A third of the Major League Baseball clubs qualify for postseason play. Those on the outside looking in on the playoff race at the start of October can only go back and examine what went wrong during the regular season.
For some teams, it’s not a mystery why their campaigns closed out in September.
The Philadelphia Phillies are one such club. Philadelphia is responsible for three of the players showcased in this list despite the fact that the Phillies finished out the year dead last in the National League East. Only six teams in the league finished with a worse record than Philadelphia’s 73-89 mark.
These are the 10 worst Major League Baseball contracts of 2014.
Values via Spotrac
10. SS Jose Reyes – Toronto Blue Jays: $16 million
One phrase is being associated with the former New York Mets speedster at the start of fall: Salary dump.
Reyes is a 31-year-old playing in the body of a veteran close to the end of his career. Wear and tear from 11 professional seasons has left him with bum hamstrings. Reyes is in the bottom-half of shortstops in terms of defense. He hasn’t hit .300+ since 2011.
Both the New York Yankees and Mets are being linked with Reyes at the start of the offseason. While freeing up the cash would be a positive for the Blue Jays, the club must first be confident in landing a suitable replacement.
9. C Brian McCann – New York Yankees: $17 million
McCann’s first season of his five-year deal has been described as “so-so” by some, and as being a “lost” year by others. To his credit, McCann was a strong defensive catcher who put in good work with the pitching staff.
He was not, of course, signed by the Yankees for what he does behind the plate.
McCann went for a solid 23 home runs and 75 RBI in 2014, but it’s not those numbers that stick out. His batting average, OBP, SLG and OPS were all beneath his career averages for those stats. The 30-year-old isn’t going anywhere, and thus the Yankees will need him to increase his offensive contributions in 2015.
8. 3B David Wright – New York Mets: $20 million
Wright making this list is yet another reminder of what could have been for the Mets from a decade ago. That team had so much promise and so much young talent, and yet it couldn’t even complete a trip to a World Series. Now, as 2015 approaches, those running the Mets have to ask themselves a difficult question regarding the franchise’s most beloved star:
How much longer will this go on?
Wright’s best days are behind him. He has back and shoulder problems. The 31-year-old is a designated hitter who plays in the National League.
The time for Wright to move on may be this winter, even if he and the Mets don’t want to believe that to be true.
7. 1B/DH Joe Mauer – Minnesota Twins: $23 million
It was a rough year all around for the Twins. Minnesota was last in the American League Central with a 70-92 record. Injuries took their toll, and Mauer was just one player on the roster who battled such setbacks.
Manager Ron Gardenhire was shown the door at the end of September.
Mauer’s offensive output was nothing short of disappointing in 2014. His four home runs and his batting average of .276 were both career lows (500 or more ABs). At 31 years old, Maurer will be looking to have a bounce-back campaign next year.
6. SP C.C. Sabathia – New York Yankees: $23 million
Fans and local beat reporters alike used to wonder when he was with the Cleveland Indians when Sabathia would begin to break down. The Cy Young Award winner would routinely show up to spring training at or above 300 pounds. Any athlete carrying so much excess weight for considerable amounts of time will only have so much playing time in him before his body begins to give out.
Perhaps it’s too early to say that time has come, but the signs are there. Sabathia didn’t make it through all of July before requiring season-ending knee surgery. The big man will turn 35 years old next summer.
We shall see how much left Sabathia has in the tank.
5. SP Cole Hamels – Philadelphia Phillies: $23.5 million
It begins for the Phillies, although Hamels cannot be referred to as a bust. His 9-9 record doesn’t leap out at you, but Hamels also had 198 strikeouts and a 2.46 ERA. The 30-year-old’s contract qualifies as being a regrettable deal for the season due to Philadelphia’s overall woes (mentioned later in this piece) and the fact that the club is on the verge of a multi-year rebuilding process.
Hamels probably won’t be around to see it. It’s been rumored that the Phillies have been shopping the pitcher for some time. Don’t at all be surprised if Hamels is wearing Boston Red Sox red in 2015.
4. 1B Mark Teixeira – New York Yankees: $23.125 million
Fans of the Yankees weren’t boisterously celebrating “Teix messages” in 2014. Teixeira did go yard on 22 occasions, but he finished the season with just 62 RBI. His .216 average for the year was roughly 50 points under his career batting average.
A bum wrist was just one ailment Teixeira dealt with during the grueling baseball season. The 11-year veteran who turns 35 years old next spring is well past his prime, and one full offseason of training and recovery isn’t getting his body back to what it once was. The old Yankees used to get away with having so much money tied up on a player not worthy of such a deal.
Those days are gone.
3. 1B Prince Fielder – Texas Rangers: $24 million
Fielder‘s contract isn’t an absolute disaster for the Rangers. Texas acquired the slugger last November in a trade that saw the Detroit Tigers eat $30 million of Fielder’s overall salary. Nevertheless, his numbers combined with his wages lands Fielder a spot on this list.
All of his power stats were down in 2014. Fielder appeared in only 42 regular season games until surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck ended his season in May. Texas went on to win only 67 games.
The Rangers are hoping that Fielder will be 100 percent next spring. The old sports adage, however, teaches that once the neck problems begin, they often don’t go away.
2. 1B: Ryan Howard – Philadelphia Phillies: $25 million
The good Howard stats for 2014: 23 home runs and 95 RBI.
The bad Howard stats for 2014: .223 average (career average is .265), .690 OPS (career OPS is .881), a career-high 190 strikeouts, and an age of 35 years old this coming November.
Howard is part of the problem and not the solution for Philadelphia moving forward. The Phillies are apparently not in denial about that fact, as it’s been reported that the team will be willing to eat a large part of Howard’s $61 million deal to remove him from the roster.
Howard will be linked with the New York Yankees up until he signs with a team; perhaps with the Yanks.
1. SP Cliff Lee – Philadelphia Phillies: $25 million
It hasn’t been a secret that the Phillies have been shopping Lee to potential bidders for the past couple of years. There is plenty of wear and tear on his body and on his arm. The 2008 Cy Young Award winner turned 36 years old this past August. His best days are almost certainly in the past.
Lee’s price may decrease even more this coming winter.
Lee aggravated an elbow injury in the summer of 2014, and he last appeared on July 31. A pitcher with his history, his health concerns and his age is more sell than buy at this stage of his career. There will be a market for Lee, but how much the Phils will fetch for him is anybody’s guess this fall.