The Nippon Professional Baseball League’s Nippon Ham Fighters have decided to let prized pitcher/hitter Shohei Otani up for auction through the league’s bidding system.
We say, buyer beware.
That is, for every Masahiro Tanaka, there’s a Kei Igawa.
While Otani has certainly garnered a ton of interest, both as a feared hitter and hard-throwing pitcher, there are a slew of MLB free agents looking to cash in big — whether they deserve it or not.
The list of premier talent available includes Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis, Mike Moustakas and Jay Bruce, to name a few.
Some desperate bubble teams will throw good money at suspect free agent help, that we can be certain about. We’ve gone to great lengths to talk about bargain finds and old dogs looking for new tricks.
Every team in major league baseball has signed at least one big free agent to what would be a bad contract. Whether that player under-performed, was injured more often than in the line-up or just wasn’t utilized correctly all come into play.
Here are each team’s worst ever free agent signing.
30. Boston Red Sox – P Daisuke Matsuzaka
For years, Daisuke Matsuzaka was “da man” in the Nippon Professional Baseball league. Little wonder, then that the Japanese strikeout king garnered a bidding war in late 2006 that the Boston Red Sox “won” with a bid of just over $51 million –outbidding the hated New York Yankees in the process. It was nearly three times his NPB team’s (Seibu Lions) entire payroll. Then the Bosox had 30 days to sign him and they did, agreeing on a six-year, $52 million contract. Matsuzaka was full value his first two seasons, winning 33 games against 15 losses and tossing 355 strikeouts in 372.1 innings pitched. He also helped Boston win the 2007 World Series in his first year. But, the last four years of Daisuke’s six-year deal were a nightmare. His pitching arm and shoulder degraded considerably, limiting him to just 55 total starts in four seasons (he made 61 in 2007-08). By the last year of the pact (2012), Matsuzaka had a 1-7 record in 11 starts, along with a 8.28 ERA and 1.708 WHIP.
29. New York Yankees – P Carl Pavano
If any rule of thumb should be followed by major league execs, it should be “beware the flash in the pan.” Carl Pavano, who was a mediocre pitcher before helping the Florida Marlins win a World Series in 2003, followed by a Cy Young worthy season in 2004 (18-8, 3.00 ERA), fit that rule of thumb to a “T.” And, perhaps it was because he that beat the Yankees in 2003 in the Fall Classic that the Bronx Bombers fell in love with him. So, on Dec. 30, 2004, the Yanks ponied up, signing Pavano (out from underneath Boston, no less) for four years and $39.95 million. All that money made him frail, apparently, as he went on to make just 17 starts (4-6 record, 4.77 ERA) in 2005 due to shoulder problems. He missed all of 2006 after bruising his — ahem — buttocks in spring training and later injuring his ribs in a controversial auto accident (he didn’t report it for 13 days). In 2007, more arm troubles limited him to two starts and in the final year of his deal he made just seven starts.
28. Tampa Bay Rays – OF Greg Vaughn
In the late 1990, Greg Vaughn’s name was actually mentioned in the same breath as Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. Not for alleged PED use, mind you, but for boatloads of home runs. In the epic 1998 campaign when McGwire and Sosa went wire-to-wire with the former beating the latter 70 to 66 homers, Vaughn actually finished fourth overall with 50 homers for the San Diego Padres. He was actually traded to Cincinnati in 1999 and swatted another 45 homers for the Reds in 1999 (with 118 RBI). A free agent in 2000, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays threw four years and $34 million at Vaughn, who despite his booming bat, was pretty much a one-dimensional player. After playing 150-plus games for the Padres and Reds, Vaughn didn’t get past 140 in his first two years in Tampa, neither did he eclipse 30 homers or over 82 RBI. By the time the third year of the pact rolled around, Vaughn played in just 69 games, with a dismal .163 average, 82 strikeouts and eight home runs. He was out of baseball all together in 2003.
