Money Balls: The Most Soul-Sucking Contracts in Baseball

Sure A-Rod’s contact is a travesty, but at least he’s technically on the Yankees. That’s not the case for lots of teams.

Sure A-Rod’s contact is a travesty, but at least he’s technically on the Yankees. That’s not the case for lots of teams.

Jim McIsaac / Getty Image Sport | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

As the New York Mets gathered in Florida for Spring training, their highest paid outfielder was thousands of miles across the country in Arizona, at the Seattle Mariners camp. That’s because the Mets’ highest paid outfielder is Jason Bay, the mega-bust who—despite being paid over $18 million by the good old Metropolitans this season—was waived by the team. That’s right – they’re paying him the rough equivalent of Guinea-Bissau’s GNP NOT to play. Luckily for Mets fans, the team’s second-highest paid outfielder was recently seen walking around the clubhouse. Unfortunately for Mets fans. . . that player was Bobby Bonilla, who hasn’t suited up since 2000. How is that possible? Because the Mets gave Bonilla a deferred contract that year to get lost, freeing up a roster spot, and forgoing the $5.9 million the team owed him. Why would Bonilla sign such a contract? Because the Mets agreed to pay him an annual salary of $1.2 million a year. Every year. From 2011 until 2035! At the time the Mets thought they were making the smart move. After all, the team’s money was invested with a financial wiz named Bernie Madoff whose returns would easily cover the payment to Bonilla. If only.

The Mets aren’t alone, but they are the most glaring example of spending dumb money – or “dead money” as salary paid to players no longer on your team is called, whether through buyouts or just because the team wanted to wipe their hands clean. While Alex Rodriguez’s contract with the Yankees will surely go down as among the worst in baseball history – between his recent rash of injuries and the persistent shadow of PEDS, the Yanks would be glad to see A-Rod walk away, despite paying him almost $30 million a year — at least he’s on the fucking team. Below are some of baseball’s worst Dead Money contracts. Sorry Mets fans.

Baltimore Orioles: Bobby Bonilla (!), $500,000

Boston Red Sox: Josh Beckett, $1.25 million; Carl Crawford, $857,000; Adrian Gonzalez, $857,000

Chicago White Sox: Jake Peavy, $4 million; Brett Myers, $3 million; Kevin Youkilis, $1 million

Cincinnati Reds: Shin-Soo Choo, $3 million; Ryan Madson, $2.5 million; Ryan Ludwick, $500,000

Cleveland Indians: Shin-Soo Choo, $3.5 million; Travis Hafner, $2.75 million

Detroit Tigers: Jacob Turner, $2.35 million

Houston Astros: Wandy Rodriguez, $5 milliom

Kansas City Royals: Ervin Santana, $1 million

Los Angeles Angels: Dan Haren, $3.5 million; Ervin Santana, $1 million

Los Angeles Dodgers: Manny Ramirez, $8.33 million; Andruw Jones, $3.2 million; Hiroki Kuroda, $2 million; Tony Gwynn, Jr., $1.15 million

Miami Marlins: Heath Bell, $4 million

Milwaukee Brewers: Randy Wolf, $1.5 million

New York Mets: Jason Bay, $18.125 million; Bobby Bonilla, $1.2 million

New York Yankees: A.J. Burnett, $8.5 million; Rafael Soriano, $1.5 million

Oakland A’s: Stephen Drew, $1.35 million

Philadelphia Phillies: Placido Polanca, $1 million

San Diego Padres: Jason Bartlett, $1.5 million

San Francisco Giants: Aubrey Huff: $2 million

Seattle Mariners: Chone Figgins, $8.5 million

St. Louis Cardinals: Zack Cox, $1 million

Tampa Bay Rays: Luke Scott, $1 million

Texas Rangers: Michael Young, $10 million

Toronto Blue Jays: Vernon Wells, $3.64 million

Special props to Bobby Bonilla, Shin-Soo Choo, and Ervin Santana for each getting paid by two different teams that they no longer play for. 

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