Ranking MLB's Worst 2019 Contract Busts After 2 Months

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistMay 22, 2019

Ranking MLB's Worst 2019 Contract Busts After 2 Months

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    Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

    Ace left-hander Dallas Keuchel and All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel are unemployed as of this writing. Improbably, we're still talking about the players who haven't signed as much as those who have.

    Still, the 2018-19 MLB offseason featured its share of sizable contracts. Some have not worked out, to put it mildly.

    Here's a look at a half-dozen deals that, so far, have fizzled in particularly galling fashion, based on money owed relative to performance thus far with a sprinkling of subjectivity.

    There's time for the players in question to earn their paychecks, but the early returns aren't great.

Jeurys Familia, RHP, New York Mets

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Jeurys Familia returned to the New York Mets on a three-year, $30 million contract. So far, he wears a 5.60 ERA and only marginally better 5.07 FIP.

    Overall, Mets relievers rank 19th in the game with a 4.24 ERA. Familia isn't helping.

    He's battled a sore right shoulder, which is a bad sign even at age 29.

    "I'm just taking it easy right now, trying to regain the confidence and get into whatever situation I can get into," Familia said, per Greg Joyce of the New York Post.

    Do those words inspire late-inning faith? No, they do not.

Andrew Miller, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Andrew Miller will earn $11 million in 2019, $11 million with an additional $500,000 in incentives in 2020 and a $12 million team option with a $2.5 million buyout in 2021 from the St. Louis Cardinals.

    That's a lot of coin for a pitcher who sports a 4.86 ERA and 6.51 FIP in 21 appearances.

    Miller was an All-Star and top-10 Cy Young Award finisher as recently as 2016, but his days as an elite reliever are seemingly in the rearview.

    "I wish I was pitching better. I'm working on it," Miller said, per Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It's not the start I wanted."

    At age 34, he looks like an overpaid 'pen arm getting paid for what he did rather than what he will do.

Lance Lynn, RHP, Texas Rangers

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    Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

    The Texas Rangers are caught between a retool and a rebuild. If we're taking bets, we'll lean toward the latter.

    That stipulated, the three-year, $30 million deal the Rangers handed 32-year-old Lance Lynn seems egregious.

    Through nine starts, Lynn sports a 4.94 ERA. He's exactly what Texas doesn't need: an overpaid veteran on the downslope of his career.

    As Lynn told reporters on April 23 after surrendering eight earned runs in 3.1 innings against the Oakland Athletics, "I was terrible out there."

    The $9 million and change the Rangers owe him this season hurts. The $20-plus million they owe him going forward hurts even more.

Nathan Eovaldi, RHP, Boston Red Sox

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    Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

    This winter, the Boston Red Sox signed Nathan Eovaldi to a four-year, $68 million contract. 

    So far, the right-hander has a 6.00 ERA and 6.99 FIP in 21 frames and underwent elbow surgery on April 23.

    "We haven't had any issues," Eovaldi told reporters of his recovery. "We've continued to take steps forward in the right direction."

    Fair enough. But thus far, his performance and health have been substandard for a Boston pitching staff that ranks 16th with a 4.26 ERA.

    As they embark on a title defense, the Sox can ill afford to overpay Eovaldi.

A.J. Pollock, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    A four-year, $55 million deal positioned center fielder A.J. Pollock as a key member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Up to now, the 31-year-old has slashed .223/.287/.330 and is sidelined for at least six weeks following elbow surgery on May 2.

    The Dodgers should survive with Cody Bellinger, Alex Verdugo and Joc Pederson in the outfield. But the cash they'll hand Pollock now and down the road will sting unless he returns and contributes.

    "It's not my plan," Pollock said, per J.P. Hoornstra of the Orange County Register. "It's frustrating."

    That's an understatement.

Jed Lowrie, INF, New York Mets

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    After inking a two-year, $20 million deal with the Mets this offseason, Jed Lowrie has yet to play an inning for the Queens contingent.

    Lowrie was recently moved to the 60-day injured list with a knee issue. He's 35 years old. Maybe his career isn't over. Then again, maybe it is.

    "He's down about it," Mets manager Mickey Callaway told reporters. "He's frustrated."

    The Mets have infield depth in the form of veterans Robinson Cano and Todd Frazier, as well as youngsters Amed Rosario and Pete Alonso, but paying Lowrie $10 million this season and next to possibly contribute nothing hurts...a lot.


    All statistics and contract information current entering play Tuesday and courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.