7 MLB Players Who Will Fail to Live Up to Their New Contracts

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2013

7 MLB Players Who Will Fail to Live Up to Their New Contracts

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    Budgeting money is a tricky thing during the MLB offseason, as teams don't want to overpay for a player but at the same time don't want to risk losing their target free agent to another team willing to offer him more money.

    As a result, a handful of players each year wind up overpaid and their production fails to live up to their annual salary.

    Here is a look at the seven player who will fail to live up to the contracts they received on the free-agent market this offseason.

DH Lance Berkman, Texas Rangers

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    Contract: one-year, $10 million

    Has there been a move this offseason that reeked of desperation more than the Rangers' signing of Lance Berkman to an eight-figure deal?

    He was the Comeback Player of the Year with the Cardinals in 2011 when he hit .301 BA, 31 HR, 94 RBI and helped the team to the World Series, but a balky right knee limited him to just 32 games last season.

    He mulled retirement, but the Rangers' offer was enough for him to put that on the back burner for at least one more season.

    Even if he can stay on the field, Berkman is not the player he once was and chances are the knee will continue to be an issue. Not exactly the ideal No. 3 hitter on a team that still has playoff aspirations.

RP Brandon League, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Contract: three-year, $22.5 million

    A top prospect in the Blue Jays organization before being sent to the Mariners in a swap for fellow right-hander Brandon Morrow, Brandon League has one very good season under his belt in nine years in the majors.

    An All-Star in 2011, League converted 37-of-42 save chances with a 2.79 ERA in his first full season in the closer's role and looked to have a bright future in the back-end of the Seattle bullpen.

    However, he opened the 2012 season 9-of-13 on save chances with a 4.43 ERA and he was removed from the closer's role after a blown save on May 25.

    Seattle shipped him to the Dodgers at the deadline, where he was a perfect 6-of-6 on save chances with a 2.30 ERA in 28 appearances.

    That was enough to get him a huge three-year deal, but given his thin track record of success and his struggles in the low-pressure situation that is Seattle, he'll have his work cut out for him to live up to his salary.

SS Stephen Drew, Boston Red Sox

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    Contract: one-year, $9.5 million

    One of the best young shortstops in the game entering the 2011 season, Stephen Drew had at least 12 home runs and 60 RBI each season from 2007-2010.

    He was on pace for similar numbers in 2011 when a broken ankle brought his season to an abrupt end on July 20. The injury would keep him sidelined until June 27 of last season, and he was not the same player upon returning.

    The 29-year-old struggled to a .193 average through 135 at-bats with the Diamondbacks before being shopped at the deadline and eventually traded to Oakland.

    He was a little better with the A's, hitting .250 BA, 5 HR, 16 RBI in 39 games, but he was still a far cry from the impact player he was in pre-injury and Oakland declined a $10 million option on him at the end of the year.

    Enter the free-spending Red Sox, as they signed him to a $9.5 million one-year deal in hopes of him regaining his pre-injury form. Granted the shortstop market was thin, but $9.5 million is not exactly a "show-me" type deal for a player looking to bounce back.

SP Anibal Sanchez, Detroit Tigers

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    Contract: five-year, $80 million

    With a steep drop-off after Zack Greinke, this year's starting pitching market was bound to feature some mid-level guys being drastically over-paid and Anibal Sanchez was perhaps the biggest beneficiary of that.

    A solid pitcher throughout his seven-year big league career, Sanchez boosted his value with a solid stretch run in Detroit. He made 12 starts with the Tigers after coming over in a deadline trade, posting a 3.74 ERA and 1.286 WHIP. 

    That success carried over in the postseason, where he allowed just four runs in 20.1 innings of work over three starts, and the Tigers were understandably interested in bringing him back as a result.

    After the Cubs made a serious run at signing him, the Tigers eventually ponied up and gave him $80 million over five years.

    Sanchez is a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm who will certainly help the Tigers, but he's likely going to have a hard time justifying a $16 million salary each of the next five years.

2B Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants

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    Contract: three-year, $20 million

    Much like the two-year, $20 million deal that Aubrey Huff got after playing a key part in the Giants' 2010 title run, Scutaro was seemingly rewarded for his role in winning a championship with a contract well above his value.

    The 37-year-old Scutaro hit .362 with three home runs and 44 RBI in 61 games with the Giants after coming over at the deadline, then proceeded to win NLCS MVP and drive in the winning run of the World Series clincher. 

    The second base market was virtually non-existent beyond Scutaro, so that adds to his value, but something like a two-year, $10 million deal would have been far more reasonable for the aging Scutaro.

SP Jeremy Guthrie, Kansas City Royals

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    Contract: three-year, $25 million

    Looking strictly at his time with the Royals last season, Guthrie is worth the $25 million that the Royals gave him over three seasons. Acquired from the Rockies at the deadline, the right-hander went 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA and 1.132 WHIP in 14 starts with Kansas City.

    However, he was a disastrous 3-9 with a 6.35 ERA with the Rockies before the trade as he ranked among the worst starters in all of baseball statistically.

    The previous season, he went 9-17 with a 4.33 ERA as the ace of the Orioles staff, and with a 4.28 career ERA, those are likely the type of numbers to expect out of him.

    His durability is valuable, and the way his contract is set up he'll make just $5 million this coming season, so he should be a solid bargain in 2013. However, it's the remaining $20 million in what will be his age 35 and 36 seasons that will make it hard for him to live up to this contract.

CF B.J. Upton, Atlanta Braves

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    Contract: five-year, $75.25 million

    Based on pure tools, there are few players in the game who rival B.J. Upton as there is nothing he is not capable of excelling at on the baseball field.

    However, those tools have not always led to production and he has largely been a disappointment since his .300 BA, 24 HR, 82 RBI, 22 SB season back in 2007 when he was just 22.

    Last season, he hit a career-high 28 home runs with 78 RBI, but he hit under .250 for the fourth straight season and saw his OBP slip to an unacceptable .298.

    Still only 28-years-old, a change of scenery could do wonders for Upton and a 30-30 season is certainly within reach. Or, he could post another .245/.300/.450 season and be a solid 3.0 WAR player.

    The Braves needed a center fielder, but is it really worth paying Upton franchise-player type money to see if he can finally harness his raw talent into production? Time will tell, but my money is on no.