I have been trying to figure out which contracts is the worst in baseball. I believe that I have figured it out. I know there will be disagreement and I know some may argue. However, I believe I have my answer. Although I hear he is one of the nicest guys in the game of baseball, I believe that the New York Mets contract signing of Jason Bay is the worst contract in Major League Baseball.
The most untradeable contract was signed on December 29, 2009 and it was for 4 years (2010 – 2013) and for $66 million. There is a club option for 2014, however the contract is picked up automatically if he has 600 at-bats in 2013 or 500 at-bats in 2012 and 2013. This is the worst contract in baseball.
Bay was traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Boston Red Sox on July 31, 2008 as part of a three-team trade. This was the trade in which the Red Sox traded away Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Red Sox gave up Ramirez, Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss and received Bay. In his 1+ years with the Red Sox, Bay played in 200 games, batted .274 with 196 hits, 45 home runs, 156 runs batted in, 142 runs scored, .515 slugging percentage and an on-base plus slugging percentage of .915. In 2009, he was an all-star, placed seventh in the MVP voting and won a Silver Slugger award. He did not make an error in the outfield all season. His salary is 2009 was $7.8 million. He was considered a great asset in Boston and considering he was replacing Manny Ramirez, he was loved.
In that offseason, Bay signed a free-agent contract with the Mets as I indicated above. Since Bay signed with the Mets, they Mets have played 402 games. Bay has played in 240. In 2010, he played in 95 games (out of 162). In 2011, he played in 123 (out of 162). In 2012, he has played in 22 games (out of 78). He has missed 41% of team games since he signed the contract. Bay was injured crashing into a wall making a catch and got a concussion. Bay fractured ribs this season while diving for a batted ball. Are these injuries his fault? No. Injuries from effort are not a player’s “fault”, but they are an indication of the player’s ability to stay on the field. Bay is making $16 million. Any player making $16 million per season should not be missing 40% of his team’s games. Whether it is his fault or not, it is part of my rationale that Bay’s contract is the worst.
Since joining the Mets, Bay has played 240 games. In those games, Bay has 993 plate appearances and 867 official at-bats. He is batting .246 as a member of the New York Mets. He has scored 117 runs, had 213 hits, 41 doubles, 22 home runs and 110 runs batted in. He has walked 107 times and struck out 223 times. His on-base percentage is .330 and his slugging percentage is .385. He has 334 total bases in 240 games.
In 2011 alone, there were 64 Major League Baseball players with at least 240 total bases. There were eleven players with at least 41 doubles. There were 53 players with at least 22 home runs and eight players with at least 10 runs batted in. In one season, many players have matched Bay’s stats for 2 ½ seasons. Most of those players make far less than Jason Bay. More statistics will follow later.
There have been four seasons in which Bay has scored at least 100 runs. He scored over 110 twice. For the Mets he has scored only 117. In 2005, he hit 44 doubles. He has a total of 41 for the Mets. He has three seasons of at least 160 hits, for the Mets just over 200. He has five seasons with more home runs than he has hit for the Mets. He has driven in over 90 runs three times, while driving in just over 100 for the Mets. Obviously, his production is not as strong as it once was.
Maybe part of the problem is the teammates around him. Two of his best years were 2005 and 2006 with the Pirates.
The 2005 Pirates were 67-95. Bay had teammates such as Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez and Matt Lawton. As a team, they hit 139 home runs, Bay hit 32. The team drove in 656 runs, Bay had 101 runs batted in. He walked 95 times and struck out 142. This was a light-hitting team that had a star in Bay.
The 2006 Pirates had the same 67-95 record. Freddy Sanchez won the batting title that season and they had a young slugger named Jose Bautista who hit 16 home runs. Their offense overall was basically the same, however in this season Bay had some help by Sanchez. These are not superstar teams. These were bad teams with a couple of good players.
The years that Bay was with the Red Sox was littered with offensive stars. He had teammates named Ortiz, Youkilis, Pedroia, Varitek, Drew and a few others. No arguments that this was a good offensive team that Bay was part of.
