“The Untradeables” – Ten Disastrous Contracts

There has always been a saying in baseball, that some contracts just aren’t moveable, no matter how hard you try. In MLB Pro, it has been the opposite, as evidenced by the trade between Cleveland and Atlanta, with Cleveland dumping Lance Berkman and prospects to Atlanta for Josh Hamilton. That’s the second time Berkman’s horrible contract has been traded in less than six months.

This leads to wonder whether or not other big contracts can be moved just as easily, or are they stuck with that team for the rest of their career? In reverse order, here are the top 10 most unmoveable contracts in MLB Pro, and a take on whether or not they can be moved.


#10: Matt Holliday

Holliday has rapidly declined the past two seasons, not putting up numbers that would earn him $17M for each of the next three seasons (the last being a team option). Some scouts say he just needs a change of scenery, while others think he’s more suited as a backup outfielder. St. Louis has said he is on the block, but don’t expect teams to bite, as he will more than likely be playing the rest of his career in St. Louis.

Chance of being moved: 10%


#9: Brandon Phillips

His contract is small compared to the others on this list, but he isn’t anywhere close to worth it. He has come off two disastrous seasons with the bat and is still owed $50M over the next four seasons. He will need to work back up his value in San Diego in order to get off this list, but for 2014, he will definitely be a Padre.

Chance of being moved: 10%


#8: Albert Pujols

This may come as a surprise to some people, but it really shouldn’t. He’s 33, owed $212M over the next eight seasons (he will be 41 when the contract runs out), has a no trade clause, and the money per year increases as each year passes. He also had a very quiet season with the Angels, and hasn’t quite been himself since signing that large contract. I can see a team making a ridiculous trade for him to improve in the short term, but in no way should he be easy to move.

Chance of being moved: 10%


#7: Adrian Beltre

Beltre is owed $51M over the next three seasons, but it shouldn’t be as hard to trade him as you may think. He is an elite defender at the 3B position, and has put up very respectable numbers in Texas and Boston. Scouts say however that he is rapidly declining with the bat, and teams only want to pay for future production, not past production, which may make it very tough to trade him.

Chance of being moved: 8%


#6: CC Sabathia

A pitcher that has declined each season, dramatically I may add, should not be easily moveable. His $96M over four year contract was recently moved to Kansas City, but don’t expect him to be playing for another team in the next four years, especially with the no trade clause. I have a feeling the Royals will regret this move, and be stuck with a $5M per year player getting $24M per season.

Chance of being moved: 5%


#5: Carl Crawford

More of a forgotten player, Crawford quietly had an okay season in Cincinatti. His speed and ability to get on-base aren’t quite what they used to be, but he did post a total of 3.7 WAR in 2013. His contract though, is another thing to be desired, as he is owed $82.5M for the next four seasons. There are many $480K players that can do what Crawford has done, making moving him almost impossible.

Chance of being moved: 5%


#4: David Ortiz

The future Hall of Famer has seen his best days behind him. He is owed $37.5M over the next three seasons, and is only suited for a bench role at this time. Boston’s only hope of getting rid of this contract is by hoping he retires. No one will pay for this under performing DH, as his career comes to a quiet finish.

Chance of being moved: 3%


#3: Mark Texiera

Typical Yankees: overspending on free agents, and regretting it just a couple years into the deal. The first baseman is owed $67.5M over three seasons, and like Rodriguez, has a no trade clause. The Yankees may be happy keeping him, as he was productive in 2013, but they shouldn’t hold their breath hoping he puts up the same numbers. No one wants an average first baseman for that kind of money.

Chance of being moved: 3%


#2: Ryan Howard

What may have seemed like an okay deal at the time, this deal has turned into an atrocity. Howard is guaranteed $75M over the next three seasons, with a buyout that will for sure be picked up of $10M in his age 38 season. Luckily for Philadelphia, they have the financial flexibility to put up with the under performing first baseman. Don’t expect Howard to ever be moved.

Chance of being moved: 1%


#1: Alex Rodriguez

You had to know Rodriguez would top the list. He is 38 years old and owed $86M over four years, and to add to that he has a no trade clause. The Yankees are hoping he retires, as moving this contract will be impossible. Not even a team with loads of money will take a flyer on this guy.

Chance of being moved: 1%


  • Before the Cubs traded CC, where do you think he would rank on this list? Does his new home make him more or less untradeable?

  • Nice list but no Jayson Werth?

  • I would say the same spot. He is a declining pitcher, but he still is a pitcher that is known. Hitters with large contracts are tougher to trade than pitchers with large contracts, in my opinion.

    I believe it will depend on how he performs in KC. If I had to guess though, I think this makes him more untradeable, as his stats will probably only get worse in KC, and KC was the only team wanting him at this point. I don’t see that changing any time soon.

  • Good catch. Somewhat forgot about him. However, I do see Werth as an above-average player with the bat for a couple more seasons, good on the base paths, and exceptional in the field. He can be traded for value, or even be picked up on waivers. He’s overpaid, no question, but he can be traded more easily than most guys on this list.

  • I agree that Werth could be moved. He’d need to be part of a deal that made sense to both teams. He has some assets and can still do a few things well. Overpaid? Yes. Impossible to move? No.

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