Originally published September 4, 2014
Every baseball player’s salary seems inflated on a certain level. According to Business Insider, the average Major League Baseball salary of $3.9 million was the third highest among all world sports leagues. Unfortunately for organizations and their fans, the big contracts don’t guarantee big performance.
In the 2014 MLB season, the recurring theme has been injuries, but there are several players healthy enough to take the field who haven’t provided much value for their teams. Here are the seven most overpaid MLB players in 2014 based on contract value vs. performance this season.
Players who lost most or all of the season due to injury (C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee) were exempted from the list, though they may come back next year. Only players who took the field for at least half the season were considered. Rankings were set according to the player’s annual salary in 2014. In many cases, even bigger paydays are ahead in contracts where the money was backloaded, but only salaries for 2014 were considered.
7. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants ($17 million)
No-hitters are worth a lot, and Tim Lincecum pitched the second one of his career in June 2014 against the Padres. Other than a few sparkling outings, Lincecum has had a rough go of it in 2014, a year when he is making $17 million. In 26 starts, Linceum is 10-9 with a 4.64 ERA (-0.5 WAR). Things have gotten so bad that the Giants have moved Lincecum to the bullpen, which makes him a very expensive reliever for the foreseeable future.
If this contract (2 years, $35 million) seems crippling, it’s not bad compared to what could have been for San Francisco. Lincecum actually turned down a five-year, $100 million offer in 2011 that would have taken him through the 2016 season at $20 million per year. All told, the Giants may save $27 million from that odd decision Lincecum made.