2013 Anti-Trade Value: The Five Worst Contracts

Last week, I went through the 50 best assets in baseball, as rated by overall trade value based on their performance, age, and contract status. Today, we finish up the Trade Value series with the five players farthest from making the list. This is the Anti-Trade Value list; the guys who would be nearly impossible to trade because of their outsized contracts and undersized performances.

The take home notion: Beware the aging slugger.

#5 Prince Fielder (1B)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
29 434 11.5 % 17.3 % .269 .362 .453 .354 122 -6.6 -2.5 0.9

Under Team Control Through 2020: $24M per year

Maybe it’s just a slump.  Good players have mediocre stretches, and even in Fielder’s down season, he’s still posting a 122 wRC+.  Perhaps he finishes strong and provides a few more elite offensive seasons for the Tigers.

That’s a lot of ifs and maybes for $168 million over the next seven years.  Fielder wasn’t highly prized by many teams as a free agent because of the costs associated with a supersized DH-in-the-making and the historically poor aging curves of position players carrying that much weight.  The first year of his deal turned out just fine for Detroit, but if 2013 is the start of a trend, this deal could get ugly in a hurry.

Fielder is among the worst defenders and worst baserunners in the sport.  He’s only good if he’s mashing, and right now, he’s not mashing.  One dimension players making $24 million per year have to be among the game’s best hitters to have value, and while Fielder might get back to that level, a team would have to have a tremendous amount of confidence in a rebound in order to take him off the Tigers hands.

He certainly isn’t untradeable, especially given the lack of bats on the market right now.  I’d imagine Detroit could even get another team to pick up most of the rest of his deal.  Even coming off a mediocre season, I could see Fielder getting $120 million over seven years from a team desperate for a cleanup hitter.  But that is still well shy of what Detroit is paying him, and the Tigers would have to kick in a lot of cash in order to move his contract.

Estimated Cost to Trade: $48 million

#4 Josh Hamilton (OF)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
32 387 6.7 % 25.3 % .223 .279 .409 .297 89 0.7 1.6 0.6

Under Team Control Through 2017: $15M, $23M, $30M, $30M

It was less than a year ago that Hamilton incited a bidding war.  In addition to the Angels, the Mariners reportedly offered Hamilton $100 million over four years, with a couple of team options that could push it to $150 million over six years.  So, maybe $103 million over four years with no team options now shouldn’t be completely immovable.

Except Hamilton has been worse than anyone could have possibly imagined.  There were warning signs, sure, but a .223/.279/.409 line that translates into an 89 wRC+? As bad as Hamilton’s plate discipline is, this is still way below any reasonable forecast coming into the season.  But it’s the kind of performance that justifies why the Rangers just showed little interest in retaining him, and the kind of performance that suggests that the end might be closer than we might have thought.

Hamilton, right now, projects as about an average player when he’s healthy, which is not something you can really count on with him.  This is the kind of season that would relegate him to a one year “pillow contract”, as he’s lost his only real valuable skill at age-32.  If he had this kind of season a year ago, maybe he ends up taking the qualifying offer and playing for $13 million to try and bounce back.

For a guaranteed four more years, I can’t see any team being willing to go over $40 million, leaving $63 million in dead money.  It’s not just how the mighty have fallen, but how quickly the mighty have fallen, that is the big surprise here.

Estimated Cost to Trade: $63 million

#3 Ryan Howard (1B)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
33 317 7.3 % 30.0 % .266 .319 .465 .332 110 -1.2 -3.0 0.4

Under Team Control Through 2017: $25M, $25M, $25M, $10M buyout

You’ve probably read enough about the Ryan Howard contract by now. It’s been a running joke for years, and is probably going to go down as one of the least productive contracts in sports history. While other deals have turned bad after getting signed, this is maybe the last contract to be an obvious disaster from the minute of conception, and given the increasing education of baseball executives, it might be the last of its breed.

The good news is that the end is in sight. While it’s an utter waste of almost the entire $85 million, it will only limit the Phillies for three more seasons, plus the buyout cost in 2017. Howard is unlikely to provide much value during the remaining years on the deal, but those years are ticking away, and he won’t hamstring the franchise for that much longer.

Estimated Cost to Trade: $70 million

#2 Alex Rodriguez (3B/SS)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
37 11163 10.9 % 18.2 % .300 .384 .560 .401 144 17.3 36.1 111.3

Under Team Control Through 2017: $25M, $21M, $20M, $20M

The salary is detrimental, but the circus that surrounds him is a pretty big deterrent to other teams as well. Rodriguez’s combination of health issues and never ending link to PEDs make him just about untradeable even before you factor in the huge salary. Put those things together and there’s probably not a player in the game that would generate less interest in the trade market.

On performance alone, Rodriguez is one of the best players of all time. It’s too bad that such a career is going to end this way.

Estimated Cost to Trade: $86 million

#1 Albert Pujols (1B)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
33 419 9.3 % 12.4 % .252 .325 .434 .324 107 -1.0 -3.1 0.5

Under Team Control Through 2021: $23M, $24M, $25M, $26M, $27M, $28M, $29M, $30M

If you’re wondering, that’s $212 million over the next eight years. Not only did the Angels give Pujols a massive contract, but they backloaded it, so after the first two seasons finish, they’ll still have only paid him $28 million of the $240 million he was guaranteed. Basically, the Angels borrowed heavily from the future in order to finance their 2012 and 2013 playoff runs. Oops.

Unlike some of the other names on this list, Pujols would still be in demand if the Angels made him available. He was nearly a +4 WAR player last year, and while he’s regressing, he still projects as a pretty good player in the short term. But 8/212 is so far beyond what he would actually get as a free agent, the Angels would have to send along the biggest check in sports history to make Pujols’ decline years someone else’s problem.

Best case scenario, I think a team might talk themselves into Pujols as a $15 million per year player for the next four years. I could see him getting the Nick Swisher contract, basically. There’s enough reason to think he could still hit for a few more years, and provide enough short term value to make that kind of contract a viable risk for a contender. But that’s 4/60, leaving $152 million in dead money. Rodriguez and Howard combine for about $156 million in dead money. Basically, the Pujols contract is as toxic as the next two worst contracts in baseball put together.

It’s a good thing the Angels have Mike Trout.

Estimated Cost to Trade: $152 million




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


224 Responses to “2013 Anti-Trade Value: The Five Worst Contracts”

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  1. tehzachatak says:

    how the mighty have fallen…

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    • Anon21 says:

      Or in Howard’s case: how the middling have fallen.

      +57 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • guayzimi says:

      [chortle]. How very BFIB of you…

      I’m with you on Pujols-ARod 1-2. But for 3-4-5 I think you have to go Matt Kemp (6.5 years and $138 million), Joey Votto (11/233), and Verlander (6.5/170). Yes they’re productive, but we’re talking 2-3 times as much money as Howard is owed.

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      • JH says:

        2-3 times the money for 4-5 times the production. You do the math.

