MLB Contracts: The worst contract on every team

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 29: Chris Davis #19 of the Baltimore Orioles reacts after striking out looking for the third out of the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 29, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 29: Chris Davis #19 of the Baltimore Orioles reacts after striking out looking for the third out of the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 29, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 05: Tampa Bay Rays Center field Kevin Kiermmaier (39) in batting practice prior to the regular season MLB game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays on September 5, 2018 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, ON. (Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

9. Tampa Bay Rays

Kevin Kiermaier. 5 years, $70 million, 2016-20. Reynolds Sports

When the Rays tied up Kiermaier, he was a 25-year-old defensive wizard whose offensive game appeared to be developing. Kiermaier had hit .263 his first two seasons with just average OPS+ figures. But fans could look at them and imagine growth at the plate.

Three seasons into that contract, skepticism is fully in order.  Since signing his deal, Kiermaier has averaged just .243. He batted .217 in 2018 with an 80 OPS+ placing him solidly among the lower rank of every-day players.

Nor has production happened. Prior to signing, Kiermaier averaged 10 home runs and 37.5 RBIs per season. Since signing those figures are 11.3 and 35. He produced a 2.5 WAR in 2018, making him barely above average offensively.

Considering that the Rays still managed to win 90 games, it’s pretty clear that Tampa Bay got contributions from several unexpected places. But those gains also served to underscore the failure of the team’s principal financial asset to produce commensurate with expectations.

Kiermaier remains a quality defensive center fielder, an attribute that’s worth something. But he will be the Rays’ highest paid player in 2019, pulling down $8.17 million … probably about 10 percent of the team’s total opening day payroll. It’s not unreasonable for the Rays to expect in return something approaching star-level performance.