Free Agent Contracts Gone Sour

Tons of research goes into any free agent signing, given the amount of money at stake.  Still, one year later many have already gone sour.  A look at some of the regrettable $10MM+ contracts from the 2009-10 offseason…

  • It feels too early to throw John Lackey into this discussion, as he ended up giving the Red Sox 215 decent innings last year.  But he does have a 4.83 ERA over the life of the contract.  The deal was frontloaded, so Lackey will be paid $61MM over 2011-14.
  • If new Mets GM Sandy Alderson could reverse Omar Minaya's Jason Bay contract, I'm sure he would.  Bay is owed $48MM over the 2011-13 seasons, with the possibility of a $17MM club option vesting for 2014.  A concussion ended his '10 season on July 25th, and he began the '11 season on the DL for a strained ribcage.  Bay's Mets line still stands at .259/.347/.402.
  • Chone Figgins' four-year, $36MM deal with the Mariners looked like a mild bargain at the time.  2010 was ugly, marked by an ill-advised position switch, a Don Wakamatsu altercation, and a batting average dip.  Only nine games in this year, Figgins has time to turn the contract around.
  • Randy Wolf provided the Brewers with 215 2/3 innings of 4.17 ball last year, but as with Lackey more was expected.  Wolf's 5.9 K/9 was his worst since '04.  The Brewers are probably glad to have the rotation depth at this point, so maybe the $20.5MM owed to Wolf over 2011-12 doesn't bother them.
  • At $7.25MM this year, Mike Cameron is an expensive fourth outfielder for the Red Sox.  They've got the payroll to tolerate the contract, and Cameron might be used more than most fourth outfielders.
  • Fernando Rodney's two-year, $11MM pact with the Angels was panned at the time.  You can't blame Rodney for this one turning ugly; his 2010 numbers were pretty similar to his '09 contract year.
  • The contracts for Jason Marquis, Mark DeRosa, and Mike Gonzalez also went sour in year one due to injuries.

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54 Responses to Free Agent Contracts Gone Sour Leave a Reply

  1. j6takish 4 years ago

    Jason bay and Chone Figgins at least had reasonable track records and I’m honestly a bit surprised they bombed as hard as they did, but the rest of those contacts were sour the second the ink dried

    • TrueYankeeFanNYC 4 years ago

      Lackey didn’t have a track record? Worst contract is obviously Bay. Mets will not get any production from bay throughout the entire contract but lackeys next. Lackeys getting paid ace money and is pitching like a #4.

      • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

        but Bay being on the DL atleast the Mets are getting a large portion of his contract paid for from insurance.

        • East Coast Bias 4 years ago

          Why does it seem like everyone Minaya signed got a 17m vesting option…

        • stl_cards16 4 years ago

          So you’re saying Wilpon will have no problem with Bay staying on the DL for the remainder of the contract?

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            no problem at all?

            I wouldnt be surprised if he goes down to the field and injures Bay himself.

        • LioneeR 4 years ago

          Is every big contract insured? I was under the impression that some teams didn’t insure every contract.

          • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

            I believe most big contracts, multi year deals, any worth insuring is .

          • Bernaldo 4 years ago

            Unless there is something new afoot, insured contracts don’t indemnify until a player hits the 60 day disabled list at minimum and then misses a high percentage of games for the season.

      • icedrake523 4 years ago

        Mike Cameron is the worst contract. Multiple years at age 36, couldn’t hit even when he was younger, and his defense (his strength) won’t improve with age. Now he’s a 4th OF.

        • RedSoxDynasty 4 years ago

          Cameron with 1yr and 7 mil is worse than the remaining 4 years of Bay and Lackey? Hell, even Mike Gonzalez’ deal is worse cuz Cameron will be an important member of the Sox before the end of the year!

  2. I think Wolf likely gave the Brewers exactly what they expected. That contract is what a low 4 ERA pitcher generally gets. Of course his peripherals suggest he was worse than his ERA but the team is probably just fine with the results he got last year.

  3. daveineg 4 years ago

    Ender is right. The Brewers who finished 8 games under .500, were 17-17 in Wolf’s starts last year. He’s been a strong second half pitcher in recent years and if he goes 7-4 with a 3.71 ERA in his last 15 starts this year as he did in 2010, the Brewers will be fine with that.
    They also wanted innings and he gave them that last year.

  4. PostMoBills 4 years ago

    This, to me, is the biggest difference between large and small payroll teams. The Red Sox and Yankees can give out a terrible contract and just eat the money. When a team like the Brewers gives a bad contract, it handcuffs their future and reduces the amount of payroll they’re allowed to spend on players that well play effectively for a few years. It’s almost like an NCAA violation that reduces scholarships. Small market teams aren’t allowed to make mistakes on contracts, and to me that is a bigger burden than not being able to outbid the big boys in an open market.