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        • BeantownPhilliesFan says:

          In Amaro’s eyes: Production = RBIs

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        • guayzimi says:

          Howard could be a two win player if used correctly (strict platoon plus DH and PH at bats). Votto and Verlander are prime candidates for age-related ineffectiveness. Maybe I’m undervaluing how the trade market views present day wins, but I’d take the mini-disaster in the hand over the mega-disaster lurking in the bush.

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        • The Party Bird says:

          Howard’s contract is just a mini-disaster to you? I guess in the context of the entire world, it shouldn’t even register as a disaster at all. But in the baseball world, the best thing you can say about the contract is “well, at least it’s not eighty SIX million we owe him.” It’s a catastrophe.

          Verlander is having a serious down season and has produced seven times the WAR that Howard has this year. And Howard is outperforming his 2012 season.

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        • JH says:

          You’re undervaluing both present day wins and the value of having a star player (which Votto certainly is, Kemp likely is when healthy, and even with his decline, Verlander’s still a star, albeit no longer looking like the best pitcher alive). Remember, it’s becoming more and more difficult to sign pre-decline players to mega contracts. Votto’s trade value is still very high (likely just outside the HM level), Verlander wouldn’t be difficult to move, and neither would Kemp once he shows 1-2 months of health and production.

          Maybe, as you say, Howard could push 2 wins if used exclusively against righties, but a) that’s still not all that great for a guy making his salary, and there’s an opportunity cost involved locking a guy into a power position for his decline years, and b) that also requires using bench bat for a 1B who’s only used against lefties. The ability to play every day has its own value.

          Put another way: even if all 3 teams weren’t in win-now mode, do you really think the Reds, Tigers, and Dodgers would take the opportunity to trade Votto, Verlander, or Kemp straight up for Howard, with both teams to absorb 100% of their new acquisitions’ salaries? Yeah, me either.

          Contracts are important, but the first question is still “is this guy a good player?”

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      • JN says:

        Kemp hasn’t been bad for long enough to call him done. Verlander and Votto are still very very good, so I don’t know why they would be on here.

        +19 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Jason B says:

          They definitely have the potential to be bad to very bad by the end of the contracts, but the contracts are in such an early stage that we just don’t have a great feel for when their decline stages will begin in earnest, or how fast those declines would be. Neither will be worth what they’re getting paid on the tail end of the deals (I feel quite confident) but both should produce some surplus value in the early years that may offset that somewhat.

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        • jmac says:

          I wouldn’t call Verlander’s 2013 season “very, very good”- statistically, Chris Tillman has had a nearly identical season. I might have Verlander at #6 on this list because there is still a chance he justifies most of the money.

          Votto is a beast, I’m not sure he wouldnt get something in the neighborhood of 11/233 if he hit the open market today. Kemp’s been hurt this year and isnt too old.

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        • Baltar says:

          I don’t see how Votto’s name could even come up in this discussion. He possibly deserves to be on the Top 50, clearly not the bottom 5.
          Somebody around here is cuckoo.
          P.S. I’m not a Reds fan.

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        • guayzimi says:

          @Baltar He’s a 30 year old first baseman who missed 50 games last year with a knee injury and has $233 million coming. That is huge risk.

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        • djw says:

          “the potential to be bad”

          Yes, but actual, definite badness is worse than potential badness. This isn’t a complicated concept.

          +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • za says:

        Joey Votto is the 3rd best 1B in baseball and Verlander is the 13th best pitcher in baseball right now. Matt Kemp has been injured but his contract isn’t even the worst on his own team (Greinke, Crawford, and Ethier all might be worse), since he’s still a dynamic and useful player.

        Basically, you’re saying you would rather have Ryan Howard on your team right now instead of Joey Votto and Josh Hamilton on your team instead of Justin Verlander. Maybe you just don’t get it?

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        • Alexander Nevermind says:

          How is Joey Votto the third-best 1B? Because that is where he currently stands in 2013 fWAR? That’s a terrible method for ranking true talent levels.

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        • abreutime says:

          He’s might be the best 1B, if you go by rest of season projections. What’s your awesome method?

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        • buddaley says:

          At age 30, Pujols was a 7 WAR player according to Fangraphs. The next year he fell off to 5.4 and then was signed to the big contract.

          Votto, 30 in Sept., currently has a 3.9 WAR after 3 years in which his WAR went from 6.8-6.4-5.6. He never had as high a peak, nor as long & consistent a peak as Pujols did and it appears he will end up with about the same WAR as last year. I think there should be some concern that the $150 million he is due for his age 34-40 years plus at least $7 million more to buy out his age 41 season will be a millstone for the Reds.

          Similarly, Verlander is owed $160 million for his age 31-36 seasons. There is a lot of mileage on that arm. I am sure there are teams that would trade for Votto or Verlander were they available, but I hope it isn’t my team.

          +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Alexander Nevermind says:

          My awesome method? Taking previous data into account. For example I could weight 2011 performance by 0.5, 2012 by 0.75, and 2013 by 1.0. Why would you ever limit yourself to less than 100 games worth of information? Votto is the best 1B in baseball (until Miggy gets moved off 3B).

          To buddaley: your sample size is 1. Joey Votto is not Albert Pujols. And it seems rather safe to assume that Joey Votto is a true talent 6-win player right now. Start reducing his value by 0.5-wins per season, then multiple for the adjusted cost of a win for inflation each year, and you have a handy back-of-napkin calculation for Votto’s worth during the length of his contract. Looking exclusively at the final years of the deal fails to take the excess value of the early years into account.

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      • Baseball Bob says:

        The calculation used in this article as cost to trade is this: if this player were a free agent, how much money would he get for how long? Then subtract what he is actually owed, and you get his [negative] trade value.

        So what would Verlander get on the open market? What would Kemp get? What would Votto get?

        If you think Howard should be number 3, then you think that all of these guys would get a contract within $70M of what they are still owed. That means Votto needs to get at least $164M, Kemp $69M, Verlander $101M. I think a rational argument could be made that Votto might not get quite that much, and thus becomes third. Kemp and Verlander get that EASILY even with their declines. And by the end of the year, Votto might be back to that level.

        I suspect that the author is at least defensibly right, then, in that Howard is SURE not to be worth any more than he projects, while the three you mention MIGHT be (and two of them still are, in my opinion)

        +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Anon21 says:

    Looks like the Rodriguez “box” summary should not have his age as 27, since the stats are for his entire career to date. (Although the WAR total doesn’t quite match what’s on his player page for whatever reason.)

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  3. John says:

    Has any player on the wrong side of 30 signed a $100 million dollar deal that didn’t lead to buyer’s remorse?

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    • bill says:

      Cliff Lee so far maybe?

      +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Matt says:

      Cliff Lee and Matt Holliday I would argue aren’t regretted by their teams yet, but that could change.

      Jason Giambi with the Yankees is arguable.

      +31 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • ssj316 says:

        Remember when the Cards signed Holliday to that big contract and everyone was like “But this means they might not be able to resign Pujols!” Cards fans must be ecstatic at how that choice turned out.

        +36 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • CircleChange11 says:

          The Lance Berkman contract made it even better!

          Beltran’s good contract will run out and he’ll be replaced by Taveras.

