Many baseball fans have sat in awe as the Major League Baseball (MLB) teams make multi-billion dollar splashes, signing some of the most talented names in the sport. But, while these headline-grabbing moves often pay off with Championship seasons, they are not always guaranteed success.
In this blog post, we will be looking at some of the worst player signings in history – moments that seemed to make total sense but resulted in dismal returns for their respective MLB franchises.
From overpaid players to stars past their prime and players who lasted only a single year, each signing was an expensive lesson that cost teams dearly, both financially and on the field. So let’s dive into some of those less-than-glorious contract signings from years gone by!
Todd Van Poppel – Texas Rangers (1991)
Todd Van Poppel was a Free Agent signing by the Texas Rangers in 1991 that ended up being one of the worst MLB player signings of all time. Dubbed “The Next Greg Maddux”, Van Poppel was signed for $1.2 million even though he had only played 16 minor league pitching games coming out of high school and had no Major League experience.
While his 92 mph fastball looked promising, Van Poppel failed to develop an effective changeup or curveball and declared Free Agency after three seasons with the team, having produced only 10 wins – compared to 27 losses – over those three years and leaving the Rangers utterly regretting their investment.
Dave Kingman – New York Mets (1977)
One of the worst signings in the history of Major League Baseball was that of Dave Kingman to the New York Mets in 1977. Kingman had a troubled relationship with the team from his days with the San Francisco Giants, and he ended up clashing with the front office on multiple occasions.
The Mets’ decision to sign him anyway didn’t pay off, as Kingman proved to be more trouble than he was worth. His leadership skills were lacking, and his overall performance was underwhelming. He hit only 18 home runs and batted just .204 during his two seasons with the team, amassed numerous fines for insubordination, and generally caused more harm than good. The failed signing of Dave Kingman set back the Mets for at least four years, costing them millions in both salary and sunk costs.
Eddie Murray – Los Angeles Dodgers (1988)
Eddie Murray joined the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988 after a successful career with the Baltimore Orioles. He signed a 5-year deal for $13 million. While many thought that this signing would bolster the team, it was ultimately a disappointment.
Murray only hit 10 home runs and batted below .250 during his time with the Dodgers, quite a contrast from his stellar career numbers before the move. The contract also saw Murray earn 2X more than the average first baseman’s salary for those days, demonstrating how much money can be wasted on bad signings even when there is the hype behind them.
Though Murray went on to have an excellent career post-Dodgers, his signing proved to be one of the worst in MLB history.
Mike Hampton – Colorado Rockies(2000)
The outrageous eight-year, $121 million contract that Mike Hampton signed with the Colorado Rockies in 2000 was easily one of the worst signings in Major League Baseball (MLB) history. Downfall came quickly for Hampton, as he had three consecutive injury-plagued seasons – culminating in an absolute dud of a 2003 campaign where he posted a disheartening 5.41 ERA and 1.52 WHIP.
While it’s true that Hampton earned his contract and deserved every penny, it’s also undeniable that the Rockies took an enormous risk by signing him to such a major commitment; ultimately, it cost them dearly before they would eventually release him midway through his sixth season. Despite some good moments sprinkled in throughout his stint, little else can be said of the deal in good faith – yet another example of MLB recklessness leading to wasted spending and dashed hopes.
Carl Pavano – New York Yankees (2004)
Carl Pavano holds the distinct title of having signed one of the worst baseball player contracts in MLB history. After having had a successful season with the Florida Marlins in 2004, he was enticed to join the New York Yankees on a substantial 4-year deal worth almost $40 million.
Unfortunately, he ended up playing a scant total of 26 games over the entire four years duration due to multiple injuries and personal issues. His biggest performance came from all his infractions outside of the game – such as parking tickets and lawsuits – enough for legendary Yankees manager Joe Torre, as well as fans alike, to dub him “American Idle” for taking intentional timeouts every time he sensed trouble brewing near the ballpark. Despite his high salary, it’s safe to say that this big free agency signing by the pinstripes didn’t turn out to be money well spent.
Mo Vaughn – Anaheim Angels (1999)
Mo Vaughn, also known as “Hit Dog,” signed with the Anaheim Angels during the 1999 season. Considered one of the worst signings in MLB history, Mo Vaughn had produced a promising career in his previous decade with the Boston Red Sox, but once he signed on to play for the Angels, he was unable to perform at the same level.
In two years, Mo racked up only 20 home runs and 104 RBIs, numbers which were well below his expectations. This signing proved to be an expensive flop for the team, who could not enjoy a worthwhile return on their investment and ultimately lost out due to Vaughn’s inability to continue his prior success at such high levels of performance.
All in all, these terrible MLB players’ signings only tell one part of the story. Countless other bad investments have been made through the years, but they are just not as memorable and impactful as the ones mentioned above.
The mistake of investing in such talent highlights how important it is for each franchise to make wise decisions in every single deal that is done, especially when it involves giving large sums of money to pursuing players.
Ultimately, MLB teams still have many risks to consider when it comes to investing in player talent. Nonetheless, fans across the league continue to follow the news and check for upcoming trades with great fervor. As a final parting thought, let us remember that proper MLB wagers are key if you are looking to properly engage with MLB betting.