27. Toronto Blue Jays – OF Jose Bautista
The Jays could have saved themselves a wad of cash this season, considering they way overpaid Jose Bautista to man right field and finished with a lousy 76-86 record anyway. Before we slag one of the greatest Blue Jays ever, Bautista did have many great years and moments for the franchise, all worthy of praise. But not worth the $18.5 million option the team picked up prior to the start of the 2017 season. Cracks already started to appear in the aging slugger’s game in 2016, but a playoff year makes everyone giddy — as well as the fact that Toronto couldn’t sign DH/1B Edwin Encarnacion. Bautista was more durable in 2017, playing in 157 games after just 116 in 2016. However, he finished below the Mendoza line with a .203 batting average and was 13th in baseball with 170 strikeouts (a dubious Jays’ record, too). Joey Bats had just 23 homers and 65 RBI, a paltry .674 OPS and made the top 40 in grounding into double plays with 16.
26. Baltimore Orioles – OF Albert Belle
The main reason the mercurial Belle is on this list isn’t because of performance, but rather attitude. Or lack of a positive one thereof. Albert “Joey” Belle, for most of his career, was a feared hitter but a lousy teammate who clashed with his colleagues, pouted, ignored coaches’ instructions and generally behaved like a spoiled brat. The former AL home run champ (50 in 1995) had his best statistical season with the Chicago White Sox in 1998, hitting 49 homers, driving in 152 runs and logging career bests in slugging percentage at .655 and OPS with 1.055 (also leading the majors). The White Sox were probably more relieved than sad to see him go in free agency in 1999, when the Orioles threw a fat five year, $65 million contract at him. But, even though he still hit well in two seasons with Baltimore, the surly Belle never calmed down or ingratiated himself to teammates. Hip problems derailed his career and he was out of baseball by the end of 2000 — with the O’s still on the hook for the remaining three years of his contract.
25. Cleveland Indians – OF David Dellucci
David who? We asked that same question, since Dellucci was a journeyman outfielder for seven teams in 13 seasons. Mostly a reserve outfielder, Dellucci actually led the National League in triples once, slapping 12 for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998. Unlike list-mate Albert Belle, Dellucci was a known as a good guy, so we’ll cut him some slack. In 2006, Dellucci was with his fifth different team, the Philadelphia Phillies, and put together a fine season, despite not being a starter for much of it. In 132 games, he hit .292 in 264 at bats, with 13 homers, 14 doubles, five triples and 39 RBI. He also recorded a slugging percentage of .530 and OPS of .899, both career highs. The Indians then, decided he was worth three years and $13.5 million in free agency. However, he wouldn’t come close to matching many of those numbers in parts of three campaigns in Cleveland, hitting just .238 in 183 games, with 15 homers and 68 RBI.
24. Minnesota Twins – OF Rondell White
The Montreal Expos found a gem in the late going of the first round of the MLB draft in 1990. Rondell White turned out to be a fleet center/left fielder with a dependable bat in parts of eight seasons with Montreal. He hit .293 there, with 101 homers and 384 RBI in 742 games, along with 88 stolen bases. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2000 and bounced around the majors until landing with Detroit in his late career. After a good season in 2004 for the Tigers, White had a surge in his second season in the Motor City, hitting .313 in 97 games, with 12 homers and 53 RBI. A free agent at the conclusion of that year, White took a two-year, $5 million pact from Minnesota. Unfortunately, a then 34-year-old White didn’t come close to meeting the lofty numbers he posted in the Motor City, hitting just .246 (seven HR, 39 RBI) in 99 games in 2006. After a very limited contribution in 2007, White quietly retired.
23. Kansas City Royals – P Mark Davis
Sometimes in baseball, there are surprise winners of major awards. One of them was journeyman starter-turned-reliever Mark Davis in 1989. Never a great starter or lights out reliever, Davis put in one massive season for the Padres that year, leading the NL in saves with 44 and copping Cy Young honors. While he was an All-Star the year previous, too, for saving 28 games, Davis literally came out of nowhere. The Kansas City Royals, in need of a stopper, decided to make him the highest paid player in baseball in 1990, signing him to a four-year, $13 million contract. And, what exactly did the Royals get for all that cash? Diddly, as it would turn out. Davis appeared in 95 total games in three seasons, had seven saves, blew five other opportunities and had a 5.31 ERA.