          Freese’s contract will expire, Carpenter to 3rd and Wong in the IF … and the Cards are looking pretty smart.

          All those young, talented pitchers dont hurt either. The Cards have done well with the mid-20′s non prospects like Ludwick, Jay, Freese, Carpenter, etc.

          +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Nick O says:

          There honestly aren’t as many $100 MM contracts for 30 year olds as you’d think. I’d say Lee, Holliday, and Giambi will all be worth their contracts. CC clearly was earning his Yanks contract before he opted out if you want to make that distinction. Beltran and Ramirez were 28 and 29 when they signed their big contacts. Beltre signed a $96 MM contract that’s looking pretty good.

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        • the hottest stove says:

          The Holliday contract looks especially good when placed next to the contracts of Jason Bay and Jayson Werth, which I believe were signed at around the same time….

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    • Bill says:

      There haven’t been a lot of these deals – I though of Tejada’s deal with Baltimore in ’04, but that wasn’t even close to $100 million. Holliday is the only one I can think of. He would have to be pretty awful the rest of the way for that to blow up. Likewise Cliff Lee.

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    • MrMan says:

      While not $100M…..a 32-year old Adrian Beltre signed a 5-year $80M deal with a club option at $16M. He’s delivered 16.2WAR over the first 2.5 years. At a cost of $5M per WAR, he’s already delievered on the full value of the contract. Any further contributions from this point forward are giving the Rangers a discount.

      Arguably the best big-money free-agent signing of the last few years.

      +36 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • atoms says:

        The Dodgers were absolutely stupid not to extend him back in 2004. Third base has been a black hole for them ever since.

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        • Ben says:

          I don’t know, hindsight is always 20/20, and I remember his Seattle contract that followed being pretty widely panned. He had an incredible walk year in LA that looked pretty fluky, I don’t think anyone expected him to be as good as he’s been since then.

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        • Dave says:

          The Dodgers would have been stupid to sign him then. Beltre has been a nice surprise for Texas thus far, but between then and now, he wasn’t worth the dollars that walk season suggested. I’m a Dodgers fan and was glad they didn’t give him the fat contract.

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    • walt526 says:

      Obviously a special case for a number of reasons, but Bonds’ $90M/5 years signed before 2002 comes close (he was 36 when it was signed).

      +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Loop D says:

      Bobby Bonilla

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  4. Marcos says:

    Anyone care to estimate Andre Ethier’s cost to trade?

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    • Kogoruhn says:

      Probably ~20MM

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    • Joebrady says:

      ~$47M. But the genius of that signing is that he was probably $47M overpaid the day he signed the contract, so Colletti’s standards, he hasn’t lost any value at all.

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    • matt w says:

      I’d say he has a shot to sneak in the back end of the top 5. Due a lot of money and he seems like a tremendous risk to collapse completely. If his defensive numbers go back to his 2009-10 form, watch out.

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  5. Westside guy says:

    We all have blind spots when it comes to moves made by our favorite teams – I realize that. But I do remember a few people attempting to justify the Howard contract back when it was signed… I wonder how they feel about it now?

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    • Dionysus says:

      I live in the Philly area and work in a restaurant with a lot of Phillies fans.

      When The Howard Contract was signed I spent days trying to explain to my coworkers that it was an incredibly awful contract for the Phils. These folks aren’t really SABR friendly to be sure – before I worked there and talked some sense into them, they still considered RBIs and Pitcher Wins to be worthwhile stats – but still, it was shocking how much they defended and LOVED the Howard deal. He was a beast, they said. He is such a nice guy, the face of the franchise, they said. He hits so many home runs, they said. The contract was going to be worth his production, they said.

      I eventually gave up the fight, letting time prove my point.

      And, boy, has it. Now they’ve turned on Howard, and the coworkers still there begrudgingly admit I “may have been right” all along.

      +15 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • rusty says:

        I think a factor running in Howard’s favor at the time the deal was signed was the way salary arbitration was run. Howard was a Super-2, and after his 2006 MVP and 51HR/162G pace through 2007, received a $10m arbitration award in his first arb-year (2008).

        Another couple decent seasons + standard raises put him at $15m for 2009 and $19m for 2010; the Phillies finalized the albatross extension in spring 2010. Not that there isn’t a ton of dead money on the contract, but if a team is using the same player valuation metrics as salary arbitration, the deal was in some ways completely predictable.

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        • Bill says:

          I understand what you are saying, but it’s still not an excuse. They could have traded him when his value was high and let someone else deal with the arbitration problems.

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        • Joebrady says:

          Going against the Howard contract was the fact that he was due to be a FA in the same year as Pujols, Fielder, and Gonzo. Philly took a two-year risk that his performance and/or health would decline, and still signed him to a $25M contract. And this was not a body type that predicted good health. He was already slow and a poor fielder, and his K/W already in decline.

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    • jpg says:

      If you look at the contract, as horrendous as it is, it’s at least a little less horrible with some context. The thing to remember is that this was a make up contract of sorts. The Phillies actually renewed him rather than buy out his arbitration years after he had his MVP season even though Howard wanted an extension. Howard ans Phillies fan were pissed over this. Then Phillies eventually went to two WS, winning one, and rewarded him with this absurd contract. Because he was blocked by Thome he didn’t come up until he was 26 even though he was ready for the big leagues several years prior. That’s why I shrug my shoulders with his contract. Had he come at 23 and signed his mega extension at the same level of service time, it probably would have been an 8/$200MM instead of the 5/$125MM that he eventually signed leaving them in the same boat. If anything that deal, like most, would have been heavily back loaded meaning they probably paying him even more now.

      So in summary, the timing of the deal is what was bad because Howard had already showed serious signs of decline and as Dave said, it was obvious that he wouldn’t live up to the contract the moment it was signed. The money though is something he would’ve gotten had the Phillies followed the usual trend of extending young stars.

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      • David says:

        Paying for past performance is a flawed valuation method, but paying for a career he didn’t even have is simply outrageous.

        +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Anthony says:

    AKA, the Dodgers’ shopping list.

    +73 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • RC says:

      This is a great point. While logically the numbers above make sense, if any of these players were put on the market there is a very good chance that the actual amount of money the team would have to eat would be a bit less than these numbers, due to the theory that you only need to convince one team to buy. There’s always going to be a team willing to pay higher than the “market” price for premium talent, and each of the players above has been viewed that way recently enough to get a deal done.

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    • Baltar says:

      I was sorry to not see the Dodgers make the list. They may be second to the Angels in least trade value for the whole team.

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  7. Matty Brown says:

    Thinking about the Pujols contract actually made me feel sick, and I don’t even like the Angels. Imagine paying Pujols $30 million for the final year….I can’t even begin to imagine him being worthy of a bench role at that time.

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    • Jason B says:

      If thinking about it actually made you feel sick, you may need a new pursuit that is less taxing on your body.

      Or you’re the bubble boy. In which case, you can see for yourself the card clearly said “Moops”.

      +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CircleChange11 says:

      My feeling is that Pujols will retire by then, rather than play years at a level beneath his standard.

