Major League Baseball saw an amazing feat last season, as the Chicago Cubs ended over 100 years of futility to reign atop the baseball world. The Cubs' troubles lasted over a century thanks in part to a series of misguided contracts in attempts to rid themselves of their label as the laughing stocks of Major League Baseball. While the Cubs were able to get rid of their demons, plenty of other teams have struggled to do so. That has led to additional disaster contracts, and for some teams those contracts have buried their chances of competing in the standings. Some teams can afford to take such chances, like the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox. The Yankees and Red Sox are filled with money, and unlike the National Hockey League, baseball does not have a salary cap. With that, teams are free to spend whatever they want to secure the players they want. That leads to plenty of horrific contracts, though the players will never complain about that.
When teams win, the contracts never seem to bother the fans. However, when teams lose, the fans grow outraged at the poor contracts. Teams have trouble identifying who the missing pieces are and who potential disasters are thanks in part to the ability to spend freely without much consequence. Still, there are 15 players that stand out as being the ones that MLB teams really need to get rid of. These contracts are bad and the players are worse, making them disasters for their teams.
15 Jason Heyward - Chicago Cubs
Jason Heyward was signed by the Chicago Cubs to help them win a championship, and he sort of succeeded in that goal. The Cubs won their first World Series since 1908, but Heyward was largely a detractor from their ability to win ballgames, not an added bonus to a championship recipe. Heyward's offensive statistics plummeted to the point he was regularly benched in favor of youngsters and teammates with superior numbers. His defense remained above average, but failed to carry him over the heap of ineffectiveness created by his offense. Cubs fans loathed him as the season went on, but the worst part has not happened yet. Heyward has seven years left on his mega contract with the Cubs. Chicago sure would like a re-do on that one.
14 Jacoby Ellsbury - New York Yankees
Jacoby Ellsbury is everything Jason Heyward is without the championship, and without being benched. The New York Yankees signed Ellsbury away from their rival Boston Red Sox in hopes that he would kickstart the offense by getting on base at the top of the lineup. The Yankees even counted on his home run numbers going up thanks to the short porch in right field. Unfortunately for New York, Ellsbury's greatest achievement thus far in the Big Apple has been his ability to reach base via catchers interference. He has rarely hit home runs, may see himself in the bottom of the lineup this season, and has not even stolen many bases. Only five more years of $21 million per season though. Perhaps only isn't the right word.
13 Albert Pujols - Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim
Albert Pujols will go down as one of the greatest St. Louis Cardinals of all-time, as well as one of the greatest Major League Baseball first basemen in history of the sport. He's a phenomenal player that will be a no doubt Hall of Famer. Yet for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Pujols is more than anything a contract they would like to get rid of. Pujols continues to mash home runs for the Angels, but his on base numbers get progressively worse with each passing season. Additionally, Pujols has found it impossible to stay healthy and impossible to be a consistently solid fielder. He's a career designated hitter at this point, yet makes $26 million or more for each of the next five seasons.
12 Justin Upton - Detroit Tigers
Once it was B.J. (now Melvin) Upton Jr. that was causing his team trouble. Upton Jr. could never fit in anywhere, always being a fan least favorite and struggling to play to his potential. Meanwhile, his brother Justin was always mashing home runs and serving as a fan favorite. However, the roles are reversed now. Melvin Upton Jr. is a fine player, while Justin Upton is an albatross for the Detroit Tigers. Upton did hit plenty of home runs for Detroit last season, but his overall numbers left plenty to be desired. The Tigers find themselves in limbo as well, as they do not appear to be a competitive team for much longer. Upton will be on the team for five more years, though.
11 Matt Kemp - Atlanta Braves
You know a player is bad when his contract has been moved around by three different teams in hopes of not having to pay the deal. Matt Kemp was originally signed to a mega contract extension by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers grew tired of him and his regression, however, so they moved him to the San Diego Padres. The Padres eventually bored of the same concerns the Dodgers originally had, so they moved him to the Atlanta Braves. Now the Braves have an outfielder making over $21 Million for each of the next three seasons despite carrying very little potential at this point in his career. Kemp is only getting worse, but his checks must keep being sent out during the process anyway.
10 Shin-Soo Choo - Texas Rangers
If you have noticed a lot of outfielders thus far in this post, it seems as if teams spend heavily on outfielders only to rue their own decisions. In fact, we were set to include Jayson Werth on this list before realizing his contract is set to expire after the season. Anyway, Shin Soo-Choo is the latest outfielder to join the fray. Choo was signed at the same time as Jacoby Ellsbury, serving as the next best option. Turns out, neither option worked out for either team. Choo earns $20 Million for each of the next two seasons, then $21 million for each of the two seasons after that. All so he can put up poor offensive numbers, and fail to make major contributions.
9 David Wright - New York Mets
We hate to include this one, as it's about a player that really doesn't have control over the fact that his contract is a mess. David Wright is a terrific baseball player when healthy, serving as a consistent positive for the New York Mets. As captain, he even brings leadership and other intangibles to the table that only further his contract being excellent. However, David Wright cannot stay healthy. He is hurt more than he is on the field, and whatever numbers he does put up end up being meaningless because the Mets have their backup playing far more games than him and providing far more value. Wright is under contract for four more years to put Mets fans through the pain of "will he or won't he" play.
