The 10 worst baseball free agent signings of the last decade

The baseball offseason is a time when rich men get richer. Free agents shop their talents to prospective teams hoping to strike the mother load. Although these signings start off as a happy marriage, often times a few years in someone is looking for a divorce. Teams are often shackled with horrible contracts and have nobody to blame but themselves. Here are 10 examples of what teams will be trying to avoid this off season.

10. Eric Gagne(notes): The only reason that this signing by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007 isn't higher on the list is because the contract was for just one year. He signed his $10 million deal just four days before the Mitchell Report came out, in which he was named as a human growth hormone user. The Brewers were foolish to give that kind of money to a guy that struggled down the stretch with the Boston Red Sox and logged just 16 saves in 2007. Gagne would notch just ten saves in his one year in Milwaukee, his last in the majors.

9. Edgar Renteria(notes): The Red Sox were looking for a shortstop after they won the World Series in 2004. Instead of re-signing Orlando Cabrera(notes), they brought in Renteria for 4 years at $40 million. Renteria was decent with the bat in 2005, the one season he played in Boston, but he committed 30 errors at shortstop. Boston shipped Renteria off to the Atlanta Braves for Andy Marte(notes) the next off season. They wound up paying a total of $22 million of Renteria's initial contract.

8. Eric Milton(notes): The Cincinnati Reds signed Milton in 2004 to a three year contract for $25 million. The numbers themselves don't seem that bad, but this was a dreadful marriage that was doomed before it began. In 2004 Eric Milton led the National League in home runs allowed with 43. The Reds thought it was a good idea to bring in a gopher ball pitcher to the home run haven that is Great American Ball Park. In 2005 Milton would lead the league in earned runs and home runs allowed. Over the three year contract he managed to win just 16 games.

7. Gary Matthews Jr.(notes): The Anaheim Angels signed Matthews to a five year, $50 million deal in 2006. Matthews had a batting average of around .250 for the three seasons he actually played for the Angels. Matthews was traded to the New York Mets before the 2010 season. The Angels agreed to pick up all but $2 million of his remaining salary. That equates to $48 million for three sub-par seasons.

6. Carl Pavano(notes): In 2004 the Red Sox and the New York Yankees were in a bidding war for Pavano's services. Unfortunately, for the Yankees, they won with a contract of four years and $40 million. Four injury plagued seasons later Pavano pitched in a total of 26 games, with nine of those being wins. The best part of this story is that Pavano would go on to complain how he was treated poorly in New York. He basically robbed the Yankees of $40 million and then has the gall to complain about his experience. This is why many people hate athletes.

5. Andruw Jones(notes): In 2007 Jones was coming off a season where he had batted for a .222 average. Even with that information the Los Angeles Dodgers decided give Jones a two year, $36 million deal. Not surprisingly Jones epically failed in Los Angeles, playing in just 75 games before being released by the team in 2009. Jones had a .158 average with just three home runs in his one season with the Dodgers.

4. Barry Zito(notes): In 2006 the San Francisco Giants were excited to land free agent Barry Zito, by 2010 he was being left off their playoff roster. Zito signed a 7 year, $126 million pact to become the Giants ace. In four seasons he has averaged 10 wins a year and 14 losses. His earned run average has hovered between 4.00 and 5.00. The one good thing that can be said about Zito is that he takes the ball when it is his turn, making at least 32 starts each year. The Giants overpaid for Zito from the beginning and his struggles make the contract look worse with each passing season.

3. Darren Dreifort: Potential was always the word used when discussing Darren Dreifort. He was the second overall pick in the 1993 MLB draft. The Dodgers saw glimpses of his talent in six seasons, before they signed him a a 5 year, $55 million deal. Dreifort would pitch for three seasons after the deal, making just 26 starts overall. He would be out of baseball before the end of the contract.

2. Mike Hampton(notes): The Colorado Rockies in 2000 were desperate to add some front-line starters to their roster. Playing at Coors Field, a park known for easy offense, they knew they would have to overpay for good pitchers to come there. They did just that when they gave $121 million to Hampton over 8 years. Hampton manged to last just two seasons in Colorado, going 21-28 with an ERA over 5.70. He would be dealt to the Florida Marlins in 2002, who then spun him off to the Atlanta Braves. Hampton would go on to struggle with injuries and become the poster boy for bad free agent contracts.

1. Chan Ho Park(notes): In 2001 the Texas Rangers were looking for an ace and instead they signed Chan Ho Park for five years at $65 million. This was another deal that was doomed from the start as Park and Texas never meshed. Park managed 68 starts in four seasons. His lowest season ERA was 5.46. He won a total of 22 games in his time in Texas. The only stat he led the league in was batters hit by pitch, 17 in 2002 in just 22 games. The Rangers would eventually deal him to the San Diego Padres in 2005.

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Updated Tuesday, Nov 2, 2010