With the Mets, Bay has had teammates such as David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Angel Pagan among others. Bay was brought in to be the centerpiece of the team, but as you can see by his statistics listed above, he has become an offensive burden on a team that is now burdened with financial resources.
Bay has hit 22 home runs since joining the Mets. In 2012, five players have hit at least 22 home runs. In 2010 and 2011, there were 108 players hit at least 22 home runs. Therefore, 113 players have hit as many home runs during a season than Bay has hit in over two seasons with the Mets.
During 2010 and 2011, there were a total of 17 players that have more runs batted in during a single season than Bay has had with the Mets. Twenty-seven men have hit as many doubles during one season that Bay has hit with the Mets. His on-base plus slugging percentage in 2010 was the 91st best OPS in baseball. In 2011, he was not in the top 100.
Bay has a salary in 2012 of approximately $18.125 million. That ranks Bay as the 22nd highest paid baseball player in 2012. There are 11 non-pitchers ahead of Bay in salary.
These players are Alex Rodriguez, Vernon Wells, Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder, Joe Mauer, Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, Carl Crawford, Ryan Howard, Carlos Lee, Alfonso Soriano and Torii Hunter.
Rodriguez has five years left on his contract. He currently has 642 home runs. He is within 115 home runs away from the all-time record for home runs. All of his offensive statistics are better than Bay’s. He was also part of a World Series winner during his current contract. He is a very polarizing player but is still a feared hitter and has a chance to top an all-time record.
Vernon Wells. Yikes. His contract is almost as bad as Bay’s. The one distinction between he and Bay is that he was traded during his current contract. In 2010, Wells hit 25 home runs and 88 runs batted in. His batting average that season was .273. He was traded to the Angels and had a horrible season. So, currently Wells’ contract seems horrible, but he was traded during this contract. The team that signed him got good value in return for the player, even with the expensive contract. Granted, his current team feels trapped in the contract. However, he plays for the Angels and his team can afford a bad contract as it was still able to sign players such as Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.
Mark Teixeira. Mark Teixeira has four more years left on his contract. He is considered one of the best defensive first baseman in all of the Major Leagues. In the past three seasons, he has scored nearly 250 runs, over 80 home runs and driven in almost 250 runs. In the first season in this contract, he was part of a World Series winner.
Prince Fielder. This contract was just signed. Right now, he is considered one of the finest power hitters in the league. However, in this season he has 10 home runs (half of Bay’s three-year total), driven in 40 and scored 34. In this season alone (while batting over .310), he should top Bay’s three-year numbers.
Joe Mauer. This contract, just signed also, has potential to be poor if Mauer’s health does not stay consistent. Mauer is a native son of Minnesota and should be a member of the Twins for his entire career as he is the native son. He is a draw in a new stadium and the centerpiece of his team. However, this season he has finally started to show his old form with a batting average over .300 and averaging more than one hit per game.
Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez led the American League in hits in 2011, the first year of his contract. He scored 108 runs last year alone. He has more home runs, runs batted in and id better than Bay in nearly every offensive statistic, and his has been with the Red Sox for one full season less than Bay. He also batted .338 in 2011. He is four years younger than Bay and has the luxury of DHing at times.
Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera is one of the best hitters in the American League. Yes, he is a defensive liability, but he moved positions to make room for another player on this list. Since signing the contract, he has been a multiple all-star, finished in the top tem of the MVP voting multiple times and have averaged over 30 runs, 100 runs batted in and a batting average of .320 during his current contract.
Carl Crawford. In the end, this contract could potentially end up worse than Bay’s if he does not play. He is another player that is often injured. He is in the second year of his contract and only played 130 games so far. He has not yet played in 2012. He batted .255, where his average in Tampa Bay was .296. He stole only 18 bases, when he averaged around 50 per season with Tampa Bay. His production went down hill and he has shown to be injury prone. His one season in Boston was a decent year by “normal” standards and would be a commodity if he were on the trade market. He has just started his rehab and expects to play this season.
