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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

October 21, 2009 at 2:40 PM

Maybe these guys could pull a Johjima, too

silva.jpg

The Kenji Johjima news was barely 10 minutes old on Monday when the first email came: “Do you think Carlos Silva would opt out of his contract, too?”

It’s nice pipedream, but don’t hold your breath on Silva relinquishing the $24 million still owed him by the Mariners through 2011. For the $24 million they’ve already paid him, Silva (shown above planting a wet one on Russ Branyan after the latter’s homer on Aug. 20) has delivered exactly five wins (and 18 losses).

Still, it’s an enticing notion raised by Johjima’s decision to forego the nearly $16 million still owed him by the Mariners. You just know that other teams around MLB are insanely jealous, wishing that they could get their own manna from heaven, as the Mariners did on Monday, relieving them of one of their most onerous contracts.

Virtually every team has one, a long-term, big-money deal that looked good at the time, but for whatever reason — injury, decline in performance — has become a huge albatross. (Not that the Johjima signing looked good at the time, but you get the drift).

Here is a (partial) list of players that would cause their teams to hold a champagne-spraying celebration if they decided to opt out of the remainder of their deal (which would happen over Donald Fehr’s dead body):

Dontrelle Willis, Tigers. He’s still owed $12 million in 2010, the last year of the three-year, $29 million contract he signed in 2008. Willis’s fall has been astonishing — he has just one victory and an 8.27 ERA to show for his first two years with Detroit, with absolutely no sign that he will ever be a productive pitcher again.

Vernon Wells, Blue Jays. Still owed $98.5 million on his seven-year, $126 million deal through 2014. Wells can opt out after the 2011 season. Yeah, right. He’s owed $21 million in 2012, $21 million in 2013, and $21 million in 2014, on top of $12.5 million in 2010 and a whopping $23 million in 2011. All for a guy that hit a weak .260 this year.

Jeff Suppan, Brewers. The Brewers signed him to a four-year, $42 million deal in 2007, which has one year (at $12.5 million, with a $2 million buyout for 2011) remaining. Suppan was 7-12 with a 5.29 ERA in 2009.

Eric Chavez, A’s. The A’s can’t afford to miss on their few big contracts, but they missed spectacularly on Chavez, who has had one major injury after another since signing a six-year, $66 million contract in 2005. The A’s still owe him $15 million. Chavez has played in 121 games, combined, over the past three seasons, including eight this past year.

Gary Matthews Jr., Angels. Even the Angels make mistakes — like the five-year, $50 million contract they gave Matthews in 2007. He’s owed $11 million in 2010 and $12 million in 2011, but isn’t even an every-day player for the Angels.

Kyle Lohse, Cardinals. He got a four-year, $41 million contract last year on the strength of his 15-win season in 2008, and promptly went 6-10, 4.74 last year. The Cardinals still owe him more than $25 million.

Milton Bradley, Cubs. Bradley was a divisive mess in the first year of his three-year, $30 million contract, and he didn’t produce much either. They still owe him $9 million next year and $12 million in 2011.

Barry Zito, Giants. Zito made some progress this past year — from total disaster to mediocrity — but the Giants still have to be petrified about the remainder of his seven-year, $126 million contract. He’ll earn $18.5 million in both 2010 and 2011, $19 million in 2012, $20 million in 2013, with a $7 million buyout on his $18 million option for 2014. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

Travis Hafner, Indians. One day, he was a feared slugger, the next day, he wasn’t. But the Indians still owe $11.5 million in ’10, $13 million in ’11, $13 million in ’12, and $2.75 million on a buyout of $13 million in ’13. Limited by injuries, Hafner has hit just 21 homers total the past two seasons.

Oliver Perez, Mets. Perez went 3-4 with a 6.82 ERA last year — the first year of a three-year, $36 million contract. He’s owed $12 million more each of the next two years.

Brad Lidge, Phillies. The Phils were so giddy over Lidge’s perfect 2009 season (48-for-48 in saves, right through the World Series) that they gave him a three-year, $37.5 million extension through 2011. He wasn’t so perfect this year. But they still owe him $24.5 million.

Pat Burrell, Rays. Think the Phillies are happy about getting Raul Ibanez to replaced Burrell? Think the Rays were happy to get a .682 OPS (.221-.315-.367) out of the first year of his two-year, $16 million contract? Burrell will get $9 million to try again in ’10.

Aaron Harang, Reds. Harang got a four-year, $36.5 million contract in 2007 after winning 16 games in 2006. He won 16 again in 2007, but since then has gone 12-31. The Reds still owe Harang more than $25 million.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox. Everything went great the first two years – of his six-year, $52 million contract (plus a $51 million posting fee) — a World Series title in 2007, a combined 33-15 record. But it unraveled in 2009 as Dice-K had two stints on the DL and went 4-6 with a 5.76 ERA. The Red Sox, who still owe $8 million in 2010, $10 million ’11 and $10 million in ’12.

Carlos Guillen, Tigers. Injuries have really hit Guillen hard, limiting him to 113 games in 2008, and 81 last year. But Guillen is only halfway through his four-year, $48 million contract. He’ll earn $13 million in each of the next two seasons.

Alex Rios, White Sox. The Sox have only themselves to blame, willingly taking on the remainder of Rios’s seven-year, $69 million Toronto contract when they put in a waiver claim in August. Rios proceeded to hit .199 with three homers in 41 games in Chicago. Gulp. The Sox are responsible for $9.7 million next year, $12 million in both ’11 and ’12, $12.5 million in ’13 and ’14, and a $1 million buyout on his $13 million option for 2015.

(Associated Press photo)

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