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The 2019 season is on the horizon, but there are a plethora of overpaid talents in the MLB. Within this segment, we explore who across the league is making more than their actual value.
Arizona Diamondbacks- 1B/3B Jake Lamb (2019 Payroll: $4.8M)
The Arizona Diamondbacks don’t necessarily hold an “overpaid” talent, but for Jake Lamb, it’s important to note that he is coming off season-ending shoulder surgery from August. In a year that limited Lamb to 207 AB, he managed a career-low .222 BA. With Paul Goldschmidt now in St. Louis, Lamb is expected to play first base going into next season, but will struggle during stretches of the new campaign.
Atlanta Braves- SP Julio Teheran (2019 Payroll: $11.9M)
Although Julio Teheran has thrown for 175+ innings in each of the last 6 seasons for the Atlanta Braves, he has not reached his full potential. Through that stretch, Teheran has totaled a record of 66-61, and his career ERA to date sits at a 3.64. Nearing the end of a 6-year deal inked back in 2014, Teheran likely won’t see his club option exercised in 2020 for a total value of $12M.
Baltimore Orioles- 1B Chris Davis (2019 Payroll: $21.1M)
In 2016, the Baltimore Orioles cemented a deal with 1B Chris Davis that is now regarded as one of the worst contracts in MLB history. Currently signed through the 2022 season, Davis is still owed over $84M. In 2018, Davis continued to regress, finishing with 192 SO. That strikeout total marked the 7th consecutive season that Davis has finished in the top six in that respective category.
Boston Red Sox- 2B Dustin Pedroia (2019 Payroll: $15.1M)
An ongoing knee injury limited Dustin Pedroia to 11 AB in 2018, but he is still labeled as the second-highest paid second baseman behind New York Mets’ Robinson Cano. Still owed over $41M on his current contract, Pedroia is expected to return at some point in 2019. In the meantime, utility players in Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez will seek to fill the void.
Cincinnati Reds- 1B Joey Votto (2019 Payroll: $25M)
With 500+ AB in each of the last 4 seasons, Cincinnati Reds Joey Votto is finally starting to show decline at the age of 35. Signed through the 2023 season, Votto saw his BA slip from .320 to .284, and his HR total declined from 36 to 12 in the same period. Although the veteran led the NL with his .417 OBP in 2018, Votto isn’t the same centerpiece he used to be in the past.
Chicago Cubs- OF Jason Heyward (2019 Payroll: $22.5M)
Although the Chicago Cubs have a 2016 World Series memory to keep hold of, most would care to forget about the signing of OF Jason Heyward. His defensive standing has dipped as of late, and his 8 HR were the 2nd-lowest of his career. With $118.5M still left in his current contract (barring opt-outs), Heyward heads into the 2019 season as the 3rd-highest paid outfielder in the game.
Chicago White Sox- SP Ivan Nova (2019 Payroll: $9.2M)
The Chicago White Sox don’t hold a player signed past the 2020 season outside of Tim Anderson, so it’s difficult to pinpoint an “overpaid” talent. In December, the White Sox acquired SP Ivan Nova in exchange for minor-league SP Yordi Rosario and international signing finances, but it won’t do much justice. During his time with the Pirates, Nova held a starting record of 25-25 and an ERA of 4.00.
Cleveland Indians- DH Carlos Santana (2019 Payroll: $20.3M)
In his one year with the Philadelphia Phillies, DH Carlos Santana saw his BA slip to a career-low .229. In his return to the Cleveland Indians, expect for Santana to be a solid re-addition to the lineup. Still, had the 32-year old hit free agency this winter, he would not be worth $20.3M.
Colorado Rockies- OF Ian Desmond (2019 Payroll: $15M)
After signing a 5-year, $70M deal with the Colorado Rockies, Ian Desmond has not lived up to his potential. Among qualified seasons, Desmond put up a career-low amount of hits in 2018, and his .307 OBP was his lowest since 2015. With the plan to play both infield and outfield in 2019, Desmond doesn’t hold a value near $15M.