8 Ryan Zimmerman - Washington Nationals
In a situation similar to David Wright's, Ryan Zimmerman is a former fan favorite in Washington for the Nationals, but cannot stay healthy. However the word "former" separates him from Wright, as he has also seen his numbers drop tremendously when he is able to take the field. Zimmerman had to move over to first base from third because he couldn't handle the heat of the hot corner on his body anymore. His numbers have dropped, and when he does take the field he is more of a liability than a helper for the reigning NL East champions. Moving forward, Zimmerman has three years left on his deal. The worst part is he makes more in his second and third years than he does in the first.
7 Ian Kennedy - Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals won the World Series, then flew far too close to the sun. In an attempt to find their way back to the grandest stage in Major League Baseball, the Royals signed former Yankee, Diamondback, and Padre Ian Kennedy. Kennedy, a former Cy Young winner, is best known now for his ability to eat innings. That was the case when the Royals signed him, and that is the case now. Unfortunately for the Royals, they signed him to eat innings at the rate of $16.5 Million per year for three years following one year of $13.5 Million. Kennedy is nothing more than an innings eater making a lot of money. The Royals need that money for Eric Hosmer's next contract.
6 Pablo Sandoval - Boston Red Sox
The Pablo Sandoval era in Boston has not gone exactly according to plan. Sandoval struggled thus far in his tenure in Boston, having various odd controversies during his time in Beantown as well. He was once caught using Instagram during a game, and has had his weight talked about more than his (non-existing) offensive contributions. Sandoval is a fan least favorite in Boston, despite Red Sox fans being thrilled when he was stolen away from the San Francisco Giants. It appears Sandoval is putting in the work to return to success in Boston, but with three years remaining of an awful contract, the Red Sox and Sandoval better hope he figures it all out. Otherwise, everyone's in trouble moving forward when it comes to this deal.
5 Phil Hughes - Minnesota Twins
Ian Kennedy was once a member of the highly talked about "Big 3" pitching prospects for the New York Yankees alongside Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. Now Kennedy is an albatross for the Royals, Chamberlain is on a minor league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, and Phil Hughes is #5 on this list. Not exactly what people expected when they were the big 3. Hughes had a solid first year with the Twins, but has suffered from various injuries. Additionally, his numbers have dropped and at this point he is at best an innings eater, and at worst a money eater. If this was a list of the top Twitter accounts he may be #5 as well, but unfortunately for the Twins that's not the focus here.
4 Russell Martin - Toronto Blue Jays
Once upon a time, the New York Yankees had Phil Hughes pitching to Russell Martin, their catcher. Martin was then replaced by Brian McCann, who was eventually moved to the Houston Astros in exchange for a bevy of prospects. Martin plays for the Toronto Blue Jays, where he admittedly puts up fine statistics. However, he is not worth the $20 Million he will be paid each of the next three seasons. As a catcher his value is higher than other positions, but his body is often beat up and his numbers have begun to drop. Overall he is a fine player being paid like a superstar, and he simply is not a superstar. The Blue Jays better hope he helps their pitchers develop, as that's his saving grace.
3 James Shields - Chicago White Sox
James Shields, or "Big Game James" has lost all ability to be an effective starting pitcher in Major League Baseball. For some unknown reason the Chicago White Sox decided to trade for Shields last season, after the San Diego Padres heavily shopped the pitcher. Shields was previously traded to the Padres from the Kansas City Royals, despite the Royals still contending. Now, Shields is struggling to keep his ERA below 5.00, and before joining the White Sox, he gave up a home run to former New York Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon. That's right, Shields gave up a home run to Bartolo Colon in real life. Not a video game. Oh, and he makes $21 Million, $21M, and $16M for the next three seasons. Yikes.
2 Homer Bailey - Cincinnati Reds
Speaking of homers, (get it? like Bartolo Colon's homer?) the Cincinnati Reds are likely ruing the day they signed Homer Bailey to a massive extension. Bailey is not a bad pitcher like James Shields currently is, but he is a #2 or #3 starter at best being paid like an ace. Additionally, he just had Tommy John surgery, so he carries a lot of baggage and plenty of question marks with his name as well. The Reds are in full rebuild mode, yet have this massive contract on their books. No team wants a recently injured pitcher on a mega deal, so he's theirs to keep. Bailey is under contract for at least $17 Million per season each year until 2020. Not the best deal for the Reds.
1 Matt Garza - Milwaukee Brewers
Across the division, the Milwaukee Brewers are counting down the days until Matt Garza's contract expires. It's already been a disastrous few seasons for the Brewers, a stretch that must have felt like an eternity for Brewers fans. Luckily for Brewers fans and the organization, Garza has only two seasons left on his contract. Still, he provides nothing to the organization but trouble, including controversial tweets. He makes over $12 Million for each of the next two seasons, as the Brewers attempt to move in the right direction. Like Homer Bailey, he will not do anything to further what the Brewers are trying to do. Instead, he will take up a roster spot and get in the way of the rebuilding plan. Milwaukee would much rather he pitch elsewhere.