Baseball's 5 Biggest Contract Bubbles
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Even as the U.S. economy grows ever so slightly, Major League Baseball has seemingly been recession-proof, doling out massive contracts by the boatload this off-season.
Players such as Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes, C.C. Sabathia and Prince Fielder received $100 million plus contracts during the off-season, with millions more payroll added throughout the American and National Leagues.
Not all of these contracts will work out for teams, especially as players age, their bodies break down and injuries become the norm, rather than the exception.
Here are five contracts that may become financial albatrosses for their teams.
Yadier Molina, catcher, St. Louis Cardinals
Yadier Molina, the youngest of three catching Molina brothers to play in the Major Leagues, enjoyed a successful 2011 season, hitting .305 with 14 home runs, and 65 RBIs.
Molina, generally regarded as one of the best defensive catchers of his generation (as evidenced by his four Gold Gloves), signed a five-year extension through the 2017 campaign for $75 million.
Twelve million dollars a year for a catcher is not a lot of money, but considering Molina, who will turn 30 in July, will have to shoulder the load with Albert Pujols moving on to Anaheim, this contract could come back to hurt St. Louis in years three to five.
Molina has averaged 118 games during the regular season and played in an additional 18 postseason games last year, helping St. Louis win the World Series.
Jonathan Papelbon, relief pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies
Having a reliable closer is extremely important, just ask the New York Yankees and Mariano Rivera. When the Philadelphia Phillies decided to let Brad Lidge walk and not re-sign Ryan Madson in favor of doling out big money to Jonathan Papelbon for big money, it left more than a few scratching their heads.
Papelbon signed a four-year deal with the Phillies for $50,000,058, the largest ever for a reliever. He could potentially earn an additional year based on games finished, making the contract five years for $63 million.
Papelbon, 31, was extremely reliable early in his career with the Boston Red Sox, but became increasingly unreliable in 2010 and to a lesser extent, 2011.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said, "Four years is a little uncomfortable, but on a player like this and a person who has had this pedigree and this background and success, sometimes you go the extra mile to do that."
These comments seem to say that even the Phillies believe this contract will come back to haunt them toward the end of it, but they felt they needed to do it now.
Jose Reyes, shortstop, Miami Marlins
When Jose Reyes left the New York Mets to join the division rival Miami Marlins, Met fans did what they always do: cry and complain and constantly bemoan that the grass is greener on the other side (Full disclosure: I'm a lifelong-suffering Mets fan).