22. Chicago White Sox – P Jaime Navarro
The crosstown White Sox should have done better due diligence before handing Cubs hurler Jaime Navarro a four-year, $20 million contract in late 1996. Even though he was a workhorse who tossed 236.2 innings and had four complete games with the Cubbies in 1996, he also allowed a major league high 244 hits, including 25 dingers in 35 starts. His overall slash line showed a 15-12 record, less than impressive 3.92 ERA and 158 strikeouts against 72 walks. But, nothing rang the bells for the Chisox, who went ahead with the deal. Unfortunately for them, Navarro’s body of work spiraled downward for three years. His aggregate record was 25-43, with a lofty 6.06 ERA and 81 homers against in 87 starts. Having seen enough, the White Sox were able to trade him back to his roots in Milwaukee.
21. Detroit Tigers – 3B Dean Palmer
Dean Palmer, as a hitter at least, was a bit of an all-or-nothing free swinger. While he did hit a number of homers (275 lifetime), he also struck out 1,332 times in 1,357 career games. In 1998, his second season with the Kansas City Royals, his stat line was a microcosm of his career. An All-Star and Silver Slugger award winner for the first time in his career, Palmer hit .278 with 34 homers, 119 RBI and 134 Ks in 152 games. A free agent at the conclusion of that campaign, he agreed to a lucrative five-year, $35 million pact with Detroit. In his first two seasons, Palmer earned those dollars, swatting 67 homers and driving in 202 runs. However, in the final three years of his contract, injuries limited Palmer to just 87 of a possible 486. That didn’t excuse his paltry production, though, as he contributed just 60 hits in 314 at bats (.191 average), including 11 homers and 46 RBI.
20. Houston Astros – P Woody Williams
Woody Williams was never an overpowering pitcher in his 15-year big league career, but the Houston Astros sure paid him like one in 2006. Prior to the Astros signing Williams to a two-year, $12.5 million deal in late November of that year, Williams owned a fairly pedestrian 124-101 career won-lost mark, with an ERA around 4.00 and a strikeout per nine inning average just over 6.0. He did go 12-5 for the San Diego Padres in 2006, with a 3.65 ERA in 24 starts, but warning signals should have been a third straight season of greater than nine hits per nine innings and 21 homers surrendered. With the ‘Stros, the then 40-year-old Williams stunk the joint out in 2007. He logged a 8-15 record and 5.27 ERA in 31 starts, also giving up a NL high 35 home runs. After a lousy 2008 spring training, Williams was released (he later retired).
19. Los Angeles Angels – OF Gary Matthews Jr.
Just as in music, there have been many “one-hit wonders” in baseball. The son of a former major leaguer, Gary Matthews Jr. was a baseball troubador in his early career, having stints with five different clubs in five seasons before finding stability with the Texas Rangers between 2004 and 2006. His final year with the Rangers was easily his best ever after years of mediocre to middling results. He established career highs in games played (147), hits (194), average (.313), doubles (44), triples (6), homers (19), RBI (79) and OPS (.866). He was an All-Star for the first time and even got some MVP votes — but there were hints of HGH abuse, a huge red flag. The Angels, who obviously were mesmerized by that lone good slash line and his capable outfield defence, thought that a five-year, $50 million contract was warranted. His first year, he didn’t do badly (.252, 18 HR, 72 RBI) but he fell off precipitously in the next two seasons and was out of baseball all together by 2010.
