2012 MLB Free Agency: What If Baseball Had a Super Amnesty Clause?
The NBA is still in lockout mode, but many suspect the league and players to reconcile their differences within the next week or so and get back to the business of playing basketball.
Once the lockout ends teams are expected to be given the ability to use something called the "amnesty clause" on one player per team.
The amnesty clause will eliminate one player's salary from the teams salary cap and make the player a free agent. The team would still be responsible for paying the player, but they get added payroll flexibility by utilizing the clause.
Baseball doesn't have a salary cap, so this would be a pointless exercise for Major League Baseball.
However, what if teams were given something that I'll dub a "Super Amnesty Clause?" That is, teams would be given the ability to drop a player from their roster and not be responsible for paying the player.
Who would teams drop, or have they been such smart spenders that they wouldn't drop anyone at all?
Let's take a look at each team and see how this could potentially play out.
*Note: This would never, ever, ever, ever, ever happen. I mean, never.
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Los Angeles Angels: Vernon Wells
Vernon Wells hit .218 with 21 home runs and 66 RBI last season, but he's still owed $21 million in 2012, $21 million in 2013 and another $21 million in 2014.
The Angels would love to be able to "press reset" on this contract and use that $63 million on someone who is actually productive.
Houston Astros: Carlos Lee
Carlos Lee has had a successful career, and he even had a solid, but not spectacular 2011 campaign. Lee hit .275 with 18 home runs and 94 RBI last year, which means that can still produce at a good level, but his $18.5 million salary due in 2012 makes him the easy choice to let go.
At 35 years old, he certainly doesn't fit into the Astros rebuilding plans, and Lee would have the freedom to sign with a competitor.
Oakland Athletics: Trevor Cahill
I'm honestly not sure if the A's would even use their amnesty clause on Trevor Cahill. They have a team of small contracts without sizable risks.
Cahill's is the biggest, but it's not too hefty considering he's a 24-year-old starter with three years of experience and an 18 win season under his belt.
Cahill is slated to make $3.5 million in 2012, $5.5 million in 2013, $7.7 million in 2014 and $12 million in 2015. The club has a $13 million option in 2016, and a $13.5 million option in 2017.
None of those numbers are going to cripple the Athletics franchise.
The only reason they might consider making the move is because Cahill had a very pedestrian 12-14 record last season with a 4.16 ERA and a 1.425 WHIP.
That's not at all what they expected when they signed him to this long term contract.
Toronto Blue Jays: Mark Teahen
The Blue Jays are in a similar position as the Oakland Athletics in that they have been great about not taking big risks and signing bad contracts.
Mark Teahen is the only real option available. Teahen is due to make $5.5 million in 2012, and that's about $5 million too much for a player that hit 200 with four home runs and 14 RBI last season.
Atlanta Braves: Nobody
It's possible that the Braves would consider using the Super Amnesty Clause on Uggla, but I think they'd ultimately stick with him.
Overall, Uggla had the worst year of his career in 2011, but his post All-Star break numbers were so good that the Braves probably feel comfortable holding onto him.
Uggla hit .296 with 21 home runs and 48 RBI after the break, offsetting his .185 batting average in the first half of the season.
Milwaukee Brewers: Rickie Weeks
I don't know why the Brewers gave Weeks a four year, $38.5 million contract, but I would hope that after his mediocre 2011 campaign they wouldn't repeat the mistake.
Weeks is due $10 million in 2012, $10 million in 2013, $11 million in 2014 and there is a vesting option of $11.5 million for 2015.
All of this for a player who hit .269 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI last season.
St. Louis Cardinals: Jake Westbrook
Jake Westbrook is owed $8.5 million in 2012 and there is a mutual option for $8.5 million in 2013.
Westbrook had a 1.553 WHIP last year and allowed almost 10 hits per nine innings. It's unlikely the Cardinals would be willing to keep his contract on the books if given the chance to be rid of it.
Chicago Cubs: Alfonso Soriano
This one is an absolute no-brainer. Soriano is owed $18 million a year for the next three years, and that is money that could be better spent on a Mr. Albert Pujols.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Chris Young
Chris Young has been regressing for the past four seasons and the Diamondbacks would undoubtedly love to get out of the last few years of his contract.
Young is slated to make $7 million in 2012, $8.5 million in 2013 and club option for $11 million in 2014.
Young hit with .236 with 20 home runs and 71 RBI last season.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Juan Uribe
Uribe was a questionable signing already, but his 2011 performance answered every question.
It was a bad move.
Uribe is set to make $8 million in 2012 and another $7 million in 2013. However, he only hit .204 with just four home runs and 28 RBI in 2011.
The Dodgers would certainly be happy to get that money off of their books.
San Francisco Giants: Barry Zito
Barry Zito is still owed $19 million in 2012, $20 million in 2013 and a minimum of $7 million in 2014.
Zito's seven years, $126 million contract is widely regarded as one of the worst signings in the history of sports.
Needless to say, the Giants would drop him the second the announcement was made.
Cleveland Indians: Travis Hafner
The Indians would've loved to have seen this clause two or three years ago, but would happily utilize it now.
Hafner is set to make $13 million this year with a club option for $13 million next year, including a $2.75 million buyout.
Hafner hasn't played in more than 118 games in four seasons, and the Indians would happily allow him to be someone else's problem or to re-sign him at a far reduced price.
Seattle Mariners: Chone Figgins
Figgins has been completely terrible since signing with the Mariners in 2010.
He batted .188 last year with just one home run and 15 RBI in 81 games.
