MLB Rumors: Giants May Buyout Barry Zito's Contract: Top 10 Worst Signings Ever

Perry SchwartzCorrespondent IIIMarch 3, 2011

MLB Rumors: Giants May Buyout Barry Zito's Contract: Top 10 Worst Signings Ever

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    LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 24:  Starting pitcher Kevin Brown #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch during the National League game against the New York Mets at Dodgers Stadium on August 24, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. The Mets defeated the Dodger
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Barry Zito, who has struggled in a San Francisco Giants' uniform, still has three years and $57 million left on his contract. There is a good chance that Zito will be boughtout by the Giants, who already have a deep array of starting pitchers

    Since the offseason before the 1999 season, when Mike Piazza and Kevin Brown signed by far the two biggest contracts ever at that time, there have been many gigantic contracts, almost none of which worked as a whole.

    In the case of many of these large contracts, it is almost as if players are earning money for what they have done in the past, as opposed to what they will bring to the table in the future.

    It is unclear whether this tends to happen because players try harder the year before becoming free agents, or if it is simply a result of age and statistical odds catching up to you.

    Here are the 10 worst MLB contracts of all-time.

10. Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs

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    PHOENIX - OCTOBER 03:  Alfonso Soriano #12 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after striking out in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks during Game One of the National League Divisional Series at Chase Field on October 3, 2007 in Phoenix, Arizona.
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    8 years, $136 million.

    Prior to signing with the Cubs, Soriano was coming off of a season in which he became just the fourth player in baseball history to hit 40 homeruns and steal 40 bases in the same season. He had also averaged over 37 homeruns over the previous five seasons.

    When the Cubs signed Soriano, who was 30-years-old at the time, to an eight year deal worth $17 million per year, there was little optimism that he could possibly live up to the hype.

    In four seasons with Chicago, Soriano has averaged about 26 homeruns, 13 stolen bases and a .271 batting average, not exactly superstar numbers. 

9. Darren Dreifort, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    LOS ANGELES - APRIL 5:  Pitcher Darren Dreifort #37 of the Los Angeles Dodgers winds back to pitch during the game against the San Diego Padres on April 5, 2004 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Padres defeated the Dodgers 8-2 in the seaso
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    5 years, $55 million.

    There was no reason for the Dodgers to spend this much money on Dreifort.

    Dreifort had never won more than 13 games nor had an ERA below 4.00 as a starter in any single season. The Dodgers bought into Dreifort's "stuff" and were afraid of seeing Dreifort pitch well for another team

    Throughout Dreifort's big five year contract, he missed two full seasons, starting just 26 games total, to go along with one year in which he provided very mediocre work out of the bullpen. Dreifort has not pitched in the majors since.

8. Chan Ho Park, Texas Rangers

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    ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 24:  Chan Ho Park #21 of the Texas Rangers pitches during the game with the Oakland Atheltics on July 24, 2005 at Ameriquest Field in Arlington in Arlington, Texas.  The Athletics defeated the Rangers 8-3.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/G
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    5 years, $65 million.

    Chan Ho Park was 28 years old and coming off of back-to-back very solid seasons, in which he averaged 16.5 wins, an ERA of 3.39, and 230 innings pitched.

    However, he never found his groove with the Texas Rangers, as he won just 22 total games in a Ranger uniform with a miserable 5.79 ERA, before being traded to the Padres in the middle of the fourth year of the contract.

7. Albert Belle, Baltimore Orioles

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    4 Jul 2000: Albert Belle #88 of the Baltimore Orioles drops the bat to move to first base during the game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York, New York.  The Orioles defeated the Yankees 7-6.Mandatory Credit: Jamie Squire  /Allsport
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    5 years, $65 million.

    From 1993-1998, Belle was one of the best hitters in the game, averaging 42 homeruns and a batting average over .300.

    However, Baltimore may have signed Belle a little late, as he was 32 years old before signing that big contract. Belle played well for the first two seasons, but then suddenly retired.

6. Jason Schmidt, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 16:  Jason Schmidt #29 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during an interleague game at Dodger Stadium on June 16, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. The Angels defe
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    3 years, $47 million.

    Schmidt's contract is a prime example of a player getting paid more so for what he had done, as opposed to what he still had left in the tank.

    Whereas Schmidt was coming off of an All-Star season before signing this contract, he was already 34 years old and clearly past his prime. It was a good thing that the Dodgers didn't sign Schmidt for an even longer deal.

    Schmidt battled a shoulder injury throughout his stint with the Dodgers and won just three total games for the Dodgers in three seasons, with an ERA over 6.00

5. Aaron Rowand, San Francisco Giants

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    ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01:  Aaron Rowand of the San Francisco Giants bats against the Texas Rangers in Game Five of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on November 1, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. The Giants won 3-1.  (Photo by Ronald
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    5 years, $60 million.

    Similar to Dreifort, Rowand was a mediocre player coming off of a decent, yet timely season.

    Rowand hit .309 with 27 homeruns in 2007, but hit just .267 with 25 homeruns in the two seasons prior.

    Through his first three seasons with San Francisco, Rowand has hit .257 with 39 total homeruns.

4. Vernon Wells, Toronto Blue Jays

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    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 29: Vernon Wells #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits against the New York Yankees during a MLB game at the Rogers Centre September 29, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
    Abelimages/Getty Images

    7 years, $126 million.

    This contract made very little sense at the time and inevitably has not worked out for the Toronto Blue Jays.

    Wells had been inconsistent throughout his career before signing the deal, as he had hit over .300 BA twice and over 30 homeruns twice, but with a lot of mediocre seasons mixed in.

    Wells was recently traded to the Angeles just a few months ago for catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera, so now Los Angeles is stuck paying close to $86 million to Wells over the next four seasons

3. Mike Hampton, Colorado Rockies

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    2 Apr 2001:  Mike Hampton #10 of the Colorado Rockies winds up to pitch the ball during the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Fiels in Denver, Colorado.  The Rockies defeated the Cardinals 8-0.Mandatory Credit: Tom Hauck  /Allsport
    Tom Hauck/Getty Images

    8 years, $121 million.

    Perhaps the most disappointing signing in MLB history, Hampton had been great in Houston and New York prior to signing this contract, but struggled mightily in Colorado, where he had an awful ERA of 5.75 in two seasons with the Rockies

    Hampton was traded to Atlanta after two seasons and pitched relatively well for two years before struggling with an elbow injury that he may never recover from. 

2. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees hits a two run homerun in the seventh-inning against the Boston Red Sox on September 26, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    10 years, $275 million.

    The biggest problem with this contract, other than the fact that A-Rod is being paid nearly $100 million dollars more than any other player, is that he didn't sign this contract until age 32.

    Whereas Rodriguez has been arguably the best player since 1996 and has hit at least 30 homeruns in 13 consecutive seasons, there is little chance that A-Rod, now 35 years old, has more than a few big years left.

1. Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants

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    DENVER - SEPTEMBER 25:  Starting pitcher Barry Zito #75 of the San Francisco Giants delivers against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 25, 2010 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    7 years, $126 million.

    Zito benefited from being the best pitcher in a weak class of 2007 free agents. From the start, there was little chance of Zito living up to this contract, as he had a decent, but not great, 3.55 ERA in a pitcher-friendly ballpark in Oakland before signing this deal.

    Teams were impressed with Zito's 61.8 percent winning percentage with Oakland and six consecutive double digit win seasons, but seemed to ignore Zito's major control issues and far from dominating career.

    In four years with San Francisco, Zito has gone 40-57 and there is a good chance that his contract will be boughtout before the start of next season.