MLB's Most Onerous Contracts in Wake of Latest PED Revelations
Baseball teams have a habit of handing out bad contracts. In light of the sports most recent performance-enhancing drugs scandal, some contracts now look worse than before.
Last week The Miami New Times released a damning report linking several other baseball players including Yankees third baseman Alex Rodrigez and Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, along with athletes from other sports, to records recovered from Miami anti-aging clinic Biogenesis and the clinic’s chief Anthony Bosch.
Baseball teams handing out bad contracts or overpaying players is not a new phenomenon, regardless of off-the-field distractions, but the latest PED scandal puts a new spin on things.
Here is a rankings of the most onerous contracts in the MLB in the wake of the latest PED revelations. Some are just plain awful contracts, whereas others are suddenly bad because the player is associated with Bosch and Biogenesis.
All contract information gathered from Baseball Reference.
All statistical information gathered from ESPN.
No. 1—Alex Rodriguez
In many ways, A-Rod defines this list. He was the most significant name linked to the Miami report and is still the highest-paid player in baseball. Not including a potential $30 million in marketing bonuses, the Yankees third baseman is owed $94 million over the next five seasons.
According to ESPN New York, though they are exploring their options as to voiding Rodriguez’s contract, it does not appear the Yankees will have the legal means to do so. Now it looks like the team could be on the hook for a player with a huge contract who is frequently injured and doesn’t produce at the rate he used to.
A-Rod hasn’t played more than 140 games since 2007 and had extensive hip surgery this offseason; he is expected to be out until at least after the All-Star break according to MLB.com. He has hit 16 and 18 home runs the last two seasons, respectively, and is a major distraction to the team.
In other words, his contract is easily the most onerous in baseball after the latest PED revelations.
No. 2—Ryan Howard
If last season is any indication, the Phillies could be in big trouble with their first baseman because Howard's contract is abysmal. In an injury-shortened campaign where he only played 71 games, Howard hit 14 home runs and 56 RBIs, batting .219.
That is simply unacceptable for a player owed $95 million the next four years, with a $23 million team option ($10 million buyout) the season after that.
Howard is going to have to stay healthy and produce like his usual self that is capable of 40-plus home runs. Otherwise, his albatross of a contract could sink the Phillies.
No. 3—Joe Mauer
It sounds like a fairytale—native son spurns big-market dollars for a chance to win with his hometown team, the only squad he has player for. The team even found it in their budget (thanks to a new stadium) to give their catcher the big payday he earned.
But now, it’s a nightmare.
Mauer’s contract may be the sort of burden that could sink the Twins’ playoff hopes for years to come. Though they just opened up Target Field, they owe Mauer $23 million annually for the next six years, exactly the sort of big-ticket contract a small-market team looking to spend efficiently cannot afford.
After a rough 2011 where he hit just three home runs and 30 RBIs, Mauer bounced back in 2012, hitting .319 with 10 home runs and 85 RBIs. While those numbers are solid, they are hardly worth $23 million.
Mauer certainly doesn’t have the worst contract in baseball, but it isn’t good. What compounds this issue is that the Twins need to spend smart because of their market. Mauer’s is the type of contract that a team like the Yankees can swallow, but can be a serious issue for Minnesota.
No. 4—Mark Teixeira
Here’s a bit of a wild card for the list. Teixeira is one of the most noteworthy contracts on the top-heavy Yankees. As such, the Bronx Bombers are counting on their first baseman now more than ever to step up his production in A-Rod’s absence.
The problem is, Teixeira’s contributions at the plate have fallen off in recent years, and the checks Teixeira is cashing are among the largest in the game.
The slugger is on the books for $90 million over the next four seasons. While he has lived up to his payday the first three seasons of his contract, Teixeira only hit 24 homers and 84 RBIs. His batting average has also dipped substantially, with 2009 representing the last season he hit above .260.
Teixeira as a player isn’t as much of a worry for the Yankees as is the fact the team is spending major dollars on several players who aren’t contributing at the level that earned them their contracts in the first place.
No. 5—Melky Cabrera
Compared to the rest of the members of this list, the contract Cabrera signed with the Blue Jays is in and of itself a relatively easy pill to swallow at two years and $16 million. The problem is, he’s a major distraction to a team that is finally supposed to be contending for an American League East title after years of futility.
Cabrera already received a 50-game suspension last season for the use of performance-enhancing drugs and removed himself from eligibility to win the 2012 National League batting title. He was batting .346 at the time of his suspension and his then-teammate on the Giants, catcher Buster Posey, would go on to win.
Cabrera’s contract was signed under the presumption he was clean and was ready to reestablish his value and reputation. Toronto has made other significant moves this offseason, including bringing in defending NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey and shortstop Jose Reyes.
Now is the time to strike in the AL East, but the Cabrera circus could potentially distract the Jays.
No. 6—Vernon Wells
Wells has long had one of the most burdensome contracts in all of baseball. Luckily for the Angels, they are “only” on the hook for two years and $42 million more on the contract.
Part of the reason he makes the list is because of how much the Angels have shelled out already—more than $42 million— for two years of inexcusable production, not to mention the money the Blue Jays paid Wells.
In his two years in Anaheim, Wells has hit .218 and .230, respectively, adding a total of 36 home runs and 95 RBIs in that span. The Angels have hardly got their money’s worth and there is no reason to think the outfielder will deliver on their investment any time soon.