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      • Joe says:

        I hope he’s not dumb enough to hand $30 million back to Arte Morena for no reason other than pride.

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        • thirty mile zone says:

          You say 30 MM like it means something, but it really doesn’t without context. By that point in his career, Pujols will have earned 314 MM solely from playing baseball. That 30 MM represents less than 10% of his total baseball income and while 30 MM may seem like a lot, unless he’s developed a gambling problem or has turned into lenny dykstra, that 30 MM represents almost 0 gain in happiness, purchasing power, etc etc. even if you take out taxes and fees (offset, in part, by endorsement dollars)…it’s frankly just not that much money to him.

          second, for a hypercompetitive athlete, perhaps the greatest of his generation, I don’t think it’s too fanciful to think he would step away at some point if he really stunk.

          In sum, I don’t think Pujols walking away from $ on the table–or negotiating a settlement on the contract–is *that* far off base, unsettling as it is to think about someone treating 30MM in that manner.

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        • Greg says:

          But 30 million dollars is still30 million dollars.

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      • msg333 says:

        The MLBPA would place a severed horse’s head in his bed if he even thought about walking away from that contract

        +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Baltar says:

      I remember that when the Pujols deal was made about half the commenters on FanGraphs said it was good for the Angels. Some of you must still be around. Anyone want to fess up?

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      • Joebrady says:

        Their opinions were laughable. I said he was overpaid by $75M the day he signed the contract. FG is great, and the writers brilliant, but they compare everything to anything but real contracts.

        Gonzo had a 7-year $154M contract. He signed it with one year left in his previous contract, so the RS paid an implied premium for that risk, but considering his age (> 2 years younger) and the expected decline in WAR in age 37-38 for Pujols, Gonzo figured to have almost an identical level of production for the first 7 years of their respective contracts, so LA overpaid by $21M for the first 7 years (7*$3), plus maybe $57M over the final three years ($25M v a production value of $6M).

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      • I liked it because he was underpaid based on what the market was giving players like him, however, now that we have seen it play out this much it is bad. Prince Fielder and other 1B contracts being worse than Pujols’ was no justification for saying that the contract was good.

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      • Bill says:

        I think the consensus when the contract was signed was that, if all went perfectly, Pujols was capable of living up to the contract. But, I don’t recall many people believing it was a good deal.

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  8. Todd says:

    Surprised Tex wasnt on the list. 22.5 million a year through 2016.

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    • everdiso says:

      Yeah, I’d probably prefer Fielder over Tex right now, even with the 4 extra years on the contract. 3 years at $22.5m for a chronically injured moderately above average bat whose plus defensive value comes at the least important defensive position (and one of the hardest ones to measure) strikes me as a really, really bad contract to deal with it.

      Of course, if Fielder’s 120ish wRC+ is a new true talent level, then his contract is worse…but I’d bet on him getting back up to the 140+ level.

      Fielder (29, $24.0/7yrs): Last 3yrs: 421gms, 148wRC+, 10.7war, 3.8war/150
      Teixeira (33, $22.5/3yrs): Last 3yrs: 294gms, 118wRC+, 6.6war, 3.4war/150

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      • ssj316 says:

        True, but it’s not really fair to harp on Teixeira’s deal in quite the same way. Everyone accepts that with huge, multi-year contracts, you’re paying for value up front and conceding value at the back end. Don’t forget that Tex put up a great year in 2009 and the Yankees won the World Series. I’m sure there are many teams that could live with the Teixeira contract, knowing that they got a WS out of it.

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        • za says:

          Hell, I’m pretty sure that was Ilitch’s driving factor when he went after Prince.

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        • TKDC says:

          Yeah, but that has nothing to do with current value, which I think is the point of this article. If you are ranking worst contracts in retrospect, you are right – Tex deal is not that bad.

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      • RMD says:

        Tex should be on this list over Fielder because at least Prince will provide real, tangible value the next 2-3 years before his laughable overpay on the back end. Teixeira’s wRC+ has gone down in EACH of the past five years plus add on his and his power-zapping wrist injury. He’ll be worse in the forthcoming seasons. Fielder is on contract for four years longer, but he’s also four years younger.

        I’d rather have a player could contribute to a playoff contender and be terrible later on than years of mediocrity.

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      • Baseball Bob says:

        For Tex’s contract to be worse than Prince, you have to assume that his market value is less than $67.5M (current contract) – $48M (estimate of Prince’s overpay) = 3/$19.5M. If Tex were on the market, there wouldn’t be brisk competition for him, to be sure, but if he were willing to sign for $6.5M AAV for 3 years, there would surely be takers.

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  9. It will never happen but …

    Pujols + $18-$20M/per for Stetson Allie, Travis Snider, and Stolmy Pimental. Garret Jones platoons with Tabata in RF. Gabby Sanchez spells both Pujols & Pedro Alvarez (against LHP). Pujols raked in PNC and most NLC parks — maybe there’s a glimmer of hope he still does. Bucs don’t give up much talent and they get a hell of a bench bat. Problem is, Russ Martin’s 2/$17M is the biggest deal the Bucs have ever had on the books…

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    • I’m sure everyone will hate this stretch-of-a-suggestion. That isn’t much talent * but * $60M savings is certainly worth something (figured at $19M per).

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      • Baltar says:

        I don’t hate it but find it really, really boring.

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        • Kewl. *I* think the Bucs are probably the most interesting story in baseball this year — I’m admittedly a lifelong Pirates fan so I have a bias. Someone like Pujols is far-fetched but the Rios, Schierholtz, Mourneau trades being ballyhooed are, in my opinion, much more boring than reclamation ideas like the one I suggested above.

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      • Haha. That’s a fair response. If a move back to NL Central didn’t improve his #s, he’d actually be the Bucs 4th best hitter by OPS+. $19M/yr for that kind of production *is* sorta insane. Forget I suggested it.

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        • Al Dimond says:

          A move back to the NL Central would mean he’d be facing the Cubs regularly again. That might bring his numbers all the way back by itself.

          (Not really, of course, SSS warnings and all that, and his career numbers against the Cubs aren’t all that ridiculous. It was amusing, though, as a Cubs fan, to watch Pujols come back to Wrigley this year and tear it up.)

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    • stretchfest says:

      You have to remember, Pujols raked in PNC because he was always facing the Pirates. And the Pirates sucked for kind of a long time.

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  10. haslone says:

    Angels on the hook for 40% of the leagues worst contracts…LOLOLOL.

    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Jason says:

    I believe Rodriguez’s age should say 37. However, as I Yankee fan, I’d much rather think of him at age 27 and prior to the second incarnation of the contract. SMH

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  12. JN says:

    Here is a question to ponder: Could the Angels unload those 2 horrible contracts if they offered up Mike Trout with them? I bet somebody would do it.

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    • Kogoruhn says:

      I doubt it. Mike Trout, while excellent, will not produce 200MM+ in surplus value in his team controlled years.

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      • za says:

        He has already given the team $95 million in surplus value…

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        • MrMan says:

          Yes, but that’s because he combined unbelievable production with absolute minimum costs.

