The contract do-overs of the AL East

Jim McIsaac

Which contracts would the teams of the AL East get rid of if they had the chance? The answers might surprise you. Unless you're expecting Alex Rodriguez.

We continue on in our quest to highlight the worst contracts in every divi...

Yankees - Alex Rodriguez

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on there. We'll get to that, we'll get to that. But first we have to set this whole thing up. See, the question is this: If each team could get rid of one contract, which …

Yankees - Alex Rodriguez

Dammit, we'll get there. Settle down. If each team could get rid of one contract, which one would it be? We looked at the AL West here and the NL East here, and we'll continue with the AL East, where some answers may surprise you.

Yankees - Alex Rodriguez

Call me nuts, but I think if the Yankees could get rid of one contract, it would be that of Alex Rodriguez. See, he makes a lot of money. He's going to make $28 million this year, and $86 million the four years after that. If, during the next four-plus seasons, he hits 13 more homers, he gets an additional $6 million. If he limps his way to 67 more homers -- just 16 a season! -- he'll get another additional $6 million. This is because of a marketing clause in his contract, which was signed before it was clear that he was unmarketable poison. I don't know how many A-Rod jerseys they're selling these days, but it probably isn't a lot.

The weird part is: Rodriguez helped the Yankees win a championship under this deal (warning: John Sterling):


Barry Zito was San Francisco's greatest monster, but once he helped the Giants win the World Series, he got bobbleheads and a few miles of slack. People give him standing ovations for his six-inning, two-run performances now, like that's a big deal. He's in. He's accepted.

But Rodriguez's contract was unquestionably ugly right when the Yankees decided they were going to be more fiscally prudent. Plus the scandals, the obliviousness, and, most importantly, the injuries. It was all incredibly awful timing, and, well, I think the Yankees would get rid of Alex Rodriguez's contract if they had the chance.

Orioles - Brian Roberts

The Orioles used to be a picture of financial inanity, chasing after free agents with great gusto. But that was, like, the '90s, when free agents making $10 million were supposed to bring the ruination of baseball. They haven't been that team for a while, and any of the questionable contracts they did hand out were usually to internally developed players like Brian Roberts.

Right now, Roberts is the only serious mistake on the payroll -- an ignominious distinction he's held for a while. Realize how good he was when the Orioles signed him to that deal. He was older for a second baseman, but what were the Orioles supposed to do? Without the benefit of hindsight, I mean.

You can make an argument that Nick Markakis is overpaid, but as we detailed in our organizational-droughts series, he's been pretty danged good.

Red Sox - Ryan Dempster

A-ha! A surprise! Because from the moment the deal was signed until about two months ago, this spot was reserved for John Lackey. This was basically the John Lackey Memorial Retrospective of Bad Contracts (Feat. Alex Rodriguez). But a funny thing happened on the way to the Fenway: Lackey started pitching well. Really, really well. Like he did before he signed the contract.

Lackey has about $8 million left this year, and there's a club option for $15.25 million after that. And if he gets injured next year? There's a club option at the major-league minimum after that in the event of an injury. Considering how he's pitching now, the 2014 option is going to look pretty tempting. It's hard to believe, but here we are.

And as long as we're basing this sort of thing on small samples, Ryan Dempster looks like a bit of a dud. He was good until he went to the Rangers last year, and that trend has continued. He's 35 now, and the Red Sox owe him about $20 million more. If they could pocket that money and trade a B-prospect for Ricky Nolasco, they'd almost certainly come out ahead.

Blue Jays - Ricky Romero

So depressing. He almost single-handedly ruins the 2005 draft retrospectives. You get all excited about Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen, and Jay Bruce, and there Romero is, staring at you, reminding you of the uncertainty of it all, like someone reading you unemployment rates on graduation day.

The Jays have a lot of funky contracts, though, so it's not an easy decision. Mark Buehrle has a lot of scratch coming to him. Is he going through a rough stretch, or is he declining? Jose Reyes has a tough time staying on the field. One of those things, or something that isn't ever going to get better? There are arguments for all of the above.

But Romero is still due a little over $15 million, and there's just about zero expectation that he'll ever return any of that value. With Reyes and Buehrle, there's at least a chance. A good chance, depending on how optimistic you are. That was the whole point of acquiring them. If the Blue Jays fancy themselves contenders, they'll need high-risk, high-reward players like Buehrle and Reyes. They'll also need the extra money they could get from a sunk cost.

Yankees - Alex Rodriguez

Okay, okay.

Rays - Luke Scott

Of course the Rays don't have any awful contracts. I don't have any out-of-style $1,000 suits, either. I don't have any $1,000 suits. Funny how that works out.

If you're going to nitpick, though, Scott's an obvious candidate. He wasn't good in his last season with the Orioles, but the Rays thought they spotted a bargain. Then he wasn't very good with the Rays last year. Now he's not very good with the Rays this year. He's 35, so if you're looking for a positive sign, you'll have to dig deep.

I don't even know if Scott is due $1.5 million for the rest of the year, though, so this is a real stretch. But who else is there? Evan Longoria? Ben Zobrist? Maybe Yunel Escobar, but he's the kind of player who contributes to a team even when his offense is in the toilet. No, it's Scott, and that would free the Rays to trade for someone like Chris Carter for a plate of flapjacks. It wouldn't be much better. But it would be better.

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