The days of July and August are some of the best days of the year for baseball fans. The weather is hot, the hot dogs are grilling, and the contenders show their true colors in pennant chases for the ages. However, for fans of teams that are no where close to contending for October; they look forward to the off-season. Much speculation has been made about the upcoming free agency classes in the next few seasons. Jose Altuve is expected to be a free agent after this season. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado headline a star studded class the following off-season. These are guys that most teams and fan bases would be ecstatic about having. Unfortunately, there are also the signings that make everyone say, “What the heck is this team thinking signing this guy?”
Bad signings happen all the time. Whether it is a career ending injury that makes it bad, or not getting along with the community they are in, or some other outstanding reason, they are bound to happen. This list takes a look at some of the more recent signings that are head scratchers and brain busters. These players were fortunate enough to receive a contract, but definitely have not earned their keep since signing their name on the dotted line of their new deals. These are signings that fans and team owners would probably take back if they could go back in time. But unfortunately they cannot, and now they have to relive these mistakes with the list of the top 15 recent MLB signings that already look terrible.
15. Joaquin Benoit (Phillies: One year, $7.5 Million)
The first bad signing on this coveted list goes to a closer who had many successful seasons with the Detroit Tigers in the past. However, at this stage of his career; it is mind-boggling that he got the money he signed for. Joaquin Benoit signed a free agent deal in the 2016-17 offseason with the Philadelphia Phillies for one year and $7.5 million. To most, this seems like a bargain. But the fact that Benoit is going into his age 40 season made this signing really questionable.
To make matters worse, the Phillies traded Benoit to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the 2017 trade deadline. Benoit’s statistics definitely didn’t help his case for the money he signed for either. He was 1-4 with a 4.07 ERA along with three blown saves. With the closer aging and being dealt away after half of a season, this is one signing the Phillies probably wish they had a redo on.
14. Jeremy Hellickson (Phillies: One Year, $17.2 Million)
The Phillies are years away from making any type of postseason noise again with a solid farm system in place. That didn’t stop the Phillies from making veteran signings. Like Benoit, the Phillies added another pitcher in the 2016 off-season. Jeremy Hellickson re-signed with the Phillies on a one year, 17.2 million dollar deal. This signing was bad for a few reasons. First of all, the Phillies traded for Clay Buchholz in the off-season. Not that Buchholz is a legitimate ace by any means, but a fresh start in the National League could have been exactly what he needed had he not gotten hurt. Secondly, they traded Hellickson as well to the Baltimore Orioles at the deadline. Lastly, he didn’t live up to expectations with a 6-5 record and 4.73 ERA. Whatever it is the Phillies are doing clearly isn’t working because those are two pitchers you have signed and let go of at the deadline.
13. Bartolo Colon (Braves: One Year, $12.5 Million)
There is nothing small or soft about this next bad signing. He has been terrorizing hitters for over two decades now, but it seems like the Braves might have made a mistake signing him. Bartolo Colon aka “Big Sexy” seemed to have a rebirth while pitching for the Mets. The Braves saw this potential resurgence as he signed a one year, $12.5 million deal with them. The deal turned out to be costly as Colon had a 2-8 record along with a 8.14 ERA in his short time with the Braves. He was released in early July and picked up by the Minnesota Twins on a minor league contract. He was called up two weeks later and is now pitching at the big league level for the Twins. Everybody loves “Big Sexy”, but the Braves are probably weary of him as they realize now he was a bad signing for all parties involved.
12. Carlos Beltran (Astros: One Year, $16 Million)
This next bad signing was brought in based on his veteran leadership and proven postseason record. If you ask any Astros fan, this man has not lived up to the hype. Carlos Beltran is entering his age 40 season, but the Astros are paying him like he is in his age 30 season. The Astros signed Beltran to a one year, 16 million dollar deal. The one thing you can say about Beltran is his postseason statistics are good, particularly from the 2004 National League playoffs where he hit eight home runs and had 14 RBIs. That being said, father time might be catching up to Beltran. He is hitting .244 with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs.
Beltran is a much better hitter than he is showing, he should be in the .280 category for hitting which is what the Astros were probably hoping for. But unfortunately, Houston will not be relying on Beltran as a big part of their 2017 playoff run; which makes him considered a bad signing for them.
11. Marco Estrada (Blue Jays: Two Years, $26 Million)
The Toronto Blue Jays are one of these American League teams that have a good slugging lineup with adequate at best pitching. This guy was brought in to be one of the main consistencies in a struggling Blue Jays rotation. Marco Estrada signed in the 2015 off-season with the Blue Jays for two years and 26 million dollars. His 2016 was very average as he finished with a 9-9 record and a 3.48 ERA. The Blue Jays made it to the ALCS in 2016 but it wasn’t because of an impressive season by Estrada. 2017 has proven to be worse as Estrada has declined. So far, he is 4-7 with a 5.12 ERA and the Blue Jays are in the basement of the AL East.
