FEATURE
The Worst Contracts in TNBL
Centaurs and Red Sticks fans might want to keep scrolling.
by CAVE DAMERON
Wladimir van ‘t Klooster, SP, Kansas City Centaurs

Three years left on contract, $50M/$55M/$55M

Van ‘t Klooster is owed $160M over the next three years, including $50M this year. For reference, that’s $12.5M higher than the next highest paid player, and twice as much as the 14th highest paid player. For all that, you’d expect van ‘t Klooster to be putting up monster numbers every year, but he’s only on pace for 1.9 WAR this year, and really hasn’t had a ‘good’ season since he put up 5.4 WAR six years ago. Van ‘t Klooster is taking up almost half of Kansas City’s payroll by himself, so it’s no wonder they’re struggling to win games, and with three years left on his deal, there seems to be no end in sight.

Miguel Polo, 1B, Baton Rouge Red Sticks

2 years left, $22M/$22M

Polo is on pace for -1.5 WAR this year, or at least he would be if he hadn’t already been benched by the Red Sticks. He’s only had two above average seasons, and those came three and four years ago. For some reason, he was offered a 3 year/$66M deal after the 2032 season, a year in which he put up all of 0.6 WAR. Now halfway through the deal, it looks even worse than it did originally. The Sticks would be better off cutting bait than letting Polo cost his team any more wins.

Danny Nunez, CF, Los Angeles Earthquakes

3 years left, $24M/$24M/$24M player option

It seems the minute Nunez signed his three year, $72M deal this offseason, he forgot how to play baseball. While his supporters might say he’s gotten unlucky, as his .216 BABIP might suggest, his critics can point to his two HRs through 150 ABs as proof of his decline. Nobody can be quite sure why the Earthquakes signed a light-hitting, Gold Glove-winning RF to play as a DH, but there isn’t a single Quakes fan who feels comfortable with Nunez’s contract.

John Weigler, LF, Portland Beavers

1 year, $29M

While this contract doesn’t have the same length as some of the other ones on this list, there’s no denying how bad Weigler has been this year. The man has a wRC+ of 1. He has -0.7 WAR through 82 ABs. If he was actually hitting every day, he’d be on pace for negative four WAR. Weigler is costing his team wins, and he’s being paid $29 million to do it.

Mi-Chin Yoon, SP, Cleveland Indians

4 years, $20.8M/$24M/$22M/$22M player option

The Indians signed Yoon to a 4 year, $88.8M deal this offseason to be their top of the rotation starter. Yoon, who had spent the past 6 years coming out of the bullpen, has not made the transition to the rotation as well as Cleveland would’ve hoped. Currently, Yoon is on pace for 0.8 WAR with an ERA of 5.55. Yoon has always allowed a lot of walks, and now he's allowing too many HRs as well. Cleveland could try moving Yoon back to the bullpen, but $88.8M is a lot of money to be tied up in a reliever.

Harris Blandford, C, Baton Rouge Red Sticks

4 years, $19.4M/$19.4M/$19.4M/$19.4M

It’s been six years since Blandford has had an above average season with his bat. He’s the fourth highest paid catcher in the TNBL after signing a 4 year, $77.6M deal this past offseason. Something here doesn’t add up. If Blandford’s 52 OPS+ this year is any indication, it’s going to be a long four years for the Red Sticks.

Heriberto Jimenez, SP, Baton Rouge Red Sticks

2 years, $19M/$19M

The third and final Red Stick on this list (I did warn you, Sticks fans), Jimenez is actually having a pretty good year. He’s put up an ERA of 3.00 with a FIP of 2.19… oh wait, that’s in AAA. After posting an ERA of 5.76 and -0.7 WAR in 31 starts last year, the Sticks only needed to see 5 subpar starts this year before sending Jimenez down to AAA. Jimenez just can’t keep the ball in the park, leading the league in HRs-against the past two years. Unless he can figure out a way to keep the ball down, and it’s unlikely that he does, that’s $38M down the drain.

Alex Montoya, SP, Fargo Rage

2 years, $16M/$16M

Another pitcher currently in AAA, Montoya’s contract didn’t seem that bad when it was originally signed. After posting 4.0 WAR in 2032, he was rewarded with a 3 year, $48M contract. Then his velocity dropped by 10 MPH. Montoya now struggles to get anyone out, just like the Rage will struggle to get out of this awful deal.

Jae Hann, SP, Portland Beavers

2 years, $13.6/$13.6

Although his 5 year, $66.85M contract seemed reasonable when it was signed three years ago, the $27M+ still owed to Hann now seems like dead weight to the Beavers. Hann will likely miss the entire season rehabbing a torn flexor tendon he suffered late last year. In hindsight, maybe starting an injury-prone pitcher 43 times in a season wasn’t the best idea. Even if Hann is able to pitch next year, it’s unlikely he will add any value to the Beavers.

Mario Romero, 1B, Everett Hawks

3 years, $10.8M/$10.8M/$10.8M player option

Romero signed his three year, $32M contract prior to this year, after providing negative value to his team last year. In fact, he’s posted more seasons with a negative WAR (5) than he has a with a positive WAR (1, not including his 2031 season with only 8 starts), and his career WAR sits at -1.1. Exactly how Romero convinced anyone he was worth more than $30M is anyone’s guess, but he’s not complaining.

EDIT:
Dinand de Groot, SP, Vinson Emperors

2 years, $14M/$14M player option

Somehow I originally left de Groot off this list, which seems like a glaring oversight in retrospect. De Groot will be paid $28M over the next two years, and he's currently putting up 3.3 K/9 in AAA. It's highly unlikely de Groot ever adds any value to a TNBL team again, let alone $28M's worth.