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10 Really Tough MLB Contracts in 2020

10 Really Tough MLB Contracts in 2020 David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

For most MLB teams the calendar has flipped to 2020, so we'll begin to do the same, starting with a look at 10 contracts that aren't exactly ideal for their respective teams. For most of these players, age and/or injuries have hampered productivity, while a few others (Chris Davis, Wil Myers) simply can't seem to regain their previous greatness.

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 Player2020 Cash SalaryThoughts
David Price (SP, BOS) $32,000,000 After 9 straight years with an ERA below 4, Price’s posted 7 wins, 128 Ks, and a 4.28 ERA in 2019. The 34-year-old is signed at $32M a year thru 2022.
Miguel Cabrera (1B, DET) $30,000,000 The once annual MVP candidate has fallen off mightily over the past three seasons. He finished 2019 with 21 doubles, 12 HRs, 59 RBIs and a .283/.347/.398 split. Good, but certainly not great numbers. The 36-year-old is due $124M over the next 4 seasons ($30M, $30M, $32M, $32M).
Yoenis Cespedes (OF, NYM) $29,500,000 Cespedes has found himself on the Injured List each of the first three years of his 4 year contract in New York (including missing all of 2019). He’s missed a total of 367 games over the past three seasons. While insurance is likely covering a portion of his paychecks from the Mets, it will be interesting to keep an eye on this situation heading into the winter, as the Mets may pursue a rare “void” of his 2020 salary, or a negotiated buyout with the now 34-year-old should they feel he will be unable to play again.
Jordan Zimmerman (SP, DET) $25,000,000 Zimmerman will enter the final year of his $110M contract with Detroit, on the heels of a 1-13 season with a 6.91 ERA. He’s averaging a 5.80 ERA and 0 WAR over the past three seasons, making it difficult for Detroit to swallow another $25M salary next season.
Wil Myers (OF, SD) $20,000,000 Myers appeared to be on an upward path with gradual increase in production over 2016-2018, but his production dipped in 2019. While 22 doubles, 18 HRs, 53 RBIs and a .740 OPS is fine, San Diego will need more now that his contract jumps to $20M for the next 3 years. Myers name will likely be thrown around in trade talks this winter, though it stands to reason the Padres will have to retain some of this salary to get a move done.
Buster Posey (C, SF) $21,400,000 Injuries are inevitable for a productive hitting catcher, and it appears Posey’s at a point of no return in his career. The 32-year-old posted 24 doubles, 7 HRs, 38 RBIs, and a .257 average across 114 games. He’s due $43M over the next two seasons and carries an unlikely club option in 2022.
Wei-Yin Chen (P, MIA) $22,000,000 The Marlins uncharacteristically signed Chen to a 5 year, $80 million free agent contract back in 2016. It’s been a rollercoaster ride ever since, culminating with a move to the bullpen in 2019. Miami will certainly be looking to shop the 34-year-old this winter, likely willing to eat much of his salary in order to move on.
Jacoby Ellsbury (OF, NYY) $21,142,857 The Yankees are one year away from being done with this godforsaken contract. Ellsbury has missed 448 games over the past five seasons, and while he might be healthy enough to return in 2020, will have an impossible time finding a spot in the Yankees saturated outfield. Including a $5M buyout on a 2021 club option, Ellsbury will reel in another $26M over the next 12 months, bringing his career earnings north of $175M.
Chris Davis (1B, BAL) $17,000,000 The Chris Davis experiment hit peak bad in early 2019 after an ugly 0-54 hit streak, and a chorus of boos from Baltimore fans with absolutely no expectations this decade. He’s averaging 10 doubles, 14 HRs, 40 RBIs, and a .170 average over the past two seasons, making the $51M he’s owed through 2022 a disaster of a situation. Baltimore may simply outright release Davis this winter to clear a roster spot, and save both sides from another tumultuous on-field experience.
Johnny Cueto (SP, SF) $21,000,000 Cueto’s been bitten by the injury bug the past two seasons, starting just 13 games since 2017, including just 4 last year. With two years remaining on his deal (plus a club option in 2022), there’s time for a healthy Cueto to turn things around, but for now this contract swings in the direction of a bust. He’s guaranteed $47M through 2022.