It can happen to any team in any sport, but bad contracts might be more prevalent in the sport of Baseball.
Here is a closer look at every SSG Baseball team’s worst contract heading into 2021. Considering the value of the deal against the player’s most recent productiveness, in addition to years remaining, and age.
Arizona Diamondbacks: LF Socrates Brito ($2 million) It was hard pressed to find a bad contract on this team with a team salary of only 31.2 million, so the left fielder was the closest we could find. In 122 games last season Socrates hit .243 AVG/.299 OBP with an OPS of .686. Brito will likely be relegated to a bench role as he is a fringe everyday player.
Atlanta Firebirds: DH Carlos Santana ($7.3 million) The Firebirds signed the DH this past off season, the good news is the contract is for only one year. Carlos spent the 2020 season at AA Erie after signing a minor league deal with the Detroit Tigers. He only hit .243 AVG in 35 games. Despite his strengths, he seems to flounder with the bat and struggle to make big league contact. Santana has borderline talent for a regular role.
Baltimore Orioles: LF Preston Tucker ($5.1 million) Preston signed a one year contract extension on November 2, 2020. In 103 games the left fielder posted a low .194 AVG, .602 OPS with a dismal -1.1 WAR. Tucker is on the bubble for a big league role and will remain a borderline candidate for replacement and upgrade.
Boston Red Sox: CF Jackie Bradley Jr. ($9.7 million) Bradley Jr. signed a two year contract extension with the Red Sox totaling $19.4 million on August 7, 2020. The center fielder produced a .233 AVG, .294 OBP and struck out 174 times in just 146 games played. Bradley Jr. doesn’t generate much loft in his swing, so ground balls are more common than extra bases which will likely hold him back from earning a starting spot in the lineup.
Chicago Cubs: P Jake Arrieta ($17.5 million) Arrieta performed poorly in the 2020 season posting a 4.63 ERA, 1.72 WHIP and contributing a negative 0.3 WAR. Hopefully he can have a bounce back season but current scouting reports on him are not good. Arrieta has likely topped out and is a marginal contributor, he should not be counted on to pitch on a major league roster.
Chicago White Sox: P Lance Lynn ($20 million) In 2017 Lynn signed a 5 year contract worth 100 million with the White Sox. Lance had a 4-13 record with a 4.25 ERA in 30 starts for the 2020 White Sox. Lynn contributed a 1.5 WAR. Lynn is primarily a staff filler role, he can fit in as needed at non critical junctures.
Cincinnati Reds: CF Anthony Gose ($10.5 million) The 2020 season brought Gose a low .236 AVG, .669 OPS with 197 strike outs in 154 games. In 2019 the Reds signed Gose to a 6 year $64.5 million contract. Anthony looks like an average major league baseball starter.
Cleveland Spiders: P Lance McCullers Jr. ($12.7 million) In 33 starts Lance posted a 4-14 record and a 5.65 ERA with a -0.3 WAR for the 2020 season. In 2019 McCullers Jr. signed a 3 year extension worth $38.1 million. Hopefully he can post better numbers for the upcoming 2021 season.
Colorado Rockies: P Wily Peralta ($18.47 million) For the Rockies, we went right to the top of the team salary list. In 2019, Peralta signed a 6 year extension worth $117.12 million. Wily posted a 7-16 record with a 5.53 ERA in 32 starts for the 2020 season. Peralta will try and produce better numbers for the 2021 season as he will be with the Rockies through the 2025 season. Scouting reports on Wily right now show that he will compete for a back end rotation spot.
Detroit Tigers: 1B Miguel Cabrera ($30 million) Cabrera is still producing for the Tigers. Last season the first baseman hit 48 home runs and 109 RBI’s but one has to wonder can the soon to be 38 year old keep this up. Detroit still owes Cabrera $94 million over the next three years with a team option for year 4 when Miguel will be turning 41.
Houston Astros: P Carlos Martinez ($16.7 million) Carlos is the number 4 starter on the Astros but is 2nd on payroll. He had a poor record of 4-15 with a 5.54 ERA last season. Martinez signed a 100 million dollar extension back in 2017 and is falling short of expectations.
Kansas City Royals: P Masahiro Tanaka ($15.2 million)The good news for KC is that Tanaka is on the last year of his deal. 2020 was not a good year for Masahiro as he obtained a high WHIP of 1.46 and a low WAR of 0.7. Tanaka could pitch his way into an emergency starter role. Look for the 32 year old to hit the free agent market at the end of the season.
Los Angeles Angels: 3B Brett Lawrie ($27 million) Nothing wrong with the play of the sporty third baseman. The potential downside here is the length of the contract. LA Angels are committed to pay Lawrie $216 million over the next 8 years. Brett has a couple of opt outs in place but if he decides to stay put, he can be in Anaheim until he is 38 years old and very rich.
Los Angeles Dodgers: 2B Robinson Cano ($24 million) The 38 year old has only played in 58 games the last two seasons and has posted a negative WAR three seasons in a row. The Dodgers owe the second baseman $72 million over the next three seasons but they do have a buy out after the 2022 season which most likely will be used.