Detroit Tigers- 1B Miguel Cabrera (2019 Payroll: $30M)
Labeled as a clear Hall of Fame talent, the $30M cap hit in 2019 is only a minimal portion of what the Detroit Tigers owe Miguel Cabrera. Signing an 8-year extension with the Tigers back in 2014, Cabrera was limited to 134 AB in 2018 due to a ruptured left bicep tendon. Dating back to his 2017 campaign, Cabrera totaled a .249 BA, which was a career-low. In addition, Cabrera’s totals in hits (117) and HR (16) that year were his lowest since his rookie campaign in 2003 with the Florida Marlins.
Houston Astros- 1B Yulieski Gurriel (2019 Payroll: $10.4M)
Although Yulieski Gurriel is a solid everyday first baseman for the Houston Astros, his numbers don’t exactly stand out with $10.4M on the line in 2019. In comparison from 2018 to 2017, Gurriel’s numbers in hits, 2B, HR, and OBP all saw a decrease, while he also led the NL in double plays grounded into with 22. Although Gurriel was playing through a bad knee last season, the hope is that consistency is on the horizon.
Kansas City Royals- SP Ian Kennedy (2019 Payroll: $16.5M)
After signing a 5-year, $70M deal with the Kansas City Royals in 2016, Ian Kennedy hasn’t been worth half of what he is valued at in 2019. Since joining the Royals, Kennedy has posted a starting record of 19-33 with a career-low (among qualified season) 105 SO in 2018. While the contract of SP Danny Duffy is equally bad, Kennedy has less of a chance to bounce back in his age 34 season.
Los Angeles Angels- DH Albert Pujols (2019 Payroll: $28M)
Viewed as a Hall of Fame talent, it’s still difficult to justify Albert Pujols’ $28M cap hit in 2019. With the emergence of Shohei Ohtani at the DH position, it’s unclear on how much playing time Pujols will receive. Still, the 39-year old is owed $87M over the next 3 seasons.
Los Angeles Dodgers- RP Kenley Jansen (2019 Payroll: $19.3M)
The contract of Kanley Jansen is fairly new, and he does hold a player option after the 2019 season concludes. The season of 2017 gave Jansen an All-Star nomination, as well as MVP and Cy Young votes, but 2018 was a train wreck of sorts. Jansen allowed a career-high 13 HR in 69 IP, and although he finished with 38 saves, his 5 losses last year account for 38.4% of his career losses through 9 seasons.
Miami Marlins- SP Wei-Yin Chen (2019 Payroll: $20M)
While the Miami Marlins are in the midst of a rebuild, Wei-Yin Chen stands out as the most expensive member of the roster. With a career-high 12 losses in 2018, Chen also allowed 47 BB, which was his highest since his rookie campaign in 2012. Coming into the new year, Chen is owed more than valuable names in Corey Kluber, Chris Sale, and Jacob deGrom.
Milwaukee Brewers- OF Ryan Braun (2019 Payroll: $19M)
Having been part of the Milwaukee Brewers organization since 2007, Ryan Braun has spent the last 2 seasons in the twilight stages of his career. The 2018 season marked a career-low for Braun in both BA (.254) and OBP (.313). For a player that was marked as an All-Star for 5 of the first 6 years of his career, Braun will still look to be a valued member of the Brewers this season.
Minnesota Twins- SP Kyle Gibson (2019 Payroll: $8.1M)
Under a one-year deal, there is essentially no risk to the contract of Kyle Gibson for the Minnesota Twins. However, the numbers don’t lie when it comes to being overpaid. Gibson finished each of the last 5 seasons with 10+ losses, but 2018 happens to be the year he posted a career-low 3.62 ERA. With nearly 1,000 career innings under his belt, it’s difficult to justify paying Gibson $8.1M to lose more than he’ll win in 2019.
New York Mets- OF Yoenis Cespedes (2019 Payroll: $29M)
A notable name in this segment, Yoenis Cespedes is nearing the end of a 4-year, $110M deal signed back in 2017. Since signing his extension, Cespedes has been riddled with injuries that have forced him to miss a combined 205 games over the last 2 seasons. Cespedes enters the 2019 as the second-highest paid outfielder in the game behind Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout.