    • ugen64 4 years ago

      yeah but Wolf’s performance was fine last year. a 4.17 ERA over 215 innings is about 2-3 WAR, a little better than market value for a $9.5 million contract. now, you could argue the Brewers can’t be paying market value for any player; on the other hand, innings-eating pitchers (along with “proven closers”) are always the most expensive players on the market, compared to their true value, so in the end I think they were happy with his performance.

      now his peripherals were pretty bad last year (0.7 WAR if you use his FIP), and if his ERA goes above 4.50 or so, it would start turning into a pretty bad deal.

    • daveineg 4 years ago

      First of all, the Brewers aren’t a small payroll team. Unless you consider $88 million small. It’s actually pretty close to the middle.

      Wolf’s deal isn’t handcuffing them. They’ve locked up all their position players except Fielder and Wolf’s deal has no effect on that. At worst Wolf will be off the books in 2013, in time to allocate some money to either or both of Greinke or Marcum. Brewer fans are far more bothered by money they gave Latroy Hawkins.

      If Wolf bounces back with a solid 2011, he’ll have trade value in the offseason too.

      • PostMoBills 4 years ago

        I was using a generic example. Wolf’s contract isn’t that bad. I do consider $88 million on the small side for a team with playoff aspirations. The reason I didn’t say the Pirates or Royals is because they would never give out a contract that big in the first place. The point is, if a team with a $90 million payroll loses a $10 million player, they most likely can’t afford to bump up to a $100 payroll just to make up for that lost production. Meanwhile Steinbrenner would say “heck!” and pull out another briefcase of money.

        • daveineg 4 years ago

          But the Brewers aren’t a generic example of a small payroll team and we’re discussing Wolf. They’ve averaged 3 million fans over the past 3 years. Attanasio has shown he is willing to spend. You point to the Yankees but very few teams are in that class.

          The Brewers payroll is comparable to the Braves and Rockies and more than the Reds. Those teams have playoff aspirations do they not?

          Wolf got his deal in the same year the Brewers gave considerable one year deals to Doug Davis and Trever Hoffman. Those two didn’t work out and they replaced them with Chris Narveson and John Axford, two minimum wage guys who’s performance easily measured up to expectations for Davis and Hoffman. It’s not a dire situation at all.

      • The Brewers are in the smallest market, that much I know.

  5. PRINCEOFNY 4 years ago

    It’s waaaaay too early to judge Lackey/Bay. Figgins is a disaster and getting worse. Then again, so are the Mariners.

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      Wayyyyyy too early to judge Lackey/Bay… but more than adequate amount of time to write off Figgins as a disaster?

      • gmenfan 4 years ago

        No. Its definitely safe to say that Bay was a bust.

        • icedrake523 4 years ago

          No, it’s not. He still has this season and 2 more to play.

  6. $1742854 4 years ago

    10 games in and Mauer’s contract is already starting to stink. Would rather have Wilson Ramos and $23 million to spend elsewhere (2B, SS, starters, relievers).

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      If they had done that you just would have come here and complained and whined how they let Mauer go, so really is there any winning with fans like you?

      • $1742854 4 years ago

        Yes, but not for $23 million. I love Mauer, but no one wants to say that the Twins TOTALLY overpaid.

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          Batting champion Catchers are usually not available

    • PostMoBills 4 years ago

      I see you haven’t calculated the amount of money Mauer brings in from the increased demand for tickets from people that want to see him play, or money the Twins make from Joe Mauer having the 2nd most purchased jersey after Jeter. Not to mention how much he helps the local economy by doing a bunch of TV/Radio spots for everything from Head & Shoulders to MLB: the Show to Land O’ Lakes milk to the Explore Minnesota tourism campaign.

      EDIT: Only the last two things are local, but you see where I’m going with this.

      • Lunchbox45 4 years ago


        however one correction. All jersey sales go to merchandise revenue sharing. So Although Mauer is number 2, the Twins benefit from that as much as the Pirates do.

        • touchmymonkey 4 years ago

          I thought all jerseys sales except those sold at the stadium went into merchandise revenue sharing ( would merchandise be considered concessions or is that just food?) Also thought it was prorated – Minn gets first 10% of all twins merch then rest goes into revenue sharing ( no idea if # is correct or if that even exists). I could be totally wrong or perhaps confusing MLB with NFL or NBA. Any idea where one could find such info?

      • jwsox 4 years ago

        but also consider this the twins are currently over budget

        • PostMoBills 4 years ago

          According to what? Last I heard, they were at the payroll limit set by the Pohlads. The Pohlads are the richest owners in baseball, and the Twins are making a profit, so if they’re over-budget, it’s only because the owners just wish they were spending less so they could pocket more – not that I wouldn’t believe that.

