The Tampa Bay Rays are fortunate as they own arguably two of the best contracts in baseball in Evan Longoria and Matt Moore. As Jeff Passan of Yahoo! said earlier this month, the Rays will control the best contract in baseball for a span of 12 baseball seasons. Unfortunately, not all contracts have been that incredible for this franchise as there have been several contracts that make you cringe in hindsight.
Since today is a day where many unfortunate souls are flocking to stores returning gifts, here are ten contracts that, in hindsight, should have been returned to the store in which they were purchased from. You will not find trades on this list so Vinny Castilla or Kevin Stocker are excluded from further ridicule. All dollars are adjusted to 2011 figures using the Inflation Calculator and Dollartimes.com
- Roberto Herandez: (Then $16,180,000; now $22,360,127). Hernandez was worth 5.5 WAR over three seasons with the Devil Rays - one in which the team gave up a first round draft pick to sign a closer for a last place team. The Giants exercised that pick to take Arturo McDowell who never made the major leagues but Adam Dunn went 21 picks later to Cincinnati.
- Greg Vaughn: (Then $34,000,000; now $45,467,273). The good old Hit Show. Vaughn was worth just 4.3 wins over his three seasons here and got worse each of those three seasons. Only his contract justified giving him 297 plate appearances in 2002 when his slash line was .163/.286/.315.
- Wilson Alvarez: (Then $35,000,000; now $38,368,632): He missed two seasons with arm troubles and earned just 3.8 wins over his five seasons with the team. To make matters worse, he too was a Type A free agent so the Devil Rays had to give up their two top draft choices to sign Hernandez and Alvarez. The Giants used the second pick from Tampa Bay to select Chris Magruder who never amounted to anything at the major league level but missed out on the chance to talk Barry Zito out of staying in school ten picks later.
- Gerald Williams: (Then $5,750,000; now $7,689,318): Ice had two memorable moments with the Devil Rays; his fight with Pedro Martinez and being named team MVP after hitting 52 extra base hits and driving in 89 runs in his first season with the team. Unfortunately, he followed that up with a .207/.261/.332 line in 252 plate appearances before his release 0.6 wins later.
- Dewon Brazelton: (Then $4,800,000; now $6,046,317): The ultimate cost-saving pick gave the Devil Rays 253 innings of work and actually cost the team 2.9 wins with his putrid production. He walked more batters than he struck out in his time here and allowed more home runs (36) than he had decisions (31) in his time here. Remember, this was the opening day starting pitcher for the team in 2005.
- Pat Burrell: (Then, $16,000,000; now $16,681,241): When this deal was originally signed, people LOVED this move. Burrell is some of the best proof there is that the game is not played on spreadsheets because his contract should have been part of the Hit Show era as his production was that anemic before he was eventually released so he could move on to San Francisco and win a World Series. In his brief time here, Burrell cost the Rays 1.3 wins.
- Juan Guzman: (Then, $12,500,000; now $16,278,892): He wore #57 in his time here which is two numbers higher than his career pitch total for the Devil Rays. Guzman's last pitch was hit into the Tropicana Field bleachers by Jim Thome and he never threw another pitch in the major leagues. That short outing was valued at -0.6 WAR.
- Troy Percival: (Then, $8,342,797; now $8,705,964): The only guaranteed multi-year deals that have been handed out during the Andrew Friedman era both show up on this list. He went from being the team's primary closer in 2008 to being left off the post-season roster and eventually "retired" when his back failed to recover in 2009. Percival's value to the team in his time here was -0.4 WAR over 1.25 seasons.
- Josh Hamilton: (Then, $3,960,000, now $5,295,000): He was taken over Josh Beckett, had a well-documented history of issues in the minor leagues, and was exposed to the Rule 5 draft so the team could add the likes of Elijah Dukes, Elliot Johnson, and Mitch Talbot to the 40 man roster in November 2006.
- Matt White: (Then $10,200,000; now $14,096,001): He was originally drafted by the Giants but Scott Boras found a loophole that allowed White to become a free agent shortly after he was drafted and the Devil Rays pounced on him offering him $10.2M to join the organization. White went on to work 672 innings in the minors but never made it to the major leagues and back and shoulder woes robbed him of any effectiveness. Throwing 171 innings of baesball as a 19 year old may or may not have had something to do with that.