New York Yankees- OF Jacoby Ellsbury (2019 Payroll: $21.1M)
With over $42M guaranteed over the next two seasons, the New York Yankees have been desperate in finding a trade suitor for Jacoby Ellsbury. Although he stands as a lifetime .284 batter, Ellbury has not taken the field since September 30th of 2017.
Oakland Athletics- RP Joakim Soria (2019 Payroll: $6.5M)
Onto his 8th MLB franchise in 12 seasons, Joakim Soria is currently under a 2-year deal with the Oakland Athletics. With a recent history of spending on unproven relievers, Soria’s best years left him during his reign from 2007-10 with the Kansas City Royals.
Philadelphia Phillies- SP Jake Arrieta (2019 Payroll: $25M)
With an opt-out clause available after the 2019 season, most aren’t aware the Philadelphia Phillies can void Jake Arrieta’s clause by exercising options in 2021 and 2022 at $20M annually. With an ERA of 3.96 in 2018, it seems unlikely that Philadelphia will retain Arrieta for the long-haul.
Pittsburgh Pirates- SP Chris Archer (2019 Payroll: $7.6M)
During his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2018, Chris Archer went 3-3 with a 4.30 ERA. With a career-high 1.375 WHIP last season as well, Archer faces a team option at the end of the season. Pending a turnaround, the 30-year old may be forced to find a new home during free agency.
San Diego Padres- 1B Eric Hosmer (2019 Payroll: $21M)
Cementing an 8-year, $144M deal with the San Diego Padres in 2018, Eric Hosmer finished last year with his lowest BA since 2012 (.253), his lowest OBP since 2014 (.322), and his lowest RBI count since 2014 (69). For a player ranked 6th in terms of salary among first basemen, Hosmer has been underwhelming to date.
San Francisco Giants- SP Jeff Samardzija (2019 Payroll: $19.8M)
Over the last 2 seasons, Jeff Samardzija has totaled a starting record of 10-20. With a disappointing career ERA of 4.17, Samardzija faced a season filled with injuries in 2018. If the 34-year old can return to full health, perhaps he can hold his own this season.
Seattle Mariners- 3B Kyle Seager (2019 Payroll: $19.5M)
Owed nearly $60M over the next 3 seasons, Kyle Seager did not live up to his 7-year, $100M contract last season. The 2018 campaign saw Seager total a career-low in BA (.221) and OBP (.273), and he also posted his lowest SLG since 2011 (.400). Normally viewed as a 25-HR batter, Seager posted under that total (22) for the first time since 2013. Now sidelined until May, Seager’s value continues to spiral downwards.
St. Louis Cardinals- Dexter Fowler (2019 Payroll: $16.5M)
With $49.5M owed to Dexter Fowler over the next 3 seasons, his 289 AB last season were his lowest since his 2008 rookie campaign. With Tyler O’Neill and Jose Martinez eligble to play in right field, it’s entirely possible that the 32-year old may lose his starting gig with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Tampa Bay Rays- OF Kevin Kiermaier (2019 Payroll: $8.1M)
The Tampa Bay Rays don’t mind the contract of Kevin Kiermaier, considering he is one of the more reliable defensive outfielders in today’s game. However, Kiermaier hasn’t seen 400+ AB since the 2015 season, and his OBP of .282 was a career low in 2018.
Texas Rangers- SS Elvis Andrus (2019 Payroll: $15.2M)
Although Elvis Andrus is not considered a power hitter by any means, 2018 saw a clear dip in his offensive statistics. Andrus saw a career-low in BA (.256) and OBP (.308) last season, and after 2019, he holds a player option that could keep him in Texas through the 2022 season.
Toronto Blue Jays- SP Marcus Stroman (2019 Payroll: $7.4M)
Facing arbitration after the 2019 season, Marcus Stroman was held to only 19 games last year. With a career-high 5.54 ERA in 2018, Stroman was better suited in 2017. In his age 27 season, this is a make or break season for Stroman with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Washington Nationals- SP Stephen Strasburg (2019 Payroll: $38.3M)
Ranked as the most expensive player in all of baseball, Stephen Strasburg could potentially accept his player option, eventually paying him $45M in his age 34 season. However, his 3.74 ERA is a career-high, and his 130 IP is his lowest since the 2015 campaign.
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