The 2014 season for the Tampa Bay Rays has been nothing short of a disaster so far as they sit dead last in the Majors with a 24-41 record.
But to compound things even more they are burdened by three contracts that they may now look at with regret.
Rays general manager Andrew Friedman has often made smart business decisions but these three contracts can be called into question.
The three players’ contracts I’m referring to? Heath Bell, Jose Molina and Grant Balfour.
The Rays have already cut their losses with Bell. Acquired in the three-team deal that brought Ryan Hanigan to town, the Rays designated him for assignment in May and then released him. Unfortunately for the Rays, they are on the hook for $5.5 million of his salary and for a team that needs every penny, this is a big loss to take.
In 17.1 innings, Bell was 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA. He struck out 12 and walked eight. Essentially, he wasn’t very good.
While the Rays have already moved on from Bell, the same can’t be said for Molina and Balfour.
Molina was given a two-year deal worth $4.5 million in the offseason, a deal that at the time seemed ridiculous and now, over two months into the season, looks even worse.
The 39-year-old is hitting a mere .129 this season in 93 at-bats with one RBI and one run scored. His OBP is .180. When Molina is in the line-up the Rays are essentially playing with just eight hitters. Add in the fact that Molina can’t run and his whole offensive output is embarrassing.
While Molina still has value as a defensive catcher his lack of productivity at the plate doesn’t make up for it.
However, the Rays have no choice but to stick with Molina for at least the rest of the season. They can’t afford to cut him and nobody will trade for him either.
Balfour signed a two-year deal with the Rays in January worth $12 million. He had initially signed with the Baltimore Orioles but the contract was cancelled after the Orioles found something in his medical they didn’t like. The Rays swooped in and signed their former Aussie star and while at the time it looked like a good move, it hasn’t worked out well so far.
In 23.2 innings, he’s 0-2 with a 6.46 ERA. He has only nine saves and has blown two save opportunities. Brought in to replace the departing Fernando Rodney as the closer, Balfour has now lost that job.
After Balfour's latest blowup, #Rays Maddon says it is now closer by committee. As for Balfour: "something's not clicking right now"
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) June 9, 2014
The Rays could have kept Rodney for the same price and he even said himself he wanted to stay. However, the Rays moved on and signed Balfour instead and in hindsight they may have been better off bringing back their closer of the last two years.
It’s going to be very difficult for the Rays to get out of Balfour’s contract early. They won’t cut him because his salary is so high and on the flip side, it’s unlikely a team will trade for him, especially with how bad he has pitched in 2014.
Balfour is a proven pitcher so the Rays will have to hope he can turn it around because at the end of the day, they have no other choice than to ride him out until he pitches better.
In previous years, all three players established enough value to be worth the contracts they’ve been paid. However, in 2014, these are three deals the Rays must already be regretting.