New York Mets Free Agency: The 5 Worst Contracts in Franchise History

Frank Gray@!/nyfaninsjerseyCorrespondent IDecember 27, 2011

New York Mets Free Agency: The 5 Worst Contracts in Franchise History

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    The holidays are all about giving and receiving. There's just one problem, though. Not every present is a good one. In fact, it's no surprise that the day after Christmas has the most merchandise returns to major retail stores than any other day of the year.

    And for good reason too. Not everyone wants a glow-in-the-dark Darth Vader doll or a three-piece plaid suit. We all have had a present we haven't liked before. The anticipation of that special moment when you open a wrapped gift with your name on it gets completely ruined when you realize how undesirable the present is.

    Whoever said "it's the thought that counts" never received a porcelain cow bank that moos every time you put change in it. Some gifts are just not what you expect. The same can be said about  the New York Mets and some of the more questionable contracts they've offered.

    Not every player that wears a Mets uniform pans out into a solid signing for the Mets. Most are average, few are exceptional, but there are some that are down right dreadful. If the Mets had a chance to go back in time and "return those players," I am sure there are many they would like to take back.

    With that said, here is a list of the top five players the Mets would exchange.

No. 5: Luis Castillo

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    When the Mets traded two minor league prospects for Castillo on July 30, 2007, they were expecting the player that won three Gold Gloves and made three All-Star Game appearances.

    Instead, they got a player that was often injured and fell well short of expectations. From the trade in 2007 to when he was cut in spring training in 2011, he played 365 games with the Mets.

    He played more than 100 games in only one season (2009). He had one season in which his batting average was better than .300 (2009).

    Many fans will remember him for dropping a pop fly in a Subway Series matchup. That was just the culmination of his terrible stint in Queens. He was signed to a four year deal at $6.25 million per season.

    He was cut last season as the Mets had to eat his $6 million contract just to make room for Justin Turner and a few other cheaper options they had at second base.

    That's how badly Mets management thought of him. They'd rather pay him $6 million to NOT play.

No. 4: Mo Vaughn

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    Prior to the 2002 season, the Mets traded Kevin Appier to Anaheim for Mo Vaughn. Vaughn was set to earn $12 million that first season and $17 million per season for the next two years. That's a lot of expectation for over $56 million.

    He did not come close to meeting it. The former three time All-Star and league MVP with Boston hit just 29 home runs as a member of the Mets and 26 of them were in his first season.

    In 2003, he injured his knee and never recovered. The Mets had to pay him for that season and the final season of the six year, $80 million deal that he signed with Anaheim that the Mets agreed to take on during the trade.

    In the end, they paid around $47 million for a player that hit 29 home runs and 89 RBI in just 166 games.

No. 3: George Foster

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    Early in the 1982 offseason, the Mets traded three players for Cincinnati Reds great George Foster. With the Reds, Foster was an MVP and a five-time All-Star.

    With the Mets, he hit 99 home runs in four and half seasons (1982 to mid-1986). That's not too bad, but he made nearly $10 million from the Mets during that time when that was a whole lot of money (around $22 million today).

    He finished his Mets career by accusing manager Davey Johnson of not playing him due to race. He was quickly released. That was far too much to pay for the clubhouse troubles he brought with him.

No. 2: Oliver Perez

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    Speaking of clubhouse troubles, we come to Oliver Perez. Ollie was a decent enough pitcher during his first contract with the Mets ( 15-10 in 2007 and 10-7 in 2008). His numbers earned him a massive and controversial three year, $36 million contract from Mets management in 2009.

    The next two years, he made 31 starts and posted a 3-9 record with a 6.81 ERA for the two seasons.

    The Mets tried to fix his delivery and control issues by sending him to the minor leagues. He refused to take the demotion. The team later placed him on the DL with an undisclosed injury.

    Last season, the Mets decided to eat his contract and release him. They had to pay him $12 million and he didn't even throw a pitch in 2011.

    In the end, they paid a little more than $42 million for a .500 pitcher with the Mets (29-29).  It was thought of as a necessary hit to the payroll. That's how disliked he was by the organization.

No. 1: Bobby Bonilla

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    There is one player that was so disliked by the organization that they had to negotiate a special settlement in his contract just to get rid of him. In 1992, Bonilla signed with the Mets for a five year, $29 deal.

    He hit 91 home runs in three and a half years. Not too bad, but he never had a season of 100 or more RBI as a Met. He was traded to the Orioles in a deal that netted the Mets Alex Ochoa.

    As if his first experience in Queens wasn't bad enough, the Mets traded for him in November of 1998 to use him as a home run threat and in a platoon scenario off the bench.

    That season he clashed with manager Bobby Valentine about playing time. He became so disgruntled and such a distraction, that he often left the dugout to play cards.

    One such case where he was caught in this act during a game occurred during Game 7 of the NLCS that year. He and fellow disgruntled teammate Rickey Henderson left a game of that magnitude to play cards since they were not going to be in the game.

    The organization finally realized what they had in him when they released him three days into the new millennium.

    In 1999, they paid him $5.9 million, but to release him of his remaining contract, the Mets got a little creative. Rather than pay him another $5.9 million for the 2000 season, they agreed to defer the salary and add 8% interest every year until it's paid off.

    That will be the year 2035 and they will be paying him roughly $1.2 million every year until then or nearly $29.8 million on what was originally a $5.9 million contract.

    This is by far, leaps and bounds above anything else the Mets have agreed to regarding a player. Therefore, it easily takes the number one overall slot of deals the Mets would like to take back. Unfortunately, they can't.

    If this were a Christmas present, it would be an ugly red giraffe sweater that your least favorite aunt knitted for you and is about three sizes too big.

    The problem for the Mets here is that this is one of those ugly red giraffe sweaters that the Mets are going to have to wear until 2035.


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