2. Andruw Jones
Oh, you mean the contract keeping Andruw Jones out of the Hall of Fame? Of course! That one!
Just two years ago, we would’ve told you this Jones deal was the undefeated National Champion. How could anything top it? Well … sometimes, life gets in the way.
It’s worth dwelling on this contract, though, because it really doesn’t feel like an exaggeration to say the bloated end of Jones’ spectacular career is keeping him out of Cooperstown despite a truly special peak both in the field and at the plate, and the narrative started to shift when he joined the Dodgers — with little to no warning.
Jones’ two-year contract was worth $36.2 million, signed prior to the 2008 season when the center field superstar was just 31 years old. He was coming off his worst career campaign, sure (26 bombs, 94 RBI, .222 average, and just an 87 OPS+), but he was also just one season removed from 41 bombs, 129 RBI and elite defense.
Also, come on! He was 31! 31!! One of the best athletes and power bats in the modern game! Two years and $36.2 million wasn’t just a reasonable bounce back contract. It seemed like one of the clearest steals in the game.
Anyway, Jones showed up out of shape, hit .158 in 75 games with three homers and 14 RBI, and found himself on the Texas Rangers roster by the time the second year of his contract came around, released by the Dodgers at a massive loss in January 2009. It’d be hilarious if it weren’t so cruel.
Eventually, Jones found his power bat again and became a serviceable bench bat who could swing for the fences with the 2010 White Sox and 2011 Yankees (120 and 126 OPS+ marks, respectively) before ending his career on another sour note the with the ’12 Yanks.
That wasn’t Jones, though. Jones wasn’t supposed to be remembered as a paunchy bat who couldn’t run or throw. And the significant dings to his historic reputation began with the worst possible theoretical season in Los Angeles.