Boulevard of Bad Contracts – AL West
We go onward, looking for bad deals that infuriate fans. Houston gets lucky, as they really have no head scratching long term deals signed before 2016. Tony Sipp’s deal looks awful now, but he inked it this year. Paying $18/3 for a LOOGY? Welp…
Also, no retired or released players, so Texas gets a pass on Prince Fielder and Josh Hamilton (though the Angels will never get a pass regarding Hamilton in my book.)
Shin-Soo Choo – Texas (2014 -$130/7) – At his best, at his peak, Choo was an exciting player. He was close to the magic .300/.400/.500 slash line a couple of times. Injuries have diminished his value, and he’s aging, but Texas signed him for big dollars anyway. Last year, he had a lot of value, but in 2014 and now this year he’s struggled at the plate and on defense and now he’s hurt again with a broken forearm. He’s signed through age 37, which the rate he’s going will be one ugly year.
Elvis Andrus – Texas (2015 – $118/8 plus vesting in 2023) – Just because you have a lot of money to spend, and young talent to spend it on, doesn’t mean you should go bonkers. This is a bonkers contract. Andrus is a two-to-three win player, defense included, and his defensive value is probably going to diminish over time. (Some metrics show he’s been quite overrated over the years compared to his hype). This, his age 27 season, is the first season where his OPS+ over 95.
Robinson Cano – Seattle (2014 – $240/10) – He’s shown he’s worth the money the first three years of his deal. I’m just worried from 2019 forward. That’s $120 million for a player between age 36-41. Seattle has a lot of money out there the until 2018 for Cano, Hernandez, Seager and Cruz. Those four have been worth the dough so far. Cano’s the only one I think could be problematic over the life of the deal (unless Seager ages badly).
Billy Butler – Oakland (2015 – $30/3) – Er, um, why, Billy Beane? Why? Did you think you could flip him? His power started to erode after 2012, and yet, the A’s signed him even after he had a negative WAR in 2014. His 230 games in Oakland have produced a negative WAR as well. It’s like Billy Beane was concussed when he agreed to this contract. NOTE: By the time this was published, Oakland cut its losses and released Butler. Which begs the question, why the heck did they sign him anyway? #load
Jed Lowrie – Oakland (2015 – $23/3) – Houston’s to blame here. But Oakland traded for him, and they knew what they were getting – an oft-injured medoicrity. His last season of 2.0 WAR or more was 2013. He’s not much of a third baseman, nor a second baseman, and definitely doesn’t hit enough to be a DH or a corner. So what do you do with him?
Albert Pujols – Angels (2012 – $240/10) – When he signed this deal, everyone know that all of his value would be offensive, as he was a sub-par first baseman and then would be restricted to DH duties, and he can’t run very well. As we know, except for spurts and flashes, he’s not really had a lot of offensive value since donning the Angels gear, certainly not enough to be a $20 million player. He’s got 100 RBI this season (thank you Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun) but he’s only got the 7h best WAR on the team (behind CJ Cron, who has 210 fewer plate appearances, if you’re keeping score). What’s worse, is that he’s due $140 million over the rest of his deal. Let me just say that if he’s still a productive player in 2019 or 2020 I’ll eat my keyboard.
Andrelton Simmons – Angels (2014 – $85/7) – He is the best defensive shortstop in baseball, but the question on the table is how much value does he provide if he’s a sub-par offensive player. He was a four-win player last year, and currently is about 2 1/2 wins over replacement player. During the last three years of this contract, he’ll be reaching his 30’s and I don’t know if his offense will justify the $39 million he’ll be due. And before you say, “but Ozzie Smith”, Ozzie had better offensive value and his stolen base ability helped him overcome his lack of power. Simmons’ 17 home runs in 2013 is a fond memory. BTW, you can blame the Braves for this one, but the Angels got no salary offset, just ‘cash’.
Ricky Nolasco – Angels (2014 – $49/4 + 2018 team option) – Another nail in Terry Ryan’s coffin was agreeing to this deal for the definition of a league average pitcher that was reaching his 30’s. He was always a pitch to contact type, in a sense, and giving up 203 hits in 159 innings in 2014 gave Twins fans uncomfortable flashbacks to Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey. He was hurt in 2015, and just as bad in 2016. The Angels traded for him because, reasons I guess? Hector Santiago has a chance to be pitching in the majors in 2018. Nolasco’s team option for 2018 will be denied, and then, we’ll see.