By popular demand, here’s a follow-up to the Trade Value series – the guys on the other end of the spectrum. These guys have contracts that far outstrip their actual value, and if their current organizations wanted to ship them out, they would have to pick up a significant portion of the money they’re still owed in order to facilitate a trade. They are liabilities, not assets. We’ll do the bottom five today and then the top five later this afternoon. The higher up the list a player is, the more money his franchise would have to eat in order to get rid of him.
#10 – Aaron Rowand, CF, San Francisco
Remaining commitments (2011 and beyond): 2 years, $24 million
A colossal bust since joining the Giants in 2008, Rowand’s numbers have gotten even worse this year. He has been relegated to a part-time role, and yet the Giants still owe him $12 million per year for his age 33 and 34 seasons. The Giants would have to eat at least $15 million to move him and probably a bit more than that, though he may yet have something left to offer – the only real difference between his performance this year and the last two is his BABIP. He wouldn’t be the worst change of scenery candidate ever.
#9 – Carlos Zambrano, SP, Chicago
Remaining commitments: 2 years, $36 million
Big Z can still pitch. His 4.25 xFIP is almost exactly the same as it was last year. His ability to get people out hasn’t disappeared forever, but you’re still not going to get many people lining up to pay $18 million per year to a borderline crazy guy for the next two years. Even if he was a rational human being, he wouldn’t be worth his contract – toss in his well documented emotional breakdowns, and Zambrano is a guy that would be hard to give away. I’d imagine the Cubs will find a suitor for him, but they’re going to have to pick up most of that contract in order to make a deal happen.
#8 – Todd Helton, 1B, Colorado
Remaining Commitment: 3 years, $29 million
After re-working his deal this spring, Helton’s contract is a little bit strange. The Rockies were able to get him to defer money at a 3.5% interest rate for a few years to help them put a winner on the field this year, but it came at the cost of extending him through 2013, when he’ll be 39. Given the way he’s gone into the tank this year, you’d think Colorado would like to have a mulligan on that extension. He was a good player last year, so maybe he’ll find his power again and bounce back, but I don’t see any teams going for that experiment.
#7 – Travis Hafner, DH, Cleveland
Remaining Commitment: 2 years, $29 million
Once one of the game’s premier first baseman, Hafner is now a mediocre DH. He still has a decent approach at the plate, but his power is mostly gone, and injuries have taken a toll on his body. He’s not a bad hitter, but he’s not appreciably better than what most teams could get from picking through the scraps at Triple-A, where at least they might find a guy with some upside. Hafner comes with none, but he does carry a nearly $15 million per year salary for the next two years.
#6 – Carlos Lee, OF, Houston
Remaining Commitment: 2 years, $37 million
Like Rowand, Lee isn’t as bad as his numbers suggest, as he’s being done in by a low BABIP. But you don’t exactly expect a 34-year-old, “big boned” guy to leg out many infield hits, and both his LD% and HR/FB% suggest he’s just not hitting the ball as hard as he used to. Given that he’s a bad defender, there’s not much left to like if the thump is gone for good. Hard to see any team paying more than a fraction of the $18.5 million per year he’s due over the next two years.