Boulevard of Bad Contracts – NL East
As we move to the National League, a reminder that sometimes, the bad contract isn’t now, it’s three or five years from now, as our first player will demonstrate.
Note, since Stephen Strasburg just signed his contract extension this season, he’s not on this list. But do you honestly think he’ll be healthy enough to be as valuable as his contract hopes he will be?
Max Scherzer – Washington (2015 – 7/$210) – Is Scherzer worth $22.1 million this season? Yes. Will he be worth $42.1 million in 2019? Signs point to no. He’s due that amount in 2019, 2020, and 2021. The issue is that pitchers get hurt. Almost every pitcher in the history of baseball has missed time due to injuries. Just a reminder, in 2012, among the Top 10 in WAR in the majors for pitchers were Matt Harrison, RA Dickey, Jake Peavy, and Gio Gonzalez. Matt Cain, Jered Weaver, Kyle Lohse, and Jordan Zimmermann were in the Top 10 of ERA. Any of them worth $42.1 million as season?
Ryan Zimmerman – Washington (2009 – 11/$135 plus team option in 2020) – The idea was sound, to a point. Lock up your young talent through arbitration and their first free agency cycle. But what happens if you backload the contract is that you are paying a lot of money to a guy like Zimmerman. He’s due $46 million over the next three years, and hasn’t been healthy since 2013. The only reason he’s playing regularly this year is that the Nats really have no replacement, and also are carrying Ben Revere and Michael Taylor as their center fielders? In the post season, do you try to get Trea Turner in the lineup and move Danny Murphy to first? I would.
Jayson Werth – Washignton (2011 – 7/$126) – He’s having a better season in 2016, but that’s setting a low bar from 2015. He’ll be 38 next year and since he’s signed the contract with the Nats he’s had two great years, two seasons with injuries, and two years of meh. The Nats are paying him $21 million next year. What are the odds he earns it?
David Wright – New York (2007 – 14/$192) – Another good idea gone bad was Wright’s contract. He’s owed $67 million over the next four years. He may not play again. Let’s just hope he can have a full, healthy life.
Curtis Granderson – New York (2014 – 4/$60) – Was it worth it? Granderson’s 2015 was a key component to their World Series run. Granderson’s 2016 has been one of the hurdles to overcome as they try to make the playoffs. He’s like Werth, aging and inconsistent. I wouldn’t bet big on him recouping his contract value in 2017.
Giancarlo Stanton – Miami (2015 – 13/$325 plus team option in 2028) – He’s hurt, again. If he misses the rest of the season, he’ll have missed 265 games over his seven seasons. Though it couldn’t happen to a nicer ownership group, Stanton may become an albatross on the franchise if he can’t stay on the field.
Matt Harrison – Philadelphia (2012 – 6/$58 plus team option in 2018) – You gave Texas Cole Hamels and Jake Dieckman, and got…um….an insurance policy that cashes in if he can’t pitch next year? Back injuries suck. But Harrison is the poster child of “Why are you signing a pitcher for more than three years???”
Matt Kemp – Atlanta (2012 – 8/$160) – Matt Kemp? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! His total WAR since signing that thing – 3.8. That’s since the 2012 season. He is only 31, so he could snap out of it. And I could become the King of France. The Braves are on the hook for a lot of this money now, as the Dodgers and Padres only have to contribute about 1/4 of it going forward.
Nick Markakis – Atlanta (2015 – 4/$44) – He’s not been more than a good player since 2008, and is now more average than good (and sliding down the path there). His status as a gold-glover is offset by his dWAR, which casts aspersions on his defense big time. At any rate, a right fielder that can’t slug .400 has limited value no matter if he’s got the arm of Jesse Barfield or Mark Whiten.