Ryan Howard. This is the first year of the new contract. He is currently hurt. This is incomplete. He was major offensive talent before the injury and is expected to return to form. I expect Howard to be more valuable than Bay.
Carlos Lee. To compare contracts to Bay is not fair as he signed a 1-year contract. He is not having a great year, but once again it is a one-year contract and it is hard to compare a one-year deal versus a multiple year deal. By the way, there is trade talk so this contract cannot be too bad.
Alfonso Soriano. Everyone hates Alfonso. His skills have deteriorated. His has been considered untradeable because of his contract, but overall the numbers are better than Jason Bay’s numbers. With the Cubs, he has averaged about 120 games per season. He averages over 20 home runs per season. He averages almost 70 runs batted in per season. He has a .267 bating average with the Cubs. Do these numbers validate his contract? Not at all. It just validates that his contract was better than Bay’s. The Cubs are looking for an American League team with a need at Designated Hitter to take on Soriano.
Torii Hunter. This is the last year of Torii Hunter’s contract. He is a multiple time All-Star and Golden Glove winner during the contract. With the Angels, he has hit over 20 home runs per season, gets between 80 and 90 runs batted in per year and bats over .270. He scores about 80 runs per season. Except for one season, he played over 150 games each year. His performance was better than Bay’s is.
In March of 2011, Major League Baseball released (for the first time) the top 20 selling jerseys. Jason Bay was not in the Top 20. However, Mauer, Rodriguez, Teixeira and Howard are all on the list. The ability to sell merchandise adds additional value to the player’s team.
In April of 2012, the numbers were released for the 2011 season. Mauer, Gonzalez, Rodriguez and Crawford were all on the list. Bay was not on either list.
In three seasons with the New York Mets, his WAR (Wins Above Replacement Player) is 2.1, an average of 0.7 per season.
Alex Rodriguez – In five years, he is averaging a WAR of almost 5.0 during his current contract.
Vernon Wells – In his fifth year, his WAR averages to 0.8 per season, just above Bay.
Mark Teixeira – In four years as a Yankee, his WAR averages 3.4 per season.
Prince Fielder – His WAR so far in season one of the contract is 1.4.
Joe Mauer – In the two years of this contract, he is averaging 1.2 as his WAR.
Adrian Gonzalez – In two years, he is averaging 3.6 as his WAR.
Miguel Cabrera – 5 years, 22.4 WAR, 5.5 average per season.
Carl Crawford – In one year of his contract, he has a 0.0 rating. Crawford has a chance to overtake Bay as the premise for this article if he does not improve his status.
Ryan Howard – Has not played this season (1st year of contract), but has averaged over 2.0 WAR with the Phillies.
Carlos Lee – So far this season he has a WAR of 0.3, averaged 1.5 in all years with Houston.
Alfonso Soriano – 6 years, 5.4 WAR, 0.9 per season (close to Bay).
Torii Hunter – 5 years, 15.6 WAR, 3.1 WAR per season.
When I discussed my premise with someone, I was told that the reason Bay has not been doing well in New York compared to Pittsburgh is because of CitiField. Therefore I started to look at the park factors. According to Park Factors.com, CitiField produced 91 runs for every 100 runs produced in the average park and 84 home runs for every 100 home runs hit. They rate the park factor as -88. PNC Park in Pittsburgh has a park factor of -94, with 100 runs scored for every 100 runs scored (average) and 88 home runs for every 100 home runs hit. Both stadiums are ranked as “extreme” pitcher’s fields. These rankings cover the past few seasons. This is just an example that the stadiums are not that different. Besides, just because there are less home runs in CitiField, what would be the reason for the lower batting average? In any case, the argument about the stadium factor is invalid.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Jason Bay. I have always liked him as a player and as a person from what I read about him. He does not speak negatively about his team, teammates or management. In fact, he has always been positive, apologetic when hurt and seems to be a good teammate. However, there is just no way around it. The contract signed by Jason Bay with the New York Mets before the 2010 is the worst currently in baseball.