          While unlikely, he might keep up this level of production several more years. But his salary will increase tenfold soon. By 2015, his first arbitration year, he’ll likely command at least $10M per year. Meaning it will be impossible to sustain his rate of surplus value.

          Still….he is the Yin to Pujol’s Yang. (Too bad the Angels don’t have another one for Hamilton.

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    • guayzimi says:

      You’re asking if the Dodgers would raise their payroll $45 million per season for Mike Trout (and a flyer on two potentially above average bats). I would think certainly yes, but I’m not sure about luxury tax implications.

      +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Anthony says:

        Is there some form of a deal between the LA teams that could work? Maybe with the Dodgers including Puig but some of their own bad contracts so that there’s some parity on both the talent and financial sides. Still a trade where the overall effect would be better talent for the Dodgers and financial relief for the Angels, but not as much a straight-up $50 million/year purchase of Trout.

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        • msg333 says:

          Angels would need to give up more than Trout and a third team would need to be involved somehow. Maybe a team with more luxury tax headroom that could absorb a good fraction of one of the bad contracts in exchance for players from the Angels and Dodgers.

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      • Kogoruhn says:

        With the Dodgers payroll obligations and the luxury tax it would be increasing their payroll by ~63 million / year plus 140% of whatever Mike Trout ends up earning in arbitration.

        Somehow I doubt even the Dodgers would be willing to take on ~80 million a year in salary obligations to get their hands on Mike Trout

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    • Wil says:

      Not both to the same team I doubt. Just too much dead money, even with Trout.

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    • frivoflava29 says:

      I was going to ask something along these lines. As a joke.

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    • Baltar says:

      I can only think of one team that would be tempted, and they happen to be in the Angels neighborhood.

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    • Greg says:

      The Dodgers say hi.

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    • Nathan says:

      I know this probably goes without saying, and we’re just chatting for the heck of it on these hypothetical scenarios… but are the Angels really dumb enough to consider trading Trout? If they really needed to reset financially, it seems like they are better off trying like hell to unload Pujols, and then sacrifice Wilson and/or Weaver.

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  13. Pr says:

    I love the cost to trade estimate. How come for the real trade value. We can’t get an equivalent, something like the cost to acquire that contract?

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    • rusty says:

      I think we have to deal with more intangible-type factors with players who are net assets: star-value to team (e.g. attendance drop-off if the star is traded), the uncertainty of arbitration-year salaries, the fact that many stars who are traded are exchanged for prospects (with extremely uncertain valuation).

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  14. Bart Hidginstein says:

    Whole A-Rod box looks off. No one else has a WAR > 0.9, his is 111. Calls him 27 and a 3B/SS even though he hasn’t played short since 2005.

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  15. RMD says:

    If Howard would have waited until free agency or never would have received an extension offer from the Phillies, that meant his last game before free agency was when his Achilles tendon burst. Somebody probably would have given him 1 year at $5 million guaranteed with some incentives considering his obvious decline and injury. That means the Phillies overpaid $120 million in guaranteed money. Oops.

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    • Nathan says:

      The Tigers would’ve signed him for 4 years at $15 million AAV with a player option 5th year @ $20 million, and then called it the best value at backup-to-the-backup DH in the league.

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    • NEPP says:

      Of course, that’s a moot point because there’s an almost zero chance that Howard would have taken multiple cortizone shots into his injured ankle that season that led up to and likely caused the achilles blowout.

      He would have hit the DL rather than risk such an injury in his walk year.

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  16. Matt says:

    Speaking of Trout, could you ever see a situation where Hamilton/Pujols costs the Angels time with Trout? They have little in their farm system, though they seem to have a lot of money coming in through their TV deal.

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    • Bill says:

      The Angels will always have enough money to pay whoever they want. The only way I could see these bad contracts costing the Angels time with Trout will be if Hamilton and Pujols get worse yet continue to play and this causes the Angels to lose a lot of games. Trout might then decide not to sign with them so he can play for a competitive team.

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  17. JRB says:

    Was there some assumption by the Angels that some or most of the Pujols deal would get picked up by insurance? Why else would you so heavily backload such a large deal to an aging player?

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    • olethros says:

      My best guess is that Moreno is secretly a Cardinals fan. And as a Cardinals fan myself, I thank him for it.

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • guayzimi says:

      Make the nominal amount of the deal look large and exceedingly respectful while keeping the real dollars as low as possible.

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      • msg333 says:

        Problem with this is, AFAIK, the MLB luxury tax doesn’t consider the present-day value of contracts, it goes by the total nominal value of the contract divided by the number of years.

        So Pujols at 10 years 240 million counts as $24M a year for the luxury tax even though dollars 10 years in the future are not worth as much as they are now.

        If a team is expected to be paying MLB luxury tax they’d be better off giving the players a deal for fewer nominal dollars and front loaded and has the same present-day value.

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    • Kogoruhn says:

      Because backloading a deal ALWAYS helps the team. Money today is always more valuable than future money.

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      • Jason B says:

        “Money today is always more valuable than future money.”

        Almost always true. Such that we can just say ‘true’ and move right along.

        “Because backloading a deal ALWAYS helps the team”

        False. WAAAAAAY false.

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        • db says:

          You are wrong as a matter of finance. It costs less to backload. Every team should do it, no matter what. They can just choose to put aside a higher amount earlier and earn interest or ROI.

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      • msg333 says:

        The then-present day expected value of the Pujols deal way still absurdly over the top at the time the deal was made.

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    • Phantom Stranger says:

      The Angels basically bet that the Fed’s policy of printing money and the current debt levels of the government will lead to massive inflation, making the deal more justifiable.

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      • db says:

        Betting on high long term inflation is only justifiable if you are an economist looking to get a gig on Fox.

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    • Joebrady says:

      Insurance companies don’t just wait for you to come by and ask for a check. They’re smarter than the owners. I doubt they insure for age 42 at the same price at age 32, and I doubt they insure for bad performance and for stupidity.

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  18. jess says:

    I dont know, 111 wins at just over halfway through a season sounds fairly decent. you sure no team would take on that contract?

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  19. Detroit Michael says:

    Looking for a silver lining, have teams gotten wiser about handing out large contracts to pitchers? No more Barry Zito or Mike Hampton or Chan Ho Park contracts. Or have teams just gotten lucky that none of the big pitching contracts have blown up lately?

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    • rusty says:

      Johan Santana’s deal is about up, so while there’s been a lot of dead money since 2008 (~$60m), there’s not much remaining payout.

      And don’t forget the $20m the Yankees paid Pittsburgh to take AJ Burnett for last year and this year — although that number isn’t enough to put him on the list, NY had already absorbed a lot of the cost of his contract.

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  20. Thomas Grantham says:

    Dave,

    Was B.J Upton on the fringe?

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    • TKDC says:

      Why would he be? He’s owed 60 million over the next 4 years, and even a very pessimistic outlook projects him as at least being a viable starting player during that time. The Braves could easily move him with $15-$20 million, but of course that would be crazy as most likely he is as low a value right now as he will be.

