Fielding the Most Overpaid Roster in MLB History

Jeffrey BeckmannCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2011

Fielding the Most Overpaid Roster in MLB History

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    No sport enjoys handing out massive contracts more than Major League Baseball.

    There was a point in time when it was a big deal for a player to get a $100 million contract on the open market. Clearly, that's no longer the case.

    Beginning in the mid-90s, player salaries began to climb at an extremely fast pace—most likely because steroids brought fans back to the ballpark. Ever since, salaries have skyrocketed at a blistering pace.

    The "team" I've assembled here is proof of how absurd some contracts have been over the last two decades. 

    Being on this list doesn't necessarily mean that they are or were overrated, but it's clear that none of them have deserved the money thrown their way.

    Join me as I "Field the Most Overpaid Roster in MLB History."

Catcher: Jorge Posada (1995-Present)

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    Career Earnings: $117,458,500

    Career Numbers: .273 BA, 275 HR, 1065 RBI, 44.9 WAR

    Jorge Posada has enjoyed a solid career since taking over as the Yankees' catcher in 1997, but the fact that he's banked over $100 million is downright absurd.

    Posada has only 1,664 hits during his major league career, and while his 275 career home runs are a nice total, it definitely doesn't put him in the deserving range of either Mike Piazza or Ivan Rodriguez.

    The other two only earned a couple million more over their career's, although Posada will pass them both should he choose to come back next season.

    In addition, Posada has never been a good defensive catcher. His 984 stolen bases allowed are the second most in MLB history.

First Base: Mo Vaughn (1991-2003)

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    Career Earnings: $100,405,001

    Career Numbers: .293 BA, 328 HR, 25.8 WAR

    Mo Vaughn was no doubt one of the most feared sluggers of the mid-90s, yet he wasn't worth even close to the $100 million he took home over his 12-year career.

    Vaughn played during the heart of the steroid era in baseball. More so than ever, those were the days that power-hitting first basemen were a dime a dozen. To be fair, he was injured in the middle of the six-year, $80 million deal he signed with the Angels in 1999, which at the time was the largest in MLB history. He wouldn't have come close to earning the money even if he had stayed healthy, though.

    During his career, Vaughn led the league in RBI once and strikeouts twice, along with being one of the worst defensive first baseman during the time.

Second Base: Ray Durham (1995-2008)

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    Career Earnings: $67,204,000

    Career Numbers: .277 BA, 192 HR, -7.5 dWAR

    Ray Durham was a fairly good offensive second basemen, as he got on base at a good clip and at one point was a doubles-machine.

    Regardless, he didn't hit more than 20 home runs in a season until he was 34 years old and he never hit .300 during any of his 14 years in the league. 

    Durham made only two All-Star appearances and may be one of the most overrated second basemen of all time, especially on defense.

Shortstop: Julio Lugo (2001-Present)

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    Career Earnings: $48,095,000

    Career Numbers: .269 BA, 198 SB, 86 OPS+

    Julio Lugo made the bulk of his fortune on an ill-advised four-year, $48 million contract he signed with the Red Sox in 2007.

    Lugo was never anything more than an average-at-best shortstop aside from the first half of his 2006 season with the Devil Rays, which also happened to be the year before he'd get to sign his first free-agent deal.

    He has compiled a 13.7 WAR through 12 seasons in the league, including a -3.0 dWAR for his career.   

Third Base: Alex Rodriguez (1994-Present)

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    Career Earnings: $398,416,252 (includes current deal)

    Career Numbers: .302 BA, 629 HR, 1893 RBI

    Don't get me wrong, I do believe Alex Rodriguez will go down as one of the greatest players in Major League Baseball history—but anyone who believes he is not overpaid is either a die-hard Yankees fan or someone who truly doesn't understand the value of a dollar.

    When it's all said and done, A-Rod will have earned nearly $500,000 for each home run he hit during his career. 

    A-Rod is set to make over $200 million for his age 36-41 season's. While he is still a great player, I would bet you $398,416,252 that he never wins another MVP Award.

Outfield: Alfonso Soriano (1999-Present)

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    Career Earnings: $156,960,000 (includes current deal)

    Career Numbers: .274 BA, 340 HR, 23.4 WAR

    Alfonso Soriano currently sits with arguably the worst contract in all of baseball, being owed $54 million over the next three seasons.

    While he has provided plus-power over his career and at one point was a 40-40 threat, he has been in the top 12 of MVP voting only three times. Everyone but the Cubs' front office knew they were making a horrible decision by locking him up long term.

    Soriano is also one of the laziest players and worst defensive players in baseball.

Outfield: Vernon Wells (1999-Present)

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    Career Earnings: $128,201,000 (includes current deal)

    Career Numbers: .274 BA, 248 HR, 106 OPS+

    What the (bleep) were the Blue Jays thinking when they gave Vernon Wells a monstrous $127 million deal before the 2007 season? 

    That's the price a team like Toronto has to pay to keep a star in town, but at least they were able to get rid of about $80 million of his deal when the Angels agreed to trade for him last winter.

    Wells set out to earn his salary during his first season in LA, yet I don't think a .218 average with 25 long balls is quite what they were hoping for.

Outfield: Gary Mattews, Jr. (1999-2010)

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    Career Earnings: $54,450,000

    Career Numbers: .257 BA, 108 HR, 95 SB

    The Los Angeles Angels made a monumental mistake by signing Gary Mattews, Jr. to five-year, $50 million deal after he had a career-year playing his home games at Rangers Park in Arlington.

    It was the first and only good season of his career, yet the Angels once again found themselves in possession of one of the game's worst contracts.

    Matthews—who played for seven different ball clubs over his 12-year career—found himself out of baseball after his contract expired in 2010. He retired with an absolutely stellar 9.8 WAR (sarcasm).

Pitcher: Mike Hampton (1993-2010)

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    Career Earnings: $124,550,270

    Career Numbers: 148-115 W-L, 4.06 ERA, 1.442 WHIP, 107 ERA+

    While I strongly considered Barry Zito and briefly thought about Kevin Brown, nothing could deter me from giving Mike Hampton the honors here.

    Zito has better overall career numbers than Hampton, including a Cy Young Award on his mantle, and as bad as Brown's $105 million contract with the Dodgers really was, he was still a very good pitcher over the course of his entire career.

    Hampton, however, had only a few stellar seasons scattered throughout his 16-year career while spending more time on the DL than than anyone in MLB history—or so it seemed.

    Two years after a dominating campaign that saw him go 22-4 with a 2.90 ERA, the Rockies signed Hampton to an eight-year, $121 million deal before the 2001 season. He was traded to the Braves in 2003 and would earn nearly $30 million in 2006-07 while sitting on the DL.

    Jeffrey Beckmann is a MLB Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow Jeffrey on his new Twitter account for all of his latest work. You can also hear him each Friday at 1 p.m. EST on B/R Baseball Roundtable.


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