The Blue Jays are not going anywhere in 2017 and should have sold Estrada at the deadline. Hopefully, Estrada signs elsewhere during the offseason and the Blue Jays can get over just how bad of a signing he has been.
10. Wei-Yin Chen (Marlins: Five Years, $80 Million)
Miami is known for its beaches, warmth, and outrageous events that go on. The Marlins are known for their franchise big hitting right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. They also had a young rising superstar in pitcher Jose Fernandez (RIP) so they were looking to bolster their rotation with a solid left-handed pitcher. They thought they found their man with Wei-Yin Chen. Chen pitched in 2015 with the Baltimore Orioles going 11-8 with a 3.34 ERA, not exactly numbers that stand out. The Marlins signed Chen later that offseason to a five year, $80 million deal. So far, Chen has not pitched anywhere close to the amount of money he is getting per year.
In 2016, he was 5-5 with a 4.96 ERA and this season he is only 2-1 with a 4.33 ERA. For earning $16 million per year, you better be earning 13-17 wins per season and helping a young team like the Marlins get into a pennant chase. Chen can cash in his checks while the Marlins can sit and try to figure out what went wrong.
9. Sean Rodriguez (Braves: Two Years, $11 Million)
There’s crazy, there’s insane, and then there is Sean Rodriguez. People might remember Rodriguez from his Pittsburgh days when he was seen smashing a Gatorade cooler with his bat. People would guess it was in him to do that. All kidding aside, Rodriguez was signed by the Braves this past off-season for two years and $11 million. The Braves thought they were adding depth to their lineup and Rodriguez was getting some good money, everybody wins right? Wrong! Rodriguez’s time with Atlanta was brief as he was traded back to the Pirates on August 5th, 2017. With the Braves, Rodriguez was hitting an abysmal .162 average.
For most organizations, it would have been enough to be sent down to Triple A or even released. The funniest part is his first game back with the Pirates, Rodriguez hit a walk-off homer. Rodriguez can be reunited with his Pittsburgh teammates the Braves can go back to the drawing board for offseason signings that won’t end up like Sean Rodriguez.
8. Scott Kazmir (Dodgers: Three Years, $48 Million)
Anybody remember the magical run the Tampa Bay Rays made to the World Series back in 2008? That would not have been possible without the number eight guy on the bad signings list. Scott Kazmir was the ace for that Rays staff. After his time with the Rays, he spent time with the Angels, Indians, Athletics, and Astros. It seemed like he finally was going to return into a dominant left-handed pitcher when he signed with the Dodgers in 2015 to a three year, $48 million deal. His time in L.A. with the Dodgers has not been horrific, he is 10-6 with a 4.56 ERA. However, for earning $16 million a year; a pitcher has to have a better ERA than the one Kazmir has posted. He also has a significant injury history, particularly with his elbow.
Those factors alone would make a lot of teams shy away from signing him. The Dodgers took the chance and if he can return to any sort of his old form, then he could be valuable out of the bullpen come postseason time. Until then, the Dodgers can consider this a bad signing.
7. Alex Gordon (Royals: Four Years, $72 Million)
The Kansas City Royals will be in the toughest situation come the 2017 offseason. A lot of the members of the 2015 World Series team will be unrestricted free agents and will surely move on from Kansas City. One player management probably now wishes moved on when he had the chance was Alex Gordon. Gordon resigned with the Royals on a four year, $72 million deal in 2015. He was a three-time all star leading up to the new contract, so it was probably rightfully earned at the time. But since then, Gordon has not played anywhere close to where an $18 million per year player should. In 2016, he hit .220 with 17 home runs and 40 RBIs. 2017 has proven to only be worse for the outfielder. He is currently hitting .196 with five home runs and 34 RBIs.
It seems like Gordon’s good days are behind him. When guys like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas leave to pursue bigger contracts, Royals management will probably regret this bad signing and wish they had that money to keep one of, if not both, players around for the long-term.
6. Jered Weaver (Padres: One Year, $3 Million)
The San Diego Padres have been trying to get their franchise to a point where they can compete with the likes of the Diamondbacks and Dodgers in the NL West. They have brought in significant names such as James Shields and Wil Myers to try to raise the win totals in San Diego. This one signing they made in the 2016 offseason is one people surely won’t understand for a long time. Jered Weaver is a three time All-Star, but definitely is past his dominant days with the Angels. The Padres decided to sign Weaver to a one year, $3 million deal. The money on paper isn’t exactly breaking the bank open, but it is enough to raise some eyebrows. Weaver with the Padres is currently 0-5 with a 7.44 ERA. This is also coming in the National League where the pitchers are hitting and most of the time considered automatic outs.