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      • Everdiso says:

        But you’re also one of the biggest Braves homers on here. He’s probably seeking an unbiased opinion.

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        • TKDC says:

          Are you the real Everdiso or the fake one. I can’t remember which one is worse. One is a troll, the other a Blue Jays fan, both are worthless.

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      • Atreyu Jones says:

        A “very pessimistic” outlook does NOT project him as a viable starting player. It can’t be called pessimistic if it calls for him to improve on his current performance.

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        • TKDC says:

          Well, I guess you could be “very pessimistic” about Joey Votto and predict he’ll completely fall apart, but it makes no sense. Upton is a mostly healthy 29-year-old in great shape with a long track record of success and one terrible half season is not enough to change him into a non-starter going forward if being reasonable.

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        • Atreyu Jones says:

          It makes no sense with Joey Votto because he hasn’t had a half season in which he has completely fallen apart, unlike BJ Upton.

          I think it is reasonable to think that BJ Upton will be viable starter going forward. But if I was very pessimistic I would predict more of what he’s given in 2013. That’s what pessimistic means.

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        • TKDC says:

          If you think Upton continuing to perform like 2013 is reasonable, fine. I disagree. If you think “not a viable starter” is even close to his median projection going forward, fine. I disagree, and I think anyone with any sense of baseball history would, too. Hell, even his current performance (which is awful) has a decent amount of bad babip luck. And while “not a viable starter” is very pessimistic, so is “just a viable starter.” “Will die in a car crash” is also very pessimistic, but it doesn’t mean that a better result than that doesn’t still fall into that category.

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        • Too Many Uptons says:

          BJ is way out of whack, no doubt, but going forward, he will likely still be a poor man’s Mike Cameron: low AVG, good power and speed, and strong defense. That might not be worth $15M, but it’s not a disaster.

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    • Bill says:

      This is what makes the Howard contract stand out. The other guys were very, very good players when they signed. If they continued what they were doing the contracts would have been acceptable. Of course, predictably, they did not continue. Howard’s contract would have been bad even if he hadn’t fallen off the cliff. Upton wasn’t good enough to be given a $100 million contract. Very few players are.

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      • Baltar says:

        Yeah, but his contract was not nearly as bad as the vast majority of $100M’s.

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        • Bill says:

          True – If Pujols would have Howard’s contract, I don’t know that he would make the list. I think there is still a good chance Pujols is productive in three years. Howard, not so much.

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  21. Josh M says:

    That Ryan Howard contract really was/is amazingly bad.

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  22. I love rankings! says:

    Hi Dave. Great article! Thanks.

    What about a series where we rank all the teams based on how efficiently they spend? It could be a concrete ranking going back over the last five years, or an attempt to rank them going forward the next season or for several years after. Or maybe even how well their spending has translated into wins for this season.

    I love these articles.

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    • Baltar says:

      I’ll give you a short version of the list you asked for:
      1. Tampa Bay

      30. Anaheim

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      • I love rankings! says:

        lol. Thanks Baltar.

        However, all jokes aside, I bet the Yankees would give the Angels a run for their money.

        The only two position players on the Yankees probably worth their contracts this year are Gardner and Cano. (I may have left out others).

        Also, Angels do have some great contracts (like Trout’s).

        I also think that Oakland might be more comparable to Tampa Bay.

        But I could be wrong.

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      • Jason B says:

        St. Louis also seems to spend pretty wisely and consistently develop from within.

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      • TKDC says:

        I think if doing this you have to separate out how well a team spends with how well they spend in free agency. Of course Tampa does a fantastic job of developing and taking advantage of cost controlled assets, but that is not the same as teams that identify helpful assets on the free agent market (though I think they do a decent job at that, too).

        The Rangers and Cardinals, for example, seemed to have done a wonderful job lately of using their decent sized budgets fairly wisely.

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        • Too Many Uptons says:

          The Rockies look good, too. The Hampton/Neagle flops are in the past, and the only players signed for over $5M this year are CarGo, Tulo, Cuddyer and Jorge De La Rosa. (Helton is at $5M for 2013)

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  23. illinibob says:

    I initially had a hard time understanding how ANYONE’S contract could be worse than A-Rod’s, until I wrapped my mind around this one sentence:

    “Basically, the Pujols contract is as toxic as the next two worst contracts in baseball put together.”

    WOW. That’s amazingly bad. And the Angels can just say” Oh well, we add 500 million in subscriber fees so we don’t care!”

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  24. John Northey says:

    Well, for hope there is always the Vernon Wells deal. The Jays found a sucker to take it and actually give back something of value back when it was either the worst or close to the worst in baseball. Of course, the Angels now have many of the bad deals and might finally be getting risk adverse and regardless who else is crazy enough for Pujols or Hamilton? Hmm… Howard for Pujols – who says no?

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    • Westside guy says:

      The Angels didn’t seem to learn much from the Wells deal, since they subsequently signed Pujols and Hamilton.

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  25. Ben says:

    But do any of these turds *really* prevent these teams from competing? Every one of these teams is near the top of the Payroll pile. If even a fairly well-off team like St. Louis re-signs a Pujols and he goes tits-up, it’s a major drag on performance. But Artie Moreno can just dive back into his pile of TV contract cash, Scrooge McDuck style. He knew the Hamilton and especially the Pujols contracts were bad, the calculation is just HOW bad. And what’s frustrating as a fan is that some teams can knowingly dish out these kind of contracts with little consequence, while for others they would be devastating.

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    • Bill says:

      Yes, the Angels can probably survive these contracts. But, for the next decade, they will be trying to get value out of the Pujols and Hamilton contracts. They will not sign expensive players to play their positions for a couple of years, at least. They will give these guys at bats regardless of better options. This will hurt them. At very least, it will allow smart low budget teams like Tampa and Baltimore to compete.

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      • Baltimore smart? Sure you didn’t mix it up with Oakland there?

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        • Bill says:

          It surprises me too. But, they have an inexpensive team that is a perennial contender. The team is, just like Tampa, built on good drafts, smart trades, and low risk/high reward signings.
          McClouth – cheap free agent signing
          Machado – draft
          Markakis – draft (signed to reasonable extension)
          Jones – Stolen from Seattle
          Davis – Stolen from Texas
          Wieters – Draft
          Hardy – Stolen from Minnesota
          Urieta – inexpensive signing
          Roberts – exception – signed to expensive, ill advised extension.

          Chen – inexpensive signing
          Gonzales – inexpensive signing
          Tilman – Stolen from Seattle
          Hamel – Trade
          Feldman – Trade

          Oakland is another good example, but Baltimore clearly fits into this group.

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    • Baltar says:

      Well, none of these teams are competing. I guess that partly answers your question.

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    • hk says:

      The answer is that they shouldn’t? For instance, even after excluding Howard’s $25M AAV, the Phillies will spend more than ~85% of the teams in MLB. If they spend wisely, Howard’s contract should not prevent them from competing in the near future. Unfortunately for the Phillies, the GM who bestowed that contract on Howard is still employed, so the “if they spend wisely” caveat seems unlikely to come to fruition.

