Worst Free-Agent Contracts <br> of the last 10 years
November 13, 2007
1 of 10V.J. Lovero/SI
Juan Gonzalez, Rangers
Juan Gone had spurned an eight-year, $140 million deal to stay in Detroit -- and it cost him. He tried a return to Texas before the '02 season, played in only 152 games in the two years of this deal and dropped into near oblivion after that. The cost of not signing with Detroit: About $100 million.
2 of 10Robert Beck/SI
Darren Dreifort, Dodgers
L.A. rewarded its young (29 at the time) righty with this deal in the winter of 2000 -- despite a 39-45 career record with a 4.28 ERA. Dreifort responded with one full season -- as a reliever, in '04 -- nine wins, 15 losses, one save, a 4.64 ERA, several trips to the DL and an early retirement.
3 of 10AP
Mo Vaughn, Angels
In his first game with the Angels in '99 the slugger tripped into the dugout, and that about says it all. He had a couple good, if not winning, years before an arm injury wiped out his '01 season. He welcomed a trade back East to the Mets before '02, but a chronic knee injury ended his career.
4 of 10Al Tielemans/SI
Albert Belle, Orioles
Belle was an offensive force when he signed with the O's before the '99 season. He was simply offensive in the little time that he spent in Baltimore, arguing with manager Ray Miller and others and refusing to take batting practice with the team. He lasted two pretty good seasons before a hip injury ended his career.
5 of 10Bob Rosato/SI
Kevin Brown, Dodgers
Brown signed the game's first nine-figure deal in '98 ... and was good. Sometimes. His first two seasons went well, he was injured in '01 and '02 and his '03 was great. By the time he was traded to the Yanks, he was done. He lasted two innings in Game 7 of the '04 ALCS and, after 13 starts in '05, he was gone.
6 of 10Chuck Solomon/SI
Carl Pavano, Yankees
The "American Idle" has been often injured (shoulder, back, butt), angered many (notably when he broke two ribs in a car accident and declined to tell anyone) and had his desire to play questioned by teammates. Pavano has made 19 starts with the Yanks -- only two since July of '05. They still owe him $11 million for '08.
7 of 10Damian Strohmeyer/SI
Russ Ortiz, Diamondbacks
When the D'backs finally got tired of Ortiz's sad act and cut him in June of '06, just a year and a half into this contract, they still owed him close to $22 million. That shows you how poorly the righty pitched. His numbers were stunningly bad: In 28 starts he was 5-16 with a 6.99 ERA.
8 of 10John Iacono/SI
Chan Ho Park, Rangers
Park was the catch before the '02 season, but it wasn't long before Texas wanted to throw him back. Never a control pitcher, Park didn't fit well in hitter-friendly Arlington, and when injuries started taking their toll, the Rangers shipped him to San Diego. His totals for the contract: 33-33, 5.86 ERA.
9 of 10Chuck Solomon/SI
Mike Hampton, Rockies
This deal, signed in the wild winter before the '01 season, was doomed from the start. The lefty Hampton was so bad -- 21-28, 5.75 ERA -- that the Rocks paid Florida (and then the Braves) to take him. The Braves still owe Hampton -- who missed all of '06 and '07 -- $15 million for '08.
10 of 10Robert Beck/SI
Denny Neagle, Rockies
Like fellow free-agent bomb Mike Hampton, Neagle was lost in Colorado. He had a 5.57 ERA through the first three years of this deal before surgery knocked him out of the '04 season completely. The Rocks cut him when he was caught, zipper-down, with a $40 prostitute. And they still had to pay millions on the rest of his contract.
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