12 Worst MLB Contracts Ever!!! Over the years, Major League Baseball (MLB) has witnessed numerous instances where players signed substantial contracts with their respective teams, only for those deals to turn out unfavorably.
Players failing to meet the lofty expectations set for them, succumbing to injuries, or experiencing a decline in performance as they age are all common occurrences.
These ill-fated contracts can place a significant strain on a team’s finances, limiting their ability to make other strategic moves or sign additional players.
In this context, let’s delve into some of the most detrimental MLB contracts that have burdened both their respective teams and fans alike.
These contracts involve some of the most prominent names in the game and highest-paid players, highlighting the inherent risks associated with long-term deals in baseball.
|Carl Pavano||New York Yankees||$40 Million|
|Albert Belle||Baltimore Orioles||$65 Million|
|Gary Matthews Jr.||Los Angeles Angels||$50 Million|
|Denny Neagle||Colorado Rockies||$50 Million|
|A.J. Burnett||New York Yankees||$85 Million|
|John Lackey||Boston Red Sox||$85 Million|
|Mike Hampton||Colorado Rockies||$120 Million|
|Alfonso Soriano||Chicago Cubs||$135 Million|
|Jayson Werth||Washington Nationals||$125 Million|
|Barry Zito||San Francisco Giants||$125 Million|
|Alex Rodriguez||New York Yankees||$275 Million|
|Albert Pujols||Los Angeles Angels||$250 Million|
# Carl Pavano
Carl Pavano’s contract with the New York Yankees is widely regarded as one of the most ill-fated in MLB history.
Back in 2005, the Yankees inked Pavano to a four-year, $39.95 million deal with high hopes of him becoming a key member of their starting rotation.
However, injuries plagued the former pitcher, restricting him to a mere 26 starts and a lackluster 5-6 record over the course of four seasons.
Pavano’s tenure with the Yankees was not only marked by his inability to stay healthy but also tainted by controversies surrounding his commitment and work ethic.
His failure to live up to expectations and his exorbitant salary became constant sources of frustration for Yankees fans, solidifying his status as one of the organization’s most significant disappointments.
As the 2008 season concluded, the Yankees chose not to exercise Pavano’s $13 million option for the following year, thus allowing him to enter free agency and severing ties with a player who had failed to deliver on their investment.
# Albert Belle
Ranked at number 11 is Albert Belle, a former MLB player who had stints with teams such as the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, and Baltimore Orioles.
In 1999, Belle signed a record-breaking five-year, $65 million contract with the Baltimore Orioles. However, his career was prematurely halted by a degenerative hip condition, leading to his retirement after the 2000 season.
Despite his abbreviated playing time, Belle received the full amount of his contract, cementing it as one of the most regrettable deals in MLB history.
Belle’s contentious relationship with the media and involvement in various on-field and off-field incidents, including a suspension for using a corked bat and altercations with other players, further tarnished his legacy.
# Gary Matthews Jr.
Gary Matthews Jr., a former MLB player, had stints with multiple teams, including the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, and New York Mets.
In 2007, Matthews Jr. signed a five-year, $50 million contract with the Angels, which was deemed a substantial investment considering he had only one standout season.
Unfortunately, Matthews Jr.’s performance declined significantly after securing the contract, leading to him being relegated to a bench role.
Throughout his three seasons with the Angels, he posted a batting average of .248, along with 30 home runs and 147 RBIs.
His tenure with the Angels was cut short when he was traded to the New York Mets in 2010. However, his time with the Mets lasted a mere 36 games before he was released from the team.
# Denny Neagle
Denny Neagle, at number 8, played for several MLB teams, including the Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, and Colorado Rockies.
In 2000, he signed a five-year, $51 million contract with the Rockies, the largest ever given to a pitcher.
However, Neagle’s performance was underwhelming, with a 5.57 ERA over three seasons.
Injuries and inconsistency plagued him, leading to his release in 2003 with $19 million still owed.
# A.J. Burnett
A.J. Burnett, a pitcher, played for multiple teams like the Marlins, Blue Jays, Yankees, Pirates, and Phillies.