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  26. Hurtlockertwo says:

    As a Giants fan, I’m really glad Barry Zito is no longer the poster boy for
    bad long term contracts.

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  27. FeslenR says:

    I’d add Johan Santana’s contract to the list, despite the no hitter. Fact that he’s getting paid $25M in 2013 for not pitching a single pitch speaks volumes.

    Sure, he was effective and very good while he was healthy, but that was BEFORE the 6 year contract.

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    • TKDC says:

      And the $5.5 million buyout for 2014. But still, that is $31 million dollars. It’s pretty easy to see why he missed this list.

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    • za says:

      All-time, it’s certainly top-10 worst. Right now, it’s not so bad since it ends with the $5.5 million buyout next year. It’s certainly not nearly as bad as any of the contracts on this list, or even as bad as Andre Ethier’s.

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  28. Flim Flam says:

    I wonder how even trading Pujols would work. He has a 10-year, $10M personal-services contract begins once player contract expires.

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  29. TKDC says:

    Next 5:

    Tex
    Crawford
    A. Gonzalez
    Werth
    Maybe Wells or Soriano?

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  30. tz says:

    #6, just missing this list:

    #what Lori explained I’m taken by surprise that a mom can get paid $7031 in one month on the internet. did you see this web site>www.Bar40.com

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  31. cass says:

    Glad to not see Jayson Werth on the list!

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    • Baltar says:

      Why? It’s still a very bad contract.

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      • binqasim says:

        I think it has moved from very bad to bad, given his contributions in the clubhouse as well. Unlike other contracts listed here, Nats do not look at it as a burden yet when the deal is ending its third season.

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  32. Richard says:

    Another thing about the Howard contract, and the Phillies managing of him that has baffled me for a while now. The extension was signed early in the 2010 season. Later that year, in the early stages of the Phillies unbelievable 49-19 run to end the season, he turns his ankle horribly. He comes off the DL probably too soon, looks terrible at first.

    Then, 2011. The Phillies had the division more or less wrapped up early. Yet we received numerous reports that Howard – their huge investment, remember – was being regularly given cortisone shots in his heel. Only when they clinched, with 12 games to go, was he given some regular rest. Howard’s Achilles injury tear seems inevitable in retrospect.

    Howard never would have been worth his contract, but the Phillies would have been “ok” had he been able to roughly maintain his 2010 & 2011 output at the plate. Yet they did all they could to keep him hobbling out there on the field, with an enormous lead in their division. This behavior strikes me as insane.

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  33. kdm628496 says:

    i know this complicates matters and it’s very far down in the comments section, but shouldn’t there be some consideration to present values? i know paying albert pujols $30M in 2021 is going to be ridiculous, but it’s certainly not the same value as paying him $30M now.

    $30M today *should* buy you about 6 WAR, but what would $30M in 2021 buy you? 3 WAR?

    in order to do this rigorously, we’d have to project WAR values for each of these players as well as assume some sort of inflation rate, then take the difference in present value.

    interesting read, nonetheless.

    also, bobby bonilla?

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    • atoms says:

      Ha, Bobby Bonilla came to mind for me as well. Looks like he misses the cut, though, because he’d take only take $26 million to move :)

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      • msg333 says:

        Bobby Bonilla was a bad decision because the Mets basically deferred payment and paid Bonilla as if he had a savings account paying 7% interest. They figured since they were getting 10%/annum from Madoff they figured they’d make money in the end. Oops.

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    • Dingbat says:

      That’s a good point — it shouldn’t be hard to calculate present value equivalents for the estimates Dave has provided. Care to give it a try?

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      • Blockhead says:

        Yes, calculating the PV of Pujols contract is easy based on historic inflation and overall economic factors.

        However, MLB specific economic factors are going to have a huge effect and its a lot harder to project that.

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        • Nathan says:

          Yeah, good luck calculating the cable TV sports network bubble’s impact on this stuff. I keep wondering when that bubble’s going to pop. It’ll be an interesting case study when it does, because it’ll be more insulated from the overall system than what happened with housing, or tech.

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  34. tz says:

    but seriously,

    what about Trout and Pujols for Cory Kluber? Would you do it if (a) you’re Cleveland and (b) if you’re the Angels?

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    • MrMan says:

      I doubt the Angels would do it.

      First, they have piles of money to spend on players. Their contractual disasters don’t prevent them from fielding a competitive team. Second, moving Trout would devastate the fanbase and render the team less competitive.

      I don’t see the Angels moving Trout unless someone comes up with a crazy offer.

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    • Greg says:

      Imagine the blowback when they trade Pujols and Hamilton AND Trout for a bag of balls.

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  35. Michael Scarn says:

    I’d be interested in seeing this list expand as much as possible next year. We all know who the absolute worst of the worst contracts are, but I’d almost be more interested to see who slots in at the 6-15 positions rather than seeing the inevitable Ryan Howard and ARod in the top 5.

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  36. Nolan says:

    Are there any players that could realistically be headed for this list after a new contract? Maybe the Dodgers back their money truck up to Cano and offer him something like 10/200?

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  37. Nick O says:

    There is absolutely no way he should be on the list, but I wonder how tradeable Joe Mauer’s contract is. He is owed a lot of money for a guy who’s not going to be doing a whole ton of catching over the next 5+ years at $23 MM a year.

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    • Steve says:

      Well, no one claimed Mauer on waivers last year, presumably fearing they’d get stuck with his contract, so pretty clear he is in the negative as value goes.

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      • leeroy says:

        placing players on revocable waivers is a common practice, happens to pretty much everyone, so you can’t put too much stock into that. it would be much different if we heard rumors that the Twins were actually shopping him and had no bites

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        • Steve says:

          It happens all the time, and usually those players are claimed and then pulled back. The fact that no one claimed Joe Mauer, all star, is revealing. No one wanted him at the possibly cost of his full contract.

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        • Krog says:

          If he had positive value he would have been claimed by someone. Since no team wanted to take the risk that the Twins would give them Mauer, he must have had negative value in September 2012.

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        • leeroy says:

          but shortly after that in december 2012 peter gammons reported that the red sox offered to take on all of mauer’s contract. This means Mauer had positive value in the offseason. What changed in that 3 month period btwn September 2012 to December 2012? (somewhat rhetorical, obviously that move would make much more sense for Boston after, not during, the lost 2012 season)

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        • Richie says:

          There is still a “gentlemen’s agreement” regarding claiming guys off waivers. Namely, that you don’t do it unless you’re serious about wanting to deal for him. Yes, that agreement is disagreed with more often now, but it still does govern things sometimes.

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  38. ramsey says:

    …and a good thing the Phillies have Darin Ruf.

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  39. Julian says:

    So what would you get/have to pay for a package of Trout, Hamilton, and Pujols?

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  40. Joebrady says:

    The trouble with the LAA contracts, and a couple of others, is that they are signed on the basis of -0- downside risk. Like I said when the original articles were still out, suppose his 2011 OPS of .906 was the true Pujols? His contract took into account almost a complete reversion, and very little aging. I doubt any team would hand out $25M for even one season of .906, let alone 10 seasons of that. Even if he reverted to 1.000, with normal decline, he was worth nowhere near $250M. If you starting point is .906, then instead of $75M overpaid, he is $152M overpaid.