Weaver cannot throw his fastball past 87 miles per hour if he is lucky and doesn’t have the breaking stuff he had during his shining years with the Angels. Padres management will have to break the bank this offseason if they want to not have a bad signing like Jered Weaver.
5. Mike Leake (Cardinals: Five Years, $80 Million)
The Cardinals have been known for their standout pitching in a competitive NL Central division. Big names such as Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, and others have come through and made a name for themselves among Cardinal greats. Unfortunately for this guy, it hasn’t been such a smooth transition. Mike Leake came over from the San Francisco Giants to sign with the Cardinals during the 2015 offseason. He signed for five years and $80 million, so high expectations were made for Leake to be a front end of the rotation type of pitcher. He certainly hasn’t gotten that message.
In 2016, he was 9-12 with a 4.69 ERA in his debut season with the Cardinals. 2017 is not going much better as he is 7-10, but does have a better ERA at 3.48. It is very simple for the Cardinals going forward. If they want to contend with the Cubs, they need Mike Leake to pitch like his contract expects him to. If he doesn’t, he stays on this list as the number five worst recent signing.
4. Rusney Castillo (Red Sox: Seven Years, $72.5 Million)
If you are a Red Sox fan, get comfortable because these next few names that you see will make you instantly want to throw up. The number four guy on this list is getting $10.5 million per season to take long bus rides with the Pawtucket Red Sox. Rusney Castillo signed in August of 2014 with the Red Sox on a seven year, $72.5 million deal. At the time, Red Sox fans probably didn’t know about how good the young trio of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Andrew Benintendi were going to be. But now, it just looks silly. Castillo has not yet spent a full season with the Red Sox, but has made several appearances at the big league level in spurts.
Now if the three outfielders end up staying long term with the Red Sox, this is one move ownership will shake their head at and hope some rebuilding franchise will take Castillo off their hands. The worst part is this is not even close to the Red Sox worst signing.
3. Chris Carter (Yankees: One Year, $3 Million)
Before we examine more bad moves by the Red Sox, lets show their arch-rivals in New York a little bit of bad signing love and respect. The Yankees came into 2017 thinking this would be a year of rebuilding and getting their youth players experience. With names like Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier and others; the Yankees future looks extremely bright. However, there was one veteran signing they probably could have done without. Chris Carter has made a reputation for himself as a heavy strikeout player who can hit a lot of homers if he gets his bat on it. The Yankees decided to sign him to a one year, $3 million deal this past offseason to help with some power numbers. Carter responded to his contract by hitting .201 with 8 homers and 26 RBIs and being a defensive liability at 1st base.
In July, the Yankees released him and now Carter is a member of the Oakland Athletics on a minor league deal. Carter is this high because it is the Yankees, known for their rich history and outrageous spending habits. This won’t affect them in the long-run, but still outstandingly bad enough to be considered a horrible deal.
2. David Price (Red Sox: Seven Years, $231 Million)
Red Sox fans don’t even want to get started with the number two guy on this list. David Price was one of the most highly coveted free agents coming into the 2015 offseason. The Red Sox were coming off a season where they had no true ace of the staff. Price signed with the Red Sox for seven years and $231 million. It seemed like a match made in heaven. Price had 17 wins, but his ERA was high at 3.99. Then there were the reports in Spring Training of his pitching elbow which delayed the start of his season. Then there have been the run-ins with media members and Red Sox personnel, most recently broadcaster and Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley.
It seems as though Boston has had enough of Price already. The one thing Sox fans can pray for is if Price opts out of his contract and goes elsewhere. If it is all about money, Price will stay put in Boston. Could Price turn things around in Boston? Yes. But he has to prove it on the mound, otherwise he will be considered one of the biggest busts in Red Sox history.
1. Pablo Sandoval (Red Sox: Five Years, $95 Million)
Here it is! The number one biggest flop of a signing that has come around in the past few years. Pablo Sandoval signed with the Red Sox in 2015 for five years and $95 million. Fans thought it could be a good fit given his postseason success he had with the Giants. Wow was this guy a disappointment! In 2015, he hit .245 with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs in his only complete season with Boston. In 2016, he was out for the season with a shoulder injury. In 2017, it seemed like things might turn around for Sandoval. Wrong again! He hit .212 with four home runs and 17 RBI’s with the Red Sox in half of the 2017 season. He was eventually released and crawled back to San Francisco on a minor league deal. He was called up a few days later.
This guy was getting paid $19 million a year and he felt complacent and didn’t have to do anything. He couldn’t handle Boston and Boston was anxious to see him go. Pablo Sandoval will always be the worst signing in Red Sox history and takes the top spot here (or bottom spot?).
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