In 2008, he signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Yankees.
Despite occasional flashes of brilliance, Burnett’s tenure with the Yankees was marked by inconsistency and control issues, resulting in a 4.79 ERA over three seasons.
Injuries further hampered his performance, leading to a trade to the Pirates in 2012.
# John Lackey
John Lackey, who played for the Angels, Red Sox, Cardinals, and Cubs, comes in at number 7.
In 2009, he signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Red Sox.
Lackey’s first two seasons with the team were disappointing, with a 5.26 ERA and criticism for his attitude.
He missed the 2012 season due to surgery but bounced back in 2013, helping the Red Sox win the World Series.
Nevertheless, his early underperformance made his contract contentious.
# Mike Hampton
Mike Hampton, a former pitcher, played for numerous teams, including the Astros, Mets, Rockies, Braves, and Diamondbacks.
Hampton’s contract with the Rockies, signed in 2000, was for eight years and $121 million. However, his time with the Rockies was disappointing, with a 5.75 ERA over two seasons.
Injuries and inconsistency plagued him, leading to limited contributions.
Despite a strong career overall, Hampton’s Rockies contract is considered one of the worst due to the lack of return on the significant investment.
# Alfonso Soriano
Alfonso Soriano, an infielder, and outfielder, played for teams like the Yankees, Rangers, Nationals, and Cubs.
In 2007, Soriano signed an eight-year, $136 million contract with the Cubs. While he had some productive seasons, Soriano struggled with inconsistency and injuries.
Over seven seasons with the Cubs, he hit .264 with 181 home runs and 526 RBIs.
Despite his contributions, his contract is often criticized due to his inconsistent performance and failure to live up to the lofty expectations placed upon him.
# Jayson Werth
Jayson Werth’s seven-year, $126 million contract with the Washington Nationals in 2010 earns him a spot on the list.
Werth had been a productive player with the Phillies, but his performance declined with the Nationals.
He battled injuries and played in only 115 games over two seasons, hitting .244 with 21 home runs and 69 RBIs.
Despite his struggles, Werth provided leadership and helped the Nationals win four division titles during his tenure.
# Barry Zito
Barry Zito, a former pitcher, signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Giants before the 2007 season.
While he played a crucial role in the Giants’ 2012 championship run, his overall performance was disappointing.
Over the course of his contract, Zito went 63-80 with a 4.62 ERA and 1.44 WHIP.
His decline in performance after a successful stint with the Athletics made his contract one of the worst, even though he contributed to the Giants’ championship season.
# Alex Rodriguez
Number 2 on our list is Alex Rodriguez, one of the most talented players of his generation.
However, his performance took a significant downturn towards the end of his career. Adding to the disappointment, A-Rod was involved in controversies, including a suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
The New York Yankees paid him a staggering $275 million for his 12 seasons with the team, but they only won one championship during that time.
The combination of declining performance and off-field issues made Rodriguez’s contract a disappointment for the Yankees and their fans.
# Albert Pujols
Albert Pujols‘ contract with the Los Angeles Angels stands out as one of the worst in MLB history.
In 2012, he signed a massive 10-year, $240 million deal with the Angels. However, Pujols struggled to maintain his elite level of play throughout the contract.
His performance declined significantly, and injuries took a toll on his abilities. The Angels eventually released Pujols in 2021, with one year and $30 million remaining on his contract.
Over the ten years with the team, his production fell far short of expectations, making his contract a financial burden for the Angels.
In summary, these 12 contracts represent some of the most regrettable in MLB history.
They share common traits of excessive financial commitments, lengthy contract durations, and players underperforming relative to expectations.
Even highly talented individuals like Rodriguez and Pujols experienced significant declines in their performances.
These contracts had lasting implications for the teams involved, hampering their ability to make other strategic moves and build competitive rosters.
Ultimately, they serve as a reminder of the risks and challenges inherent in long-term player contracts, underscoring the importance of thorough evaluation and consideration before committing to such deals.