June 17, 2018 / 8:12 PM / 5 months ago

Take 5: Cabrera, Davis and the worst contracts in baseball

With one swing of the bat, the Detroit Tigers got a reminder last week that the real hard times have yet to come.

Jun 10, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) makes a catch of a pop up hit by Cleveland Indians designated hitter Michael Brantley (not pictured) in the third inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Star first baseman Miguel Cabrera ruptured a tendon in his left biceps on a swing-and-miss against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, requiring season-ending surgery. The injury — which came two weeks after Cabrera missed nearly a month with a right hamstring strain — derailed what looked like it could be a bounceback season for Cabrera, who was hitting .299 with 22 RBIs after finishing last season with a .249 average and 60 RBIs.

It’s also a reminder of the rough situation the Tigers find themselves in with Cabrera, who turned 35 in April. The team paid $30 million for his 38 games this season and will continue to pay him that salary yearly until owing him $32 million in his age 39 and 40 seasons.

What looked like a questionable deal at the time, even with Cabrera coming off back-to-back American League MVPs when he signed the eight-year, $248 million extension in March 2014, is now one the sport’s biggest albatross contracts. But the Tigers are not alone in paying big money to players who aren’t worth it. Here are five other clubs who find themselves in the same situation with former stars.

5. Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles. A look at the last week for Davis tells you all you need to know here. The Orioles have mercifully benched the slugger for five straight games after he hit .150 with 86 strikeouts in his first 207 at-bats. Davis, 32, is making $17 million in base salary this season and will continue to earn that annual salary through 2022, after which he’ll earn $42 million in deferred money paid without interest until 2037. If things are this bad now for Davis at the plate now, how much worse can it get? And will the Orioles even allow it to get there.

4. David Price, Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox are no strangers to bad contracts, paying Pablo Sandoval north of $18 million to play for the San Francisco Giants this year alone and owing Hanley Ramirez roughly $15 million after releasing him earlier this season. But the Price deal has the potential to be the worst of all, provided he doesn’t opt out at the end of this season. Price’s time in Boston has been marked by numerous off-field issues, including a bout with carpal tunnel syndrome this year, but he has a 3.76 ERA in 14 starts. Price, 32, is making $30 million this season and stands to make $127 million over the next four years if he doesn’t opt out. But he’s seemingly disliked Boston so much that the team might catch a break if he continues to pitch well enough.

3. David Wright, New York Mets. Remember David Wright? We wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t, seeing as he’s played 75 games total the past four seasons. And yet, the Mets are paying him $20 million this season and will send $27 million his way between the next two years before his eight-year, $138 million deal expires. Fortunately for the Mets, they are said to be recouping 75 percent of Wright’s salary via insurance as long as he doesn’t appear in the majors, which doesn’t seem likely as the 35-year-old recovers from September shoulder surgery and October back surgery. But this certainly wasn’t what New York was hoping for when it committed to the franchise cornerstone.

2. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners. Cano’s 80-game drug suspension isn’t just a one-year problem for the Mariners. While Cano will lose more than $11 million in salary during his suspension, the team is still on the hook for $120 million owed his way over the next five seasons. Not to mention, Cano has a full no-trade clause, meaning he won’t be easy to get rid of even if other teams are interested. There’s no telling what kind of player Cano will be when he returns — he might not even be the starter at second base anymore — but it’s safe to say the 35-year-old’s All-Star best days are behind him.

1. Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels. Pujols is still a power presence in the middle of the Angels’ order, but it isn’t enough to justify the insane amount of money the Angels are paying him. Pujols, who is owed $87 million over the next three years, is coming off a season in which he posted the lowest Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in the majors at minus-1.9. His WAR is closer to zero this year, as he entered Sunday hitting .285 with 10 home runs and 37 RBIs, but the 38-year-old continues to be a drain on a Los Angeles team wasting the talent of Mike Trout.

—By Kyle Brasseur, Field Level Media

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