Milwaukee Brewers: RF Ryan Braun ($2.9 million) Ryan Braun averaged .197 with a .609 OPS in 125 games last season. Those numbers are not good. Braun’s injury woes are part of every conversation, and will likely limit him from holding down a full time role.
Minnesota Twins: P Aaron Sanchez ($12 million) 2020 was an injury filled season for the starting pitcher. In 2019, he posted a 5.38 ERA in 30 games played. We will see if Aaron can stay healthy for the upcoming season and post numbers that the Twins expect to see. Minnesota has a team option on the 28 year old next season for 15.5 million, it will be interesting to see if they utilize or decline.
New York Yankees: 3B Kyle Seager ($18 million) In 156 games last season, the 33 year old third baseman posted a disappointing .173 AVG and .616 OPS. Most would say the Seager is underperforming the value of his contract. The good news is that the Yankees have a buy out at the end of this season and will most likely use it.
New York Mets: 2B Josh Harrison ($19 million) The Mets traded for the 33 year old last January 2020, they owe him $57 million over the next three seasons. In only 45 games last season, Harrison averaged .237 with a .580 OPS. Harrison has borderline talent for a regular role.
Oakland Athletics: C Russell Martin ($8.62 million) Martin is in his last year of a two year deal he has with the Athletics. At age 37, he will most likely hit the free agent market next year. Martin posted a .166 AVG, .587 OPS in 89 games last season.
Philadelphia Phillies: 1B Ryan Rua ($5.5 million) Tough team to find a bad contract as the top of their payroll are all producing and mostly under the age of 30. We feel like Rua has not lived up to the expectations the Phillies sought when they traded for the first baseman back in 2018. Ryan only averaged .213 last season with a 0.1 WAR in 138 games.
Pittsburgh Pirates: P Matt Harvey ($29 million) Harvey will bank $116 million over the next 4 years in Pittsburgh. Matt had a 5.56 ERA in 24 starts last season to go along with a 1.53 WHIP. Pittsburgh is hoping on a bounce back season for the 31 year old pitcher.
San Diego Padres: P Robbie Erlin ($4.2 million) Hard to find a bad deal on this youthful team, so we went with one of their oldest players. Robbie put up a pedestrian 9-10 record with a 4.20 ERA contributing a 0.6 WAR. Erlin has the stamina to start, but the quality of his pitches may work better in the bullpen.
San Francisco Giants: LF Justin Upton ($6 million) The Giants are paying Upton this year to play for the Yankees. Upton was traded to the Giants in December of 2018. After 2 years of sub par numbers in San Francisco, the Giants sent him packing only to retain 30% of his salary.
Seattle Mariners: 1B Ryan Zimmerman ($11.5 million) At 36 years old, Zimmerman is scheduled to be paid $33.5 million dollars over the next three seasons. Seattle better hope the above average first baseman can avoid the injured list. Hopefully he can produce in the later years of his career.
St. Louis Cardinals: 2B Kolten Wong ($16 million) The second baseman signed a 7 year contract extension worth $95.8 million dollars back in 2017. The Cardinals still owe Wong $64 million over the next four years. Last season Wong posted his lowest WAR total (2.1) since 2015, dropping 50% from the 2019 season total of 4.2.
Tampa Bay Rays: P Jose Quintana ($19 million) The Rays inked the 32 year old to a 7 year contract worth $133 million last off season. Tampa Bay still owes $114 million on the contract. Jose is an above average pitcher with a plus change up. With an average or better defense behind him, Quintana may get the recognition he deserves. Quintana will be part of the Rays organization through the year 2026 at the age of 37.
Texas Rangers: P Gio Gonzalez ($22 million) Texas signed Gio to a 3 year/$66 million dollar deal back in 2019. With the Rangers, Gio has recorded a 14-17 record in 51 starts, compiling an ERA of 4.09. Gonzalez is by far the highest paid player on the Rangers payroll at $22 million per year. Gio will be turning 36 years old this season and is on the last year of his contract. Look for him to be a free agent next off season.
Toronto Blue Jays: P Madison Bumgarner ($17 million) Bumgarner will turn 32 years old this season and has 5 more years left on his contract. He will earn $96 million dollars over the rest of his deal. Last season Bumgarner posted an ERA of 4.34, the highest its been since 2015 when he was a San Francisco Giant. Toronto is hoping that he doesn’t fall off talent wise, as he most likely will be with the team until 2025.
Vancouver Aurora: P Taijuan Walker ($19 million) Vancouver went all out when they signed the 28 year old pitcher to a 10 year/$190.9 million dollar deal this past off season. For a team with a conservative budget, this kind of a deal can turn costly. Walker’s paycheck consists of 30% of the teams total team salary of $65 million. On the other hand, Walker is a young and upcoming major league pitcher and has the potential to prove he is worth every dollar.
Washington Nationals: C Oscar Hernandez ($26 million) You want to talk about a mega contract? How about the deal that Oscar signed last season! The 27 year old catcher signed a 9 year contract extension worth a total of $351 million last October. Starting in year 2024, Hernandez will be making $42.5 million per year until the deal ends in year 2029. $42.5 million per year is NFL starting QB type of money. Don’t get me wrong, Oscar Hernandez is a phenomenal young talented major league catcher, but can he live up to his mega deal?