MLB's worst contracts: Pitchers

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

John Danks tops our list of overpaid starting pitchers.
John Danks tops our list of overpaid starting pitchers. (USATSI)

MORE: FA tracker: position players | FA tracker: pitchers

We've seen a few signings, but most of the free agency deals this offseason are still to come. Thus, this is a good time to go through some of the worst deals in MLB, as things presently stand. We'll do so in a series of posts on the matter this week, starting with pitchers on this fine Monday.

Before we dive in, a quick word on "bad contracts." This is all relative because most MLB teams make obscene profits these days. I'd be willing to say that only a small handful of deals are actually bad for business, overall, and the rest could be justified. And, frankly, I'd rather the players get the money than the owners.

That being said, if a contract finds itself on our list, the rationale is that the money could have been better spent elsewhere.

Also, in this series, we're only talking about what is remaining on the contract, not the full deal.

Without further ado, let's get to the pitchers.

Starting pitchers

Worst: John Danks, White Sox
Remaining contract: Three years, $47.5 million

Danks turns 29 next April and has been in the majors since 2007, so it seems rather unlikely he'd all of a sudden find a different gear and round into form as a stud. In the past three years -- which, yes, have involved injury -- he's 15-30 with a 4.69 ERA (92 OPS+) and 1.34 WHIP. He doesn't miss bats and allows far too many home runs. And he'll make over $15 million in each of the next three seasons.

Runner-up: Edwin Jackson
Remaining contract: Three years, $39 million

There have been some good years (2009) and good stretches (like for the White Sox in 2010), but overall Jackson has been a below average pitcher. He was 8-18 with a 4.98 ERA (79 ERA+) and 1.46 WHIP last season, posting a negative WAR. He's 30 now and has three years of making $13 million left before hitting free agency again.

Honorable mention

Jackson was a tough call over CC Sabathia, who has three years and $71 million left on his deal. Ultimately I decided to give Sabathia a pass for his terrible 2013 season, but he's a distinct possibility to be an albatross of a contract moving forward.

Josh Beckett's $17 million due for next season look pretty awful, too, considering his health concerns and the fact that he's been pretty bad since 2011. Since it's just one year, though, he's below Danks and Jackson.

Mark Buehrle (two years, $39M), R.A. Dickey (two years, $24M), Joe Blanton (1 year, $7.5M), Jaime Garcia (two years, $17.25M) and Tim Lincecum (two years, $35M) were also considered.

Keep an eye on Justin Verlander (six years, $160M) and Matt Cain (four years, $83.3M), too, as they're coming off down years. For now, though, I'm not prepared to call those deals bad.

Relief pitchers

Worst: Brandon League
Remaining contract: Two years, $17 million

He couldn't hack it as closer and won't be returning to the role, either. The numbers last season are real ugly, too: 5.30 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 69 hits allowed in 54 1/3 innings with only 28 strikeouts. He also allowed half of his inherited runners to score.

Runner-up: Heath Bell
Remaining contract: One year, $10 million

He's now 36 and keeps getting save opportunities because of the "proven closer" nonsense. Seriously, in the past two seasons, Bell has 21 saves and 15 blown saves with a 4.59 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. I'd give a minor leaguer a chance at closing before Bell. And he's set to make eight figures again next year.

Honorable mention

I'm not a fan at all of Jonathan Papelbon's deal, which has two years and $26 million left, but that's more philosophical than an attack on his performance. Jonathan Broxton's two years and $16 million left don't look great either.


Tuesday: Catchers/middle infielders
Wednesday: Corner infielders/DHs
Thursday: Outfielders

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