          • jwsox 4 years ago

            I believe it was from an article stark wrote that was posted on here a few days ago but i could be wrong. I know i have heard at least twice that they are currently over budget( over budget does not mean they dont have money it means they spent more than they wanted to) And I thought that the nats owner was the richest.

    • gmenfan 4 years ago

      Insane. Clearly insane.

    • jwredsox 4 years ago

      Wilson Ramos? Seriously? Guy looks more like Miguel Olivo than a viable catching option.

  7. Figgins, to be perfectly frank, has shown serious indications that he is (and will continue to be) a malcontent. Ticked off with how his team’s playing, how he’s being utilized, ticked off at management, the weather in Seattle, etc..
    He was a nice player in Anaheim (I suppose) but I know there was some talk about him being problematic in that locker room too. More importantly, what idiot GM would think its a good idea to have Figgins and Milton Bradley in the same every day lineup? Smooth sailing for 162 games with those two clowns, right?
    Gonna give Lackey a bit of a a pass because last season really wasn’t as bad as his final numbers indicated; 215 IP and 23 quality starts, though he’s been horrendous thusfar in 2011.

  8. METfan201 4 years ago

    Honestly Bay is DONE for lost all hope and i didnt even wana sign him, at the time they couldve signed pitchers like Lackey for that money who in sure in NL EAST divison woul fit well. Or used that money for a guy like Joel Pinero and keep sum in the pocket atleast at the time, i personally never felt he was a necesity to us.

  9. studio179 4 years ago

    Not one of those names on this list is a suprise.

  10. All things considered (posting fee), how is Dice-K also not on this list?

    $100M for a fifth starter is a spicy meatball.

    • MaineSox 4 years ago

      “A look at some of the regrettable $10MM+ contracts from the 2009-10 offseason”

  11. stl_cards16 4 years ago

    It’s not too late to add Jayson Werth to the list if he signed his contract during the 2009-10 offseason.

  12. TrueYankeeFanNYC 4 years ago

    1.4 WAR in 2010. Career lows in every hitting Category. Lingering concussion issues. Below average feilder. Where’s the production coming from?

  13. notsureifsrs 4 years ago


  14. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    I think he was referring to the Cameron signing

  15. TrueYankeeFanNYC 4 years ago

    348 abs with 6 bombs and an excellent outfielder is laughable. Ike and beltran is superior protection. And most of all what’s there to hate besides the fact you can get front row nets tickets for 12 bucks and you can play catch with pagan Bhahahahaaha.

  16. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    “He missed half the season hitting in Citi field with a lineup with no protection”

    you’re better off arguing that it was just a down year in a hitter’s park. bay missed half the year after a season-ending injury. he wasn’t playing injured or anything, so his 400 AB’s were real

    lineup protection on the other hand isn’t real. and even if it were, obviously he didn’t have lineup protection playing in pittsburgh either

    for the bucs, he was a ~.400 wOBA hitter
    in 400 PA in new york last year, he was a .335 wOBA hitter

    for the bucs, he was regularly a .250 ISO power guy
    in 400 PA in, his ISO dropped 100 points to .144

    bay has had a bad year before, so it’s not as if 2010 sealed his doom or anything. but you simply cannot write it off to injury or “protection”

  17. gmenfan 4 years ago

    Still too early on Werth, but as you said, his career stats are the writing on the wall here. No conceivable way that he lives up to that contract. If he falls back to his career averages this season(or heaven forbid, sub averages), its safe to call it a bust in the first season. Talk about riding one really good season all the way to the bank.

  18. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    google “evidence of lineup protection”

  19. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    but why

  20. iheartyourfart 4 years ago

    no one team should have all that mauer

  21. jwsox 4 years ago

    I would not go as far as say he is at hall of fame consideration yet considering he is still young and early into his career. But if he stays healthy and keeps hitting like he has(maybe some of his power comes back) and his defense stays as good he might be. but he might have to stay at catcher to make it to the HOF

  22. iheartyourfart 4 years ago

    goodbye cruel league i’ll see you in the morneau

  23. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    From above

    “At $7.25MM this year, Mike Cameron is an expensive fourth outfielder for the Red Sox. They’ve got the payroll to tolerate the contract, and Cameron might be used more than most fourth outfielders”

    so Rooneyboy is saying that it shouldnt be looked at as a sour signing just because they went out and got crawford.

  24. metsman 4 years ago

    I could have sworn it’s 2011. If last years stats are always a lock for next year I would have been more excited about Bay being a Met considering his elite numbers at Fenway, I think career averages might be a better numbers to go by . It’s a rib cage strain, not “lingering concusion issues”…and he played a pretty damn good left field at Citi of all places. If you’re going to be a troll at least put some effort into it.

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