Boulevard of Bad Contracts – AL Central
Continuing our look at the contracts signed in 2015 or before that make fans go…”WHAAAAAT?”
Yan Gomes – Cleveland (2014 – $23/6 plus team options in 2020 and 2021) – While this isn’t that big of a hit this season (only $2.5 million), it becomes a greater liability ending with $7 million in 2019, when Gomes will be 31. The last two years he’s been awful at the plate and so bad this year that his good defense can’t save him from a negative WAR. Cleveland hopes this is just a two-year blip and not a permanent slide.
Anibal Sanchez – Detroit (2013 – $80/5 plus a team option in 2018) – Detroit may have a lot of contracts on this list in 2018 or so, as they dug deep in 2016 for some players that are languishing at this time. Plus a couple of potential head scratchers are performing well in 2016. So I’ll pick on Anibal, who has had lousy years in 2015 and 2016. His performance this year is one reason the Tigers are coming up short against the Indians, and he’s got one more year to go with them. His peripherals are bad and he gives up home runs like crazy. Fun times.
Salvador Perez – Kansas City (2012 – $59.5/10) – I’m lumping in the contract extension that kicks in at the 2017 season. Kansas City is like Detroit, where they did some big spending (for them) this season. Perez is an all-star and a gold glove catcher. He’s just 26. So why is he here? In three years he’s due $11.2 million, and then $14.2 million. He’s caught a lot of games at a young age, and his offense isn’t that great. His value is all in defense, and if his offensive numbers continue their plunge it’ll be tough to justify that extension. One warning sign? Over the last two seasons he’s walked just 28 times and fanned 182.
James Shields – Chicago (2015 – $75/4 plus team option in 2019) – “Big Game” James is no more. Now it’s “Take Cover” James. He earned his payday with the Royals, but he’s turned to dust. After a blah 2015, San Diego found a sucker in the White Sox, and they’re glad to be rid of him now even though they pay half of his salary, Chicago’s on the hook for 10 million a year anyway. Will they eat this contract like they ate John Danks’ ($15.75 million this year)? Not even the bad 1970 White Sox had a pitcher this awful that they kept running out there start after start. His WAR for the Sox is -1.6 this year. That’s special.
David Robertson – Chicago (2015 – $46/4) – “You gotta have a closer.” Closers are made, not born. Robertson did good work for the Yankees, and became the one-inning wonder upon Mariano Rivera’s retirement. But one of the keys to success is proper allocation of assets. Spending this money to someone pitching a tad over league average ball for just 60-70 innings a year is nuts, especially if they’re over 30 and had the workload Robertson had in New York. For that money, you want an elite closer, not an average one. Meanwhile, Nate Jones and Dan Jennings are doing the hard work.
Melky Cabrera – Chicago (2015 – $42/3) – Look, Melky’s likeable. He’s fun. He’s just not worth $14 million this year and $15 million next year. He’s not an OBP guy, doesn’t have great power, doesn’t steal bases anymore, and is mediocre in the field. Even with his .294 average, he’s got a 1.4 WAR this year. The White Sox have a lot of issues not related to kids in the clubhouse or uniforms.
Joe Mauer – Minnesota (2011 – $184/8) – I know the Twins had to keep Mauer in the fold. Had to. I know they knew that he wasn’t going to catch all of those seasons. I also know he doesn’t deserve most of the scorn but upon him by Twins fans. Yet his contract is now problematic. Face it, he’s a mediocre first baseman on defense now, and doesn’t have the power you want from a first sacker. He’s not hitting doubles this year, either. The Twins have a multitude of problems, and Mauer’s contract is one going forward.
Phil Hughes – Minnesota (2015 – $85/5) – There’s a reason Terry Ryan is no longer the GM of the Twins. It’s contracts like this. I don’t know what moved the Twins to sign him for five years after his first good season since 2010, but here you are. He was lucky to have a winning record last year, and is currently on the DL out for the year after giving the Twins 59 innings of bad pitching. For a ‘small market’ team, they’re rotten about extracting value from their assets.
Glen Perkins – Minnesota (2014- $22.18/4 plus a team option on 2018) – Sure, it’s just $6.3 million this year and $6.5 million next year, but having lived through the Joe Nathan saga, you’d think the Twins would be a little more cautious about throwing a lot of money toward a one-inning wonder. Again, I like Perkins. We need more guys like him in baseball. But baseball overvalues closers big time, and he was only fair-to-middling in 2014 and 2015, and may not pitch, or pitch well, for the Twins again.
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