18. Seattle Mariners – INF Chone Figgins
Speedster Chone Figgins was a very good player for eight seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, stealing 280 bases in 936 games and logging a .291 batting average. He was an All-Star in his contract year (sound familiar?) of 2009, establishing a career high in walks (101), while hitting .298 with 42 extra base hits and 54 RBI in 158 games. The rival Seattle Mariners, needing some defence and wheels, signed Figgins to a four-year, $36 million contract in 2010. His first season with the M’s, he wasn’t bad, but nearly every one of offensive numbers took a tumble including his batting average to a career worst .259. In 2011, he had one of the worst offensive seasons ever posted by a starter. In 81 games, he batted just .188 and had a lousy OPS of .484. He was just as bad in 66 games during the 2012 campaign, hitting .181 and stealing just four bases.
17. Texas Rangers – P Chan-Ho Park
Sometimes a change of ball parks can do rotten things to a pitcher’s career. That is exactly what happened to reliable starter Chan-Ho Park when he moved from Dodger Stadium, where he was pretty efficient, to the hitter friendly Ball Park at Arlington. To wit, in nine years with the Dodgers, Park owned a 84-58 record, 3.77 ERA, nine complete games in 181 starts and 1,177 strikeouts in 1,279 innings. Again, in a contract year (2001), Park was a NL All-Star. The Rangers looked at that star turn and threw a five-year, $65 million contract at him, making the veteran one of the highest paid hurlers in baseball. The move did absolutely nothing for him or is new team. In his first season, Park went 9-8 with a 5.75 ERA in 25 starts, his WHIP ballooning from 1.171 with the Dodgers in 2001 to 1.593. Injuries and inconsistency took their tool in the following two seasons (he gave up 22 homers in just 95.2 innings in 2004), precipitating a trade to San Diego in 2005.
16. Oakland Athletics – P Esteban Loaiza
One good season does not an all-timer make. Esteban Loaiza nearly took home the AL Cy Young in 2003 with the Chicago White Sox, his lone shining season in a career marked with rank mediocrity. He went 21-9 that season (after having never won more than 11 games in any one season) with a career best 2.90 ERA and AL high 207 strikeouts in 226.1 innings pitched. In late 2005, the A’s thought Loaiza’s decent 12-7, 3.77 ERA campaign with Washington merited a massive three-year, $21.4 million contract. The A’s obviously ignored the fact that Loaiza was mostly a journeyman who was on his sixth team in 11 seasons who rarely posted more than 10 wins or an ERA below 4.50 in any given year. A dead arm seemed to follow him to the Bay Area and his performance in 2006 was not Cy Young like. He started the year 0-3 and finished it 11-9, with a 4.89 ERA and just 97 strikeouts in 154.2 innings. After an injury plagued start to the ’07 season, he was shipped to the Dodgers.
15. Washington Nationals – C Matt Wieters
Even though he was an All-Star in 2016 with the Baltimore Orioles, Matt Wieters overall numbers, offensively at least, were nothing to write home about. One of the American League’s better defensive catchers, the veteran Wieters threw out 23 of 66 potential base stealers that season (35 percent). At the plate, though, he batted just .243 with 17 homers and 66 RBI. Not bad, but not all that great, either. A free agent at season’s end, the Washington Nationals swooped in with a one-year, $10.5 million contract and a vesting option for 2018. It wasn’t the best of seasons for the ninth-year catcher, as he batted just .225 in 123 games, with 19 homers and 52 RBI. Additionally, NL runners had more success against him, as they stole 57 times in 76 attempts against him for a throw-out average of 25 percent (10 points below 2016’s rate).
14. Miami Marlins – P Edinson Volquez
It certainly is a sign of high times in baseball when a pitcher with a losing record and an ERA north of 5.00 can garner a two-year contract for $22 million. After declining an option to stay with Kansas City — who he won a World Series with in 2015 — Edinson Volquez signed that deal with Miami. He was 10-11 in 34 starts, with a 5.37 ERA for the Royals in 2016. Volquez allowed a career high 23 homers that year and one of his worst WHIP’s as a full-time starter at 1.548. He started very poorly for the Marlins, going 0-7 with a 4.82 ERA in his first nine starts, but rebounded to win four of his next eight (including a no-hitter) before being shelved for the rest of the season due to knee tendinitis. His bad luck continued when he tore his UCL rehabbing the knee, leading to Tommy John Surgery, which may kill his whole 2018 season. Not a great investment, so far.
