And now, for the five guys who would require a team to eat more of their salary in order to trade them than any of the other players in baseball.
#5 – Alfonso Soriano, OF, Chicago
Remaining Commitments: 4 years, $72 million
Soriano has enjoyed a bounceback season, with his power returning as he’s looked healthy and still able to contribute. A lot of teams would gladly take him, if only he wasn’t paid $18 million per year through his age 38 season. Even for next year, the money isn’t that far off what he’ll produce on the field, but those last few years are going to be brutal. I’d estimate that the Cubs would have to agree to pay about $30 million of his remaining salary in order to move Soriano.
#4 – Barry Zito, P, San Francisco
Remaining Commitment: 3 years, $65 million
While Zito is certainly pitching better than he did in his first few years in San Francisco, most of his supposed improvement is a mirage. His ERA is 1.27 runs lower than his xFIP, and while he’s a guy who will post lower than average BABIPs, even he can’t sustain these kinds of results with how he’s pitching. He’s been able to get back to being a middle of the rotation innings eater, but he’s paid like an ace. The Giants would probably have to pick up between $30 and $35 million of his remaining deal in order to give him away.
#3 – Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia
Remaining Commitments: 6 years, $145 million (assuming buyout will be exercised)
Like Soriano, Howard isn’t a bad player. But oh, that contract. For the next couple of years, $20 million per year for the big slugging first baseman wasn’t totally out of line with what he could produce, but the extension that he was just given could easily go down as one of the worst in baseball history. He’s a nice player being paid like one of the game’s very best, and no other team in baseball would pony up that kind of money for a non-star first baseman heading into his decline years. If the Phillies were willing to swallow $40 million of the deal, they might get some takers, but of course, they’d never do that.
#2 – Vernon Wells, OF, Toronto
Remaining Commitments: 4 years, $84 million
A hot start to the season looked like Wells may try to redeem himself, but since April ended, he’s gone back to what he was the past three years – a below average player. His occasional home runs don’t offset the rest of the problems with his game, and it will only get worse as his power erodes in the age 32-35 seasons that the rest of his contract covers. His numbers and reputation would lead to some team being willing to take him if the Jays paid about $65 million of his remaining contract, but that’s a brutal pill to swallow.
#1 – Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York
Remaining Commitment: 7 years, $174 million
When he was in Texas, Rodriguez was seen as having the biggest albatross of a contract in baseball, even though he was actually worth the money he was being paid. Now, though, he actually is the most overpaid player in the game. Age and injuries have taken him from an elite player to a merely good one, and yet he’s the game’s highest paid superstar. Worse, he turns 35 next Tuesday, and yet he’s signed for another seven years with a minimum of $174 million coming his way. In reality, it will be more than that, as he has $6 million bonuses to be paid out for hitting 660, 700, and 714 home runs, and another $6 million each if he ties and breaks the all-time HR record. If he stays relatively healthy and plays the full seven years, he could collect an additional $30 million on top of the already too-high salaries he’s due. It’s hard to think of any team that would give him $100 million for his 35-41 seasons, much less twice that. The Yankees would probably have to agree to eat something in the neighborhood of $110 to $120 million in order to move Rodriguez. Yikes, indeed.