Baseball’s Most Immovable Players

July 27, 2009 – 2:19 pm by Ryan Phillips

barry-zito

With all this talk about the baseball’s trading deadline and players who might be changing teams, Buster Olney had an interesting item in his blog today. I’m not the world’s biggest Buster fan, as evidenced by one several posts I’ve done ripping him in the past. But I found this entry interesting. Olney polled several talent evaluators as to which players had the most immovable contracts in baseball (not including Alex Rodriguez, who is obviously in his own stratosphere).

Here are the results in order, starting with the least moveable.

Barry Zito
We all knew this was coming. In December of 2006 the San Francisco Giants signed Barry Zito to what is undoubtedly the worst contract in the history of Major League Baseball. The seven-year, $126 million pact was ridiculous the day it was inked. The Giants gave an average of $18 million a year to a guy who could barely hit 86 mph on the radar gun. Always a good idea.

There’s no way in hell anyone would take Zito off the Giants’ hands. The soft-tossing lefty may be enjoying his best season as a Giant, but that ain’t saying much. He’s currently 6-10 with a 4.68 ERA this year and his WHIP is sitting at 1.37.

Zito is making $18.5 million this season, next year and in 2011, and will make $19 million in 2012 and $20 million in 2013. Then the Giants will certainly pay the $7 million it will take to buy him out in 2014. So the Giants still owe him $76 million for four years, then have to buy him out as well. Awesome.

Vernon Wells
If Zito’s deal is the worst in baseball history, then Wells’ might be the worst for a position player ever. Signed the same month as Zito in December of 2006, Wells inked a similar seven-year, $126 million contract, but his is a marvel of just how incompetent the Toronto Blue Jays’ front office is.

First, the contract gave him a $25.5 million signing bonus. Then, his agent made sure it was backloaded. Wells will make $12.5 million next season, then $23 million, $21 million, $21 million and $21 million from 2011 to 2014. And Wells can opt out after 2011 (something tells me he’s not going to do that). Vernon is currently hitting .258 with 10 home runs, 39 RBI, and a .305 on base percentage, while slugging just .409. And he’s already 30-years-old.

So the Blue Jays owe $98.5 million over the next five years to a mediocre outfielder. Wells’ agent should be given a medal by the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Alfonso Soriano
In November of 2006 the Chicago Cubs agreed to an eight-year, $136 million deal with Alfonso Soriano. What’s with 2006? Was everyone high at all times that winter?

Since arriving in Chicago, Soriano has been decent but certainly not among the best players in the game. He’s been injured often and his hitting lines in 2007 and ’08 (.299, 33 HR, 70 RBI and .280, 29 HR, 75 RBI) weren’t exactly stellar. This year he’s hitting just .253, with 17 HR, 41 RBI, and a .315 OBP, while slugging .445. That’s not even close to worth the $18 million a year he’s making.

He currently has five years left on his deal, and is owed $18 million in each of those seasons. That’s a total of $90 million over the next five years for a 33-year-old who is rapidly deteriorating. Yeah, no way he goes anywhere but Lou Pinella’s doghouse.

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