13. Atlanta Braves – OF B.J. “Melvin” Upton
The baseball player formerly known as “B.J.” seemed to have a gilded path to the major leagues. Drafted second overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2002, Melvin Upton Jr. debuted with the team in 2004 and was full-time by 2007. In eight seasons with the Rays, the speedy Upton batted .255 (OBP .336), stole 232 bases and hit 118 homers with 447 RBI. In his contract year of 2012, he had near All-Star worthy numbers, with a career high 28 homers, 60 total extra base hits, 78 RBI and 31 stolen bases (just six caught stealing). But, a big red flag, that Atlanta subsequently ignored, was a less-than-stellar .298 OBP, which is not near good enough for a lead off hitter. The Braves, thinking they had struck gold, signed Upton for five years and $72 million. Before they dealt him to San Diego after just two seasons, Upton hit a sorry .198 in 267 games, with 32 stolen bases, a .279 OBP and .593 OPS.
12. New York Mets – 1B Bobby Bonilla
Talk about a deal really coming back to haunt a team. Bobby Bonilla last took a swing in anger for the Mets in 1999, five years after his first stint(which began by him signing a five-year, $29 million pact in 1992). Through some good agent work, a lot of his money was deferred, starting on July 1, 2011, when the Mets dropped just under $1.2 million in his bank account. And, they’ll do that same very thing every year until 2035! In two stints with the Mets (1992-95) and 1999, Bonilla did not perform up to expectations and was a me-first teammate who most teams tired of quickly. In 1998, the Mets inexplicably traded for Bonilla, who was still under contract (a big one too) with the Los Angeles Dodgers. But, the former All-Star hit just .160 in 60 games, with four homers and 18 RBI. The Mets, who were cash-strapped at the time, were so desperate to get rid of him that they agreed to defer the remainder of his contract, with the long-retired Bonilla cashing in until he’s 72.
11. Philadelphia Phillies – P Adam Eaton
Sometimes a return home isn’t a good thing. Adam Eaton the pitcher — not to be confused with current major league outfielder Adam Eaton — was drafted 11th overall by Philadelphia in 1996. He was traded to San Diego while still a top minor league prospect and debuted with the Padres in 2000. Eaton pitched six fairly pedestrian seasons with the team, going 47-41 with a 4.34 ERA and 623 strikeouts in 796 innings. In 2006 he went 7-4 in 13 starts for Texas, with a 5.12 ERA. Somehow, the Phillies brain trust (read GM Pat Gillick) thought it would be a good idea to bring him back for the 2007 season, at a cost of three years and $24 million. He would prove to be even more mediocre for a Phillies team that would win a World Series in 2008. In 2007, a playoff year, Eaton was 10-10 in 30 starts with a horrid 6.29 ERA and 1.627 WHIP. The Phils had zero confidence in him, leaving him off their playoff roster two seasons in a row.
10. Chicago Cubs – OF Milton Bradley
One would think, given the same name as a giant board game company, that Milton Bradley would have come up with an alias, a la list-mate Melvin “B.J.” Upton. But, Milton Bradley probably suffered the slings and arrows of teammates and opponents, who gave him the gears about it. Unlike the fun and games promised by Milton Bradley, the baseball version, despite being eminently talented, was an angry and mercurial sort who was often suspended and at odds with teammates, coaches and umpires. In 2008 with Texas, Bradley became one of those “one hit wonders” we talked about earlier. Sure, he had some decent years leading up to that campaign, but with a .321 average, league leading .436 on base percentage and 0.999 OPS, 22 homers and 77 RBI, he was easily an All-Star for the first time in his career. A free agent at season’s end, the Cubs put a three-year, $30 million deal in front of Bradley, who was more than happy to sign. But, in the only year he would play for the Cubs, Bradley was a distraction who didn’t perform to expectations and ended up being suspended for the final two weeks of the season for “negativity.”