He's due to make $9 million in 2012 and an additional $8 million in 2013 and the Mariners would love to have that money available again.
Miami Marlins: John Buck
Buck hit just .227 with a .683 OPS last season. He's owed $6 million in 2012 and another $6 million in 2013 which makes Buck expendable.
New York Mets: Jason Bay
Jason Bay has been terrible for the New York Mets.
He hit .259 with six home runs and 47 RBI in 2010 and then followed that up with .245 12 home runs and 57 RBI in 2011.
This, from someone being paid like a superstar slugger.
The Mets still owe Bay $16 million in 2012, $16 million in 2013 and a $3 million buyout in 2014.
The Super Amnesty Clause would've been invented specifically for players like Bay.
Washington Nationals: Jayson Werth
Jayson Werth's seven year, $126 million contract was ridiculous the second it was signed.
The Nationals were forced to overpay drastically to get a free agent to come to their below average team.
The best case scenario for the Nationals was that he would continue to hit the way he did in Philadelphia, where he hit .296 with 27 home runs and 85 RBI in 2010.
Instead, Werth followed that season up by hitting .232 with 20 home runs and only 58 RBI in 2011.
The Nationals still owe Werth $116 million through 2017. I'm sure they would take advantage of the chance to get that number off of their books.
Baltimore Orioles: Kevin Gregg
Gregg is the perfect example of someone that either shouldn't be in baseball or should simply be a middle reliever, but he definitely shouldn't be a closer.
Gregg had 22 saves last year, but he had an astronomical WHIP of 1.642. The Orioles definitely don't want this person pitching the last three outs of any ball game.
He's due to make $5.8 million in 2012 and has a club option for $6 million in 2013. Those aren't horrible numbers for a closer, but it is horrible for someone that pitched as bad as Gregg did in 2011.
San Diego Padres: Orlando Hudson
Hudson hasn't been particularly good since his days in Arizona.
He's been with three teams in three years and if a Super Amnesty Clause existed, then I think he'd be heading for a fourth team.
He's due to make $5.5 million in 2012, and has a buyout from an $8 million option of $2 million in 2013.
The Padres would surely love to avoid all of that.
Philadelphia Phillies: Joe Blanton
Blanton has struggled mightily since joining the Phillies.
His ERA has steadily increased since 2009 from 4.05 to 4.82 to 5.01 in 2011.
The Phillies would undoubtedly love to shed the $8.5 million he's owed in 2012.
Another option would be Ryan Howard. He's just beginning his five year, $125 million extension, and he'll be trying to come back from an injury suffered in the playoffs. However, I think he's too much of a fan favorite to consider letting go.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Nobody
One of the side effects of a $40 million payroll is that you don't have any bad contracts.
Texas Rangers: Nobody
The only player I would even consider cutting is Yorvit Torrealba, but he's not making enough money to really care too much about.
Good job by Texas at only paying for players that are producing.
They might end up regretting the Adrian Beltre deal at some point down the line, but everything is rosy right now in Texas!
Tampa Bay Rays: Nobody
Tampa Bay is another team that has done an excellent job at controlling their spending. They have a great young team and not a single bad contract on the books.
Cincinnati Reds: Bronson Arroyo
Bronson Arroyo is probably one of the five worst starters in baseball.
Last year he gave up the third highest total of home runs in Major League Baseball history. Amazing.
Reds fans would weep with joy if there was a way to magically remove his $7 million in 2012 and $6.5 million in 2013.
Boston Red Sox: John Lackey
It's fitting that Lackey and Arroyo are back-to-back in this slideshow since they were probably the two worst pitchers of 2011.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Lackey is owed a ton more money than Arroyo.
Lackey is set to make $15.25 million in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Colorado Rockies: Jorge De La Rosa
I went back and forth on this one, but ultimately decided that they'd let go of De la Rosa and his $10 million 2012 contract.
He hasn't been very productive, and he missed a significant portion of 2011.
Kansas City Royals: Nobody
The Royals had a 2011 payroll of about $38 million, so it's not surprising that they wouldn't' have many bad contracts.
Detroit Tigers: Nobody
I'm becoming increasingly jealous at these teams that made the playoffs, but still don't have any bad contracts they need to cut.
Great job by the Tigers, although they may regret the Cabrera contract at some point down the line.
Minnesota Twins: Holy *@*#
I remember marveling back in 2000 that Alex Rodriguez or Randy Johnson was getting paid more than the entire Minnesota Twins team.
Back in 2000 the Twins had a payroll of just $15 million. In 2011 their payroll was $113 million.
The Twins would love to borrow the Super Amnesty Clause that the Rays, Tigers and Rangers won't be using and use them on:
- Joe Mauer: $23 million in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018
- Justin Morneau: $14 million in 2012 and 2013
- Carl Pavano: $8.5 million in 2012
- Denard Span: $3 million in 2012, $4.75 million in 2013, $6.5 million in 2014 and a $9 million club option in 2015
Awful, awful contracts.
Chicago White Sox: Alex Rios
Rios is due $12 million in 2012, $12.5 million in 2013, $12.5 million in 2014 and there is a club option for $13.5 million in 2015.
I don't think they'll be picking up that club option.
Rios hit .227 with 13 home runs and 44 RBI last year and barely exceeded those numbers the previous season. He's been a complete disappointment since joining the White Sox.
New York Yankees: Mark Teixeira
How badly would Yankees fans love to drop this contract and use that money to sign Pujols?
Tex is due $22.5 million in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.