In a sport where there is no salary cap nor a cap on the length of contracts, Major League Baseball has had its number of terrible contracts. Often times MLB teams in a desperate move to keep their stars will hand out contracts that guarantee a stars stay with the team for the rest of his career, but along with these contracts comes a hefty price tag. In an era where players are given record contracts the pressure to live up to these contracts is as big as their price tag.
7. Prince Fielder (9 Years, $214 Million)
In six seasons with Milwaukee Brewers, Fielder established himself among the elite power hitters of the game. So when Fielder signed a 9 year $214 million contract with the Detroit Tigers, many believed that Tigers made the right move as they now had Fielder in the same lineup as hitting machine Miguel Cabrera. Two years into his contract, Fielder had made two all star game appearances and played in every single regular season game as a member of the Tigers. Fielder did have a fatal flaw, the playoffs. An integral part of the Tigers lineup, Fielder hit one home run in 24 postseason games. Most notably, in the 2012 World Series, Fielder hit an abysmal .074, only reaching base twice the entire series. After back to back below par playoff performances, the Tigers traded Fielder to the Texas Rangers. In his time with the Rangers, Fielder made one all-star game and was forced to retire after undergoing two neck surgeries in three years.
6. Alex Rodriguez (10 Years, $275 Million)
Fresh off a season where he would be honored with his third and final MVP trophy, 32 year old Alex Rodriguez was considered by many as the best player in baseball. Previously, Rodriguez signed a 10 year $252 million contract, which at the time was the richest deal in sports history. However, Rodriguez announced that he will be opting out of his deal, an announcement that was made during the final innings of the 2007 World Series featuring arch rival the Boston Red Sox. Rodriguez expressed his desire to retire a Yankee and after a couple weeks came to terms with the Steinbreners on a 10 year $275 million. The contract beat out Rodriguez’s previous deal and became the biggest contract in sports history. In the ten years of the deal, Rodriguez tested positive for steroids on multiple occasions and led to him being suspended a record 261 games in his career. Despite missing time due to steroid suspensions Rodriguez would play a vital role in the 2009 Yankees World Series run where A-Rod earned the title of postseason MVP.
5. Albert Pujols (10 Years, $240 Million)
Another 3 Time MVP, Pujols was having monster season after monster season. Pujols, 31, was the most complete hitter in baseball as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. So much so when Pujols became a free agent the Angels made it their priority to sign the 2-time World Series champion. Pujols success in St. Louis did not translate well in the American League. With the exception of his only all star game appearance as a member of the Angels in 2015, Pujols has not hit better than .300 in his time with the Angels. Pujols, now age 39, will make $28 million this season.
4. Johan Santana (6 Years, $137.5 Million)
On February 2, 2008, the Mets made a big splash by acquiring two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins. The Mets were coming off a disappointing game 7 loss in the NLCS to the St. Louis Cardinals and needed to add some more star power in order to reverse the outcome of the previous season. Santana, waived his no trade clause and joined the Mets where he would establish himself as their ace, ending the season with a 16-7 record, 206 strikeouts, an NL low 2.53 ERA and logged in a NL leading 234.1 innings pitched. Santana would continue his success on to the next season where he participated in his first and only all star as a Met. Unfortunately, Santana could not stay healthy and missed the 2011 and 2013 MLB seasons due to injury. In Santana’s last season, he pitched the most recent no hitter in Mets history but posted a 6-9 record with an underwhelming 4.85 ERA in 2012.
3. Barry Zito (7 Years, $126 Million)
When Barry Zito became a free agent in the 2006 MLB offseason, many teams inquired about the 28 year old finesse pitcher. This was until Zito price tag became more and more outrageous for teams causing teams to back out of a potential agreement with Zito. The hefty price tag did not stop the San Francisco Giants who gave Zito the richest contract to a pitcher in MLB history. This contract has since been beat out but Zito’s inability to live up to the contract price tag was a cause of concern for the Giants front office. The Giants also included a no trade clause forcing the Giants to keep Zito for the duration of the contract. Zito would end his Giants career with a 63-80 record and a 4.62 ERA. Zito did go on to get a win in the 2012 World Series en route to the Giants 7th World Series title.
2. Ryan Howard (5 Years, $125 Million)
After six straight top 10 finishes in MVP voting, and winning in 2006, Howard signed a big contract extension in 2012. A home grown talent, Howard made his way through the minor leagues and made his debut at the age of 24 for the Philadelphia Phillies. Now aged 32, Howard elected to stay with the Phillies instead of testing out free agent waters when his original deal was up. This proved to be a great decision for Howard and not for the Phillies. After signing his extension, Howard would only play in 151 of 364 games in the first two years of the deal. Not only was Howard not as durable but his play on the field reached all time lows. Howard would hit .196 in his final season as a member of the Phillies.
1. Carl Crawford (7 Years, $142 Million)
Speed demon Carl Crawford had an exceptional 2010 season where he earned the honors of Gold Glove and Silver Slugger at his position. With free agency pending, the Tampa Bay Rays were going to look elsewhere as Crawford’s price tag proved to be too steep. And it was. Crawford signed with division rival Boston Red Sox and in his first year with the team underperformed. The next season Crawford was sidelined after 31 games and had to have Tommy John surgery as a result. The Red Sox somehow found a way to trade Crawford to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where injuries continued to have a toll on him. In his final four seasons, Crawford only played in more than 100 games twice and never hit more than 8 homers in a season.