    On Hamilton, he played in a park made for lefty hitters, he had a weak K/W with a .288K/AB, had a .809 in his final 100 games, doesn’t hit well in LAA, and has a substance abuse issue, if you want to consider that risk.

    So, if he overcomes all the obvious risks, then he is only overpaid by $25M or so. And if he doesn’t, if the .809 in his last 100 games is the new norm, or if his career .747 is the new norm, then he is overpaid by $63M.

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  41. Dirck says:

    With the current circus going on around the Yankees ,one has to wonder if the Yankees aren’t possibly trying to set up an insurance claim to pay 80% of the remaining albatross of A-Rod’s contract by claiming that his injuries make him physically unable to play out the balance of his ridiculous contract . Maybe Jeter too ,since it seems awfully suspicious that both washed up former stars “re-injured”themselves as soon as they were supposed to be ready to play .

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    • Dirck says:

      And now , with the Braun news. The specter of drug suspension comes up more strongly for A-Rod ,maybe HE is the one trying to get permanently disabled so he can collect from insurance .

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  42. asaenz says:

    “Honorable” Mentions: Jayson Werth, Matt Holliday, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira, Joe Mauer, Alfonso Soriano, B.J. Upton.
    Who else?

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    • matt w says:

      I’ve said this a couple times on the thread, but Ethier. Seems like he could see a pretty big collapse and he’s due a lot of money.

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    • Ben says:

      Holliday’s isn’t that bad. 3 years left (’14, ’15, ’16) at 17m/per. Probably an overpay, but I don’t think that’s among the worst contracts in baseball by a long shot.

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    • binqasim says:

      I don’t think werth is either.

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  43. Phillies boy says:

    Stop hating on the Phillies.

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  44. Ouch Pujols + Hamilton combined- 1.1 WAR this season. Wow A-Rod 111.3 WAR this season (oops-career). With A-Rod what about his incentives for milestone HR records? According to the contract on his FG player page. He’ll at least get Wille Mays and if he you traded for him and he had a career resurgence he could get the others.

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    • hk says:

      If a team was considering a trade for ARod, the trade-off for paying him if he reaches the milestone incentives after Mays’s 660 would be they would get more production than expected from him and an attendance boost as he approaches, then passes, those milestones.

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  45. Jim says:

    What about BJ Upton? I know it was only 5 for $75 which isn’t large compared to these five but at least the other five offer some value. BJ was a complete waste before the ink was even dry on the contract.

    Also, what about Joey Votto? I know he is still one of the best players but he’s in his age 30 season and his 10 year $210 million contract doesn’t even start until next season.

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  46. Greg says:

    You honestly think a team would only be willing to pay ARod 0 for the next 4 years?

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  47. Schuxu says:

    I would be very interested in an analysis concerning “aging curves” of players in relation to contract status. How many old players fall off a performance cliff after signing their last big paycheck?

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  48. Brian says:

    Why isn’t Mike Scioscia on this list? That ten year contract Arte Moreno gave him is ruining the Angels.

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  49. vivaelpujols says:

    Pujols will prove all you assholes wrong.

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    • Bill says:

      No he won’t. Even if he has 4 good seasons in the contract, it will still be a ridiculous overpay. But, even if he does bounce back and has ten more years like his first ten years, that still doesn’t prove Dave wrong. This analysis was done using his best belief of present perception of the player’s value. If Pujols goes out the next two years and is Miguel Cabrera, his trade value will go up simply because the perception of this future production would have gotten better.

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    • Nathan says:

      I see what you did there.

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  50. TM says:

    What strikes me about this thread is the number of examples of foolish FA spending by the big clubs — leading me to believe that instead of focusing on how many front offices appear to be so poorly run by the big clubs, perhaps we need to look at how rarely a GM/exec with a deep-pocketed and/or ownership group can make decisions based on efficiency vs. expediency. Phils, LA teams, Mets, Tigers, Yankees, and even Red Sox before the Miracle on Yawkey Way last summer all fell into this trap even though Yankees and Sox successful runs were driven by avoiding this behavior being the primary response to rosters and payroll. These look like awful contracts but how much money did the stars generate for their clubs/businesses? Would love to see a $$$ over replacement player stat comparing Ryan Howard to a lesser 1B signing in terms of revenue generated…

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  51. Dave S (the original) says:

    Just wondering… how does an “insurance buyout” work?

    Because, I have to think Howard is getting close to that point.

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  52. Dave says:

    If a team isn’t willing to overpay for a name guy, they’ll never sign any big-name FAs. Simple as that. By not signing any, they’ll be viewed by their fans as ‘not trying’ instead of ‘fiscally smart’. It’s sad, but true.

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    • Travis L says:

      Is this necessarily a bad thing?

      I think fans are happy when teams are winning, not whether they go for big name contracts. Ask a Red Sox fan this year.

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  53. Joe says:

    I’m sorry, but you mistakenly put Fielder on this list. You might want to put Wells, Kemp, Braun, or any other of a number of guys who got paid and no longer play consistently. Fielder plays everyday–to his statistical detriment–and he’s minimally a 20-80 guy in his worst year thus far. What’s a 20-80 guy worth right now? 15-18 mil? Right. So they overpaid by 9 mil if he plays like this for the rest of the contract, which I don’t think he will but we might be seeing a downward slide here. Mauer fits better on this list, or Jeter, or Werth, or Verlander, or Crawford…

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    • Matt says:

      I hear you, Joe, re. Fielder’s consistency with power and RBIs and he is durable. I won’t argue at all with any of that. But do not ignore every other facet of the game in which Fielder is subpar just to make your point. The Tigers are playing his bad glove at 1B, and he’s a bad baserunner, and that hurts his value.

      I think I might prefer Fielder on my team to Ethier, all things considered right now, but that’s just me. In that respect I agree that dropping Fielder off the list is certainly possible.

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  54. Juan says:

    I have to laugh about what all these so called intellectual fans
    are saying about so-called overpaid players. However, there’s
    another angle to consider, as some of these overpaid players
    actually atract fans to the ballpark (and actually have a
    numerous following). Amaro, the Phillies’ GM, knows this;
    and so, resigns the aging players to ridiculous contracts.
    Sure, teams can bring in younger players with fantastic
    upsides, but if their profits suffer in the process, so
    does the continuity in the building of a championship
    team. It’s a delicate balancing act, and the good GM’s
    know how to manage it. For a while this season, the
    Phillies were actually succeeding. The sad part is that
    once a team has tasted a world championship, they will do
    whatever necessary to return to the spot light, including
    trading away most of their valuable jewels in their farm
    system. Sadly this happens to most world championship
    teams.

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  55. jruby says:

    Aaaaand… #5′s been traded for Ian Kinsler, who is definitely not worth -$50 million. Goddammit I wish we had someone like Dombrowski here in Philly…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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