9. Milwaukee Brewers – P Eric Gagne
Canadians in major league baseball are still fairly rare. Canadians who do well at the big league level, even more unusual. Montreal native Eric Gagne is part of a collective group of Canucks who had success in the MLB, especially for his monster 2003 season with the Dodgers, when he led the majors in saves with 55 and copped the Cy Young (and a sixth place finish in MVP voting). That great season was sandwiched between two other stellar campaigns, where he save 52 and 45 games for a three-year total of 152. Injuries would limit Gagne to just 16 appearances between 2005 and 2006, but in 2007, he had a renaissance of sorts with Texas and Boston, posting a 4-2 record in 54 games, with 16 saves and 51 strikeouts in 52 innings. The Milwaukee Brewers thought maybe he was all the way back and signed him to a one year, $10 million contract (and despite his name being listed in the Mitchell Report as an alleged HGH user). It would be Gagne’s final season in the bigs, as he blew seven of 17 save opportunities and had a 5.44 ERA. He was labeled by Brewers’ fans as a “10 million dollar mistake.”
8. St. Louis Cardinals – P Brett Cecil
It felt kind of forced that perennial contenders St. Louis threw good money at a left-handed reliever who regressed in 2016. Brett Cecil was awful in his first four seasons in Toronto, mostly as a starter, then became a workhorse in relief, even being named to the AL All-Star team in 2013. After a good campaign in 2105 (63 appearances, 2.48 ERA), he slipped somewhat in 2016, with a 1-7 record, 3.93 ERA and 1.282 WHIP (after logging 0.957 in 2015). The Cards thought nothing of that blip, inking him to a four-year, $30.5 million contract last off-season. While he had a couple of good stretches this past season, he wasn’t the shutdown presence the Cardinals thought they were getting. Opponents hit .397 against him in high leverage situations and lefties beat him up to the tune of .343. Inconsistency was a hallmark of his 2017 campaign. He’s got a couple years to turn it around, but we’re not holding our breath.
7. Pittsburgh Pirates – OF Jeromy Burnitz
In the late 1990s and early ’00s, Jeromy Burnitz was a force for the Milwaukee Brewers, clubbing 165 of his career 315 homers in 782 games over six seasons. He also drove in 525 runs, had a .258 average and admirable .362 on base percentage. After the 2001 season, however, Burnitz became a baseball nomad, playing for four teams in four years. At age 36 with the Chicago Cubs in 2005, Burnitz had a pretty decent year, hitting .258 with 24 homers and 87 RBI in 160 games. That output earned him a one-year, $6.7 million deal to play with Pittsburgh in 2006, with an option for a second year that would put the total to $12 million. It was not to come to fruition, as Burnitz had his worst overall season (playing at least 100 games). He hit .230 (.289 OBP) and chipped in just 16 homers and 49 RBI. Not surprisingly, the Bucs didn’t pick up the option, leading Burnitz to retire.
