Congratulations to Josh Hamilton and his new five year, $125 million contract with the Anaheim Angels. It’s a great payday for a great player. But, let me be the first to point out one thing, money can’t buy happiness.
Just ask Albert Pujols.
During the 2011/2012 offseason, Pujols left a city where he was loved and signed a 10 year, $240 million contract with the Angels. Pujols finished the 2012 campaign with 30 home runs, the lowest total of his 12 year career. After failing to drive in 100 runs for the first time in 2011, Pujols did reach triple digits again in 2012 with 105, but this past season was the third time in his career Pujols did not have at least 116 RBIs.
With all the money the Angels spent in the offseason, Anaheim and its $154 million payroll (fourth highest) couldn’t muster anything better than a third place finish in the American League West. The low budget Oakland A’s and their $55 million payroll (second lowest) won the West.
But hey, at least Pujols got $25 million for his troubles.
Pujols wasn’t the first player to get a huge payday and fail to deliver a championship for his team and he won’t be the last. Looking back, here are a few others.
Coming off a season (2006) in which he became just the fourth player to ever record 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in the same season, Soriano signed an eight year deal with the Chicago Cubs through the 2014 season. Soriano’s contract was for $136 million and contained a no-trade clause.
During the first two years of Soriano’s contract (2007 and 2008), the Cubs made the playoffs.
But since then, they haven’t been close. Soriano hit a combined 62 home runs and stole 38 bases over the first two years, but hit 20, 24, 26 and 32 home runs over the last four years. His stolen base numbers have dropped even more drastically. Soriano hasn’t had double figure stolen bases since 2008. Since the start of the 2009 season, Soriano has stolen just 22 bases.
The worst part about Soriano’s contract, there are still two full seasons remaining on it.
Giambi left the Oakland A’s two years after winning the American League MVP (2000). His payday was a seven year deal with the New York Yankees for $120 million.
After hitting 187 home runs for the A’s over his first seven seasons, Giambi totaled 209 while playing in the Bronx. But, during all that time, Giambi never matched the career numbers in home runs (43) and RBIs (137) he had in Oakland. Of course, Giambi did set a new career high for strikeouts (140 in 2003).
Five times Giambi made the postseason while playing in the Bronx. He finally reached the World Series when the Yankees faced Florida in 2003, but the Yankees lost to the Florida Marlins in six games. Giambi never made it back to the Fall Classic.
Twice Belle signed a contract that made him the highest paid player in the game. The first time was following the 1996 season when he signed with the Chicago White Sox and the second was in following the 1998 season when he signed with the Baltimore Orioles. Belle’s contract with the White Sox had a clause which stipulated he would be one of the three highest paid athletes in the game. When the White Sox choose not to give him a raise, Belle became a free agent and went to the Orioles.
Belle never made it to the postseason with either team.
Brown was a good pitcher. He threw a no-hitter in 1997 against the San Francisco Giants. He went on to win a World Series in ’97 with the Marlins. But following the 1997 season he was traded to the Padres. The Padres made it to the World Series, but lost to the Yankees in a four game sweep.
Following the ’98 season, Brown became the first player in Major League Baseball history to sign a contract for over $100 million when he agreed to a seven year deal with the Dodgers. Brown’s deal also gave him access to the Dodger’s private plane several times a year so he could return home to visit his family.
In five years with the Dodgers, Brown won just 58 games. The Dodgers failed to reach the postseason and Brown was finally traded to the Yankees for the final two years of his deal.