can't, this will continue to be one of the league's worst contracts.

3. Albert Pujols

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    When Albert Pujols was a free agent prior to the 2012 season, there was a bidding war to acquire arguably the best bat in the MLB. As a result, we saw him sign a 10-year, $254 million deal with the Angels at the age of 31.

    Of course, there is something to be said for doing what is necessary to acquire a player of Pujols' caliber, as he is a future Hall of Fame player who has been one of the league's most consistent stars throughout his career.

    However, the problem lies in the length of such a contract given to a player over 30 years of age. As with any other player, his play is sure to begin a decline at some point in his 30s if it hasn't already.

    Despite that, the Angels committed to making him among the league's highest paid players throughout those years, and into his 40s.

    If he can help the team win a few World Series titles along the way, it will certainly help shoulder the financial blow. However, even with his addition to the team in 2012, the Angels still failed to qualify for the postseason. 

2. Alex Rodriguez

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    In 2007, the New York Yankees signed Alex Rodriguez to a 10-year, $275 million contract, breaking a league record for the second time in his career. Since that time, his play has slowly been declining, so much so that he even spent time on the bench in the 2012 playoffs.

    With 647 career home runs, he will still go down as one of the best power hitters of all time. However, with the lack of production as of late, even the deep-pocketed Yankees would be hard pressed to justify continuing to pay him that kind of money.

    According to Baseball Reference, A-Rod's contract saw him make $29 million in 2012. That number works out to about $1.61 million per home run, having hit just 18 throughout the year.

    Signed through 2017, it would be safe to say that the Yankees head in a new direction well before then.

1. Vernon Wells

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    When Vernon Wells signed his seven-year, $126 million extension with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2006, he was playing at a high level and was the face of the franchise.

    The following years were up and down, leading to his eventual trade to the Angels. In his two years there, he has hit just .218 and .230, doing little to live up to his massive contract numbers.

    According to FOXSports' Ken Rosenthal, the Angels are now actively trying to trade Wells. The problem is, as Rosenthal explains, Wells is due to make $42 million over the next two seasons, not to mention having a full no-trade clause as well.

    When the Jays found a trade partner willing to take on that contract, it was surprising enough. The Angels will either have to buy him out of his contract, or let him play it out. Teams would be interested in his services if he were to be bought out, but certainly not under his current contract numbers.