6. Cincinnati Reds – P Eric Milton
When Cincinnati Reds’ brass sat down at the end of the 2004 season to mull their options in free agency, they must have missed a thing or two in Eric Milton’s slash line. In addition to him leading the Phillies in wins that season with 14, there was the notoriety of his 1999 no-hitter with the Minnesota Twins. But, in bold well down his stat line was the number ’43’, right under ‘home runs allowed.’ That alone should have startled them into a pass, as bringing Milton to hitter friendly Great American Ballpark would be a mistake. But a big mistake they would make, signing the former All-Star to a three-year, $25.5 million contract. In 2005, Milton would lead the NL in homers allowed again, this time with 40 in an identical number of starts, 34. But his record was 8-15, with a crappy 6.47 ERA and 1.551 WHIP. He would last for two more forgettable seasons, missing most of 2007 due to injury.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers – P Jason Schmidt
The Dodgers can be excused for many bad contracts over the years, since they’ve also signed some gems. One of the duds was hard-throwing starter Jason Schmidt, who they inked for three years and $47 million prior to the 2007 season. After parts of seven seasons futzing around the National League with Atlanta and Pittsburgh, Schmidt found his game in San Francisco. From the last part of 2001 to 2006, he went 78-37, with a 3.36 ERA and 1,065 strikeouts in 1,069.2 innings pitched. He led the NL in ERA in 2003 at 2.34 and was an all-star three times. Even with his good numbers, cracks did appear in his slash line between ’05 and ’06, which should have at least given the Dodgers some pause. Those cracks were probably due to wear and tear, which became apparent very quickly. He pitched in all of six games in 2007 due to injuries, going 1-4 with a 6.31 ERA. He missed all of 2008 and then retired after a 2009 season where he made only four starts.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks – P Russ Ortiz
For several pretty good seasons in the early part of the last decade, righthanded starter Russ Ortiz was a bit of an anomaly. He won 99 games between 1999 and 2004 (including 21 in 2003 with Atlanta) but his ERA fluctuated between 3.29 and 5.01 in those seasons. He also led the NL in walks twice, including 102 free passes during his Cy Young worthy 2003 season when he was 21-7. That mixed results trend continued in 2004 with Atlanta but it didn’t deter Arizona from giving him a four-year, $33 million contract before the 2005 season. A very durable starter for six seasons, Ortiz succumbed to various injuries in 2005, which precipitated a sharp decline in his skill. He was 5-11 that first season, with a 6.89 ERA and just 46 strikeouts in 1115 innings. Ortiz was even worse in six starts to open the 2005 season, going 0-5 with a 7.54 ERA. The D-Backs, who’d seen enough, cut him, eating the remaining $22 million on his contract (thought to be the most expensive release ever).
3. Colorado Rockies – P Mike Hampton
The Rockies actually made two blunders prior to the 2001 season, signing soon-to-be pitching duds Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle. Neagle, though, cost less and actually “out-pitched” Hampton, if truth be told. In any case, Colorado saw two former 20-game winners as signing fodder and then tossed a massive eight-year, $121 million contract in front of good pitch, good hit Hampton. The Colorado thin air, though, would be anathema to Hampton, who went 14-13 with a lofty 5.41 ERA and career high 31 homers against in 2001. He did redeem himself by hitting seven homers and driving in 16 runs, but that is beside the point. Hampton was much, much worse in 2002, going 7-15 with a 6.15 ERA and a paltry 74 strikeouts in 178.2 innings. The Rockies unloaded him to Florida at the conclusion of that season as they couldn’t get rid of him fast enough.
2. San Diego Padres – 2B Orlando Hudson
From the time he first donned a Toronto Blue Jays uniform, right up to the time he signed a significant two-year, $11.5 million contract with San Diego in late 2010, Orlando Hudson was a slick-fielding, dependable hitting second baseman. A four-time Gold Glover and two-time All-Star, Hudson recorded a lifetime .273 batting average, with 93 homers and 542 RBI in 1,345 games. He also concluded his career with a lifetime .987 fielding percentage at second base. In stark contrast, though, were the pitiful numbers he put up in San Diego. Hudson managed to play in 154 games before being released early in 2012. He hit .238 and while he fielded well wasn’t the same player he was just a season previous with Minnesota.
1. San Francisco Giants – P Mark Melancon
Mark our words, the San Francisco Giants will regret handing Mark Melancon that four-year, $62 million contract in late 2016. Starting in 2013 with Pittsburgh, Melancon transformed into the NL’s premier closer, recording 147 saves over four seasons. He was tops in that category in 2015 with 51, earning him a second of three All-Star nominations. After a 47-save season in 2016 split between Pittsburgh and Washington, the Giants looked to shore up their bullpen by inking Melancon to that huge pact. Thing was, however, Melancon was already 32 and hard throwers typically start showing wear at that age, just ask Eric Gagne. Before an injury derailed his season, Melancon had saved 11 games, but also blew five opportunities in 32 appearances. Melancon’s WHIP ballooned to 1.433 from 0.897 in 2016, as did his ERA from 1.64 to 4.50.